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1. What is Cartesian dualism? Discuss Anti-Cartesian foundation of Pragmatism.
Ans. Cartesianism, the philosophical and scientific traditions derived from the writings of the French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650).
The Cartesian system
Metaphysically and epistemologically, Cartesianism is a species of rationalism, because Cartesians hold that knowledge—indeed, certain knowledge—can be derived through reason from innate ideas. It is thus opposed to the tradition of empiricism, which originated with Aristotle (384–322 BCE) and according to which all knowledge is based on sense experience and is therefore (because sense experience is fallible) only probable. In practice, however, Cartesians developed probabilistic scientific theories from observation and experiment, as did empiricists. Cartesians were forced to satisfy themselves with uncertainty in science because they believed that God is omnipotent and that his will is entirely free; from this it follows that God could, if he so wished, make any apparent truth a falsehood and any apparent falsehood—even a logical contradiction—a truth. The human intellect, by contrast, is finite; thus, humans can be certain only of what God reveals and of the fact that they and God exist. Descartes argues that one has certain knowledge of one’s own existence because one cannot think without knowing that one exists; this insight is expressed as “Cogito, ergo sum” (Latin: “I think, therefore I am”) in his Discourse on Method (1637) and as “I think, I am” in his Meditations (1641). In the Meditations, Descartes also argues that because we are finite, we cannot generate an idea of infinity, yet we have an idea of an infinite God, and thus God must exist to cause us to have that idea. He also says that although we have no direct acquaintance with the material world, not even with our own bodies, but only with ideas that represent the material world, we cannot know the material world directly. We know it exists only because God is not a deceiver.
Cartesians adopted an ontological dualism of two finite substances, mind (spirit or soul) and matter. The essence of mind is self-conscious thinking; the essence of matter is extension in three dimensions. God is a third, infinite substance, whose essence is necessary existence. God unites minds with bodies to create a fourth, compound substance, human beings. Humans obtain general knowledge by contemplating innate ideas of mind, matter, and God. For knowledge of particular events in the world, however, humans depend on bodily motions that are transmitted from sense organs through nerves to the brain to cause sensible ideas—i.e., sensations—in the mind. Thus, for Cartesians, knowledge of the material world is indirect.
Descartes’s philosophy is rooted in his mathematics. He invented analytic geometry—a method of solving geometric problems algebraically and algebraic problems geometrically—which is the foundation of the infinitesimal calculus developed by Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716). The method discussed in his Discourse on Method is basically an extension of analytic mathematical method, which he applies to all branches of science.
The first Cartesians were Dutch and French physicists and physiologists who attempted to explain physical and biological phenomena solely in mechanistic terms—i.e., solely in terms of matter and its motion and especially without appeal to Aristotelian notions such as form and final cause. Descartes’s first disciple in the Netherlands, Henricus Regius (1598–1679), taught Cartesian physics at the University of Utrecht—though, to Descartes’s chagrin, he dismissed Descartes’s metaphysics as irrelevant to science. Another disciple, the French theologian and philosopher Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715), believed with Descartes that animals are merely machines and thus incapable of thought or feeling; he is said to have kicked a pregnant dog and then to have chastised critics such as Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95), the French writer of animal fables, for expending their emotions over such inconsiderable creatures rather than concerning themselves with human misery.
2. Write a note on the notion of causality. How does David Hume challenge the notion of causality?
Ans. Hume argues that we cannot conceive of any other connection between cause and effect, because there simply is no other impression to which our idea may be traced. This certitude is all that remains.
For Hume, the necessary connection invoked by causation is nothing more than this certainty. Hume’s Copy Principle demands that an idea must have come from an impression, but we have no impression of efficacy in the event itself. Instead, the impression of efficacy is one produced in the mind. As we experience enough cases of a particular constant conjunction, our minds begin to pass a natural determination from cause to effect, adding a little more “oomph” to the prediction of the effect every time, a growing certitude that the effect will follow again. It is the internal impression of this “oomph” that gives rise to our idea of necessity, the mere feeling of certainty that the conjunction will stay constant. Ergo, the idea of necessity that supplements constant conjunction is a psychological projection. We cannot help but think that the event will unfurl in this way.
Having approached Hume’s account of causality by this route, we are now in a position to see where Hume’s two definitions of causation given in the Treatise come from. (He gives similar but not identical definitions in the Enquiry.) He defines “cause” in the following two ways:
(D1) An object precedent and contiguous to another, and where all the objects resembling the former are placed in like relations of precedency and contiguity to those objects that resemble the latter.
(D2) An object precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it, that the idea of the one determined the mind to form the idea of the other, and the impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other.
There are reams of literature addressing whether these two definitions are the same and, if not, to which of them Hume gives primacy. J.A. Robinson is perhaps the staunchest proponent of the position that the two are nonequivalent, arguing that there is a non equivalence in meaning and that they fail to capture the same extension. Two objects can be constantly conjoined without our mind determining that one causes the other, and it seems possible that we can be determined that one object causes another without their being constantly conjoined. But if the definitions fail in this way, then it is problematic that Hume maintains that both are adequate definitions of causation. Some scholars have argued for ways of squaring the two definitions (Don Garrett, for instance, argues that the two are equivalent if they are both read objectively or both read subjectively), while others have given reason to think that seeking to fit or eliminate definitions may be a misguided project.
3. Answer any two questions in about 250 words each.
a) Do you agree that there is some common underline theme present in Early and later Wittgenstein? Give arguments to support your answer.
Ans. Considered by some to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein played a central, if controversial, role in mid-20th-century analytic philosophy. He continues to influence, and incur debate in, current philosophical thought in topics as diverse as logic and language, perception and intention, ethics and religion, aesthetics and culture, and even political thought. Furthermore, a central factor in investigating Wittgenstein’s works is the multifarious nature of the project of interpreting them; this leads to untold difficulties in the ascertainment of his philosophical substance and method.
Originally, there were two commonly recognized stages of Wittgenstein’s thought—the early and the later—both of which were taken to be pivotal in their respective periods. In this orthodox two-stage interpretation, it is commonly acknowledged that the early Wittgenstein is epitomized in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. By showing the application of modern logic to metaphysics, via language, he provided new insights into the relations between world, thought, and language and thereby into the nature of philosophy. It is the later Wittgenstein, mostly recognized in the Philosophical Investigations, who took the more revolutionary step in critiquing all of traditional philosophy including its climax in his own early work. The nature of his new philosophy is heralded as anti-systematic through and through, yet still conducive to genuine philosophical understanding of traditional problems. In more recent scholarship, this division has been questioned: some interpreters have claimed a certain unity between all stages of his thought, while others talk of a more nuanced division, adding stages such as the middle Wittgenstein and the post-later Wittgenstein.
b) Write a note on the Socrates’s dialectic method.
Ans. The Socratic method (also known as method of Elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate) is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. It is named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates and is introduced by him in Plato’s Theaetetus as midwifery (maieutics) because it is employed to bring out definitions implicit in the interlocutors’ beliefs, or to help them further their understanding.
The Socratic method is a method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions.
The Socratic method searches for general commonly held truths that shape beliefs and scrutinizes them to determine their consistency with other beliefs. The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic, explore definitions, and characterize general characteristics shared by various particular instances.
In the second half of the 5th century BC, sophists were teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric to entertain, impress, or persuade an audience to accept the speaker’s point of view. Socrates promoted an alternative method of teaching, which came to be called the Socratic method.
Socrates began to engage in such discussions with his fellow Athenians after his friend from youth, Chaerephon, visited the Oracle of Delphi, which asserted that no man in Greece was wiser than Socrates. Socrates saw this as a paradox, and began using the Socratic method to answer his conundrum. Diogenes Laërtius, however, wrote that Protagoras invented the “Socratic” method.
Plato famously formalized the Socratic elenctic style in prose—presenting Socrates as the curious questioner of some prominent Athenian interlocutor—in some of his early dialogues, such as Euthyphro and Ion, and the method is most commonly found within the so-called “Socratic dialogues”, which generally portray Socrates engaging in the method and questioning his fellow citizens about moral and epistemological issues. But in his later dialogues, such as Theatetus or Sophist, Plato had a different method to philosophical discussions, namely dialectic.
4. Answer any four questions in about 150 words each.
a) Write a note on Kalam cosmological argument.
Ans. The most prominent form of the argument, as defended by William Lane Craig, states the Kalam cosmological argument as the following syllogism.
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Given the conclusion, Craig appends a further premise and conclusion based upon a philosophical analysis of the properties of the cause of the universe:
If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists who sans (without) the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
Referring to the implications of Classical Theism that follow from this argument, Craig writes:
“… transcending the entire universe there exists a cause which brought the universe into being ex nihilo … our whole universe was caused to exist by something beyond it and greater than it. For it is no secret that one of the most important conceptions of what theists mean by ‘God’ is Creator of heaven and earth.”
b) Evaluate the notion of private language.
Ans. The private language argument argues that a language understandable by only a single individual is incoherent, and was introduced by Ludwig Wittgenstein in his later work, especially in the Philosophical Investigations. The argument was central to philosophical discussion in the second half of the 20th century.
In the Investigations, Wittgenstein does not present his arguments in a succinct and linear fashion; instead, he describes particular uses of language, and prompts the reader to contemplate the implications of those uses. As a result, there is considerable dispute about both the nature of the argument and its implications. Indeed, it has become common to talk of private language arguments.
Historians of philosophy see precursors of the private language argument in a variety of sources, notably in the work of Gottlob Frege and John Locke. Locke is also a prominent exponent of the view targeted by the argument, since he proposed in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that the referent of a word is the idea it stands for.
c) Write a short note on picture theory.
Ans. The picture theory of meaning states that statements are meaningful if, and only if, they can be defined or pictured in the real world.
Wittgenstein’s later investigations laid out in the First Part of Philosophical Investigations refuted and replaced his earlier picture-based theory with a use theory of meaning.
The picture theory of language, also known as the picture theory of meaning, is a theory of linguistic reference and meaning articulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Wittgenstein suggested that a meaningful proposition pictured a state of affairs or atomic fact. Wittgenstein compared the concept of logical pictures with spatial pictures. The picture theory of language is considered a correspondence theory of truth.
Wittgenstein claims there is an unbridgeable gap between what can be expressed in language and what can only be expressed in non-verbal ways.
However, the second psychology-focused Part of Philosophical Investigations employs the concept as a metaphor for human psychology.
d) Write a note on the concept of time and space in Kant’s philosophy.
Ans. Kant tells us that space and time are the pure (a priori) forms of sensible intuition. Intuition is contrasted with the conceptualization (or categorization) performed by the understanding, and involves the way in which we passively receive data through sensibility. Sensation itself is the “matter” of intuition, but its “form” lies in us, as the way in which this data is organized.
The Metaphysical and Transcendental Expositions
For each space and time, Kant divides his discussion into what he calls a “Metaphysical” and a “Transcendental” Exposition. In the Metaphysical Exposition, he discusses what is contained a priori in each, while in the Transcendental Exposition, he discusses how this a priori content gives rise to the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge.
Space is the a priori form of “outer sense,” i.e., the faculty by which we represent “objects as outside us,” i.e., as “in space.” It is only through the representation of space that we can experience things as distinct from ourselves (as distinct from our inner mental states). As Kant says:
For in order for certain sensations to be related to something outside me (i.e., to something in another space from that in which I find myself), thus in order for me to represent them as outside and next to one another, thus not merely as different but as in different places, the representation of space must be their ground.
Time is the pure (a priori) form of inner sense, i.e., our awareness of our own inner mental states. We should be clear from the start (and we will come back to this later) that we have “no intuition of the soul itself, as an object” that is, we do not intuit the self (or soul) “as it is in itself,” but experience even our own inner mental states only as they appear to us as “inner determinations … represented in relations of time.”
While time is strictly only the form of inner sense, it is also, by implication, the form (with space) of outer sense. That is, “time is the a priori condition of all appearance in general.”
This is because our intuitions of outer objects are themselves inner mental states which are, as such, subject to the same temporal organization as any other inner state:
Time is the a priori formal condition of all appearances in general. Space, as the pure form of all outer intuitions, is limited as a priori condition merely to outer intuitions. But since, on the contrary, all representations, whether or not they have outer things as their object, nevertheless as determinations of the mind themselves belong to the inner state, … this inner state belongs under the formal condition of inner intuition, and thus of time.
So, while we experience our own inner states as temporally but not spatially ordered, we experience things outside ourselves as occupying a determinate location in both space and time.
5. Write short notes on any five in about 100 words each.
Ans. Natural phenomena are those that occur or manifest without human input. Examples of natural phenomena include gravity, tides, biological processes and oscillation.
Social phenomena are those that occur or exist through the actions of groups of humans. Six degrees of separation, for example, is a phenomenon that is demonstrated in social networking.
Psychological phenomena are those manifested in human behaviors and responses. The sunk cost effect, for example, is the tendency for humans to continue investing in something that clearly isn’t working. Another psychological phenomenon, the Hawthorne effect is demonstrated by an improvement in human behavior or performance as a result of increased attention from superiors, clients or colleagues.
Visual phenomena include optical illusions, such as the peripheral drift illusion in which people perceive movement in static images like Kitaoka Akiyoshi’s rotating snakes (See the image in our definition of the peripheral drift illusion).
b) Analytic a priori judgement
Ans. The first, analytic a priori judgments, designate knowledge claims which are “self-contained.” These are the sort of judgments that you can make in and of itself without reference to anything “external.” An example of an analytic a priori judgment is “squares have four sides” or “all bachelors are unmarried.” In point of fact, squares have four sides; bachelors are unmarried. If the object didn’t have four sides, it wouldn’t be a square. The same goes for bachelors: if the man in question was married, they wouldn’t be a bachelor. They’d be a married man.
The exact opposite of analytic a priori judgments are the synthetic a posteriori judgments. These judgments that you make with reference to “something” external. Examples would include: “The sky is blue,” “Kant was born in 1724,” or “Game of Thrones is fantasy fiction.” The sky might be blue. Kant might have been born in 1724. Game of Thrones might be fantasy fiction. All these things might be true. The difference in this case is that you will have to go and find out whether thus and such is actually the case. The sky, for example, might be grey or black, depending on the time or day or the weather conditions. Kant might have been born in 1723 or 1725; the sources of information that we possess regarding Kant’s birth might be wrong. And Game of Thrones might be better described as a medieval soap opera with fantasy fiction elements (like dragons, White Walkers, and shadows that look like Stannis Baratheon).
c) The idea of ‘Potentiality’ in Aristotle’s philosophy
Ans. In his philosophy, Aristotle distinguished two meanings of the word dunamis. According to his understanding of nature there was both a weak sense of potential, meaning simply that something “might chance to happen or not to happen”, and a stronger sense, to indicate how something could be done well. For example, “sometimes we say that those who can merely take a walk, or speak, without doing it as well as they intended, cannot speak or walk”. This stronger sense is mainly said of the potentials of living things, although it is also sometimes used for things like musical instruments.
Throughout his works, Aristotle clearly distinguishes things that are stable or persistent, with their own strong natural tendency to a specific type of change, from things that appear to occur by chance. He treats these as having a different and more real existence. “Natures which persist” are said by him to be one of the causes of all things, while natures that do not persist, “might often be slandered as not being at all by one who fixes his thinking sternly upon it as upon a criminal”. The potencies which persist in a particular material are one way of describing “the nature itself” of that material, an innate source of motion and rest within that material. In terms of Aristotle’s theory of four causes, a material’s non-accidental potential, is the material cause of the things that can come to be from that material, and one part of how we can understand the substance (ousia, sometimes translated as “thinghood”) of any separate thing. (As emphasized by Aristotle, this requires his distinction between accidental causes and natural causes.) According to Aristotle, when we refer to the nature of a thing, we are referring to the form, shape or look of a thing, which was already present as a potential, an innate tendency to change, in that material before it achieved that form, but things show what they are more fully, as a real thing, when they are “fully at work”
d) Black Feminism
Ans. Black feminism is a philosophy that centers on the idea that “Black women are inherently valuable, that [Black women’s] liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because our need as human persons for autonomy.”
The Combahee River Collective (1974-1980), a group of black feminists, spoke on how black women are constantly and simultaneously fighting this ongoing battle of multiple oppression from all angles. Within the Black Feminisms: Combahee River Collective Statement of 1977, they spoke on how, “…difficult to separate race from class from sex oppression because in our [black women’s’] lives they are the most often experienced simultaneously”. The Combahee River Collective articulated this interlocking system of oppression based on sexism, heterosexism, racism, and classism due to the lack of basic human rights provided to black women in comparison to other groups, such as white women. All of this is crucial to the political beliefs of black feminism due to their difference among other groups, as they tackle additional struggles don’t necessarily need to fight for. Black feminism is the fight for recognition as human beings who just want the same treatment and rights as everyone else. White women fighting for feminism was different from black women fighting for black feminism, simply because they’re only needing to address one oppression [sexism] versus an entire range of oppression, like black women.
e) Esse est percipi
Ans. formulated his fundamental proposition thus: Esse est percipi. In its more extreme forms, subjective idealism tends toward solipsism, which holds that I alone exist.
For any nonthinking being, esse est percipi (“to be is to be perceived”).
According to this argument, all the qualities attributed to objects are sense qualities. Thus, hardness is the sensing of a resistance to a striking action, and heaviness is a sensation of muscular effort when, for example, holding an object in one’s hand, just as blueness is a quality of visual experience. But those qualities exist only while they are being perceived by some subject or spirit equipped with sense organs. The 18th-century Anglo-Irish empiricist George Berkeley rejected the idea that sense perceptions are caused by material substance, the existence of which he denied. Intuitively he grasped the truth that “to be is to be perceived.” The argument is a simple one, but it provoked an extensive and complicated literature, and modern idealists considered it irrefutable.
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