Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan
Chapter 17: Trains of Thought
17. Trains of thought* Harry M. Markowitz My essay will be concerned principally with some philosophical views I have held for much of my life. After recounting the sources (for me) and the nature of these views, I will conclude with some brief personal reflections. These philosophical views are on a few related topics. My views on any one topic did not spring instantly to mind, but were the results of a train of thought to which I would return many times over weeks, months and years. It was also important to me that the train of thought on one topic did not contradict that on another. WHAT DO WE KNOW? The first topic to occupy me, among those reviewed here, concerned what do we know and how do we know it. Until I was 13 or 14 I read comic books and The Shadow mystery magazines, then I read (I cannot remember why) Darwin’s Origin of Species. I was especially fascinated with how Darwin marshalled his facts, argued his case and considered possible objections. Subsequently I read popular accounts of physics and astronomy, from the high-school library, and original accounts by philosophers, purchased from wonderful big, old, musty used-book stores then in downtown Chicago. The philosopher who impressed me most, who became ‘my’ philosopher, was David Hume. He argued that even though we release a ball a thousand times and each time it falls to the floor, we are not thereby provided proof with certainty that the ball will...
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