What we know and how we know it: Cartesian meditations on some hard problems at the interface of science and empiricist philosophy.

Abstract

Laboratory science is our only source of knowledge about the world as it is apart from our perceptions of the world. Empiricist philosophy, relying on evidence consisting in human perceptions, can only give us knowledge of phenomena making up the world-perceived, which recent neuroscience tells us is wholly and entirely constructed by our neuron-based human perceptual apparatus. In this light, empiricist philosophy should explicitly and fundamentally be reconceived as a method of thinking critically about phenomena, i.e. as a stripped down, fallibilist, non-foundationalist version of “phenomenology”. I also describe implications of these proposals for thinking critically about and conceptualizing phenomena like the Cartesian “I”-that-thinks, consciousness, mind, personal identity, free will, and causal relationships between the brain and the conscious “I.”

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