Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

How does one find True Knowledge?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Post Reply
User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1093
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 7th, 2018, 12:21 pm

Belindi wrote:A man's thought is more voluntary than the 'thought' of a worm or even, arguably, of a dog. My money is on reason as the arbiter of the degree of voluntariness in a man's thought: the more the reason the more the voluntariness.
What makes a thought voluntary? If we don't have any thoughts of our own (as they are all just 'given' to us), then which thoughts are voluntary?

Consul wrote:One answer is that what is left over is my attempting or trying to raise my arm. That is, my arm's going up isn't a mere event if and only if it results from my attempting or trying to make it rise.
This is just a "can-kicking" exercise. If one cannot experience the 'active raising' of the arm, then one also cannot experience the 'active attempt' to raise the arm. The experiences associated with "raising" and "attempting" are still just 'passive' experiences.

Situation A: You experience (see and hear) your neighbor walking across the street.
Question A: Since you experienced this, does this mean you 'caused' your neighbor to walk across the street?

Situation B: You experience yourself walking across the street.
Question B: Since you experienced this, does this mean you 'caused' yourself to walk across the street?

Why believe you caused that which you experienced in one situation and not in the other? Other than a different group of experiential detectors (sensory organs), what's the difference? ...is it because we have been conditioned (indoctrinated) to believe such? ...or why does one take credit for 'causing' that which one can only 'experience'?

Present awareness wrote:In order to experience something, something needs to be there, therefore “I am” must be there before “I think I am”.
Or..., in order to 'know' something, there must be something there to know.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Consul » December 7th, 2018, 2:17 pm

RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
Who the thought 'belongs to' and who 'creates' the thought are two different matters; two different who's. The itch that I experience on my arm 'belongs' to me, but this does not mean that I had any say-so over its creation. For I only became knowing of my itch 'after' I experienced it. I experience the 'thought-in-my-head' the same as an 'itch-on-my-arm'. Both of these knowingly appear to me only 'after' I experience them, not 'before'. Only in this sense are these 'mine'.
Of course, I cannot be introspectively conscious of an experience before it occurs; but it is not the case that I cannot be introspectively conscious of an experience as long as it occurs, because my undergoing an experience can very well be simultaneous with my being introspectively conscious of it.
However, if introspective consciousness means introspective thought about experiences, then thoughts about sensations (such as itches) or emotions can be simultaneous with these, but higher-order thoughts about thoughts themselves can't. It seems impossible to think a thought and to also think another thought about that thought at the same time.
RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
But the mental action of thinking can only be a non-conscious (unknown) action, for all we ever get to consciously (knowingly) experience are just the thoughts themselves, and never the thinking.
No nonconscious activity in the brain is a case of thinking. The nonconscious neural processes underlying my thinking aren't part of it. Any occurrence of thoughts is a case of thinking.
RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
To the contrary. It is a logical truth/certainty that all experiences are just mere happenings (to the subject), for one cannot knowingly experience the "doings" except through the happenings received by the subject. For example, one cannot know they raised their arm without the bodily reactions/experiences reporting such action (via the detecting and reacting of sensory organs).
No, you're wrong, because there is nothing contradictory about saying that my thinking (or imagining) is a mental doing of mine which is experienced by me. To define all experiences as pure passions is to beg the question against those who believe in mental action (active, deliberate thinking or imagining).
RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
The difficulty is in denying one's own irrationally ingrained beliefs. The difficulty is in seeing past our tainted pre-conditioned views, to see the clear and obvious logical impossibility of "deliberate mental activity".
In my view, thinking is inner speaking; so if you deny that inner speaking is ever an (intentional) action voluntarily controllable, directable, or "manageable" by the subject, then you must also deny that outer speaking, talking (or writing) ever is. If you were right, we would all be purely passive and powerless listeners (or readers) rather than active speakers (or writers). And then nobody would be responsible for what s/he says (or writes).
RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
"I raise my arm" is a false assertion. One does not consciously move their body about. One is only conscious of their body moving about.
The phenomenological difference between an (intentional or voluntary) arm-raising and a mere arm-rising is that there is a sense of agency involved in the former. What it is like for me to raise my arm is different from what it is like for me to simply see my arm rise (e.g. because of a sudden neural malfunction), because I experience the former as a doing by me and not as a mere happening to me.

If you were right, there would be no difference between winking and blinking, and between shaking one's body and shuddering; but there is, so you're not right. There really is such a thing as (intentional) physical or mental action.

"Active and Passive Consciousness:
To anyone who reflects on his conscious experiences, there is an obvious distinction between the experience of voluntary intentional activity on the one hand and the experience of passive perception on the other. I do not suggest that this is a sharp distinction, because there is a voluntaristic element of perception and there are passive components of voluntary action. But there is clearly a difference, for example, between voluntarily raising your arm as part of a conscious act, and having your arm raised by someone who triggers your nerve connections. This distinction is well illustrated by the researches of the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. Penfield found that by stimulating the motor cortex of his patients, he could cause their limbs to move. The patient invariably said, “I didn’t do that, you did it.” In this case, the patient has the perception of his arm moving but he does not have the experience of voluntary action. The basic distinction is this: in the case of perception (seeing the glass in front of me, feeling the shirt against my neck) one has the feeling, I am perceiving this, and in that sense, this is happening to me. In the case of action (raising my arm, walking across the room) one has the feeling, I am doing this, and in that sense, I am making this happen. It is experience of voluntary action, more than anything else, that gives us the conviction of our own free will, and any account of the mind has to confront this experience."


(Searle, John R. Mind: A Brief Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 142)
RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:47 am
One cannot know they raise their arm until 'after' the bodily reactions/experiences/senses have already indicated such action. One cannot know-of-X without an X to know of. If the lifting of the arm was preceded by the 'urge' to lift the arm, then this again was only known after the indicating bodily reaction. One cannot be conscious-of-an-urge, without the (pre-existing) 'urge' to be conscious of. If the experiencing of the urge was preceded by the 'thoughts' of lifting the arm, then this again was only known after the thought consciously appeared, not before. No matter how far we wish to "kick-this-can", we can never know X, prior to the knowing-of-X. -- It is LOGIC that tells us so.
Therefore -- We can't ever know what we "do", ...we can only know what we've "done". -- The "doing" always precedes the knowing-of-the-doing.
I can know what I intend or want to do before doing it, but of course I cannot know what I am doing before I start doing it; but I can certainly know what I am doing while doing it.

My active arm-raising is accompanied by a passive perception of my arm's rising, but the former is not reducible to the latter.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Consul » December 7th, 2018, 2:47 pm

RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 12:21 pm
Consul wrote:One answer is that what is left over is my attempting or trying to raise my arm. That is, my arm's going up isn't a mere event if and only if it results from my attempting or trying to make it rise.
This is just a "can-kicking" exercise. If one cannot experience the 'active raising' of the arm, then one also cannot experience the 'active attempt' to raise the arm. The experiences associated with "raising" and "attempting" are still just 'passive' experiences.

Situation A: You experience (see and hear) your neighbor walking across the street.
Question A: Since you experienced this, does this mean you 'caused' your neighbor to walk across the street?

Situation B: You experience yourself walking across the street.
Question B: Since you experienced this, does this mean you 'caused' yourself to walk across the street?

Why believe you caused that which you experienced in one situation and not in the other? Other than a different group of experiential detectors (sensory organs), what's the difference? ...is it because we have been conditioned (indoctrinated) to believe such? ...or why does one take credit for 'causing' that which one can only 'experience'?
A perception is not a causation or production of its object. This is true both of outer perception (extrospection) of things in one's environment or one's own body and of inner perception (introspection) of one's mind. When I raise my arm I see it rise, with the arm-rising not being caused by my seeing it; but, again, the active raising of my arm is not reducible to a passive seeing of its rising. For it includes an intention and (successful) attempt to raise the arm. An arm-rising needn't be an arm-raising, but an arm-raising entails an arm-rising; so there is both activity and passivity on the part of the subject, in the sense that there is both a performance (the raising of the arm) and a passively perceived occurrence (the rising of the arm).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1577
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Belindi » December 7th, 2018, 3:46 pm

RJG wrote:
What makes a thought voluntary? If we don't have any thoughts of our own (as they are all just 'given' to us), then which thoughts are voluntary?
I could perhaps have been clearer . 'Voluntary' is relative not absolute. A thought may be more, or less, voluntary. In a deterministic world such as this there is no Free Will. There are however degrees of freedom or voluntariness. Reason is the virtue that confers freedom or voluntariness.In a deterministic world there is no absolute freedom. The reasoning man is however more free, that's to say more voluntary, than the unreasoning man.

The more voluntary thoughts are the more reasoned thoughts.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1093
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 7th, 2018, 10:41 pm

RJG wrote:But the mental action of thinking can only be a non-conscious (unknown) action, for all we ever get to consciously (knowingly) experience are just the thoughts themselves, and never the thinking.
RJG wrote:To the contrary. It is a logical truth/certainty that all experiences are just mere happenings (to the subject), for one cannot knowingly experience the "doings" except through the happenings received by the subject. For example, one cannot know they raised their arm without the bodily reactions/experiences reporting such action (via the detecting and reacting of sensory organs).
Consul wrote:...there is nothing contradictory about saying that my thinking (or imagining) is a mental doing of mine which is experienced by me.
Do you actually believe you can consciously experience the "doing" part? If so, then please tell me 'specifically' what it is that you experience that indicates this. Note: we can only experience 'experiences' (effects), and NEVER the 'causation' or "doing" part. Causation is only presumed to exist, and is impossible to ever experience.

Consul wrote:If you were right, we would all be purely passive and powerless listeners (or readers) rather than active speakers (or writers). And then nobody would be responsible for what s/he says (or writes).
Bingo!

RJG wrote:"I raise my arm" is a false assertion. One does not consciously move their body about. One is only conscious of their body moving about.
Consul wrote:The phenomenological difference between an (intentional or voluntary) arm-raising and a mere arm-rising is that there is a sense of agency involved in the former. What it is like for me to raise my arm is different from what it is like for me to simply see my arm rise (e.g. because of a sudden neural malfunction), because I experience the former as a doing by me and not as a mere happening to me.
Firstly, you can never experience a "doing" of anything. Secondly, your "sense of agency" is a creation of indoctrinated belief.

Consul wrote:If you were right, there would be no difference between winking and blinking, and between shaking one's body and shuddering…
If one 'experiences' a difference between winking/blinking and shaking/shuddering, then they do. If they don't, then they don't.

Consul wrote:There really is such a thing as (intentional) physical or mental action.
Not so. Firstly, it is not possible to ever consciously "intend" (or "do") anything. Secondly, "intending" itself is a meaningless self-stultifying (self-defeating) word.

One cannot “intend” anything without there existing a prior “intention” to do so. But this prior “intention” defeats any viability of true 'intentionality', thereby making the term itself self-contradictory; logically impossible; self-stultifying.

In other words, just ask yourself, did you cause (intend) your intention, ...or was this intention unintentional? If you intended your intention, then did you also intend this intending, ...or was it unintentional? Continue on with this never ending process, until you finally realize that "intending" anything is logically impossible.

One can only 'experience' (the urge called) intention, and never ever the "intending" itself!

Consul wrote:"Active and Passive Consciousness:
To anyone who reflects on his conscious experiences, there is an obvious distinction between the experience of voluntary intentional activity on the one hand and the experience of passive perception on the other.
Obvious? If this were "obvious", then one could easily identify and point out this distinction. But one can't. One can't because one can only experiences 'effects', and never the causers themselves.

Consul wrote:I do not suggest that this is a sharp distinction, because there is a voluntaristic element of perception and there are passive components of voluntary action. But there is clearly a difference, for example, between voluntarily raising your arm as part of a conscious act, and having your arm raised by someone who triggers your nerve connections. This distinction is well illustrated by the researches of the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. Penfield found that by stimulating the motor cortex of his patients, he could cause their limbs to move. The patient invariably said, “I didn’t do that, you did it.” In this case, the patient has the perception of his arm moving but he does not have the experience of voluntary action. The basic distinction is this: in the case of perception (seeing the glass in front of me, feeling the shirt against my neck) one has the feeling, I am perceiving this, and in that sense, this is happening to me. In the case of action (raising my arm, walking across the room) one has the feeling, I am doing this, and in that sense, I am making this happen. It is experience of voluntary action, more than anything else, that gives us the conviction of our own free will, and any account of the mind has to confront this experience."
One falsely believes that they 'voluntarily' raised their arm, because they 'experienced' the preceding 'urge' to raise their arm. Without the preceding urge (prior to stimulating the muscle movement), there is no urge, and hence no false belief of 'voluntary' action.

Note: the experiencing of an urge, does not mean one consciously caused said urge.

RJG wrote:One cannot know they raise their arm until 'after' the bodily reactions/experiences/senses have already indicated such action. One cannot know-of-X without an X to know of. If the lifting of the arm was preceded by the 'urge' to lift the arm, then this again was only known after the indicating bodily reaction. One cannot be conscious-of-an-urge, without the (pre-existing) 'urge' to be conscious of. If the experiencing of the urge was preceded by the 'thoughts' of lifting the arm, then this again was only known after the thought consciously appeared, not before. No matter how far we wish to "kick-this-can", we can never know X, prior to the knowing-of-X. -- It is LOGIC that tells us so.
Consul wrote:I can know what I intend or want to do before doing it, but of course I cannot know what I am doing before I start doing it...
No problem with 'knowing' your experiences; being conscious of your intentions/desires. The problem (impossibility) is in knowingly causing these intentions/desires.

RJG wrote:Therefore -- We can't ever know what we "do", ...we can only know what we've "done". -- The "doing" always precedes the knowing-of-the-doing.
Consul wrote:...but I can certainly know what I am doing while doing it.
Not so. Firstly, you can never experience the "doing" itself. You have to wait till your body sensors react (specifically the proprioception sensor) before you can experience, and know, the bodily 'movements', or what you have "done".

Secondly, "instantaneous" detection/sensing, and 'knowing' of one's experiences is not logically nor scientifically possible. There is an inevitable time gap between the real-time bodily reaction, and the conscious-time realization of said bodily reaction, even if just milliseconds. Everything that we are conscious of is therefore just "old news".

Consul wrote:My active arm-raising is accompanied by a passive perception of my arm's rising, but the former is not reducible to the latter.
There is never a consciously experienced "active arm-raising". One cannot experience "active" events", one can only experience 'experiences' (effects). Consul, if you truly believe you can experience an "active" causal event, then please be specific and identify this (impossible) active 'experience'.

Consul wrote:When I raise my arm I see it rise, with the arm-rising not being caused by my seeing it; but, again, the active raising of my arm is not reducible to a passive seeing of its rising. For it includes an intention…
Experiencing an intention, is NOT causing (intending) that intention.

Consul wrote:...and (successful) attempt to raise the arm.
Experiencing the attempt to raise the arm, is NOT causing the attempt to raise the arm.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 2862
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Burning ghost » December 8th, 2018, 12:33 am

RJG wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 10:41 pm

Consul wrote:If you were right, we would all be purely passive and powerless listeners (or readers) rather than active speakers (or writers). And then nobody would be responsible for what s/he says (or writes).
Bingo!

AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1093
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 8th, 2018, 10:00 am

RJG wrote:
Consul wrote:If you were right, we would all be purely passive and powerless listeners (or readers) rather than active speakers (or writers). And then nobody would be responsible for what s/he says (or writes).
Bingo!
Yes, logical truths can be especially brutal on our long held indoctrinated beliefs. -- Conscious causation is a logical impossibility. We cannot do the impossible. We cannot consciously 'cause' that which we experience. We can only consciously 'experience' that which we non-consciously 'caused' (...assuming, of course, that there are tattle-tale experiences available to tell us what we've done.).

We only experience 'experiences', and we only 'experience' experiences. That's it.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1093
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » Yesterday, 1:57 pm

Although we all seemingly accept logic as our pathway to truth ("true knowledge"), most of us do so 'only' up to a certain point. For example, as in this case of the logical impossibility of "conscious causation", most of us are psychologically unable to accept a logical truth that inevitably strips ourself of power and purpose, for fear that such an existence may not be worthy of existence. The rejection of this logic is very understandable and reasonable.

But if one's innate curiosity for truth is greater than their innate fear of existential unworthiness, then the 'acceptance' of this otherwise rejected logical truth may then be possible. When confronted with a "Danger Ahead" sign on one's path to truth, only those whose curiosity for truth is greater than their fear for safety/security, will continue on past this fearful point. Most others, will denounce this point in the pathway, and turn back around and down the previous comforting pathway, ...a very normal and expected reaction.

But for those that bravely step past this "Danger Ahead" sign (danger point), there is no need or reason to be discouraged or disillusioned of losing a power that we never had. Life's experiences, good and bad, continue nonetheless. Enjoy the good, and endure the bad. At first 'acceptance', this piece of true knowledge (logical truth) wreaks havoc on our emotions, moods, and purpose of being, much like coming off an addicting drug. But after some time, after the initial acceptance, this new piece of true knowledge yields a contentful and better understanding of reality. We feel we are no longer living in a false reality, but now we are a bit wiser, and the experiences of life, good and bad, continue nonetheless. What we've gained is a better understanding of the actions of others and ourselves. The bad guys no longer appear truly bad and deserving of punishment, and the good guys no longer appear truly good and deserving of praise. We are who we are, and we experience what we experience, ...and life is still good, (...and existence is still worthy!)

Post Reply