Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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pp. vii-xi

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FOREWORD

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pp. 1-2

Although thousands of works have been published on the philosophy of knowledge, philosophers have not yet managed to come to a consensus on the fundamental issue: is there a reality that exists outside of consciousness and, if so, how can we prove it? Apart from...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 3-7

The most elementary common sense and the most sophisticated science share the same conviction: the objects we perceive through the senses - essentially sight and touch - have a reality that is independent of us. They continue to exist when we stop perceiving them. They are...

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CHAPTER ONE: THE CARTESIAN REVOLUTION

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pp. 9-18

Is spontaneous thought so stupid that even its deepest beliefs should be refuted? This is what certain works in contemporary philosophy could lead us to believe. The truth would be the polar opposite of what we are naturally led to believe and attainable only through a fundamental...

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CHAPTER TWO: THE COPERNICAN REVOLUTION IN PHILOSOPHY

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pp. 19-26

From Descartes and Hume, what we are most certain to retain are the critical parts of their philosophies: the criticism of perception from Descartes and of the idea of cause from Hume. Since Descartes, no one thinks, or at least no one should think, that perception gives us immediate...

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CHAPTER THREE: THE FOUNDATIONS OF PROBABILITY THEORY

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pp. 27-38

If probability theory had been invented before geometry, philosophy probably would have taken an entirely different path. The legitimate admiration ancient thinkers such as Plato had for geometrical demonstration left its mark on all later developments in thought. It gave...

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CHAPTER FOUR: THE NATURE OF EXPLANATION

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pp. 39-49

The results of a game of dice and the fall of a body are different not only in the way they are predicted but also in the way they are explained. To explain the fall of a body is first to relate it to a general law. Body A fell because all bodies fall. There is thus no reason to be surprised. On the...

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CHAPTER FIVE: THE EXISTENCE OF THE EXTERNAL WORLD

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pp. 51-64

When it becomes clear that equivalence in thought - in other words, in the imagination - must translate into an analogous equivalence in real experience, we see the world very differently than we did under classical philosophy. It becomes obvious that identical objects, or at least those that can be identified with each other, such...

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CHAPTER SIX: THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON

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pp. 65-72

The hypothesis of a priori possibility led to a conception that lies in strict opposition to the classical one. The order that governs perceptions is so impressive that it was generally considered to be natural. It was taken as a point of departure in reflection. What had to be...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: THE SECOND REVOLUTION IN METAPHYSICS

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pp. 73-88

The strength of Kant's theory of causality lies in its being founded on an essential requirement of the human mind: the need for explanation. Kant's own discovery, which allows him to go beyond Hume while being inspired by him, is that he clearly perceived that the universality...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER

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pp. 89-97

Today the difficulty in proving the existence of a reality external to consciousness is still an essential obstacle for the materialist hypothesis. It is the major argument for metaphysical idealism. Once this difficulty is overcome, it could seem reasonable to consider the problem...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 99-101

It is a mistake to believe that difficult problems require complex solutions. Metaphysical problems are difficult only because solving them sometimes requires adopting views contrary to spontaneous thought. For spontaneous thought, the point of departure is situated in the...

INDEX OF NAMES

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p. 103