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Epistemological nihilism

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Greenham
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Epistemological nihilism

Post by Greenham » August 30th, 2019, 3:17 pm

All of these ideas seem to be examples of epistemological nihilism:
  • Omphalos hypothesis
    Simulation hypothesis
    Descartes' "evil demon"
    "Brain in a vat" hypothesis
    Dream hypothesis
    Solipsism
What they all have in common is that they are unfalsifiable and that they posit that, at bottom, all of our perceptions are illusions. They also have this in common: just about everyone has toyed with them at some point in their lives.

The problem with them isn't so much that they are false/unlikely, but rather the combination of their being unfalsifiable and (if true) causing all other knowledge to be valueless.

Or rather, that in the end they don't much matter. If it's true that we're in a simulation, for example, then statements about the nature of reality don't become meaningless, they just become statements about the nature of our simulated reality. If we're in a dream, then statements about reality become true statements about our dream world. And so on. And any statement about the nature of the unsimulated reality beyond us has no hope of being anything other than speculation.

These are my own personal musings, but I would imagine that they're pretty standard and also that I absorbed them from somewhere. So I'm wondering if a) there is a standard philosophical treatment of these ideas, and b) if there are holes in what I've presented here.

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Felix
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by Felix » August 30th, 2019, 4:37 pm

I think you've got the gist of it... they are the philosophical equivalent of green eggs and ham.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Consul
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by Consul » August 30th, 2019, 4:46 pm

If we know nothing, then nobody can consistently claim to know that we know nothing.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Sculptor1
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by Sculptor1 » August 30th, 2019, 5:01 pm

I do not think they amount to Nihilism at all.
Idealism is a starting point precursor to ANY statements of realism.
Only a fool starts with realism. There is a reason they call that naive. Until you have allowed your reason to deal with the most fundamental recognition of all of our basic solipsism you simply cannot make safe and reliable epistemological statements about the external world.

The categories you list are thought experiments, not statements about the human condition or reality.

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h_k_s
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by h_k_s » August 31st, 2019, 8:38 pm

Greenham wrote:
August 30th, 2019, 3:17 pm
All of these ideas seem to be examples of epistemological nihilism:
  • Omphalos hypothesis
    Simulation hypothesis
    Descartes' "evil demon"
    "Brain in a vat" hypothesis
    Dream hypothesis
    Solipsism
What they all have in common is that they are unfalsifiable and that they posit that, at bottom, all of our perceptions are illusions. They also have this in common: just about everyone has toyed with them at some point in their lives.

The problem with them isn't so much that they are false/unlikely, but rather the combination of their being unfalsifiable and (if true) causing all other knowledge to be valueless.

Or rather, that in the end they don't much matter. If it's true that we're in a simulation, for example, then statements about the nature of reality don't become meaningless, they just become statements about the nature of our simulated reality. If we're in a dream, then statements about reality become true statements about our dream world. And so on. And any statement about the nature of the unsimulated reality beyond us has no hope of being anything other than speculation.

These are my own personal musings, but I would imagine that they're pretty standard and also that I absorbed them from somewhere. So I'm wondering if a) there is a standard philosophical treatment of these ideas, and b) if there are holes in what I've presented here.
Please provide a definition of "unfalsifiable." I have never seen this word used before. And as such it is critical to your thesis.

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h_k_s
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by h_k_s » August 31st, 2019, 8:40 pm

Looks like you are trying to say "argument from ignorance":

https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/too ... ifiability

Description: Confidently asserting that a theory or hypothesis is true or false even though the theory or hypothesis cannot possibly be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of any physical experiment, usually without strong evidence or good reasons.

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detail
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by detail » September 2nd, 2019, 6:52 am

Well an argument by simple infinite argumentation would be sometimes not easy to refute or to prove. After gödel there are always theorems neither to prove nor to refute. This is equivalent with the problem that a turing machine can decide wether a turing machine can stop at a pregiven problem or not. If this machine would exists, how about the turing machines that doesn't stop at itself (so the negate of the solution) ? So epistemical theories that means theories which are based on the aquirement of logical facts and law that govern the basic understanding have a limit some things cannot be proven although if they are taken to be an axiom this could lead to a contradictory free axiomatic system. Just think about that projectve geometry and euclidean geometry are incidence geometry but still are different. In projective geometry lines to intersect at infinity (projection on the riemann-spere).

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detail
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Re: Epistemological nihilism

Post by detail » September 2nd, 2019, 12:21 pm

detail wrote:
September 2nd, 2019, 6:52 am
Well an argument by simple infinite argumentation would be sometimes not easy to refute or to prove. After gödel there are always theorems neither to prove nor to refute. This is equivalent with the problem that a turing machine can decide wether a turing machine can stop at a pregiven problem or not. If this machine would exists, how about the turing machines that doesn't stop at itself (so the negate of the solution) ? So epistemical theories that means theories which are based on the aquirement of logical facts and law that govern the basic understanding have a limit some things cannot be proven although if they are taken to be an axiom this could lead to a contradictory free axiomatic system. Just think about that projectve geometry and euclidean geometry are incidence geometry but still are different. In projective geometry lines to intersect at infinity (projection on the riemann-spere).
An additional information for the halting problem of the turing machine is the following link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem

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