Can we know anything for sure?
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18-09-2016, 06:05 AM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(17-09-2016 03:18 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Are we all just brains in a vat? Maybe. You should check out Matt Dillahunty's debate with Sye Ten.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8q0hxqdq8A

Wow. I'm feeling a sudden compulsion to slice my ears off. What a terrible piece of "debate".

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18-09-2016, 06:07 AM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(18-09-2016 06:05 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  
(17-09-2016 03:18 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Are we all just brains in a vat? Maybe. You should check out Matt Dillahunty's debate with Sye Ten.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8q0hxqdq8A

Wow. I'm feeling a sudden compulsion to slice my ears off. What a terrible piece of "debate".

"Sye Ten" should have been your first clue not to click that link. Tongue

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18-09-2016, 06:37 AM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(18-09-2016 06:05 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  
(17-09-2016 03:18 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Are we all just brains in a vat? Maybe. You should check out Matt Dillahunty's debate with Sye Ten.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8q0hxqdq8A

Wow. I'm feeling a sudden compulsion to slice my ears off. What a terrible piece of "debate".

You *could* just listen to something else Smile But if you insist... ** hands ErinRH2342 a carving knife **

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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18-09-2016, 01:15 PM (This post was last modified: 18-09-2016 01:20 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(17-09-2016 03:11 PM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  Okay, I know, second post in a day. But this is another question I had.

Our own perception is the only thing we have direct experience with. Everything else we can only observe through our senses and attempt to interpret. Since nobody knows what it would be 'like' to view the world outside of our minds, nobody can really know anything other than the fact that we exist?

Once again, having a debate with someone here. It seems like this line of thinking would lead to solipsism, yet I'm also not totally sure it matters. We can infer things that we need to know about the world(if you drop a glass, it will fall and might break, etc). Does it even make sense to talk about "knowledge" in that ultimate of a sense?

Philosophy's not my strong suit, I'm working on it. Smile

I'd say that we can know incorrigible statements for sure. These are statements about our direct conceptual experiences -- not even the product of our senses, more basic even than that -- and the logical implications thereof.

Two examples:

"I think, therefore I am." That we are capable of thought is an incorrigible observation -- if we can make that observation, we must be thinking. Existence of the thinker is (under most definitions of existence) a logical prerequisite for thinking.

"I'm feeling a lot of pain in my arm." This is a statement is incorrigible to the degree that we are talking about the sensations we are experiencing. If we actually claim that we have an actual arm and it is actually hurt, the statement loses its incorrigibility. But simply describing the experience of feeling that pain, that is incorrigible. It is just as true for someone who landed wrong and skinned their elbow, as for someone who isn't injured at all but is just imagining the pain, to an amputee suffering phantom limb syndrome, to a brain in a vat.

-----

As for the rest, the non-incorrigible things we might want to know about? I'd better warn that the upcoming is bullshit and I'm just pontificating.

Ahem. WHAT FOLLOWS IS PHILOSOPHY.

If nothing else, we can view our existence as minds receiving a stream of experiences through our senses.... here defined broadly. (Memory, for example, could be thought of as a way of sensing the past.)

We also have preferences -- some things we want to experience, and others we really want not to experience.)

We have at least the notion of agency, that we can take actions that will change what we sense. (I will have a somewhat different experience if I drive to work today, versus if I take the bus.)

Finally, we have the notion that there's some underlying system wherein -- if we're canny enough and with a bit of luck -- we can utilize our senses to decide WHICH of our choices will give us the most preferred outcomes. This underlying system might include everything from laws of physics to subconscious instinct to astrology to the Matrix-eseque simulation that we're trapped in. Or it might not include some of these. Or any of these. Figuring out what is and isn't part of that system is a challenge. But we have the sense that the system is there.

All of these things are incorrigibly true, even for a brain in a vat. (At least they are for me, and I'd guess they are for you.) Whether we actually have agency and whether the underlying system is actually intelligible are different questions... it's enough that we suspect that they're true.

From these arises the goal of understanding the underlying system -- call this reality -- and gaming it, through our actions, to result in our desired outcomes.

When we ask if gravity is real, we're really asking something like, "do my experiences match this idea of falling, and is that a good way of gauging what I will experience in the future if I, say, try to jump off a building and fly, or drop my wallet down a well, or whatever."

Whether there is ACTUALLY gravity and ACTUALLY a building in some externally material sense, rather than a computer simulation or a dream or whatever, isn't as relevant as how the choice to jump off the building will dictate what we experience. (Which will be a period of falling, followed by a sudden and likely painful impact, followed by either death or the pain of severe injury. I guess that these are categorized as things you would prefer not to experience.) Gravity and the building and the ground and so on are part of the system that links our present experiences and choices to our future experiences. That is what matters.

Call this underlying system that links our present experiences and choices to our future experiences "reality", or at least a subset of something called "reality". Partially define the quality of existence by saying that anything that's part of reality exists. (These definitions are more involved than common usage, but they match up to common usage extremely well, right up to the point where if there is no underlying system beyond utterly unpredictable chaos, we would be well-justified in thinking that nothing was real.)

Thus, gravity exists. Whether it's a line of code in a simulation or a law of a physically material reality, it exists, and either way we can exercise our agency and understanding of gravity to achieve ends we desire and avoid outcomes we dislike.

We can follow this pattern to identify a great many other things as existing.

Is this solipsism? Well... yes and no. There are many degrees of solipsism. At its broadest, solipsism is simply entertaining the notion that the existence of things beyond our minds is questionable, and that we can't be absolutely sure that all of them or even any of them exist. I'd subscribe to that. But to a more extreme degree, solipsism can be taken so far as to be a firm affirmation that those things DON'T exist or are completely irrelevant. These are two very different claims that, unfortunately, reside under the same name, and it pays to be on the ball and precise about what degree of solipsism we're talking about.
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18-09-2016, 01:23 PM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(18-09-2016 06:07 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(18-09-2016 06:05 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  Wow. I'm feeling a sudden compulsion to slice my ears off. What a terrible piece of "debate".

"Sye Ten" should have been your first clue not to click that link. Tongue

I warned him ... now he's got the stank on him. Drinking Beverage

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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18-09-2016, 01:52 PM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(18-09-2016 01:23 PM)kim Wrote:  
(18-09-2016 06:07 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  "Sye Ten" should have been your first clue not to click that link. Tongue

I warned him ... now he's got the stank on him. Drinking Beverage




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18-09-2016, 05:45 PM
Can we know anything for sure?
Depends on your limits of what you grant.

I think I'd say no but not confirm that to a no, that's how on an complete absolute level I would judge it, but I think the search or desire for absolute answers is absurd so the question isn't all that worthy of interest to me to query.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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22-09-2016, 04:51 PM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
(17-09-2016 03:11 PM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  Okay, I know, second post in a day. But this is another question I had.

Our own perception is the only thing we have direct experience with. Everything else we can only observe through our senses and attempt to interpret. Since nobody knows what it would be 'like' to view the world outside of our minds, nobody can really know anything other than the fact that we exist?

Once again, having a debate with someone here. It seems like this line of thinking would lead to solipsism, yet I'm also not totally sure it matters. We can infer things that we need to know about the world(if you drop a glass, it will fall and might break, etc). Does it even make sense to talk about "knowledge" in that ultimate of a sense?

Philosophy's not my strong suit, I'm working on it. Smile

Sure we can. In the act of grasping that we exist we also grasp that we are conscious. We also grasp that there are other things besides ourselves that we are aware of and that these things are themselves and not something other than themselves. So there right off the bat is 3 things we can be certain of. These three things taken together entail a fourth piece of knowledge: That the things that we are aware of, the objects of our awareness, are what they are independent of the means by which we are aware of them. These facts imply further facts and so on and so on. So yes we can know all kinds of things, starting with these first recognitions we can set about identifying what we perceive and categorizing it. There's a whole world of facts out there to discover and now we know we have a means to do it.

I don't know what you mean by knowledge in an ultimate sense, unless you mean omniscience. But man exists in a finite context so that can only mean that for man all knowledge is contextual. We can know things within a certain context and be sure of what we know in that context.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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22-09-2016, 07:21 PM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
Proof is for mathematicians and drunkards. The rest of us make do with evidence.

If I am a brain in a vat at least I am not wasting my time following the book in the vat about the god of the vat.

Religion is the opposite of science and philosophy. It begins with a single undeniable axiom that can never be questioned, warps fact and reason to suit itself, and arrives back at that single dogmatic axiom having discovered nothing whatsoever.

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22-09-2016, 08:50 PM
RE: Can we know anything for sure?
If I'm a brain in a vat it seems like I can know things about my vat world. I might not know anything outside of the vat, but I can know things about the world in the vat that I actually live in. I could be wrong about many things, but not about everything.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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