Lawrence Crocker wrote:Of course many things are certain in the way that we ordinarily use the word “certain.” It is certain that you are reading this now, that you do not have five heads, that 2 + 2 = 4. I argue, however, that in a more demanding sense, the sense that should be applied when we are evaluating the effect on our beliefs of new evidence using Bayesian updating, nothing should be regarded as absolutely certain. “2 + 2 = 4” is necessarily true, but it is not certainly true – Bayesian pioneer Lindley to the contrary notwithstanding. The detailed argument is in my blog LawrenceCrocker.blogspot.com.
What follows is a response to what I thought OP was saying, not what he was actually saying, but anyway:
I don't accept your premise that some things are absolutely certain, and some things are not, because anything's possible, no matter how improbable.
2 + 2 could = 3, humanity might just be too collectively dumb to realize it.
You know that feeling you get, when you thought you were right, but you weren't, we might be collectively getting that feeling about said equation, or every equation.
What does it even mean to be right, or unright, do you even know?
Will being able to articulate it help, or hinder?
Does being self-conscious always aid one in one's activities, or is there such a thing as getting in our own way?
Is all language not comparative/contrastive, would comparing/contrasting one thing with yet another, categorizing, labeling, not be better than experiencing it more directly?
Additionally, 2 + 2 = 4 is true in the same way that pawns cannot move backward in chess is true, it's not an objective truth about the world, it's a conceptual convention, we use for parsing the objective world, which cannot really, truly be parsed, or compartmentalized.
There are many ways to represent the world that are equally valid, Tupac's rappings is one, Beyoncé's gigglings is one more.
It's just a game we invented, and play, a conceptual, quantitative game, I suspect other sentient creatures have games of their own, on this planet and elsewhere, that we're not privy to.
We might not even recognize what they're doing even if they tried to show us.
No matter how much 2 looks like 2, and sounds like 2, or, thinks like 2, it's not 2, no 2 2s have ever been, are, or ever will be the same, and since the first 2 has been written and thought, it vanished, and no 2 has been accurately reproduced since, in writing, thinking or speaking.
As 2 as this next 2 could be, it could always be infinitely more like the first 2.
That we think of it as the same 2 as the first 2, is our problem, other more sentient life forms would be far more discriminating.
In a world 222 times more 2 like than our world, no 2 on our world would pass for a 2 on their world.
That we divide the world into a thinking self, and unthinking objects that make impressions upon us, is also our problem.
We ourselves are an impression upon ourselves, or rather parts being impressed upon other parts, which may be more or less hallucinatory.
What is it like to see your own eyes without the aid of a mirror?
Without another, there is no you.
Reality is relative, a relationship, our properties are how we affect and are effected by other things, there is no thing of itself out there, you'll go mad if you look for it, it's a happening, things of themselves is just an amusing byproduct or quirk of the way our brain/mind thinks, it has about as much reality as the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy...even less.
Man simply comes hardwired with certain ways of thinking and feeling about the world, and while we can reprogram ourselves to some extent, individually, and collectively via new language games, these 'new' programs will simply be reconfigurations of more of the same, and not necessarily better, or worse, but situationally more or less useful for whatever we wish to convey or accomplish.
Like a computer program is fundamentally 1s and 0s, although you can combine the 1s and 0s in all sorts of ways to form some other things, we have a mind/brain program, that differs/doesn't differ between individuals, and that's really all we're capable of doing.
So there's really no point in questioning how you think or feel fundamentally, at your roots, just think how you think, and learn to live with it.