In this section of the course, we have bgun to explore the long-standing question in Western Philosophy; "What is Knowledge?" and its close relative "Do I Have Any?"
Many of us, of course, believe that we do, at the very least when it comes to fairly straight-forward matters such as "I am reading this paper topic" or, if it happens to be the case "I am in Olin-Sang on the campus of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts right now." To be sure there are matters of which we are less than certain and about which many of us might be quite ready to say that we have no knowledge or that we cannot be sure, such as whether the universe is expanding or contracting or if it is expanding whether it will - at some point in the future - contract. Many of us, indeed, may think we have, for that matter, no knowledge at all of the future, although some of us may be convinced that they do know, at least, that they will have something to eat later today, indeed will grab something immediately after class.
Claims to knowledge come in a variety of forms, but the most intriguing, to philosophers, are those claims that are made about the external world and reality.
Such claims about our purported knowledge of the external world raise further questions about the relationship between appearance and reality and between waking-states and dream-states.
A skeptic is someone who doubts whether any of us have knowledge of, say, the external world and is inclined to challenge any claim we might make that we do know anything at all with any degree of certainty about the world ("so-called") around us.
The two scenarios which follow and the questions they raise are the sorts of questions that philosophical skeptics themselves love to raise. Both QUESTION # ONE and QUESTION # TWO of the Third Paper Topic ask you to respond to the skeptic's challenge.