Can we 'know' anything?

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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#46  Postby Fiveredapples » March 11th, 2012, 10:05 pm

Fiveredapples #42
Surely you are kidding. In the middle ages true knowledge was that the earth was flat and it was the center of the universe, it was even written in the holy book, therefore it was unquestionable.
Knowledge and true knowledge are one and the same thing, because knowledge entails truth.

It's simple. They were mistaken. They thought they knew but they in fact didn't know, because what they believed wasn't true. What's the problem?

It doesn't matter how confident you are with respect to your belief. It doesn't matter if you think it's an unquestionable belief. So, no they didn't have knowledge or 'true knowledge'.
"Some people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so" -- Bertrand Russell
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?



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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#47  Postby HexHammer » March 12th, 2012, 6:12 am

Fiveredapples wrote:
Fiveredapples #42
Surely you are kidding. In the middle ages true knowledge was that the earth was flat and it was the center of the universe, it was even written in the holy book, therefore it was unquestionable.
Knowledge and true knowledge are one and the same thing, because knowledge entails truth.

It's simple. They were mistaken. They thought they knew but they in fact didn't know, because what they believed wasn't true. What's the problem?

It doesn't matter how confident you are with respect to your belief. It doesn't matter if you think it's an unquestionable belief. So, no they didn't have knowledge or 'true knowledge'.
You only know it's untrue because you have better proof, if one doesn't have better proof you don't know it's true or untrue, like the welding exaple you only said that some said otherwise, but didn't say excatly why the weld should be weaker or stronger, you only rely on hear say, not scientific proof.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#48  Postby Fiveredapples » March 12th, 2012, 11:41 am

You only know it's untrue because you have better proof, if one doesn't have better proof you don't know it's true or untrue, like the welding exaple you only said that some said otherwise, but didn't say excatly why the weld should be weaker or stronger, you only rely on hear say, not scientific proof.

The definition of knowledge has nothing to do with scientific proof. In the Middle Ages, people didn't know that the earth was flat because the earth isn't (wasn't) flat. The truth of what they believe settles the matter.

Today we know the earth isn't flat (if indeed the earth isn't flat). Do you doubt that it's not flat? No, but so what -- neither did they doubt that the opposite in the Middle Ages. Well, I'm sure some did, but the point is that your doubt/confidence/proof is irrelevant.

You know the world is flat -- here comes a necessary condition -- iff the world is flat.

You scientific equipment or your confidence or your scientific proof play no role with respect to the truth condition of knowledge.
"Some people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so" -- Bertrand Russell
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#49  Postby HexHammer » March 12th, 2012, 12:47 pm

Fiveredapples wrote:
You only know it's untrue because you have better proof, if one doesn't have better proof you don't know it's true or untrue, like the welding exaple you only said that some said otherwise, but didn't say excatly why the weld should be weaker or stronger, you only rely on hear say, not scientific proof.

The definition of knowledge has nothing to do with scientific proof. In the Middle Ages, people didn't know that the earth was flat because the earth isn't (wasn't) flat. The truth of what they believe settles the matter.

Today we know the earth isn't flat (if indeed the earth isn't flat). Do you doubt that it's not flat? No, but so what -- neither did they doubt that the opposite in the Middle Ages. Well, I'm sure some did, but the point is that your doubt/confidence/proof is irrelevant.

You know the world is flat -- here comes a necessary condition -- iff the world is flat.

You scientific equipment or your confidence or your scientific proof play no role with respect to the truth condition of knowledge.
Knowledge and true knowledge are one and the same thing, because knowledge entails truth.

It's simple. They were mistaken. They thought they knew but they in fact didn't know, because what they believed wasn't true. What's the problem?

Nice self contradiction!
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#50  Postby Scottie » March 12th, 2012, 12:50 pm

Fiveredapples wrote:Remember, you're in the middle of the ocean, just having been thrown overboard by me, and you're treading water to survive. Think of how confident you can be that you're indeed in water. What possible test is there, or could there be, to bolster your confidence that you're in water? I mean, you're as sure as you're going to get. Yet all you have is knowledge, not certainty. Those who ask for 'certainty' don't realize what they're asking for. You're asking for something beyond our cognitive ability, which is why certainty is a logical notion and knowledge an epistemological notion. Truth, by the way, is a metaphysical notion.


scottie wrote:So. . . can we be convinced as convinced can be of our experience yet be totally wrong concerning facticity?


Fiveredapples wrote:All of your questions can be answered in one sentence: Knowledge has nothing to do with how convinced anyone is.


wait a second. . . are you talking about knowledge or certainty 'cause is seems you've declared above that knowledge of my plight is somehow different from certainty of my plight.

so - just for good measure - from above -

Fiveredapples wrote:certainty is a logical notion and knowledge an epistemological notion.


Do you mean epistemological or empirical. . . because this thread is about epistemology. The question "Can we know anything?" IS a basic epistemological question. I think you need to preface your point with an explanation of your terminology because it seems to me that these terms can mean different things for different people who aren't always sure of what they're trying to argue for or assume that others will understand what they're arguing for. So you have a notion of absolute certainty which is supposed to be a logical notion? Can it ONLY be arrived at through logic? Must the premises conform to experience?

Logically, an argument can be valid even though the conclusion does not agree with experience. The premises of any logical argument don't have to conform to experience for a conclusion to be valid. In fact, they CAN conform to experience, be logically valid, and still yield a conclusion that doesn't agree with experience.

1. All living cats respond to stimuli
2. I respond to stimuli
3. Therefore, I'm a living cat.

Sure, it's incomplete, but it's logically valid. Is this Certainty or is it crap? I'm guessing you're going to agree that it's crap. This takes us to questions concerning whether, to tell us anything about the world or anything about any ultimate reality which would be perceivable given a sufficient frame of reference, premises must have some degree of agreement with experience. We can further differentiate between fidelity of premises to matters of fact and a sufficient number of premises to accurately represent the world.

So. . . logic CAN but does not NECESSARILY tell us anything or render anything knowable because it doesn't have to agree with experience. What, then, of certainty, which you claim is a logical concern?

To set the record straight, When thrown overboard, I'm going to act as if I'm in water. Any logical construct I may form aimed at solving or accepting my dilemma is going to be based on the idea that my chosen set of premises which may yield any given conclusion is going to agree with my immediate experience because I understand the gravity of my situation and need for accurate assessment. . . and all that happens at the speed of neurochemical activity. In short, I'm not really happy with your distinction between knowledge and certainty 'cause they may just be points on a continuum.

so. . . dictionary is to philosophy as knife is to gunfight?
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#51  Postby Fiveredapples » March 12th, 2012, 4:59 pm

wait a second. . . are you talking about knowledge or certainty 'cause is seems you've declared above that knowledge of my plight is somehow different from certainty of my plight.
I have said that knowledge of your plight is different from certainty of your plight. There is no certainty of your plight. I have been very explicit -- at least I thought I was -- that knowledge in no way entails or just is certainty.

The question "Can we know anything?" IS a basic epistemological question. I think you need to preface your point with an explanation of your terminology because it seems to me that these terms can mean different things for different people who aren't always sure of what they're trying to argue for or assume that others will understand what they're arguing for.
I've stated that knowledge is an epistemological notion, one about the status of some of our beliefs. I've also said that we are not the ultimate determiners of this status, but instead the world determines whether we have knowledge. The notion of how sure you are about your belief plays no role in the definition of knowledge. The only thing close to this that actually is part of the definition of knowledge is the notion of how you acquire your belief, the justification. But the sense of assuredness, confidence, or certainty you have of your belief because of the way you acquired it plays no role in knowledge.

So you have a notion of absolute certainty which is supposed to be a logical notion? Can it ONLY be arrived at through logic? Must the premises conform to experience?
This notion is interesting but not relevant to my explanation of knowledge. By the way, there is not difference between 'certainty' and 'absolute certainty'.

Logically, an argument can be valid even though the conclusion does not agree with experience. The premises of any logical argument don't have to conform to experience for a conclusion to be valid.
Conclusions are neither valid or invalid. Conclusions are either true or false, or follow from the premises or don't.

In fact, they CAN conform to experience, be logically valid, and still yield a conclusion that doesn't agree with experience.
Really? I'd like to hear of such an example, one in which you have a valid argument with true premises but a false conclusion.

You know, I'm not sure why you've ventured off into a discussion of validity, but I'll read on anyway.

1. All living cats respond to stimuli
2. I respond to stimuli
3. Therefore, I'm a living cat.

Sure, it's incomplete, but it's logically valid.
No, it's invalid.

Is this Certainty or is it crap?
Well, I'll ignore the 'Certainty' question and answer that it's crap, because it's not valid.

I'm guessing you're going to agree that it's crap.
Yes, but you're guessing for the wrong reasons.

I'll ignore the rest of your post because it stems from your false belief that you've provided a valid argument. You have not, sir.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#52  Postby heeltap » April 7th, 2012, 4:53 pm

Q:Can we "know" Anything?" A: NO! Not if you are a nihilist!

Consider a narrower more specific Q to get a better Answer!
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#53  Postby Mercury51 » April 13th, 2012, 8:55 pm

cooltodd109 wrote:Socrates famously said that the only thing we can know is that we know nothing.

Can we truly know anything? Do we really know nothing?

If we do know something, how can we be sure that we aren't mistaken?


forget 'we' , there 'is' n o 'we'; what you mean is can I know anything? don't you worry or speculate about other beings, concern yourself only with yourself; before I can know anything I must first know that I AM.

that is far more difficult than you imagine, and extremely rare you are using the wrong tool for the job.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#54  Postby Stanley Huang » May 1st, 2012, 9:26 am

Maybe not. If a scientist thinks he knows, he may be wrong.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#55  Postby Spectrum » May 2nd, 2012, 2:51 am

Stanley Huang wrote:Maybe not. If a scientist thinks he knows, he may be wrong.
A scientist is only wrong, if s/he insists s/he knows anything in all circumstances with 100% certainty. A scientist is not wrong if s/he claims to know accepted scientific knowledge, say, Water =H2O or E = MC2 and the likes.

The same applied to Socrates, who said he did not know anything with 100% certainty. Of course, he knew a lot of things perspectively and relatively but not with 100% certainty. If you had read Nietzsche, you would have easily understood the OP.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#56  Postby Stanley Huang » May 3rd, 2012, 11:29 am

To Spectrum, Nietzsche's view of life is a moral one, while Spinoza's view of life is metaphysical one. That means that Nietzsche believed that life needs a purpose, while Spinoza believed in existence based on reason. To me, I often do not know what I am writing about. Sometimes, I did not want to write because I feared that it might be dangerous if I do not know what I am writing about. But I feel as a thinker or as a scientist, I need to make such a move. But I am very sceptical person. I will say that maybe I have no knowledge. Maybe I am ignorant and I do not want to think. But I feel a statement may have more than two possible truth value or values. For instance, if I say that tommorrow will rain, this statement can be either true or false. True is one truth value while false is another truth value. But I feel between agree or disagree, there is a not sure, which is neither agree nor disagree. So maybe there are more than two possible true or false truth value. And when asked metaphysical question, there are four possibilities: 1. The first possibility is the statement: Matter exists while the mind does not exist. 2. Second possibility is the statement: Mind exists while matter does not exist. 3. Third possibility is the statement: Both matter and mind exist. 4. Final possibility is the statement: Both matter and the mind do not exist. The four statements above, which one is right? Now, there is a metaphysical position which I call it 'metaphysical uncertainty' and this is the position that I did not assert any one of the statement above and at the same time, I did not negate any of the above statement, so when I ask which one of the above is right, it is neither an assertion nor negation. Then what it that? Not sure, and this is what I called 'metaphysical uncertainty,' which is the position where a person is unsure about which one of the above metaphysical statement is right. This is the metaphysical position I support, what I called 'metaphysical uncertainty,' it is not materialism, not idealism, not nihilism, and not monism but at the same time, it did not deny materialism, it did not deny idealism and it did not deny nihilism and it did not reject monism. So, this is the metaphysical position that I support, or what I called, the epistemological metaphysical position that I am supporting. Regarding to whether or not the equation 'F=ma' is right, I want to ask: "Is the equation a hypothetical one, based on a 'if' statement? If it a hypothetical equation, then, it cannot be wrong metaphysical, but logically, it may be an error, or, one may say: "It may not be perfect." That means this equation may work if certain condition exists, however, if different situation happens, the equation 'F=ma' may be wrong.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#57  Postby Fhbradley » May 3rd, 2012, 11:35 am

cooltodd109 wrote:Socrates famously said that the only thing we can know is that we know nothing.

Can we truly know anything? Do we really know nothing?

If we do know something, how can we be sure that we aren't mistaken?


Socrates was an ironist. Don't take that statement literally.

-- Updated May 3rd, 2012, 10:47 am to add the following --

Scottie wrote:
Fiveredapples wrote:
Logically, an argument can be valid even though the conclusion does not agree with experience. The premises of any logical argument don't have to conform to experience for a conclusion to be valid. In fact, they CAN conform to experience, be logically valid, and still yield a conclusion that doesn't agree with experience.

1. All living cats respond to stimuli 2. I respond to stimuli 3. Therefore, I'm a living cat.

Sure, it's incomplete, but it's logically valid?


No, it's not logically valid. In the first premise, what you're saying is:

For all x, if x is a living cat, then x responds to stimuli.

This says nothing about whether or not anything else responds to stimuli. It just says that if you're a living cat, you respond to stimuli, and there is not a cat that doesn't respond to stimuli. So clearly your conclusion does not follow.

-- Updated May 3rd, 2012, 10:55 am to add the following --

HexHammer wrote:Fiveredapples #42
Surely you are kidding. In the middle ages true knowledge was that the earth was flat and it was the center of the universe, it was even written in the holy book, therefore it was unquestionable.

Indeed you are very shard, but I don't agree with your logic in most of your posts.



To have knowledge of a proposition, the proposition must be true. The proposition 'The earth is flat' is not true, therefore, it's cognitively meaningless to say you have knowledge of it. Secondly, I don't see how its being written in a holy book makes a difference. For instance, imagine if in a holy book it was written that nothing exists. Would it follow then that nothing exists? Clearly not. Again, one of the conditions of knowledge is that the proposition must be true.

-- Updated May 3rd, 2012, 11:11 am to add the following --

Fiveredapples wrote:Conclusions are neither valid or invalid. Conclusions are either true or false, or follow from the premises or don't.


Actually, you've got it backwards. In logic, it's irrelevant as to whether or not the conclusions are true. Logic concerns itself only with validity. So, conclusions are not true or false, but either valid or invalid. For instance, if you say

(1) All Greeks are men, Socrates is a Greek, Therefore Socrates is a man.

You do not presuppose that there are such things as Greeks. Or else (2) would be true and you would have to ontologically commit yourself to the existence of fire breathing dragons

(2) All dragons breathe flame, x is a dragon, therefore x breathes flame.


When we say "All A's are B's", were' saying (x)(x is an A → x is a B). The '(x)' does not commit us to saying there really are A's, unlike saying (∃x)(x is an A & x is a B).
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#58  Postby Daydreamguy » March 30th, 2013, 10:32 pm

These are the two philosophies I came up with

Don’t Refute Without Full Understanding?

We could know nothing? We could know something? We could know it all? We could not know what know is? I could be communicating with no one? Who knows that’s the real question everything can be seen from a larger scale therefore we don’t know or do we? Everything is a question to humans?


Every Answer has a Question Mark Ironically

Human beings with science and logic, in most cases unknowingly make claims of the universe that in reality isn’t this just a way of passively disregarding the simple fact that within a larger scale of understanding we could be wrong or off on something that is considered fact. It’s like studying one page of a book and claiming that you are ready for the test the next day. Because of this simple fact many or even all or some things cannot be refuted although according to what we know they can. Who knows maybe big foot, aliens, ghosts and souls do exist but we don’t have enough information yet. In this very moment and maybe for ever we will stay in this limited range of knowledge per person.

Tell me what you think
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#59  Postby Wuliheron » May 27th, 2013, 2:39 am

Supposedly someone once asked Wittgenstein what does "meaning" mean, to which he asked, "What do you mean by what does meaning mean?" Unless you can tell me what you mean by "know" then I have no clue what you are asking. You might as well be asking if we can "gobbledy gook" anything.
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Re: Can we 'know' anything?

Post Number:#60  Postby Dustin » March 27th, 2014, 2:08 pm

Honesty is a hardship forcing us to realize our Insignificance. Sorry for the lame quote. I'm just trying to make sure it posts before I go on typing a longer reply that never shows up again :P . I'm a new bee.
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