“What does it mean? A short introduction to philosophy” Analytical Essay example

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“What does it mean? A short introduction to philosophy” Analytical Essay

Thomas Nagel in his book “What does it mean? A short introduction to philosophy” provides some possible solutions to the eternal problems of philosophy. Despite the fact this book doesn’t represent what most philosophers think about that, this book is really good as it awakes interest in philosophy and makes answer on these questions on our own. So, in this work I will analyze just three of his answers and later will share with you some my thoughts on this issue.

Chapter 2. How do we know anything?

In this chapter author investigates how it is possible to know something and to be sure of it as far as the only thing people really may know is what is inside one’s own mind. People have doubts about how it is possible to prove the existence of something external to mind.That means that people may rely only on “specific evidence about how visual experiences are caused only if it is possible to rely in general on the contents of one’s mind to tell about the external world". So here comes the problem of proving the reliability of impressions, as to prove them you need to appeal to your impressions. Still, it seems that to become a solipsist and to believe that mind is really the only thing that exists would be a mistaken approach. People cannot conclude on the basis of what’s in their mind that there is no external world outside their mind. Such skepticism is rather dangerous. It may go further and argue that we cannot be sure whether we have existed now or even before now, as the only thing which proves the existence of past are our memories, which also a kind of beliefs.

The opposite point of view insists that there is no problem to divide dreams from reality, as “dream from which you cannot wake up” is actually reality. At the same time those who have hallucinations or dreams usually are aware of it. In addition, when solipsists claim that physical world doesn’t exist, it turns to be necessary for somebody to observe that it really doesn’t exist. It means that skeptic needs to observe something inside their own mind, which is impossible. Nevertheless, all this disputes do not define the reality, as it is not enough to say that real world is something that we can observe. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that the world around as is just an illusion in our mind, and all the existing arguments are not enough to prove the opposite. You may see, that, actually we really do not need any proofs to believe that the reality exists – “the belief in the world outside our minds comes naturally to us” (Nagel, 1987). In my opinion, in most cases there is no doubt to what extent the observed is real simply because it is quite obvious manifests itself in relation to us, …

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