AQA AS Introduction to Philosophy - Unit 1: Reason and Experience - Revision Notes

Reason and Experience - Knowledge...Do we know it?

  • Detailed discussion of topics!
  • Discussion of key theories and philosophers!
  • Key Terms defined!
  • Key knowledge needed for passing the AQA AS Introduction to Philosophy Unit 1 Exam

A detailed and easy to understand revision document for the AQA AS Introduction To Philosophy Unit 1: Why Should We Be Governed.

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Reason and Experience
Knowledge...Do we really know it?
Key Terms:
Term What It Means... Examples
Concept/Idea A thought or notion that cannot be true or God, Dog, Evil
Proposition A statement which is either right/wrong "God is pink"
Knowledge Expressed in propositions that are formed by "The dog is Yellow"
joining concepts, state something that is true
or false
Three Types of Knowledge Propositional "Know that"
Knowledge by Acquaintance "Know of"
capacity/Ability "Know how"
A Priori Propositional knowledge that we know is right
"2+2=4 "
before (sense) experience
A Posteriori Propositional knowledge that we know is right
"The sky is blue"
only after (sense) experience
Synthetic Not true by definition ­ Tells us something "Snow is white"
substantial about the world
Analytic True by definition "All Bachelors are
unmarried men"
Necessary Had to be true, true in all possible worlds Maths ­ 2+2=4
Contingent Could be otherwise "Obama was elected
Induction Reasoning that draws conclusions from a finite
1).The sun has
collection of specific observations. always risen
2). The sun will
always rise
Deduction Reasoning in which the conclusion must follow
1). Man is mortal
the premises 2). Socrates is man
3). Socrates is mortal
Innate Knowledge that is present in the mind at birth
Conceptual Schemes
Intuitive propositions that we know are right through "I think therefore I
pure thought exist" Descartes
Empiricism Argues that you can only have analytic a priori
"All Widows were
knowledge once Married"
(Analytic a priori)
Rationalism Argues that you can have analytic and "God Exists"
synthetic a priori knowledge (Not Plato) Descartes
(Synthetic a priori)
Created by Nicholas R. Welbrock

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All Ideas Come From Experience: Empiricism
John Locke David Hume
· The mind is a Tabula Rasa ­ Blank Slate · Sensation creates impressions in our minds
Sensation + Reflection Ideas are 'faint impressions' of
sensations which are 'vivid and forceful'
· Simple, complex, and abstract ideas All thoughts are combinations of ideas
Simple ideas come from sensation e.g.…read more

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The view reflects our experience of learning ­ It explains why we learn like we do
Counter Arguments:
· Sense experience is never certain ­ Leads to scepticism
Senses, Dreams, Deceiving Demon ­ Descartes
Cave Analogy Plato
· Some knowledge about what exists is known a priori
Self/God/EW ­ Descartes
Forms ­ Plato
Causation, self, space Kant
· Knowledge of relations of ideas is a priori
Don't get more certain ­ True in all possible worlds Russell
· Experience alone is unintelligible
Needs to be…read more

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Innate ­ In the mind at birth
· 'God', 'Infinity', and 'supreme perfection' are not experienced or made up
They must therefore be innate (Trademark Argument ­ We know of God, but
do not experience God ­ He left his mark on us ­ This is innate)
· Innate ideas provide the materials for reason to think develop knowledge without
needing experience
Counter Arguments:
John Locke · The mind as a Tubula Rasa (slank slate) at birth
There is no innate knowledge only a posteriori…read more

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E.g. Reverse Backwards (i.e. Analytic)
David Hume · Hume's Fork
Reason is limited to the meaning of words
Descartes · Experience is limited to immediate awareness
We can never be sure that the external world corresponds to out
experiences (we might be dreaming/demon)
David Hume Yes · Hume's Fork
Only relations of ideas can be certain, all matters of fact are open
to doubt
Descartes No · Reason can discover certain knowledge of the world through intuition
and deduction
e.g.…read more


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