What experiences have you had that make your thoughts or your senses seem more real?

If Descartes is right, does the idea of something exist primarily in our mind, or does it also have to exist in the world for us to have the idea in the first place?

If Locke’s sensory knowledge is right, does that mean in fact that objects can “make us” think of certain things?

When I look at a table, do I unavoidably think, Oh, it’s flat on top, it’s brown, it’s got four legs; without having any choice in the matter?

Does that make it seem like objects have too much control of our minds?

(Keep in mind one of Locke’s major distinctions, that “primary” qualities must be “in the object” itself because they are necessary for the object to be what it is; but that “secondary” qualities are only in us, our mind, because of our preferences. An example of this would be a table that is brown in color. The table’s flatness is primary quality because it must be flat to be a table, but the table’s color brown is secondary because it could be any color and we perceive color in certain ways because of our senses… even if we are color blind, the table is still a table because of its shape.)

Making Connections

In your responses, be sure to discuss how the way that Descartes’ concept of the thinking self as a thinking being relates to our previous material from Unit 2. When we rely on the mind for knowledge, are there potential questions for how we should describe emotions and sensory information from the body itself? In Locke’s readings from this unit and the previous unit, the direct sense experience and our memories of them are very important. What about examples of understanding other people and their emotions, that do not relate to our own senses or body?


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