Thomas Hobbes’ Philosophy of Knowledge, Theory of KnowledgeJune 28, 2021
Hobbes was an empiricist in the basis of knowledge. The philosopher must begin with the given, that is, with the sense-impressions created in us by external bodies and their memory contents. The knowledge obtained in this way is still not a philosophical knowledge. Because this information is common to every human being, but they were obtained directly, not by reasoning. Everyone sees the sun and knows that it exists, but no one claims that such knowledge is astronomy.
Similarly, people are known to perform certain actions, but not everyone carries a philosophical knowledge of human actions. Hobbes here means scientific knowledge by the expression of philosophical knowledge. Scientific knowledge is the type of knowledge that deals with causal relationships; tries to derive causes from effects and effects from causes. Not only plain experience but also reasoning plays an important role here. The kind of thing we see about method is to do calculations.
This includes analysis and merging. With analysis we rise to the initial principles. By combining, we draw the conclusions that can be drawn from these principles. In the light of these explanations, Hobbes divides knowledge into two as fact knowledge and result knowledge. “When I see something being done or remember it being done, my knowledge is factual knowledge.” This is the type of information required from a witness in court.
An example of fact information is history; It can take the form of natural history or civic history. Concluding information, on the other hand, is information such as if A is true, then B is true, that is, it is conditional or hypothetical. Hobbes gives an example: “If the figure shown is a circle, then any straight line through the center will divide it into two equal parts.”
This is the kind of scientific knowledge that should be sought from the person making the ‘reasoning’. By analyzing particular things, we can arrive at the most universal principles so that we can know their causes. According to Hobbes, the first universal cause in the universe is motion. Since philosophy has to explain the motion and modes of action of natural and political bodies, human nature, the mental world, and the State can be explained in terms of mechanism, i.e., action-reaction, just like physical bodies and nature formations. Every formation whose effect and reaction we can know is the subject of philosophy: In this respect, natural philosophy consisting of physics and psychology, political science-philosophy consisting of ethics and politics appears before us.
Hobbes divides knowledge into two as fact knowledge and result knowledge.
By analyzing particular things, the most universal principles can be reached. On this basis, the first universal cause in the universe is motion.
The basic question to be asked in the philosophy of knowledge is how to reach the starting principles. It finds its point of departure in sensation-impressions. What is sensation? Things like color, sound, taste, smell are sensations. These formations are caused by the actions of some external objects on the sense organs. The motion is produced in the organ, transmitted to the brain and heart via nerves. This formation provides the appearance of external objects. Sensations, then, are nothing but the motion of bodies in the brain or nervous system. The appearance of motion is color or image. Thus sensations are not attributes of things. They are the movements within us.
So all sensations are imaginary, but their causes are real. There is no similarity between causes and sensations or appearances. The outside reality is the moving reality; we perceive it as color, sound or smell. Our picture of the world, which we obtain through sensation, is not real, just like the pictures themselves. In other words, Hobbes thinks like Descartes about sensations: Descartes called such sensations the secondary qualities of objects and stated that these are not found in objects, but are formed in our minds by the effect of the movement of objects. These sensations formed in the mind form the starting point of our thoughts. They continue to exist in memory. These memory versions are more like images or designs.
For him, the imaginable and the representable are identical; it follows that we can have no thought or image of the infinite or the immaterial; Everything we can imagine is finite. Everything imaginable is finite. Something infinite has no thought or concept; The term ‘incorporeal substance’ is as contradictory as the term ‘immaterial body’ or ’round rectangle’. Such terms are ‘non-significant’, meaning they are meaningless and without content. Hobbes, in this context, argues that universals are just names. The philosopher needs signs to help him remember his thoughts; these are names. When he wants to convey his thoughts to others, these signs serve as symbols-symbols. Speech consists of connecting them together. A name, then, is a word arbitrarily chosen to serve for a sign. But not every name has to be the name of something.
For example, the word nothing does not refer to anything specific. Also, some names name one thing (for example, Socrates and that man), while others name many things in common. These common names