The Limits of Epistemology

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The Limits of Epistemology

  • Jordan Miller

    Let me get your thoughts on this.

    I’m not a philosopher but I’ve noticed it seems like people – even professional philosophers are confused about what they can and can’t know.

    You know Descartes guy? asked, “what can I know for sure” eventually came to, “I think therefore I am.” He thought (correctly) that the only thing you can know for certain is that you’re having a subjective experience. You might not know what that experience means but you know you’re having it. You know you exist because to experience is to exist, but everything else you think you know is not what you know but what you believe.

    I think that’s right but if you think I’m off base, let me know.

    So here’s where people seem to go wrong: they seem to think that means everything is up for grabs – that there is no truth, that all other things are equally uncertain. This assumption to me seems to manifest in such things as post modernism.

    But the assumption is not true is it? Some beliefs we may hold about what our subjective experience means may be true and others are almost certainly not.

    See, after that subjective experience we have to use tools to discern the difference between those beliefs that are probably true, and those beliefs that are probably not true. Its these tools that help us decide what to believe as “true.”

    And what are those tools? Logic mostly, which is usually dependent on evidence and reason. But anyway, my whole point is this is theory is very simple, its easy to understand and intuitive.

    It seems to me that if philosophers and thinkers would just recognize this basic fact about the scope, composition and nature of knowledge a lot of confusion and ill-conceived beliefs would be weeded out of the dialogue and civilization.

    What do you think? Is my premise right? Would it make a difference at all?

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  • Daniel Davis

    I think logic is worth the risk. This may all be a dream but in this dream logic and reason seem to work very well. I suspect this experience is real and as it seems, a dream such as this would be capricious and arbitrary. What kind of mind could generate such detail and complexity out of the black for just a dream? No, there has to be a source for this detail, a spark of motivation to generate this abstract realm. That spark may as well be from here, and we may as well be that mind.

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      Jordan Miller

      yes, I think what you’re describing there is a possible super reality: that this is a dream or not.

      That kind of question is a perfect place to ask, “what are the limits of my knowledge in this case?” Since I can’t see evidence for one super reality over any other (be it religious, scifi or fantasy) my only logical conclusion is to regard them as all non-verifiable, and put my logical faculties to use in some other, more, shall we say…down-to-earth matter.

       

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      Daniel Davis

      Yes, I suppose I am describing that exactly. To me logic dictates that trying to figure out if a super reality is real, or not real, is a futile attempt. Perhaps this path of thinking can be linked to why one becomes an atheist. The argument sounds familiar there is just different terms being used.

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    Frater Lucem

    At a certain point of deconstruction, when deconstruction reaches the point where it begins to deconstruct the deconstructor itself, I feel a person has three options: Nihilism, Faith, or Willful Ignore-ance.  It seems to me there comes a point when the Proof becomes a matter of irrational pragmatism.

     

    As for myself, I tend to function on the notion that because Something Is and that I Am, that various approximations of absolute truth can be reached within the context of my existence, and that existence need not be doubted (for now).

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    Jordan Miller

    Thanks for the link, its fascinating but I think I’m going to probably read it 3 to 16 more times to understand it. It was a little over my head the first time 🙂

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    Jordan Miller

    I actually fleshed out this idea in a more detailed way on my page.

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