Things Can Be Otherwise 6/8

Knowledge, The Self, PDP’s

How questions regarding the nature of knowledge are linked to questions regarding the nature of the self.

Can knowledge be formed in purely individual or personal terms, or does it require connections with the views of others?

  • all say no
  • Decartes – with God
  • Wittgenstein – shared experiences
  • Leibniz’s – all things are connected

What is the self? Is there an essence or soul and, if so is it a single, isolated being or a principle of connection?


17th Century:

Galileo – discovering the solar system

  • conflict of knowledge between Catholic Church and the solar system seen through the telescope
  • catholic church believed we were the centre of the universe
  • Galileo found that we were not the centre, there are planets all around us, Earth circles the sun

Cogito, ergo sum:

“I think, therefore, I am” – Plato

  • the moment you doubt, you are thinking – you exist
  • to doubt it is to confirm it

Theory of the Self

Modern Cartesian self: R. Descartes

  • self rooted in reason and thought, relient on God, isolated inner self
  • based on certainty and God

Cartesian circle: idea is based on God existing, not a valid source, go round in cirlces with arguments

Leibniz’s Monadology (1714): a universe of interconnected simple substances, including souls

  • everybody is affected by everything that happens in the universe
  • a universe of interconnected
  • things connect with other things through perseption
  • all things are connected
  • based on comparing and contrasting

We think more like R. Descartes – separate things; don’t see as one

L. Wittgenstein, 1953

  • public nature of language
  • we know what things are because we share experiences – when isolated
  • experience is social – something private rests upon a shared public foundation
  • e.g. at a party find someone with the same likes = shared experiences
  • to be a self, you are made up of shared experiences with others

What about the soul?

  • Descartes – isolated soul
  • Leibniz – all things are connected; the soul is connected to the universe

PDP’s / essays

  • don’t an info-dumper
  • what is important? what do you want to write about?


Write a PDP that identifies and reflects upon a key change or difficulty that has occurred during this option.

  • reflecting on the topic
  • developing how to write a PDP
  • how have I found these 2 months

During the past 6 sessions of constellation, we have been discussing knowledge, technology and writing under the subject of philosophy. Within the seminars, topics are discussed quickly and I am often left hurrying notes down before the lecturer gets to the next point. Many philosophers are discussed within one session and it can be confusing trying to piece them all together to find a link. After the session, I review my hand-written notes and place it in an orderly structure so I can write it on blog. It is at the time of writing on my blog, that I begin to understand what originally had me confused. This process of digesting information has helped me to find a way to understand the topics we have been discussing. *Include example*


Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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