External World Argument

884 Words4 Pages
British philosopher Moore refutes the claim that we cannot know anything about objects which are mind-independent or part of the external world in his paper, Proof of the External World. In this, Moore is trying to prove that idealists are mistaken in their claim that all we can know about phenomena or appearances are mind-dependent things by trying to prove the existence of external objects. Moore’s argument is quite straightforward and simple but is not entirely convincing from the standpoint of a sceptic. His attempt to prove the existence of external objects is as follows: ‘I can prove now, for instance, that two human hands exist. How? By holding up my two hands, and saying, as I make a certain gesture with the right hand, ‘Here is one…show more content…
Moore himself admits he cannot, as philosophers require when they search for proofs of the external world, formulate a general statement that would prove any proposition of this sort (page 25). He further adds that “If this is what is meant by proof of external things, I do not believe that any proof of external things is possible.” (Page 26). Furthermore, he admits that he also needs to prove that he is not dreaming which he also acknowledges is impossible. However, while he admits these two fall backs in his argument he nevertheless stands his ground and continues to assert that he really has given sufficient proof for the existence of external objects. He asserts that even though he cannot prove that he knows that he has two hands it does not take away from the fact that he does know it. Moore’s common sense approach to philosophy allows him to show how one can know something which they cannot prove as he says there are countless occurrences during our day to day life that when confronted with knowledge of physical objects we do not once question whether we know them and are happy to continue going about our day. Surely even the most sceptic of philosophers like Descartes must have been aware that as he was writing his famous Mediations about how he knew nothing at all he was doing so with pen and paper thus these two external objects
Open Document