Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)

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.
BigBango
Posts: 165
Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:15 pm

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by BigBango » November 19th, 2018, 4:26 am

Hereandnow wrote:
November 19th, 2018, 12:45 am
BigBango
After all, how could we fail to acknowledge his commitment to an "objective world" that sufficed to discredit metaphysical thinkers that failed to support their theories with any empirical evidence and at the same time establish the outlines of the science we practice today. I will simply refer you to Mortimer J. Adler's book "Ten Philosophical Mistakes", I believe the mistake, that most idealists make, especially Berkley, is that what is experienced "in here" is somehow tainted or transformed by our senses and therefore suspect as being "direct knowledge".
Adler, I suspect ( Iread something of his once having to do with education. He advocated student choice in high school, providing an out for those who don't take to liberal arts and the rest) is not trying to understand things at the level of basic questions. Philosophy becomes easy if one just doesn't have think about those pesky assumptions about consciousness, reality, being, meta ethics, epistemology, and....wait: those things ARE philosophy.

Kant does not deny objective thinking; he is just trying to talk about what underlies objective thinking. But there is no doubt: right now there is under a rock at the bottom of the Mariana Trench a pebble. By Kant's account, we cannot say there is a pebble absent all cognitive and experience making agencies. There is really nothing at all one can say about it under the supposition that it has to be conceived, if you will, unperceived. Of course, to even talk about it is impossible.
Kant does not deny objective thinking, as you say, nor does he deny an objective reality as you fail to say. It is not really outside Kant's schema to assert the existence of things yet to be experienced about the objective world. His only caution is to do the empirical work that needs to be done to confirm one's suspicions about the objective world that we have yet to discover.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Hereandnow » November 19th, 2018, 1:27 pm

But BigBango, when you say things like "objective world" whatever do you mean? The term 'world' is after all constructed by rational machinery that one would have to stand apart from to make any sense of any reference to what is not conditioned by the machinery in question. This is why Kant calls an assertion that attempts to talk about what is independent of experience either an idea spun without grounding, or a Ideal that is an archetype for practical affairs ( I am reading now from the Critique's "Ideal of Pure Reason" and "Transcendental Illusion").

BigBango
Posts: 165
Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:15 pm

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by BigBango » November 19th, 2018, 9:31 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 19th, 2018, 1:27 pm
But BigBango, when you say things like "objective world" whatever do you mean? The term 'world' is after all constructed by rational machinery that one would have to stand apart from to make any sense of any reference to what is not conditioned by the machinery in question.

This is why Kant calls an assertion that attempts to talk about what is independent of experience either an idea spun without grounding, or a Ideal that is an archetype for practical affairs ( I am reading now from the Critique's "Ideal of Pure Reason" and "Transcendental Illusion").
Sure, to the extent to which Kant is an Idealist he must face the criticisms that have come to plague all Idealists. Especially the extreme Idealists like Berkeley. I would argue though, that Kant's analysis avoids most of those easy jabs about being "behind the machinery". He avoids them by carving out a great arena of objective truths that are not assertions but a priori truths. Now you might wonder how he could succeed at doing that and simultaneously say that kind of thinking is "an idea spun without grounding". My only assist I could give him is that the assumptions or axioms or ontological premises of all systems of philosophical or scientific thought are open to that criticism.

Now, leaving Kant behind us (I hope), we can address this nonsense about "being behind the machinery". We are not behind the machinery we are in it. The "machinery of the senses is composed of the living cells that are us. As Whitehead asserts, every cell is conscious. The consciousness of the multi-celled organism is a mereological construct of the awareness of all the living cells that is itself. The nervous system is not the artifact of our consciousness it is the artifact of evolutionary enhancement of certain aspects of our being, to name eyesight for one. Every cell can "see" as scientists have discovered conducting "blind sight experiments" with subjects that have their optic nerves severed. The brain itself is just a unifier of the experience our cells are originating.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Hereandnow » November 19th, 2018, 11:38 pm

BigBango
Sure, to the extent to which Kant is an Idealist he must face the criticisms that have come to plague all Idealists. Especially the extreme Idealists like Berkeley. I would argue though, that Kant's analysis avoids most of those easy jabs about being "behind the machinery". He avoids them by carving out a great arena of objective truths that are not assertions but a priori truths. Now you might wonder how he could succeed at doing that and simultaneously say that kind of thinking is "an idea spun without grounding". My only assist I could give him is that the assumptions or axioms or ontological premises of all systems of philosophical or scientific thought are open to that criticism.

Now, leaving Kant behind us (I hope), we can address this nonsense about "being behind the machinery". We are not behind the machinery we are in it. The "machinery of the senses is composed of the living cells that are us. As Whitehead asserts, every cell is conscious. The consciousness of the multi-celled organism is a mereological construct of the awareness of all the living cells that is itself. The nervous system is not the artifact of our consciousness it is the artifact of evolutionary enhancement of certain aspects of our being, to name eyesight for one. Every cell can "see" as scientists have discovered conducting "blind sight experiments" with subjects that have their optic nerves severed. The brain itself is just a unifier of the experience our cells are originating.
I don't think idealism is a problem at all. It is right and does not create problems for objectivity. Certainly, Kant is not the last word. Everyone has their favorites, mine are Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Rorty and on into postmodern thinking, of which I have read here and there of Derrida and others.Post modern thinking is very revealing. But I am convinced Husserl and his Cartesian ego (transcendental ego) essentially the way to go. It is a way OUT. Idealism simply underscores an extraordinary feature of our being here: The really interesting and insightful inquiries are those that recognize consciousness and its objects cannot be separated (though, this does not mean that we are bound to the finitude of language, to use a Kierkegaardian term). Kant brought us to philosophy's end, though it is not what he said it was, that is, it is not so contained by his "mechanical" rationality (which I so characterize because his "metaphysics" i.e., his transcendental arguments, are all about strictly defined functions. Kant ultimately led philosophy to post modernism, and here we have the definitive termination of thought; and what lies beyond this is a call to liberation of the self. I have said often, the Buddhists were way ahead of their time. Only with post modernism do we see clearly that language is indeed what holds us to a system of binary servitude, to use a metaphor.
What can I say, I am a philosophical idealist. I have to read Whitehead more. Know little about him.

devans99
Posts: 141
Joined: June 17th, 2018, 8:24 pm

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by devans99 » November 20th, 2018, 8:53 am

Wirius wrote:
July 16th, 2016, 1:31 pm
For me, I believe it is the problem of induction.
Wonderful quote from Bertrand Russell on induction:

"Domestic animals expect food when they see the person who usually feeds them. We know that all these rather crude expectations of uniformity are liable to be misleading. The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken"

Surely we can prove the problem of induction is unsolvable? If I wish to make a statement about a set of objects/occurrences, I cannot make that statement with certainty without having knowledge of every single member of the set? So I think the problem of induction is something we will have to live with forever?

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 2899
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: What is the greatest problem in epistemology?

Post by Burning ghost » November 27th, 2018, 1:34 am

Dev -

Yep! Look like it. We manage well enough it seems :)
AKA badgerjelly

Post Reply