## Certain Knowledge

Known unknowns and unknown unknowns!

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Scheuerf
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### Certain Knowledge

Is certain knowledge possible? If not, why? If so, what can we be certain of?

Eodnhoj7
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Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:18 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

A real simple exercise in observing the "certainty" of knowledge can be observed through the application of geometry...the "point" as a never changing object is in itself "certain" and one of the true objective axioms we hold of reality.

As a zero dimensional structure we can observe the line as a 1 dimensional extension of it which forms all "reality" we observe.

As a one dimensional structure (directed inwards towards itself) we can observe the line as a -1 dimensional extension which simultaneously forms all "reality" we observe.

The duality of one and zero manifests the point as a trinitarian element which is both stable (1 dimensionality inwards exist as a stabilization as movement inwards is no movement at all) and moving (zero dimensionality exists as a divisory/multiplicative role equivalent in form and function to "propagation" or "movement")

The duality of 1 and -1 manifests the line as a trinitarian element which is both moving (as direction outwards implies a propagation of the self) and non-moving (-1 dimensionality exists as a median structure to 1 dimensionality as a negative cannot exist on its own without a positive).

Considering the point and line to be "universal" axioms of space, and space composes all subjective and objective realities, then the line an point gives evidence to the nature of "structure" equating to "certainty" in many respects.

Movement, through the line and point, implies uncertainty as movement is a deficiency in structure. In this respect we can be aware of "uncertain" or unstable elements of reality.

In these respects, through the nature of the axiom as "point" and "line", we have a dualistic nature of the "axiom" as stability and flux.

Stability and flux, in turn manifest the median of "approximation" and in these respects what we understand of the nature of reality is fundamentally approximation as definition.

Speakpigeon
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### Re: Certain Knowledge

Scheuerf wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:43 am
Is certain knowledge possible? If not, why? If so, what can we be certain of?
When I am in pain I know I am in pain. To put it another way, I know whatever I take to be pain whenever I experience it. Same for redness. I know whatever I call redness whenever I experience it. I may be wrong as to whether there's something red in front of me, say on my desk, but I certainly know whatever it is that I experience subjectively that I call redness.

I don't think there's anything I know outside my subjective experience. Whatever it is I believe about the material world doesn't look like knowledge to me.

However, I couldn't claim that knowledge of the material world is impossible. I don't think it is but it a belief, not knowledge.
EB

-1-
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### Re: Certain Knowledge

Scheuerf wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:43 am
Is certain knowledge possible? If not, why? If so, what can we be certain of?
"Many think, and manier don't, that to believe is stronger than to know."

You have to start somewhere. You start with a belief, and you build on it. Sometimes it may even coincide with reality, your belief, but you can't know that, much less prove it. You are on your own in this world, totally alone, with no help from anyone.

That said, there is one empirical truth, known to be a certain knowledge of the existence of something, but which is only perceivable by a self: "Cogito ergo sum." Variations exist on it: I' ache therefore I am. I love, therefore I am. I feel like having a beer, therefore I am.

There are other necessary truths about reality which we can fathom. If it is only our own selves that we can take for granted to exist, then by definition we also take for granted that there exists something that is not the self. This extra-self existence may be just a void, that is granted.

Also, the necessary existence of three dimensional space is undeniable.

I think, therefore I am. And my thought exists, too. Two existences for the price of one.

Logic exists.

And then there is a whole world of tautologies out there, each one of which is necessarily true, so they form knowledge. "I am a man or I am not a man." "Julia is a name for women, or Julia is not a name for women."

Also, venn diagrams, truth trees, logic flow diagrams, and conceptual statistical methods, as well as nth degree of freedom matrix equations cumulative to rational number systems, is in existence.

surreptitious57
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:09 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

Can one be absolutely certain of anything including ones own existence
As what standard of proof would satisfy the notion of absolute certainty

If no one ever saw a single black swan could they be absolutely certain that every swan was white
Would the overwhelming body of evidence of only white swans be sufficient to justify that notion

For reasons of simplicity it might be better to simply accept what we know or think we know
And not try to think in terms of absolute knowledge that cannot exist outside of formal logic

Viveka
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:06 pm

### Re: Certain Knowledge

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, and so on. 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.

Londoner
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Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:47 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

-1- wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:41 am
I think, therefore I am. And my thought exists, too. Two existences for the price of one.
What does the 'therefore' in that mean? Is the claim 'I am' saying something more than 'I think'? If so, then we will need some additional truth to 'I think'. In Descartes, the additional truth is about God.

But if 'I am' only means exactly the same as I think', then that 'I' in I think' is still begging the question. We have not established any 'I', yet; all we have is 'thought'.

To move from 'thought' to 'I' we need to assume that the thought is not just a one-off. It might be that each thought exists independently, just for a moment. To move from 'this-thought-now' to 'thought' generally I have to assume a continuity; I have to assume a being (me) that persists in time and has a succession of thoughts.

I think that is a real problem, since even if we simply used common-sense and just assumed our own existence it would be hard to explain in those same common-sense terms in what way our past thoughts 'exist', or for that matter how the past 'exists' generally. I cannot know that the world is not created from moment to moment.
Logic exists.

And then there is a whole world of tautologies out there, each one of which is necessarily true, so they form knowledge. "I am a man or I am not a man." "Julia is a name for women, or Julia is not a name for women."
But what would such statements be asserting? "I am a man or I am not a man" is meaningless - unless the word 'man' means something. Likewise 'woman' and 'Julia'. But if they mean something, then that meaning must refer to something outside the tautology, and therefore it may be false. If it doesn't have a meaning, then it is not the case that it is necessarily true. Meaningless statements are neither true nor false, because they do not assert anything.

-1-
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Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:08 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

Londoner, the OP asked what is for sure known, the OP did not ask what its meaning is. You are trying to extract an answer from my answers that are not answering the original question.

In other words, your criticism is similar to this:

"Johann, how many apples are in the basement?" "Seven, Mutter." "Yeah, Johann, but you did not say how many bottles of Shliwowitza are in the basement." Well, the question was not about Shliwowitza, so the criticism of the lack of answer is unfounded. So was yours of mine.

----------------

And your claim that went "In Descartes, the additional truth is about God" is a complete phantasm. If Descartes mean that, he would have said that. But he did not say that, because it logically does not follow at all. It follows only for those whose entire life is seeped in a faith of god, and they can't imagine anything happening without him. But that is not a logical necessity, and to claim that Descartes stated it was a logical necessity is simply wrong, illogical, and a false, unfounded claim.

-1-
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Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:08 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

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.

Londoner
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### Re: Certain Knowledge

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:41 am
Londoner, the OP asked what is for sure known, the OP did not ask what its meaning is. You are trying to extract an answer from my answers that are not answering the original question.

In other words, your criticism is similar to this:

"Johann, how many apples are in the basement?" "Seven, Mutter." "Yeah, Johann, but you did not say how many bottles of Shliwowitza are in the basement." Well, the question was not about Shliwowitza, so the criticism of the lack of answer is unfounded. So was yours of mine.
My impression was that you were giving examples of 'certain knowledge'. I said why I did not think they were examples of that. For example I do not think that something without meaning could be called 'certain knowledge'.

So pending some alternative suggestions, we can't find anything at all in the basement.
And your claim that went "In Descartes, the additional truth is about God" is a complete phantasm. If Descartes mean that, he would have said that. But he did not say that, because it logically does not follow at all. It follows only for those whose entire life is seeped in a faith of god, and they can't imagine anything happening without him. But that is not a logical necessity, and to claim that Descartes stated it was a logical necessity is simply wrong, illogical, and a false, unfounded claim.
He did say it!

You have to keep reading beyond 'I think therefore I am'. Remember, Descartes starts from a position of doubt, including doubt in all perceptions, so how is he going to move from 'thought' to 'knowledge'? Descartes has a form of the Ontological Argument for God, and argues that the nature of God is that God would not deceive him, not in as far as his thoughts are deductive.

-1-
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### Re: Certain Knowledge

Londoner wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:07 am
My impression was that you were giving examples of 'certain knowledge'. I said why I did not think they were examples of that. For example I do not think that something without meaning could be called 'certain knowledge'.
Now you are questioning the depth of the certain knowledge.

Why do you keep pushing for things that were not asked?

According to you, certain knowledge has meaning. And you claimed that tautologies have no meaning.

Well, I may or may not agree with you in the first of your requirement. But your second claim, that tautologies are void of meaning, is wrong.

Tautologies and their opposites (things that are necessarily not true) have a function in logic. You may as well argue that addition has no meaning in math.

You are waging an unfair, to me it seems, critical assault. If I say "this and this is its meaning", then you say that that is included in the definition. So there is no way I can win against you in this argument, with the groundwork lain as you have: that I must show you EXTERNAL meaning to beyond what the meaning of the certain knowledge is.

There is no external meaning to certain knowledge, I admit to that, and I call you out on naming anything, any epistemological system, which has meaning beyond itself.

The question asked for certain knowledge. I provided that. You argue that some of what I provided has no external meaning beyond itself. I argue that no system of knowledge has meaning beyond its own domain.

I think your criticism is not valid, inasmuch as it actually asks for something impossible to do.

-1-
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### Re: Certain Knowledge

Londoner wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:07 am
He did say it!

You have to keep reading beyond 'I think therefore I am'. Remember, Descartes starts from a position of doubt, including doubt in all perceptions, so how is he going to move from 'thought' to 'knowledge'? Descartes has a form of the Ontological Argument for God, and argues that the nature of God is that God would not deceive him, not in as far as his thoughts are deductive.
I may stand corrected. I never read the entire passage, or the entire ontological argument. Other than transliterations of its translations into English. And by now I've forgotten three things: 1. That "cogito..." is the introduction to that argument. 2. What the argument states. 3. That that argument actually has existed. But I am sure that there have been discussions on it, and I am sure that the argument does not stand. But "Cogito ergo sum" does stand.

Descartes' Ontological argument has been brought down, and it's not even hard to do. I don't think we need to bother in our proof with things that have been proved to be false. That's number 4. that I've forgotten, namely, the criticism of Descartes' Ontological argument.

Londoner
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Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:47 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:10 pm

Now you are questioning the depth of the certain knowledge.

Why do you keep pushing for things that were not asked?

According to you, certain knowledge has meaning. And you claimed that tautologies have no meaning.
I am not questioning the 'depth' of 'certain knowledge'. I am questioning whether there can be any such thing as 'certain knowledge'. That is what this thread is about.

And yes, I claim tautologies have no meaning and I explained why I think that.
Well, I may or may not agree with you in the first of your requirement. But your second claim, that tautologies are void of meaning, is wrong.

Tautologies and their opposites (things that are necessarily not true) have a function in logic. You may as well argue that addition has no meaning in math.
How do you mean 'in logic' or 'in math'? They are not things in themselves, they are a system of rules, that is to say they are themselves tautologies.

Could it be the case that 'addition has no meaning in maths'? I would say it couldn't, because the meaning of 'maths' includes the notion of 'addition'. So saying 'maths includes addition' is the equivalent of saying 'maths is maths'.
You are waging an unfair, to me it seems, critical assault. If I say "this and this is its meaning", then you say that that is included in the definition. So there is no way I can win against you in this argument, with the groundwork lain as you have: that I must show you EXTERNAL meaning to beyond what the meaning of the certain knowledge is.
Yes, I do not think definitional meanings constitute knowledge because they do not assert anything. If I say 'X' and when you ask me what I mean I just reply 'X' I do not think I have asserted anything as true. We can tell this because if I instead said 'Y' we would not know whether this contradicted 'X' or not.

Definitions in a dictionary assert something external; they assert 'this is the way 'X' is used in English (or whatever)'. But that is not 'certain knowledge' because there is the possibility that the dictionary is wrong.

You may disagree with my point, but I do not see why it is 'unfair' for me to make it.
There is no external meaning to certain knowledge, I admit to that, and I call you out on naming anything, any epistemological system, which has meaning beyond itself.
I do not think there is either, but nor do I think it makes sense to talk about 'knowledge' when nothing is being asserted as true.

I would remind you that my initial response was to the claim:
I think, therefore I am. And my thought exists, too. Two existences for the price of one.

Logic exists.
My opinion is that 'I think, therefore I am' does not follow and that logic does not 'exist', for the reasons I gave. If you agree then I don't see why you seem so aggrieved!

RustyBert
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Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:25 pm

### Re: Certain Knowledge

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.

-1-
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Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:08 am

### Re: Certain Knowledge

Londoner wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:43 pm

Definitions in a dictionary assert something external; they assert 'this is the way 'X' is used in English (or whatever)'. But that is not 'certain knowledge' because there is the possibility that the dictionary is wrong.

You may disagree with my point, but I do not see why it is 'unfair' for me to make it.
Well. Dictionaries don't point to external meaning, either. In a dictionary, all words are defined, and the words that define words are also defined.

A dictionary is a closed system, much like a meaningful truth is that you seem to demand "certain knowledge" must have.

Why I called "Cogito ergo sum" certain knowledge? Because it provides a tautological-strength truth in the real world. To think, something must do the thinking. "If thought exists, then a thinker exists. A thought exists. Therefore a thinker exists." That's all. This is real knowledge, certain knowledge. That the sky is blue, that I ate an omelette yesterday for lunch, that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, that the oceans are mainly water, are empirical truths, but not for sure. There are all kinds of valid propositions under which they are not true. But "Cogito ergo sum" is valid under any proposition. It is certain knowledge.

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