What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Wirius
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What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Wirius » July 16th, 2016, 1:31 pm

For me, I believe it is the problem of induction. How do I rationally demonstrate that one induction is more logical or reasonable than another? Sure, intuitively we believe it is more reasonable that the sun will rise again tomorrow, than the sun will not rise again tomorrow. But, rationally, why is this? If we could discover a rational construct of thought which could evaluate the rationality of inductions, I believe epistemology would be in a better place.

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Alec Smart
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Alec Smart » July 16th, 2016, 3:08 pm

Wirius wrote:What is the greatest problem in epistemology?
For me, it's not knowing what it is.
Smart by name and Alec by nature.

Platos stepchild
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Platos stepchild » July 16th, 2016, 3:48 pm

Alec Smart wrote:
Wirius wrote:What is the greatest problem in epistemology?
For me, it's not knowing what it is.
Damned clever. In fact, too clever. There's nothing left to say.

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Alec Smart
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Alec Smart » July 16th, 2016, 4:18 pm

Platos stepchild wrote: Damned clever. In fact, too clever. There's nothing left to say.
Actually, I seem to have acquired a reputation for profundity, based entirely on people mistaking my ignorance for insight.
Smart by name and Alec by nature.

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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Platos stepchild » July 16th, 2016, 4:35 pm

Alec Smart wrote:
Plato's stepchild wrote: Damned clever. In fact, too clever. There's nothing left to say.
Actually, I seem to have acquired a reputation for profundity, based entirely on people mistaking my ignorance for insight.
I believe it's better to hit a target, dead-on in the darkness, than to come close, in the light.

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roberthv12
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by roberthv12 » February 25th, 2018, 6:16 am

I would say that, with my limited experience of epistemology, that what should be a great problem in epistemology is that of how belief is defined. IMO, epistemologists often take the word for granted....though I did read a section in Armstrong's text explaining what belief is...but personally, when epistemologists talk of someone having the belief that a coin toss will land a certain way, I think they are giving the concept too much leeway...I don't think it's possible for someone to actually believe that a coin toss will land on heads, they may concentrate their energy on such a result and even make the claim "I believe it will be heads" but given any meaningful definition of belief, one should not be able to make such claims accurately...honestly to take an extreme example, does a Christian who has worked in physics their whole life who makes the claim "I believe the earth is 6000 years old" really *believe* that it is? (Given they have evidence to the contrary through experimental observation). I know Sam Harris has done some work in the lab testing peoples brains when they are in certain doxastic states, maybe he was the first to do so..now that I write it out, I think I'm caught in two minds
(I'm also thinking that it's very difficult to make the transition between a state of mind and the written word, so defining belief would be difficult, a problem bypassed in most epistemology when the concentration is on the definition of knowledge, where we are allowed to use this term belief, meaning we've already made the leap between a subjective experience and a written proposition)..but anyway, I recently heard Lawrence Krauss on a podcast say that we should do away with the term belief, and simply use probabilities that something will be true. Another problem is that, Epistemologists often debate about the two, (strong and weak) conceptions of knowledge, but I think that, because what they are trying to do is give words to define a generally accepted intuition, they could simply survey people about it. I have done the survey myself, and it seems that people will use the weak conception most of the time, but when pressed, asked "do you really really know that?".. like, my wife is teaching a class right now, I know because she does every week at this time, but what if there was a fire drill that day, I didn't know about and she was actually standing in the courtyard waiting for the fire dept.? People will switch to the hard conception of knowledge (one that requires no doubt)...so really I deduce that the term "know" is an ambiguous term, and actually we'd be better off without it, if we wanted to be rigorous, technically correct robots. I say deem "know" to have a strong conception, and stop using it in every day language, come up with different words, one for "almost certain" and one for "certain barring extreme cases such as that I'm being controlled by an evil demon or that I'm a brain in a vat". We could go one step further and give words for cases in which we don't know but the probability is such and such, in that way, we wouldn't need the word believe either. First time I've written down my thoughts, so there may be issues, but that's my opinion atm, that's "where I'm at" with regards to them.

Namelesss
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Namelesss » February 25th, 2018, 11:35 pm

Platos stepchild wrote:
July 16th, 2016, 4:35 pm
I believe it's better to hit a target, dead-on in the darkness, than to come close, in the light.
"Talent is hitting a target no one else can hit; genius is hitting a target no one else can see."
*__-

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Tosen
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Tosen » April 21st, 2018, 9:52 pm

For me, epistemology should be the primary philosophy of all philosophies. Because it treats on how "knowing" knows. I think that in general the biggest problems of epistemology is how it can touch very delicate ground. In the sense of all the reductionist notions that ultimately get you nowhere, precisely because you CAN'T know them, because of our limits of knowing.

An example is the following:

Reality is known to is through a medium, this medium being our sensory impressions and ultimately, the mind(Ideas). Therefore reality is mental, because it cannot see what "is", the true nature/substance of the external world. If somehow we had full contact with it(External world), without being separated by a brain that arranges the contents for us, then this problem should not arise at all. This leads to absolute idealism. A world that is purely mental and, therefore, reality cannot even be validated as another thing that is "not mental", because were are analyzing ideas themselves to reach another plain(Reality). And that reality's substance is something not mental, not knowable by ideas(External world).

From this notion people can say that the world doesn't really exist, it is just ideas of the mind. But these ideas must come from somewhere right? There has to be an "external world" from which these "ideas" or sensory impressions come from. It leaves the mind being something capable of creating ideas out of nothingness, if we follow these conclusions.

Another problem in epistemology I would say is not addressing the implications and complexity of language and how it forges our thought. Before philosophizing about anything.

Language are the "Signs"(Words) that we use to name phenomena from the external world. We put meaning to these signs as well. Many signs used together, (sentences) creates complex forms of thinking, a property of the mind. I am more concerned about the language that we use in Metaphysics or Ontology. I mean, Language IS one of the properties of how the mind "knows". Recalling words take you to a signification of something. Philosophical words with high content like dualism, substance, being, is, idea, thing, mind, body, reality, external, internal, becoming, entity, one, many, nature, eternal..... All of these words/signs convey SOMETHING, according the the meaning that has been arbitrarily established for it. How can each philosopher grasp a sign like "substance" or being, and know that they are thinking about the object of thought? What do we refer to when we say "thing"? What is precisely the object of thought in philosophical abstractions? And how do these signs, that we fundamentally use to even refer to those abstractions, actually relate to reality ? (This implies the nature of how the meaning of words(semantics) can make the mind think of things that one cannot see empirically; the logical reasoning of meanings I would call it) How can two minds, those two minds having an aspect of individuality in how it correlates its contents, can make abstractions of things they cannot see/feel by sense impressions and understand each other? (In Metaphysics or Ontology) This problem started with language and ended with other implications. More fundamental problems can arise from this. This showcases how complex reason is.

There are many, many other problems, but for me personally the main dilemma is how epistemological conclusions can lead to an absolute reductionism.

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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » April 22nd, 2018, 3:36 pm

I would say it is this: how does the epistemological position you hold sustain itself given you are in situ and individual. Like let's say your epistemology follows scientific epistemology - keep Feyarabend out of it for now. So you explain empirical research as the best route to knowledge, all nice and neat in an essay, can defend it well and point to scientific achievements as back up, etc. But we do not live on paper, research happens elsewhere and when we wake up in the morning we are 1) trusting our memory of that 'essay' 2) our intuition about our own processes of deduction, how well we do that kind of thing 3) our memory in general and so on. We are distant from research centers, where only a fraction of the research happens. We make decisions based on intuition, newspapers, deduction, our families, books we've read, in haphazard applications of a mix of epistemologies, all from our hand held camera, first person wandering through life.

And this is not just an issue that kind of epistemology faces. All of them are on paper, and they you wake up in the morning....

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ReasonMadeFlesh
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by ReasonMadeFlesh » June 6th, 2018, 11:37 am

Munchaüssen trilemma.

Then again for me there is no such thing as epistemology, there is only ontology, and all we can do is investigate the nature of being more closely, and realise that this Being is the being of ourselves, the Godhead, getting lost in each of us, only to return again.
"A philosopher who does not take part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Thinking critical
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Thinking critical » June 9th, 2018, 4:58 am

Wirius wrote:
July 16th, 2016, 1:31 pm
Sure, intuitively we believe it is more reasonable that the sun will rise again tomorrow, than the sun will not rise again tomorrow. But, rationally, why is this? If we could discover a rational construct of thought which could evaluate the rationality of inductions, I believe epistemology would be in a better place.
It is not intuition which leads us to deduce the sun will rise tomorrow, it is rational thinking. To rationalise something is to understand the ratio of one thing compared to the other in order to determine which is most likely to be true. This is litterally the process of a rational construct, however it is not epistemologically valid because although it is logical to believe for example that the sun will rise tomorrow, we can not know this to be true until it has happened.
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by ReasonMadeFlesh » June 9th, 2018, 1:42 pm

Mate... Agrippa's trilemma.

End of story. Also known as "Munchaüssen's trilemma" or the "regress argument". That's all there is to it dude.
"A philosopher who does not take part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Thinking critical
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Thinking critical » June 9th, 2018, 3:27 pm

ReasonMadeFlesh wrote:
June 9th, 2018, 1:42 pm
Mate... Agrippa's trilemma.

End of story. Also known as "Munchaüssen's trilemma" or the "regress argument". That's all there is to it dude.
Trilema had three alternatives to justify true knowledge - circular, regress or axiomatic. Problem is, the trilemma caim creates a double sided sword......how do you know wether this is actually the case or not?
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Burning ghost » June 10th, 2018, 4:39 am

Wirius wrote:
July 16th, 2016, 1:31 pm
For me, I believe it is the problem of induction. How do I rationally demonstrate that one induction is more logical or reasonable than another? Sure, intuitively we believe it is more reasonable that the sun will rise again tomorrow, than the sun will not rise again tomorrow. But, rationally, why is this? If we could discover a rational construct of thought which could evaluate the rationality of inductions, I believe epistemology would be in a better place.
What you’re wanting is idealism.

The Sun (whatever that is?) doesn’t “rise” anyhoo.

The distinction between epistemology and ontology is one of logical convenience - it’s a useful distinction though, as without distinction what is there for us to claim as being “useful” in the first instance (when/where ever such an “item” of an “instance” may rest its sleepy head!?) :P
AKA badgerjelly

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ReasonMadeFlesh
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Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by ReasonMadeFlesh » June 10th, 2018, 8:33 pm

Thinking critical wrote:
June 9th, 2018, 3:27 pm
ReasonMadeFlesh wrote:
June 9th, 2018, 1:42 pm
Mate... Agrippa's trilemma.

End of story. Also known as "Munchaüssen's trilemma" or the "regress argument". That's all there is to it dude.
Trilema had three alternatives to justify true knowledge - circular, regress or axiomatic. Problem is, the trilemma caim creates a double sided sword......how do you know wether this is actually the case or not?
Even doubt is recursively applied to itself.
"A philosopher who does not take part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

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