Episteme banner 2.jpg

"The real chess is the game you play with your neighbor. Real chess is 'muddling through.'
Real chess is the triumph of mental organization over complex experience. And so is real philosophy." Robert Pirsig
"The hidden story of Western culture, as told by the author, is about how the abstract, instrumental, articulate and assured left hemisphere has gradually usurped the more contextual, humane, systemic, holistic but relatively tentative and inarticulate right hemisphere....."
RSA 2013

"We are pattern-seeking primates"

Michael Shermer

In this section of the course we will:

  • Distinguish between three key modes of knowing - Revelation, Intuition, Critical Reasoning

  • Explore the various way humans have gained Knowledge over time and across societies including the important distinction between MYTHOS and LOGOS;

  • Examine the word "Truth" and whether there can ever be an Absolute and Universal Truth or simply relative truths;

  • Look at the power of the brain/mind to perceive Reality accurately (or not) - Optical Illusions and Magic;

  • Tease out possible geographical/cultural distinctions between Western and Eastern modes of Epistemology and how this may be linked to the asymmetrical nature of the brain (The Great Dichotomy);

  • View The Life of Pi and explore its links to the above;

  • Complete a range of formative activities;

  • Final Summative task.

An Introductory Video

Here is the 2/3rds of the unit summary powerpoint that I went through in class.

An Outstanding document about the place of Spirituality in modern societies produced by the RSA Action and Research Centre. It has numerous references to McGilchrist and a lot of the philosophical discussion of epistemology that we have been exploring in this unit. WARNING - it is a reasonably long document and gets complex at times, but hey, this is Stage 2 Philo!!



revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through supposed communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

Einstein.jpg Intuition

intuition is a priori knowledge or experiential belief characterized by its immediacy.

Critical Reasoning

critical thinking is reflective reasoning about beliefs and actions.[1][2] It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.

The War on Science

War on Science.jpg

Article from March 2015 National Geographic. We shall read it together in class, then reflect on it by responding to the following questions.

Five Focus Questions for article The War on Science

  1. What are the central reasons the article posits for the current trend against the truths of science?
  2. What particular scientific ‘truths’ are most frequently and/or vehemently questioned?
  3. Why might this be the case?
  4. What are some possible implications for the trend that is identified?
  5. Do you agree with the article’s central argument? Why or why not?
  6. In what ways does the article raise questions about the nature of knowledge?
  7. (Extension question) In what ways do you think a person’s/culture’s values affect the content and process of knowledge acquisition?

The article can also be reached by following this link

An important introductory Document for us to work throughPHilo the basics.jpg

We will need to borrow this book from the library to complete some of the tasks from the worksheet.
philosophy - the basics. N. Warton. This is available in the Philosophy section of the library.


The Nature of Truth


Here is a terrific explanation of Induction and Deduction from Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. We will also mine this extract for its explanation of Hume's scepticism and Kant's response using the idea of a priori concepts.

A good video on DAVID HUME for you to look at (thanks to Matt Harland for the link)

The Problem of Perception and the Power of Magic

Perception - target arms.jpg
What's wrong with this picture?

Review this video from Michael Abrash (from the recent Facebook conference). Scrub through to about 45 minutes. This is an excellent examination of the problems of perception, and the ways that the brain can be 'fooled' into thinking the virtual to be 'real'. Also has some terrific examples of visual illusions.

The Great Dichotomy Revisited

Following from the previous worksheet activities, let's revisit the Great Dichotomy page and tease out more of the differences in ways of knowing between the left and right hemispheres.

The Great Dichotomy

L R diagram.jpg

The Geography of Thought


For further explanations fro this train of thought read Richard Nesbitt's The Geography of Thought.
HERE is a short video explanation from the author himself

This is the main powerpoint for this section of the unit......

Here is a summary of some differences between Western and Eastern ways of knowing - from The Geography of Thought
An excellent PDF summary of the argument

Life of Pi2.jpg

Visit this page for a special look at this movie and its relationship to Epistemology.

A Couple of extra powerpoints for your perusal


OK. I was tempted to do this as an inclass and closed 'book/screen' activity, which would have been an excellent test of your understanding of this topic, but I have chickened out so here is the final task.
BUT THERE IS A CATCH!! I will only run a Grammarly editing check, not a content draft. This essay needs to have your ideas and explanations running through it, not just a paraphrasing of the stuff you get from the net. However, you need to include as much material as possible that we have discussed in class.

Students write an essay or scripted dialogue ON ONE of the following questions:
• How do we know the world around us?
• To what extent do you agree that the scientific method is the best way of generating knowledge?
• Different cultures have their own epistemologies. Is one epistemology more appropriate than another?
• To what extent is epistemology based in perception?
• “There’s more to seeing than meets the eyeball.”

An essay or a scripted dialogue of 1500 words maximum or a maximum of 10 minutes if oral, or equivalent in multimodal form.

Sources should be appropriately acknowledged.

DUE DATE: Friday Week 6 (Term 2).