Certain Knowledge

Known unknowns and unknown unknowns!

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:22 pm

RustyBert wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:26 pm
Scheuerf wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:43 am
Is certain knowledge possible? If not, why? If so, what can we be certain of?
What's the context? Knowledge of the universe? Physical Laws? Our own selves? Others? Point being, I think some questions while seeming to be meaningful actually aren't without providing context.
Certain knowledge is knowledge that is unchanging and valid in any system of propositions, in any context.

There are things, truths, that are certain under one or another context, but not under all contexts. And there is knowledge, which is certain in any and all contexts, because for it to be "certain", it must be unassailable, and that is only possible if it is valid in all contexts.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Viveka » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:46 am

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:48 am
Viveka wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:48 pm
Accept what is self-evident. Free-will, other-minds, the first-person authority we have over our mental happenings, the existence of a Intelligent Designer,...None of these can be denied without some sort of self-denial of what is obvious and necessarily follows from our existence. There is your certain knowledge.
These may be self-evident at first, and the fist impression of existence by the self assumes they are true, but each one of your claim can be denied by logical methods. Not by self-denial-- that is a subjective term, and for you perhaps it is a necessary part of the process of accepting that long-held truths are actually falsehoods.

I find it amusing that all what you call "certain knowledge" can be clearly proven wrong and can be shown to be absolute falsehoods.

You, Viveka, are just incapable of seeing something that is in front of you, but beyond the distance of the length of your nose. Who knows, some people will kill for, and in the process of, defending the claim that that is knowledge. By "kill" I meant to say that figuratively, not literally.
They cannot be proven false or true, only accepted as self-evident, while denying such is denying reality. Determinism is not a meaningful prospect, nor is the idea that you are the only conscious being in the universe. You can blab all you want about those two ideas being true, but it denies the very self-evident meaning we have in our lives. Long-held truths actually being falsehoods? The fact that determinism and solipsism are unjustifiable as well as unfalsifiable, which are 'absolute falsehoods', is ultimately the reason for their negation, while what we perceive as self-evident truths are true on principle due to direct observation. When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement, while to say determinism is true, is to deny that very self-evident fact. You can whine all you want about how everything is supposedly deterministic in this universe and so on, but it still doesn't deny the raw experience of free-will.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:45 am

Viveka wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:46 am

They cannot be proven false or true, only accepted as self-evident, while denying such is denying reality. Determinism is not a meaningful prospect, nor is the idea that you are the only conscious being in the universe. You can blab all you want about those two ideas being true, but it denies the very self-evident meaning we have in our lives. Long-held truths actually being falsehoods? The fact that determinism and solipsism are unjustifiable as well as unfalsifiable, which are 'absolute falsehoods', is ultimately the reason for their negation, while what we perceive as self-evident truths are true on principle due to direct observation. When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement, while to say determinism is true, is to deny that very self-evident fact. You can whine all you want about how everything is supposedly deterministic in this universe and so on, but it still doesn't deny the raw experience of free-will.
Free will can be proven wrong if you just accept that all things are caused, and all causes have an effect.

If you can't accept that, then you can't accept reality.

The rest of your rant is exactly that: a rant. I don't know where you got that I allegedly believe that I am (or a general "you" being) the only conscious in the universe. You are mistaking the quote I use by Descartes -- typical misunderstanding by you, you can't really grasp a conceptual thought.

I will now show you how inept you are at grasping and manipulating concepts.

You say above:

"When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement" that is true, so YOU are causing your arm to move. If you did not cause it, it would not move. And then you have the blind stupidity to say that your arm was not caused to move.

Incredible.

Who taught you how to use arguments in a debate? Why are you here in the first place? Sheer interest does not a philosopher make. You need some logical ability, ability to understand, grasp and manipulate concepts, and you fail at these at every time you say something.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Londoner » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:32 am

Free will can be proven wrong if you just accept that all things are caused, and all causes have an effect.
Why can't I be one of those causes? Why can't it be that a characteristic of this particular cause, i.e. me, that I can make choices?
"When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement" that is true, so YOU are causing your arm to move. If you did not cause it, it would not move. And then you have the blind stupidity to say that your arm was not caused to move.
Does wanting your arm to move and then moving it not count as free will? Then what would?

'Free will' is not usually understood as some disembodied force unattached to people. It is the will of an agent.

It is odd to quote 'Cogito ergo sum' as certain knowledge, but then deny that the thinker has an independent reality. If Descartes is only an effect of some cause, then it would not be true that he was thinking.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by RustyBert » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:23 pm

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:22 pm
RustyBert wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:26 pm
Scheuerf wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:43 am
Is certain knowledge possible? If not, why? If so, what can we be certain of?
What's the context? Knowledge of the universe? Physical Laws? Our own selves? Others? Point being, I think some questions while seeming to be meaningful actually aren't without providing context.
Certain knowledge is knowledge that is unchanging and valid in any system of propositions, in any context.

There are things, truths, that are certain under one or another context, but not under all contexts. And there is knowledge, which is certain in any and all contexts, because for it to be "certain", it must be unassailable, and that is only possible if it is valid in all contexts.
What does that mean to say knowledge is unchanging? I know for a fact that the earth is flat, and that knowledge will not change, no matter how hard you try to convince me otherwise.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Viveka » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:22 pm

Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:32 am
Free will can be proven wrong if you just accept that all things are caused, and all causes have an effect.
Why can't I be one of those causes? Why can't it be that a characteristic of this particular cause, i.e. me, that I can make choices?
"When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement" that is true, so YOU are causing your arm to move. If you did not cause it, it would not move. And then you have the blind stupidity to say that your arm was not caused to move.
Does wanting your arm to move and then moving it not count as free will? Then what would?

'Free will' is not usually understood as some disembodied force unattached to people. It is the will of an agent.

It is odd to quote 'Cogito ergo sum' as certain knowledge, but then deny that the thinker has an independent reality. If Descartes is only an effect of some cause, then it would not be true that he was thinking.
I would have said the same thing, but you said it better. :)

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:37 am

Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:32 am
Free will can be proven wrong if you just accept that all things are caused, and all causes have an effect.
Why can't I be one of those causes? Why can't it be that a characteristic of this particular cause, i.e. me, that I can make choices?

Yes, you can be one of the causes. That is not denied.
"When I will some movement of my arm, I am 100% certain I have free-will over my movement" that is true, so YOU are causing your arm to move. If you did not cause it, it would not move. And then you have the blind stupidity to say that your arm was not caused to move.
Does wanting your arm to move and then moving it not count as free will? Then what would?

'Free will' is not usually understood as some disembodied force unattached to people. It is the will of an agent.

True. But it is not free from causation. Will is also caused. Maybe you ought to define what you mean by "free will" If it is not free, then it's a misnomer and you should say that.

It is odd to quote 'Cogito ergo sum' as certain knowledge, but then deny that the thinker has an independent reality. If Descartes is only an effect of some cause, then it would not be true that he was thinking. You mean to say you were not thinking when you wrote this? His thoughts were caused to exist. The quote does not involve a claim about why Descartes existed when he thought, it merely points out that if something or somebody has a thought, then the thinker must necessarily exist. Its existence's cause is not brought into question. That's A. B. is that if you are caused, you are able to think. Just because you are caused, it does not take your ability away to think.I don't know where you mustered up that connection. It is a false conclusion what you claim there: "A person is caused, therefore that person is incapable of having thoughts." This is wholly invalid.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Londoner » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:17 am

-1- wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:37 am

Does wanting your arm to move and then moving it not count as free will? Then what would?

'Free will' is not usually understood as some disembodied force unattached to people. It is the will of an agent
.

True. But it is not free from causation. Will is also caused. Maybe you ought to define what you mean by "free will" If it is not free, then it's a misnomer and you should say that.
Maybe you should define what you mean by 'causation'!

Like 'free will', 'causation' is not some disembodied force that does things to material objects. To treat it that way would be to make a metaphysical claim, of the same kind as 'everything happens according to God's will' or 'life is but a dream'. That can't be disproved, but since every other claim can't be disproved either, it makes no difference.

We might draw attention to a particular relationship, saying 'A causes B', but this isn't a claim that it is the only cause, or only effect. There are also other causes, and the causes of those causes, and so on. Ultimately, the cause of everything is everything, just as the effect of everything is everything. So saying that free will is 'caused' is no more than saying it is part of the universe.
Me: It is odd to quote 'Cogito ergo sum' as certain knowledge, but then deny that the thinker has an independent reality. If Descartes is only an effect of some cause, then it would not be true that he was thinking.

You mean to say you were not thinking when you wrote this? His thoughts were caused to exist. The quote does not involve a claim about why Descartes existed when he thought, it merely points out that if something or somebody has a thought, then the thinker must necessarily exist. Its existence's cause is not brought into question. That's A. B. is that if you are caused, you are able to think. Just because you are caused, it does not take your ability away to think.I don't know where you mustered up that connection. It is a false conclusion what you claim there: "A person is caused, therefore that person is incapable of having thoughts." This is wholly invalid.
If Descartes (or my) thought was only to be understood as the effect of some cause, i.e. not a product of Descartes' will, then the fact there is a thought would not be evidence that Descartes existed. It would only be evidence that the something else, the cause of Descartes thought existed.

Except that this would imply that this cause of Descartes thought had freely originated that thought - but if we don't believe in free will that that cannot be true. Instead, that cause must really have been the effect of some prior cause. And so on, ad infinitum.

Either you have got to allow Descartes autonomy, the will to be the originator of this own thoughts, or you can treat him as only an effect of something else. One or the other, but not both.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:33 pm

Londoner wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:17 am
If Descartes (or my) thought was only to be understood as the effect of some cause, i.e. not a product of Descartes' will, then the fact there is a thought would not be evidence that Descartes existed. It would only be evidence that the something else, the cause of Descartes thought existed.

Except that this would imply that this cause of Descartes thought had freely originated that thought - but if we don't believe in free will that that cannot be true.
I have to disagree with this. A cause can have an effect without having a will. A ball can bounce off another ball, making (causing) the other ball to move or change its original course of movement, without either of them having a will, never mind a free will.

Now please don't go into a tangent, "so, -1-, you think Descartes and you and I are nothing but balls and we have no conscions minds?" This is not what I meant. I meant, instead, to emphasize, that to be able to cause something else, even a thought by a conscious mind, does not involve "free will". Whatever that is according to you. Definitely not, if you accept how I define free will. I don't need acceptance, esp. that you don't know what I mean; what I need, desperately, is a synchronization of concepts before we go and delve into its derivatives, corollaries and other logical effects and affects.

You are trying very desperately to tie in free will into the causation chain. But I still don't know what you mean by "free will", so I argue from the point of view of my understanding what "free will" means. Which might be totally different from how you understand it to be.

I suggest you first define for me "free will", as you understand what it is; and I promise to provide my independent definition of it afterward. I have one already -- have had it for many decades. You must go first, as it was I who asked first. :-)

This is desperately needed, this exchange of definitions, because without it we are only feeling our ways in the dark as to what role the other one's internal model of reality attributes to free will.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Londoner » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:26 pm

-1- wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:33 pm
I have to disagree with this. A cause can have an effect without having a will. A ball can bounce off another ball, making (causing) the other ball to move or change its original course of movement, without either of them having a will, never mind a free will.

Now please don't go into a tangent, "so, -1-, you think Descartes and you and I are nothing but balls and we have no conscions minds?" This is not what I meant. I meant, instead, to emphasize, that to be able to cause something else, even a thought by a conscious mind, does not involve "free will". Whatever that is according to you. Definitely not, if you accept how I define free will. I don't need acceptance, esp. that you don't know what I mean; what I need, desperately, is a synchronization of concepts before we go and delve into its derivatives, corollaries and other logical effects and affects.
If Descartes is like one of those balls, only doing what something outside his has caused him to do, then Descartes' thoughts are not really Descartes'. In that case, Descartes thoughts might be evidence that the cause of Descartes' thoughts exists, but then we get into an infinite series of causes of causes.

Or, if Descartes is himself the cause of his own thoughts, then that frees him from the chain of cause-and-effect.

So I'm saying you can have one or the other, determinism or 'cogito ergo sum', but not both.
You are trying very desperately to tie in free will into the causation chain. But I still don't know what you mean by "free will", so I argue from the point of view of my understanding what "free will" means. Which might be totally different from how you understand it to be.
I am not trying to tie free will to causation; I am pointing out the inconsistency in upholding determinism and also agreeing with Descartes.

From my point of view, I do not think there is any such thing as a 'causation chain'. I think that we can pick out certain things in the world and link them, saying 'A causes B', but this is not the claim that A is the only cause, or B the only effect. Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect, which is to say that nothing is. Things simply are what they are, no need to posit this ghostly force 'causation'.
I suggest you first define for me "free will", as you understand what it is; and I promise to provide my independent definition of it afterward. I have one already -- have had it for many decades. You must go first, as it was I who asked first. :-)

This is desperately needed, this exchange of definitions, because without it we are only feeling our ways in the dark as to what role the other one's internal model of reality attributes to free will.
I think that 'free will' is the ability to think of things other than as they are, to imagine alternative futures. If we were the product of determinism, then we would be determined! Including our states of mind. But our state of mind is not like that, it is indeterminate, we have doubts, we are uncertain, we imagine. That is not the case for objects; I do not think a rock imagines what it would be like if it was not that rock. But human identity is not fixed like that, humans certainly can imagine themselves as other than they are.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:18 am

Londoner wrote:

"""From my point of view, I do not think there is any such thing as a 'causation chain'. I think that we can pick out certain things in the world and link them, saying 'A causes B', but this is not the claim that A is the only cause, or B the only effect. Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect, which is to say that nothing is."""

"Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect". You absolutely reworded but did not change the meaning of "causation chain". You just affirmed that you do believe in what you deny.

"""Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect, which is to say that nothing is. """ I don't get this. If something applies to everything, why does it apply to nothing? This contravenes logic.

Londoner further wrote,

""""I think that 'free will' is the ability to think of things other than as they are, to imagine alternative futures. If we were the product of determinism, then we would be determined! Including our states of mind. But our state of mind is not like that, it is indeterminate, we have doubts, we are uncertain, we imagine. That is not the case for objects; I do not think a rock imagines what it would be like if it was not that rock. But human identity is not fixed like that, humans certainly can imagine themselves as other than they are."

There is no will in any part you describe. There is free thinking, as per your description. Imagination. But I don't think imagination is independent of prior knowledge, of intelligence (at any level of it), and of an ability to analyze and synthesize. These are not functions of will. Will is a conscious effort to act on one's motivation to satisfy one or another need.

In fact, I see a certain amount of uncertainty in your separation of concepts... there is too much overlapping of them, I must say invalid overlapping of them, which encroach on the successful view of seeing them in relation to each other.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Londoner » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:59 pm

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:18 am
"Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect". You absolutely reworded but did not change the meaning of "causation chain". You just affirmed that you do believe in what you deny.
Presumably by 'causation chain' you mean that A causes B. But if we can equally say that B causes A, and C causes B, and D causes C and so on for every possible combination, in what sense would it be a 'chain'?
"""Ultimately, everything is both cause and effect, which is to say that nothing is. """ I don't get this. If something applies to everything, why does it apply to nothing? This contravenes logic.
If a description applies to everything then all we are saying is 'everything is as everything is'. For the description to be meaningful there must be the possibility that it might not be the case. And that is logic.
Me: """"I think that 'free will' is the ability to think of things other than as they are, to imagine alternative futures. If we were the product of determinism, then we would be determined! Including our states of mind. But our state of mind is not like that, it is indeterminate, we have doubts, we are uncertain, we imagine. That is not the case for objects; I do not think a rock imagines what it would be like if it was not that rock. But human identity is not fixed like that, humans certainly can imagine themselves as other than they are."

There is no will in any part you describe. There is free thinking, as per your description. Imagination. But I don't think imagination is independent of prior knowledge, of intelligence (at any level of it), and of an ability to analyze and synthesize. These are not functions of will. Will is a conscious effort to act on one's motivation to satisfy one or another need.
Certainly, it would make no sense to think of 'imagination' as some ghostly being floating separate to any subject that does the imagining. Equally it makes no sense to think of 'will' as something that wanders around the universe on its own, and isn't the will of somebody.

That is not a point about 'free will'. It is simply pointing out that verbs have subjects. I might equally argue that there is no such thing as 'motion' because motion is always the motion ofsomething. Of course motion is the motion of something, just as of course free will is the free will of the person who has it.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:47 pm

"Presumably by 'causation chain' you mean that A causes B. But if we can equally say that B causes A, and C causes B, and D causes C and so on for every possible combination, in what sense would it be a 'chain'?"

No, if A causes B, then B does not cause A. I get hungry, I eat; I get full, I stop eating. By stopping eating I don't get full, and by eating I don't get hungry.

Your proposition in the example to debunk the "chain" is invalid.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by -1- » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:55 pm

Londoner wrote: """If a description applies to everything then all we are saying is 'everything is as everything is'. For the description to be meaningful there must be the possibility that it might not be the case. And that is logic. """

Except that would only apply if all things apply to all things equally. But things apply differently to different things. I love my wife, but I burn wood; my wife is happy, and wood oxidizes. Everything is caused, and everything has an effect on the next item on the causation link. It is not true that because all things are caused and all things cause something else, that causation therefore can be taken out of the equation. If you took causation out of the equation, then random things would occur, and so far we haven't observed random things occurring, that are occurring outside the causation chain.

Going back to your quote above, "If everything were white, (a description applies to everything) then (going back to what you said earlier) nothing is white." This is patently not true.

You can't say just anything that occurs to you when you are in a debate. You must say reasonable things, which at the same time help you debunk your opposing debating partner's claim. But saying random things or things that are simply not true becomes tiresome after a while for everyone else.

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Re: Certain Knowledge

Post by Londoner » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:23 pm

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:47 pm
No, if A causes B, then B does not cause A. I get hungry, I eat; I get full, I stop eating. By stopping eating I don't get full, and by eating I don't get hungry.

Your proposition in the example to debunk the "chain" is invalid.
But then we would ask; Why do you get hungry? The reasons you get hungry include how you came to be born in the first place, how long it was since you last ate, which ties into all the other things you were doing with your life, which ties into what everyone else was doing, which ties into the physical constraints of what we can and can't do, which ties into the physics and chemistry of the universe...Leave any of these considerations out and your 'chain' is broken.

Similarly, I could say that you being hungry was not the only cause of your eating. It was also necessary that you had food, that you had a digestive system that could process the food, which again depends on the physics and chemistry of the way elements are compounded and break down, which depends on the creation of elements inside stars...

So there is no simple cause or effect. We could describe the same thing an infinite number of ways.
Going back to your quote above, "If everything were white, (a description applies to everything) then (going back to what you said earlier) nothing is white." This is patently not true.
If everything was white, then there would be no such thing as colours. So telling somebody what colour something was, as in 'X is white' would not mean anything to either you or them.
You can't say just anything that occurs to you when you are in a debate. You must say reasonable things, which at the same time help you debunk your opposing debating partner's claim. But saying random things or things that are simply not true becomes tiresome after a while for everyone else.
I am not just making this up as I go along. It may be new to you, but anyone who has taken an interest in philosophy will be reading what I have written and recognise I am just rewording and simplifying some pretty basic ideas.

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