l. THE GENERAL PROBLEM OF EPISTEMOLOGY There is a philosophical issue that surely precedes all other possible questions. It concerns the very possibility of our thinking about some thing to some purpose. Short of this no philosophy, theory or research would be possible. But it is not immediately clear that we are assured that what purports to be effective thought, and cognition is such in reality. What guarantee is there for instance that when one is under the impression that one is thinking that "the cat is on the mat" it is in fact the case that one is thinking this? One could not be thinking at all, only having a misleading mystic experience. And then even if one was thinking, one might not be really thinking of the cat being on the mat, but only that one wishes there was a cat, and wonders whether if there was it would be on the mat, and yet the subjective impression was that one was thinking: "The cat is on the mat" (the same picture might stand for both the thoughts mentioned). Then one might in some way try to think 'the cat is on the mat. ' yet be mistaken in that there aren't any material objects at all, and all one does is to inventory god's perceptions. And so on, and so on! These are of course the kind of problem that the layman habitually views with disdainful alarm.
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