Wednesday, September 30, 2009

13d New hope for a theory of knowledge

Last Thursday we walked though the Valley of Skepticism and seemed to loose hope on certain knowledge, on adequately justified beliefs.

At the end what was left to us was rationality and logic and still the question how to arrive at adequately justified beliefs, at certain knowledge.

Finding an adequate justification for beliefs is probably not the best strategy. We even can question our drive to search for it, like Hans Albert (1921) did.

According to him, all attempts to get a certain justification must fail. He gave three arguments:

[1] All justification in pursuit of certain knowledge has also to justify the means of justification and therefore there can be no end.

[2] One can stop at self-evidence or common sense or fundamental principles or anything else, but in doing so the intention to install certain justification is abandoned.

[3] Eventually one will run into the application of a circular argument.

Once having given up the classical idea of certain knowing one can stop the process of justification where one wants to stop. This, however, presupposes that one is ready to start critical thinking at this point anew if necessary.

Thus, Hans Albert suggests the next strategy:
* Don't look backwards to the solid basis of your thinking, but look always forward to the consequences.
* In this way no problem arises to justify this non-justificationalism.

With this suggestions he is in line with the philosophical and psychological ideas of William James (1842 - 1910). You hear already echos of utilitarianism and pragmatism and most important: critical rationalism.

The same argument, that justification of knowledge is not possible we find in the ideas of Gödel.

It is plain that our cognitive system contains arithmetic. It is also reasonable to suppose that it is consistent, i.e., free of contradictions (because within an inconsistent system one can prove anything, and that does not seem to be the case with us).

Now, let's assume that our cognitive system may be regarded as a formal system (i.e., that it is isomorphic to some formal system).

Under those assumptions, our cognitive system can be treated as a Gödel system. Therefore, Gödel's incompleteness theorems apply.

What do they say? They say that we cannot prove all truths, in particular, that we cannot prove that we are consistent. The language system crashes when I try to prove the truth of the statement "I am lying."

I will get back to all these issues and relations in other lectures. Due to the question posed by Stephen Law I have come into a field of epistemology, which shows new insights and developments to me.

So I still dont regard the question as answered. I hope you'll like to follow me in my pursuit of the answer on the question "What is knowledge?"

Let's look at the epistemological questions form another angle.

The empirist say the foundation of our knowledge is in sensory experience. The rationalists say the foundation of our knowledge is found in the ratio. It is always interesting to see how the human brain likes to split up the reality in a binary way.

This is a debate that has go on for ages now and a plethora of variations has been proposed. However, now I see how these two views seem to bite in their own tails when taken standalone.

It looks as if empiricism is hopelessly caught in a circular argument, a begging the question. If you aks the empirist about the fundaments of knowledge and say: "How do you KNOW, that you have sensory experiences? His answer only could be...Well, because I see and hear for instance.

But then he uses apparently a reference to sensory experience to justify that he KNOWS, that he has sensory experiences. But is this necessarily a circularity, a begging the question?

Not at all, in my is a misinterpretation of what really is the case. The verbalisation of a sensory experience is not a sensory experience at all. It is much more than a sensory experience.

In fact you could say that the verbal representation of a sensory experience is a kind of metalanguage, which describes another language.

However, that underlying language is not in words, but in stimuli of the central nervous system in interaction with its environment.

You could say that as soon as we verbalize our sensory experiences an other faculty of the central nervous system kicks in: the ratio. Our ability to organize, structurize and meaningfully process the stimuli, which we experience.

Looked at it from this point of view the ratio is no longer like a Kantian abstraction filled with a a permanent and unchanging collection of A PRIORI categories, but part of aliving and evolving organism.

To be continued...

The Discussion

[13:26] Frederick Hansome: The rationalists say the foundation of our knowledge is found in the ratio.
[13:27] Frederick Hansome: I still do not un derstand what this means
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes...
[13:27] herman Bergson: For instance by saying that causality is what we apply to sensory experiences
[13:27] herman Bergson: well...Hume said...causality doesnt really exist...
[13:28] herman Bergson: what you see is only that event B follows after event A
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: it starts with a choice
[13:28] herman Bergson: Often, maybe as far as you ever have seen always..
[13:29] herman Bergson: but that is all you can say...So far I have seen B after A....but there is no necessary relation between the two
[13:29] herman Bergson: While the rationalist regard causality as a concept of the mind which structures sensory experiences in necessary relations
[13:29] Frederick Hansome: I understand that coorelation does not imply causation, but it does not follow that there is no cause
[[13:30] ChatNoir Talon: But I like that thing you said about thinking of the consequences of your beliefs
[13:30] ChatNoir Talon: Very pragmatistic
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes it is....
[13:31] Myriam Brianna: it 'seems' to exist when we look at events in posterioty and we would like it to exist since we are narrators. Thriving on stories, and those only work with a because.
[13:31] ChatNoir Talon: Jung claims that apart from causation there's synchroncity
[13:31] herman Bergson: you will see that epistemology tends to a pragmatic, utilitarian consequentialism or least that is what some say
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes, ChatNoir, but that is a bit questionable concept..
[13:33] herman Bergson: You could say that you scientifically can prove at least the strong probability of a relation between events
[13:33] herman Bergson: Never done with synchronicity
[13:33] herman Bergson: Besides that it isnt regarded as a causal relation either
[13:33] ChatNoir Talon: Yeah, it's kind of bogus. BUT it is a fun concept to think about
[13:34] Myriam Brianna regularly falls down into the pit called Because, where she perishes with the dogs of Reason
[13:34] herman Bergson: Oh yes, I love it :-)
[13:34] Myriam Brianna snickers
[13:34] herman Bergson: What do you mean Myriam....the Post hoc Propter hoc falacy?
[13:35] Quizzle Mode chuckles
[13:35] Myriam Brianna: that plays into it, yes
[13:35] herman Bergson: That means that when we see two event happening one after the other we are easily inclined to see a causal relaation between the two, while there only is a temporal relation (one after the other)
[13:35] Myriam Brianna: sometimes a "because" is not called for, but we like to find one. Journalism is pretty much skewed for this reason
[13:36] herman Bergson: With a decent word we call that interpretation ^_^
[13:37] herman Bergson: At least we have gotten that far that we accept the second argument of Albert and drop the need of absolute justification of certainty of knowledge
[13:38] herman Bergson: at least..that is what I do :-)
[13:38] herman Bergson: with arguments of course
[13:38] ChatNoir Talon: I'm wlad qe passed that fork in the road
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes...
[13:38] Myriam Brianna grins
[13:38] herman Bergson: The next step is that this does not imply that anything goes
[13:39] herman Bergson: there must be a way to tell the difference between a false belief and a true belief
[13:39] herman Bergson: In fact is an example of the fact that this is possible
[13:39] ChatNoir Talon: Never. But I suppose one could approximate a good guess
[13:39] Lovey Dayafter: true is good and false is bad
[13:40] Myriam Brianna searches among her notecards, grumbling
[13:40] herman Bergson: good and bad, Lovey....yes...
[13:40] herman Bergson: this relates to utilitarian ethics
[13:40] ChatNoir Talon: Yay! ^^
[13:41] Quizzle Mode is still looking for the road upon which there is a fork
[13:41] herman Bergson: isnt about absolute certainty either....
[13:42] herman Bergson: But what is interesting is the question whether we get closer to the truth when a scientific theory is replaced by a better one?
[13:42] ChatNoir Talon: Ah, now that is more like it ;-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: Thank you, ChatNoir
[13:43] herman Bergson: In fact we there a world outthere about which we gather knowledge?
[13:43] herman Bergson: This means that we have to hold the belief that there is
[13:44] herman Bergson: and this is a belief which lacks justification
[13:44] herman Bergson: and we'll ask the question ..does it need justification, can we find an adequate justification?
[13:45] herman Bergson: If it doesnt scare you too much but that will be the next step
[13:46] herman Bergson: The philosophical issues will be: realism, critical rationalism, pragmatism and utilitarianis, if we also dig into ethics
[13:46] ChatNoir Talon grins
[[[13:48] herman Bergson: At least you got enough keywords to do some research on now :-)
[13:48] ChatNoir Talon: Homework
[13:48] Quizzle Mode laughs and rubs eyes
[13:48] Abraxas Nagy: wow I'd say
[13:49] Lovey Dayafter: how many hours will that take? lol
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well look into the relation good = true / bad = false :-)
[13:50] Lovey Dayafter: do you agree?
[13:50] herman Bergson: realism, or naturalistic realism is also important
[13:51] herman Bergson: That is not a simple yes / no issue, Lovey...sorry
[13:51] Quizzle Mode: darn
[13:51] ChatNoir Talon: It never is, is it?
[13:51] herman Bergson: In a given context I might agree indeed
[13:52] herman Bergson: If it is regarding ethics
[13:52] herman Bergson: but a logical statement being true or false sound ok, but good or bad dont apply here
[13:53] herman Bergson: I guess your heads are spinning enough now....
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: wow yes somewhat
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon grabs onto it trying to make it stop spinning
[13:53] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[13:53] herman Bergson: So I thank your for participating again :-)
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: thank you professor
[13:54] Quizzle Mode: thank you herman, much appreciated :)
[13:54] ChatNoir Talon: Thank you, Herman
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you too :-)
[13:54] Lovey Dayafter: thanks herman:-)
[13:54] Myriam Brianna purrs
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: its food for thought

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Friday, September 25, 2009

13c A skeptic dip for us all...

Step by step we try to get closer to the roots of knowledge. We moved from belief to true belief, which we described as adequately justified belief or knowlege.

The next step was to analyse what 'adequately justified' could mean. First of all there had to be s specific relation between the person who holds a belief and the the actual fact(s).

For instance a relation of seeing of feeling. Second the justification should be based on rational arguments and logic.

Now there are two roads to follow. One road leads to skepticism and the other to the analysis of the rationality in relation to human knowledge. Let us today pay some attention to the skeptic.

The skeptic asks us why we have beliefs and why we are insisting on them. He wants to know why and how we think to know the things which we say we know. He asks us how we can have the knowledge that we claim to have.

This is not a postmodern attitude at all. It is as old as philosophy itself. Already 300 B.C. Greek philosophers questioned the knowledge claims of others and this line of questioning never disappeared ever since form philosophical debate and discourse.

The more popular formulations are something like: there is no certainty, no absolute truth, nowwhere, so also not in ethics. It is just every man for himself. We thus have no direction in life at all. In fact it is almost total chaos and anarchy.

If it is about beliefs of the past we base ourselves on reports by others or on our own memory. But we know that these reports or my memory are not always reliable.

So how can we establish the reliability of reports or memory? It is not surprising that historians often dont agree on what really happened on a given moment in history.

Bertrand Russell wrote, in The Analysis of Mind (1921): 'There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that "remembered" a wholly unreal past.

There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago."

And he continues : "I am not suggesting that the non-existence of the past should be entertained as a serious hypothesis. Like all sceptical hypotheses, it is logically tenable, but uninteresting. All that I am doing is to use its logical tenability as a help in the analysis of what occurs when we remember."

What he wants to point at is : "In the first place, everything constituting a memory-belief is happening now, not in that past time to which the belief is said to refer. It is not logically necessary to the existence of a memory-belief that the event remembered should have occurred, or even that the past should have existed at all."

But the beliefs of this very moment? Here we have a reliable source...our senses. But when the skeptic questions the reliability of my senses I can't use sensory experiences as the proof of the reliability of my senses.

Knowledge of the future we only can base on beliefs from the past and present. And we have concluded that we wont get further than the fact, that sometimes the sources of our beliefs are reliable. Sometimes....yes, but when is that, what criteria do we have to use to decide when?

We are in a difficult situation here, when we want to find an absolute reliable source to support our beliefs. So reliable that we can speak of adquately justified beliefs.

Descartes wrote as title above his First Meditation (1641): "Of the things which may be brought within the sphere of the doubtful."

The last paragraph of this Meditation ends with this: "I shall then suppose, not that God who is supremely goodand the fountain of truth, but some evil genius not less powerful than deceitful, has employed his whole energies in deceiving me; I shall consider that the heavens, the earth, colours, figures, sound, and all other external things are nought but the illusions and dreams of which this genius has availed himself in order to lay traps for my credulity; I shall consider myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, nor any senses, yet falsely believing myself to possess all these things;...."

The ultimate skepticism about our beliefs of the present. How can we logically refute this point of view? What proof do we have? It seems that we have landed in a swamp of doubt and uncertainty.

How do we know that the sources of our beliefs, sensory experience, memory, reports by other, ever are reliable? How can it be rational to believe that the world exists longer than only five minutes, that life is not a Matrix-like dream, and so on?

I suggest that we spend some more of our time on these questions in another lecture .....

The discussion

[13:26] herman Bergson: Not a very hopeful story maybe, but if you have any remarks or questions...the floor is yours
[13:27] ChatNoir Talon: We don't need absolute reliable sources, all we need are probable sources so we can speak of adequatedly justified beliefs.
[13:27] Myriam Brianna: let's kick a stone and say "fuck you"; - even if the world of my senses is only an illusion it is real enough for me. In fact it is my only reality - and, really: What would differentiate such an illusion that caters to all my (apparent) senses from a "real" reality?
[13:27] herman Bergson: Ok...that is a point of view...
[13:28] Frederick Hansome: Have you ANY suggestion as to what constitutes adequate justification of a belief?
[13:28] Sovereign Trafalgar: @
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes....Myriam that is another trend in contemporary philosophy.....realism
[13:28] Paula Dix: since most people share this "reality", cant we consider it as real enough??
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: there is no absolute reality
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: belief as knowledge?
[13:29] herman Bergson: Let me answer Frederick's question
[13:29] Frederick Hansome: thanks
[13:29] Quizzle Mode: does collective sensory experience count too? eg lots of people die from eating the same plant, doesn't that suggest that's likely to happen if we eat it too? and therefore it's "real enough" for us?
[13:29] herman Bergson: During the past two lectures and debates a number of new things have come up...
[13:29] herman Bergson: To mention one Hans Albert..
[13:29] Paula Dix: Exact Quizzle, real enough :)))
[13:29] herman Bergson: I would advise you to check on him
[13:30] Myriam Brianna: met him a while ago, a really nice guy ^^
[13:30] Sovereign Trafalgar: I read your text and want to apply Heidegger's phrase, axiom maybe, in answer to the question; that it is a matter of "being and nothingness." That this is the only practical test, though it is subject to the same skepticism.
[13:30] herman Bergson: ANother thing....and that might relate to Quizzles remark is th eissue of Evolutionary epistemology
[13:31] herman Bergson: The problem with an absolute skepticism is two things...
[13:32] herman Bergson: in the first place the skepric isnt sketical about the meaning of his words or the use of languge and the communicative power of it...
[13:32] herman Bergson: the other problem is.....the skeptic is LOGICALLY irrefutable...
[13:33] herman Bergson: But only does that relate to rationality
[13:33] Paula Dix: thats what Russell said, "not interesting?"
[13:33] herman Bergson: these are thoughts that will be discussed in further lectures
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes Paula....
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is nic e..the idea...but not interesting...
[13:34] Paula Dix: i met a guy here in SL who claims universe is a big brain and we its thoughts... and he say this seriously
[13:34] herman Bergson: But what is important in skepticism is that it questions our fundamental beliefs...and shows us the weak spots in our epistemology
[13:35] Sovereign Trafalgar: What I mean is the human capacity to extend sensory experience, perception, knowledge through toolmaking has brought us the means to manipulate the foundations of what gives rise to the material universe as we understand it.
[13:35] herman Bergson: the problem with such a statement, Paula
[13:35] herman Bergson: is that you cant verify nor falsify it
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: exactly
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: critical analysis of what we know can only be done individually by the 'bag of evidence' we have filled along our journey, no one's bag will contain the same tools so no one mind wil know the turht
[13:35] herman Bergson: so it is uselus
[13:36] herman Bergson: But that Aristotle tends to some kind of absolute relativism
[13:36] Abraxas Nagy: dangerous
[13:36] herman Bergson: and I don think that that is what we feel comfortable with...
[13:36] herman Bergson: in the sense, that it isnt telling the whole story
[13:37] herman Bergson: Like the poison Quizzle everyone offered or the stone Myriam kicked against....that seems to be the same for everyone
[13:37] Quizzle Mode: as what we know is different to our experience of what we know?
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: the enquiring mind must look to others to share their tools and thus move closer to the truth
[13:38] Paula Dix: Lol we can analyse that statement via psychology, the guy name is Prometeu Jupiter...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Part of the univers :-)
[13:38] ChatNoir Talon: Very interesting, Ari
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: someone will always have different tools
[13:39] Sovereign Trafalgar: Is that then some measure of absolute truth? Hard to say if you're not there to experience it, and you only can know that by annihilating yourself I suspect.
[13:39] herman Bergson: Ok Aristotle...that is a view we will see to.....the idea that there is a movement possible towards a truth...
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: turht, LOL, it sits on the horizon and laughs at us
[13:40] Paula Dix: science isnt moving toward truth??
[13:40] Sovereign Trafalgar: The question though, it seems to me, is whether it may happen upon it quite accidently.
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: ahhh, good point Sovereign
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: if you do then pass it on
[13:41] Paula Dix: .
[13:41] herman Bergson: Someone once said that if we would ran into the truth eventually we wouldnt recognize it, because we have no means to be certain about it
[13:41] Paula Dix: lol thats sad... but true i guess
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: lol a play on words Paula
[13:42] Sovereign Trafalgar: my feeling about this is relates somewhat to the biblical, that man cannot look upon the face of God (and survive).
[13:42] ChatNoir Talon: Why do people want "The truth"? Why can't you just be happy with what you can guess?
[13:42] Paula Dix: .
[13:42] Paula Dix: yes, since there is no one only truth...
[13:43] Sovereign Trafalgar: I tend to see it in the more empirical, as a limitation of the species maybe
[13:43] herman Bergson: The reason that people want a fixed truth has to do with our need of a telos...a goal in life.....a meaning in life..
[13:43] Frederick Hansome: Since we seem to agree that there is no absolute truth, could rational folks, such as ourselves, agree on a "truth to a given level of certaintity"?
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: evolution wilnot aloow us to tarry CahtNoir
[13:43] Sovereign Trafalgar: in an evolutionary context.
[13:43] herman Bergson: where are we heading at....are we moving around just randomly?
[13:44] Paula Dix: then we pursue personal truths? personal goals?
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: we are moving toward the vanishing point
[13:44] ChatNoir Talon: I dont quite follow, Ari
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes a way that may be an option, but thus it mean that truth then is a consensus amoung a certain group of people?
[13:44] herman Bergson: What people, why that people?
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: but thats what truth is
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: cerebral evolution can not be stagnant
[13:45] Frederick Hansome: that would be as start
[13:45] herman Bergson: Makes truth highly political Frederick :-)
[13:45] Myriam Brianna: what would be the problem in moving randomly? I'm with ChatNoir there, - I don't need absolutes, I'm happy riding the Tiger - and as long as I don't let go I will not be eaten ;)
[13:45] Paula Dix: yes, so following Frederick idea, we are arriving at some social ethics??
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: random,? would that remove cause and effect?
[13:46] Paula Dix: Lol Myriam, i agree, i have no problem on having no reason to being alive
[13:46] herman Bergson: Very good Myriam....As Feyerabend is anarchy
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: the only reason to be alive we make up :)
[13:46] ChatNoir Talon: It's not like if theres no "True truth" there's no reason to live, each one makes his/her own reasons
[13:46] Paula Dix: Yes Ari! I like that!
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: pain and pleasure teach us the reason
[13:47] Sovereign Trafalgar: It seems safe to say that should we ever believe we can measure, or come to understand as a mensurate system, why there are planets, stars and galaxies, we may well come to understand why there are people.
[13:47] Paula Dix: i guess then its a personal thing, each of us has its own reality, a personal truth, and we follow this to build ourselves
[13:47] Myriam Brianna: that would be a "how", not a "why" - (or only in a limited sense)
[13:47] Sovereign Trafalgar: The error in the thinking, seems to me, is to assume people need this information. Is the knowledge a process or an end, given what we think we know about evolution so far?
[13:48] herman Bergson: We first must discuss whether the question "Why are there stars and planets?" is a meaningful question
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: life is like cooking soup, every chef's soup tastes different
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:48] herman Bergson: And God was our Chef cook, Aristitotle?
[13:49] Paula Dix: wouldnt it be only a "human" thing to just go on collecting info? Then we can try to make sense of it...
[13:49] Sovereign Trafalgar: Yes, but does it not follow that happening upon such knowledge tends to bookend humans, life even?
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: Darwin maybe LOL
[13:49] Paula Dix: lol
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes is quite possible that we'll end up with him
[13:50] Sovereign Trafalgar: by bookend, I mean give some context to place
[13:50] Paula Dix: Ah,thats interesting!! Aliens will be able to get our art??
[13:50] herman Bergson: Bu tthe question "Why are there stars ? " is meaningless
[13:50] Sovereign Trafalgar: How so?
[13:51] herman Bergson: I timpries that you expect to find a reason foro their exiastence
[13:51] ChatNoir Talon: Logic+Reason+Senses = Good enough for me. If I see a rock that acts like a rock in a place where a rock would be I'll take it as a rock If it turns out tto be an animal well, shit happens/
[13:51] herman Bergson: so in fact you already have answered the questions....Is there a reason that stars exist?
[13:51] Paula Dix: hmmmm herman this means that even if there is a creator to the universe, like some crazy scientist from a very developed species, the quesiton still remains in where this creator came from then??
[13:51] Frederick Hansome: I like that very much, chat
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: I think, therfore I am
[13:52] Sovereign Trafalgar: Perhaps place in existence would be a better way of conceptualizing it, assuming one sees existence as a process.
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: the stars twinkle, therefore they are
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: good thought
[13:52] Paula Dix: lol
[13:52] herman Bergson: yes Paula...always that infinite regress
[13:52] Paula Dix: in space stars dont twinkle!
[13:52] Paula Dix: oh, btw, they found water in the moon :))
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: So we can't sing twinklw twinkle little star in space? :O
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: welll we are not in space :))
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: yes i heard that this morning
[13:53] Paula Dix: lol
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: amazing isnt it
[13:53] herman Bergson: No ChatNoir...we cant
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: we are in space :x
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: where are we then are lol
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: I am sure they have they own beauty in space without th twinkling
[13:53] herman Bergson: Like the nebulas havent color at all..NASA colors them in as they like
[13:53] Frederick Hansome: Chat, is that thought original or is it a quote? I would like to use it elsewhere and want to attribute it properly.
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: really????
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: WHAT?
[13:53] Paula Dix: lol yes herman
[13:54] ChatNoir Talon: Original
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: i didnt know that Herman
[13:54] Quizzle Mode: twinkling though establishes (possibly) that the star exists not that it is a star
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:54] Paula Dix: i felt cheated when i learned that!
[13:54] herman Bergson: it is disappointingly true
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:54] herman Bergson: Me too Paula
[13:54] Paula Dix: its all false colors
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:54] herman Bergson: yes
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: another belief shot down
[13:54] ChatNoir Talon: NOW I've got no reason to live :(
[13:54] Paula Dix: like they paint red for hidrogen atoms, and so on...
[13:54] herman Bergson: So much about knowledge of the Universe !!!!
[13:55] Paula Dix: lol
[13:55] Sovereign Trafalgar: Aren't they measuring color by values of heat, radiation or some other spectral analysis?
[13:55] Paula Dix: .
[13:55] herman Bergson: Sovereign...the colors arent there!
[13:55] herman Bergson: They cheat:-)
[13:56] Sovereign Trafalgar: Then you say there is no color, as an argument?
[13:56] Paula Dix: i guess optical telescopes cant be so precise, they uuse other kinds of data co0llection then make a visual thing from them
[13:56] herman Bergson: But the more our discussion continues the heavier the burden becomes for me to show up next time with a real good story about knowledge ^_^
[13:56] Paula Dix: lol
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: the colors are just another language to assist in the explanation
[13:56] Sovereign Trafalgar: Or is it that the sensitivities we've used to measure them don't correspond to our sensory abilities?
[13:56] ChatNoir Talon: The bar gets higher and higher in this class
[13:56] herman Bergson: We already have some suggestions..
[13:57] Sovereign Trafalgar: physical, perceptual
[13:57] herman Bergson: But regarding 'adequate justification' of Hans Albert and you're cured :-)
[13:58] herman Bergson: Btw..It was Myriam who mentioned that name last time...a valuable contribution to the next lecture(s)
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: oops
[13:58] Paula Dix: looking for him...
[13:59] Paula Dix: lol ive found a Hans Albert Einstein, is that the one?
[13:59] herman Bergson: SO I guess we have had a good look at skepticism today and put our view alongside with it.
[13:59] herman Bergson: No...that is the son of Albert Einstein
[13:59] Myriam Brianna: (and a good starting point with Albert is his "Traktat über kritische Vernunft", though I don't know if it is available in English
[13:59] Paula Dix: yes
[14:00] herman Bergson: A professor in Hydraulics in the US somewhere
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: as I remember so well, this lecture and discussion was wonderful, Herman...thank you....good bye all :)
[14:00] Quizzle Mode: starting point?
[14:00] ChatNoir Talon: Ciao Ari
[14:00] Abraxas Nagy: bye Ari
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[14:00] herman Bergson: Yes Quizzle..perfect
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: ari see you soon we hope
[14:00] Qwark Allen: ciao ragazzi
[14:00] herman Bergson: Bye Arisotle
[14:00] Qwark Allen: va bene
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: as often as I can :)
[14:00] Qwark Allen: heheheh
[14:00] Abraxas Nagy: prego
[14:00] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[14:00] ChatNoir Talon: WHoa! Profferory-looking guy
[14:00] Paula Dix: hi philosophers photos are always of them old?? to give a sense of wisdom??
[14:00] Quizzle Mode: Bye Ari
[14:00] Qwark Allen: nice to see you
[14:01] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:01] ChatNoir Talon: It's Greek tradition, I guess
[14:01] herman Bergson: Muchos gracias todos amigos y amiguitas
[14:01] ChatNoir Talon: LOL Herman
[14:01] Qwark Allen: ehehhehe
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: law is not
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[14:01] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[14:01] Qwark Allen: cooolio
[14:01] herman Bergson: So I thank you for todays discussion
[14:01] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: w0oh0o!
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: see you Tuesday we hope
[14:01] ChatNoir Talon: Thank you Herman
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: thats takes me back
[14:01] Quizzle Mode: lol thank you herman :) another great class, thanks all
[14:01] Frederick Hansome: Thank you, Herman. Good evening all
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: a few decades
[14:02] herman Bergson: I'll be there ...:-)
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: bye Fred
[14:02] Qwark Allen: cya soon
[14:02] Qwark Allen: i¨m still in France
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: ah
[14:02] Qwark Allen: at friends house
[14:02] herman Bergson: Still on vacation Qwark?!
[14:02] Qwark Allen: with a laptop with keyboard azert
[14:02] Myriam Brianna: uh, bye to everyone who's leaving ^^
[14:03] Qwark Allen: indeed herman
[14:03] Qwark Allen: the never ending vacations
[14:03] herman Bergson: I envy you
[14:03] Qwark Allen: loool
[14:03] Qwark Allen: lol
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

13b From belief to knowledge...

In the former lecture we saw that we are what we believe. That we can have faulty beliefs and true beliefs. True in the sense that the content of the belief is a true proposition.

So we could say that when we have a true belief, we KNOW something. Unfortunately this is not sufficient.

Recall the situation that you believe, that the pope is brushing his teeth and indeed somewhere in the Vatican that man is brushing his teeth.

The proposition "The pope is brushing his teeth." is true. And I here in SL believe, that he is doing so. Is it now justified to say, that I therefore KNOW that the pope is brushing his teeth.

You already feel that there is missing something in this situation. That my belief coincided with the actual fact of what the pope was doing is just a coincidence. Or said in another way, there is no link between me and the fact.

Philosophers insist, that a belief can only be qualified as true knowledge if there is a connection, a relationship between my mental confirmation of a fact and the occurrence of the fact itself. Besides does this have to be an adequate connection.

In less abstract formulation you could say:"I believe there falls an apple from the tree!"
ok, it has to happen right in front of me, so I see it happen and to make the connection adquate I must be sure I am not hallucinating, not on an LSD trip or whatsoever.

Is "right in front of me" an adequate justification then? Or when I see a direct transmission on CNN of the pope, brushing his teeth, is that adquate? So what is the criterium, which determines whether a belief is adequately justified or not?

That is our next question and if we find a decisive answer, it will show us how we can have certain and unquestionable knowledge.

Sometimes we say to someone "Come on, be reasonable!" We say that to someone in a situation that - in our opinion - the actions, attitudes, expectations and beliefs of that person are not in proportion with what we regard to be the real situation.

For example soccer hooligans who really intend to kill the supporters of the other team or a teacher who believes that he is always right and never makes a mistake. We would call that unreasonable, wouldnt we? So being reasonable means something.

The human mind has a special faculty, which we call reason or rationality. Human rationality is simply the power that organizes and interprets our experiences in the world

(what we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, or otherwise perceive) , and it is also the ability to draw reliable conclusions that transcend the boundaries of immediate experience.

It is also the power that guides our actions and expectations so that they are meaningful, given the realities that we face.

The quintessence of rationality is good argumentation, which is ruled by logic. So logic, or sound reasoning, is the fundamental tool of rationality.

We have got this far: Knowledge is adequately justified belief, where adequately justified means based on a logically sound rational justification by arguments.

This could mean that when we say : I know that p (where p may be any proposition) we are immediately attacked with the demand : OK....PROOF IT,

because we have defined knowledge thus far as a true proposition p with a rock-solid logical waterproof argumentation.

But isnt that a bit extreme, because I have a lot of beliefs, which I regard as knowledge, for instance about the universe, my computer, the weather and so on which I am not able literaly to proof.

In many cases I would refer to an expert, some books I have read, what I have learnt at school. I hardly can PROOF all these beliefs of which I assume that they are true beliefs, that is .... knowledge.

Let's end with the question: May we call a true belief only rational when we have sufficient proof for it? But that leads to an awkward situation,

for the proof must be itself based on beliefs that are proven, which are based upon beliefs that have to be proven too...and so on.

This is an absurd conclusion: we have fallen into an infinite regress. We have to ask the question, can there be rational beliefs for which we have no proof or don't need no proof?

And will the answer on that question lead us to true and unquestionable knowledge? Several answers appear at the horizon of another lecture ............

The Discussion

[13:22] Myriam Brianna: The Münchhausen Trilemma, yay ^^
[13:22] herman Bergson: Digest it and if you have any remarks orr questions..feel free...:-)
[13:23] itsme Frederix: axiom
[13:23] herman Bergson: Dont know that one Myriam...:-)
[13:23] oola Neruda: mathematics makes predictions... like orbits etc.... can we really ALWAYS use math as knowlege or ... maybe sometimes that is not provable
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme...that is why philosophers loved mathematics so much...
[13:24] Myriam Brianna: what about axioms? These are not knowledge, but premises. One of the pseudo-solutions of said Trilemma :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: nice axiomatic systems..
[13:24] ChatNoir Talon: I feel like there's no absolute "knowledge" out there, and we shouldn't look for it. when we say we know something we have to agree to the fact that we can only get an approximation of the truth with our senses and we're always under the possibility of being wrong.
[13:25] herman Bergson: That implies an interesting observation approximation of the truth!!
[13:25] herman Bergson: truth
[13:25] itsme Frederix: Chat "an aproximation of truth" still sound there is a absolute thrut
[13:25] Simulat Almendros: Are you saying that perhaps justified can be reached without having to be proven Herman? For instance, it may be that many lines of inductive reasoning may converge on a single conclusion - and that means there is no reason to doubt that conclusion even though none of the inductions are proofs
[13:25] herman Bergson: the rules behind me :-)
[13:26] ChatNoir Talon: 0K, how about an approximation of a "fact"?
[13:26] Lovey Dayafter: rules?
[13:26] herman Bergson: What you say Simulat is in a way related to that Truth ChatNoir mentions
[13:26] Myriam Brianna: well, the Trilemma was a pet peeve of Popper and later Albert. They likened the situation of "us" to that of Baron Munchhausen, who drags himself out of the swamp with his own hair ... which of course is impossible, but exactly what humans do
[13:26] Simulat Almendros: they haven't rezzed yet Herman
[13:27] herman Bergson: lol..ok Simulat
[13:27] ChatNoir Talon: :)
[13:27] ChatNoir Talon: Sorry
[13:27] herman Bergson: Well I have said that in another lecture too, Myriam...
[13:27] Samuel Okelly: It is a narrow-minded view that sees knowledge as only that which is verifiable.
[13:27] Lovey Dayafter: oh are those new?
[13:27] itsme Frederix: Myriam - we also boot our PC, - thats Munchhousen too
[13:27] herman Bergson: We try to understand the mind by using the mind....
[13:28] herman Bergson: or in another way....
[13:28] ChatNoir Talon: We're metaminding :-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: we are trying to measure the lenght of a ruler we hold in our hand with the ruler we hold in our hand
[13:28] Myriam Brianna: yes ;)
[13:28] oola Neruda: yes.... Sameul... that is what i mean about math.... i think that we simply take some math on faith
[13:29] Paula Dix: isnt all probabilty? We regard as "true" things that happen the same way again and again, but there is no sureness it will always be like that
[13:29] itsme Frederix: well Herman the good thing about that is: it seems to fit!
[13:29] Samuel Okelly: that was said about the world being flat itsme ;-)
[13:29] herman Bergson: Verification is already a station we have passed by as a possible answer, Samuel
[13:30] itsme Frederix: but consider thats the tric - make it fit (Munchausen in a way)
[13:30] herman Bergson: Popper showed that we just increase probability of somethiing by it
[13:30] itsme Frederix: a flat world is oke to me .... untill it does not fit
[13:30] herman Bergson: there are a few ways out of this epistemological problem...
[13:31] herman Bergson: on the one hand we might embrass scepticism....
[13:31] herman Bergson: Next lecture will put that option to a test...
[13:32] herman Bergson: or we must find an answer in rationality or maybe a priori knowldge as Kant proposed
[13:32] Myriam Brianna: err, ways out of which epistemological problem?
[13:32] herman Bergson: the question whether certain and unquestionable true knowledge is possible
[13:33] herman Bergson: Which presuposes for instance the existenc of an unique and ultimate truth
[13:33] ChatNoir Talon: I vote No
[13:33] Paula Dix: proof it! :)
[13:33] herman Bergson smiles
[13:33] Samuel Okelly: :)
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Paula ...that would be the challenge to philosophy
[13:34] itsme Frederix: but why do we need that unquest & true? thats the question - because we think there should be more. Well there is always more, the gras is greener somewhere else
[13:34] Samuel Okelly: ..and such a challenge makes the assumption that "proof" is possible
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes..why do we want an absolute truth...absolute certainty...?
[13:35] Frederick Hansome: If absolute truth is unobtainable, what would constitute adequate proof for general use?
[13:35] Myriam Brianna: dunno, I don't want or need it ^^
[13:35] herman Bergson: What are the consequences if we cancel that desire?
[13:35] Paula Dix: welll im curious if there is an absolute truth
[13:35] oola Neruda: i believe there are some things so "incredible and wondrous" that the human mind cannot wrap itself around them...
[13:35] itsme Frederix: well if truth is just truth you are ready
[13:36] Samuel Okelly: At the very least, it is an understanding of objective truth that aids our survival
[13:36] oola Neruda: ie ... infinity
[13:36] herman Bergson: any tautology is true Itsme :-)
[13:36] itsme Frederix: thats the nice thing about that herman
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: But is it absolutely trueee?
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: beyond doubt? :P
[13:36] itsme Frederix: a tautology is absolute true but irrelevant
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes.... A = A
[13:37] Simulat Almendros: might it not be the case that somethings are absolutely true but we can't prove them so?
[13:37] ChatNoir Talon: Are you 100% sure?
[13:37] itsme Frederix: mmm even about that there a questions Herman
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:37] ChatNoir Talon: Proove it
[13:37] Myriam Brianna: trivial, not irrelevant
[13:37] herman Bergson: That is the big issue Simulat....
[13:38] herman Bergson: If some things are true and we cant proof it, how do we know that they are true?
[13:38] itsme Frederix: I guess that the absolute truth won't be provable - just there is o prove -
[13:38] Samuel Okelly: an absence of proof is NOT a proof of absence
[13:38] Simulat Almendros: Didn't Goedel show that any logical system has to have true statements that can't be proven to be true?
[13:38] Paula Dix: true! :)
[13:38] herman Bergson: nice one Samuel :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: The incompleteness thesis...
[13:39] itsme Frederix: Yep Sim, he "proved" you can not prove your own system (thats another implication of Godel)
[13:39] herman Bergson: Exactly
[13:39] Myriam Brianna: he did. But that says something about us, not a hypothetical objective reality
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is in fact what we try to do...we try to understand the mind by using the very same system: the mind
[13:40] ChatNoir Talon: Why can't we just say: "Nothing can be 100% proven, so why don't I just give you the reasons I believe this holds up?"
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Myriam...
[13:40] itsme Frederix: I still think we always come back to the Aristotelian unmoved mover
[13:40] Simulat Almendros: agree Myriam - but doesn't that mean that the demand for provable absolute truth about everything is unreasonable?
[13:40] Myriam Brianna: we do say this, ChatNoir
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well..maybe there is even an other answer...
[13:41] herman Bergson: I am still studying it for it is a new development in epistemology
[13:41] Paula Dix: dont we start simple with things we can reproduce, stabilizing that as true, then build on it??
[13:41] itsme Frederix: Paula that axiom
[13:42] herman Bergson: It is called evolutionary epistemology...
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: to know something cannot mean to be absolutely sure about it, so when you use that word you must mean something else, if you are reflecting on your usage of words ;)
[13:42] ChatNoir Talon: Oooh! Nice name :-)
[13:42] Paula Dix: lol
[13:42] Samuel Okelly: Sim, I would suggest that it shows “reasoned belief” to be more helpful than the pursuit of knowledge per se
[13:42] Paula Dix: yes, its the probability i mentioned before, but this is something we can deal with
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Well I guess Dennet was right: Darwins stuff eats everything - a dangerous idea
[13:43] herman Bergson: Just relate this discussion to our search for absolute rules in ethics
[13:44] herman Bergson: if there is no absulote truth in knowing things, then there is no absolute in ethics either
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: no problem
[13:44] Rodney Handrick: hmm...good point!
[13:44] Paula Dix: all is relative??
[13:44] ChatNoir Talon: agreed
[13:44] Simulat Almendros: Samuel - I'd say that knowledge is justified true belief works fine as long as we don't demand that justified involves absolute proof
[13:44] itsme Frederix: mmm maybe the ego can be the absolute, and so dictate ethics
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes Simulat.....but what should it be then if not absolute proof...I'll deal with that in another lecture soon
[13:45] itsme Frederix: so I disagree Herman
[13:45] herman Bergson: what is the ego, Itsme?
[13:46] herman Bergson: How do you know that with certainty?
[13:46] Myriam Brianna: ethics have never been something in which a beast called absolute truth could be found. To say that an act is wrong is not to say that it is a deviation from truth Oo
[13:46] itsme Frederix: egoism/individual - I admit no shared ethics might be dangerous but ...
[13:46] ChatNoir Talon: Well said, Myriam :-)
[13:46] Frederick Hansome: lacking absolute truth, we need some reasonale standard by which to measure our beliefs/knowledge
[13:47] Frederick Hansome: What could that be?
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: I sorry..
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: I'm Sorry! have to leave :-)
[13:47] itsme Frederix: Kants thesis
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes Fredereick.....that we'll discuss in the next lectures...
[13:47] Paula Dix: bye Gemma
[13:47] Rodney Handrick: Bye Gemma
[13:47] Myriam Brianna: usability of a given language-game
[13:48] Simulat Almendros: lines of induction from many directions that converge on one conclusion might be a good measure Frederick
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes...and besides that we have to take position in ontology
[13:48] Myriam Brianna: If we want to describe our (apparent) world and make predicitions about it, we notice that this enterpise profits enormously from the scientific method - while other methods (reading holy scripture, mantic, dogmatic statements, asking priests, the natural philosophy of old, introspection) of course generally fail
[13:48] itsme Frederix: the mobb/crowd has inductions ...
[13:49] Samuel Okelly: if we deny objective moral truth , we are left with chaos
[13:49] herman Bergson: in other words..we have to answer the question : what exists
[13:50] herman Bergson: Why should that be Samuel...
[13:50] itsme Frederix: well maybe chaos is what it is + some evolution - will (Schopenhauer)
[13:51] herman Bergson: The conclusion that we are not able to know somehting like absolute truth doesnt imply that we are forced to live in chaos.
[13:51] herman Bergson: Myriam refered already to the efficiency of scientific method for instance
[13:51] Samuel Okelly: it leaves 6 billion people on this planet each following their own selfish moral code – chaos!
[13:51] itsme Frederix: well chaos may look structured (a lot of chaos math is evolved last decades)
[13:52] herman Bergson: That until now never has happened in history, Samuel
[13:52] Frederick Hansome: again, reasonable standards of determining "practical" truth is needed
[13:52] Myriam Brianna: and this efficiency is there in a world without accessible truth and even in one where there is none
[13:52] ChatNoir Talon: Not needed, desired
[13:52] herman Bergson: yes Frederick...maybe a pragmatic approach is an option
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: "We act as if the perceived world around us has got a coherent structure that allows the cognition of natural laws by human minds."
[13:53] itsme Frederix: desired, that means we have a goal in mind, not determinism but teleology
[13:53] herman Bergson: Myriam and ChatNoir tend to become pragmatics
[13:53] Samuel Okelly: the state the world is in at present shows relativistic methods to have failed
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: whooo, that was a very convincing act *g*
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon grins
[13:54] Myriam Brianna: what state? You mean more free-time for more people than ever?
[13:54] Myriam Brianna: less violence, less wars?
[13:54] itsme Frederix: guess we all want an ethical world, thats the goa and ethics is the way to reacht it (mm Munchausen again)
[13:54] Paula Dix: there is some coherent structure... the question is if we can understand the whole of it, right?
[13:55] Simulat Almendros: Thanks Herman - gotta go - be back next week
[13:55] herman Bergson: Ok Simulat...bye :-)
[13:55] Paula Dix: bye sim
[13:55] herman Bergson: There exists something like a Coherence theory Paula...
[13:56] Myriam Brianna: even if there weren't a coherent structure (if we were chaoticians in our ontology), to act like there's one has proven itself to be very effective
[13:56] Samuel Okelly: The gross injustice that sees a third of the world produce going to a minority… the world that is constantly at war… the world the sees people doing their own thing at the expense of anyone
[13:56] ChatNoir Talon: But that has always been there. I believe it happens now much more less than before
[13:56] Myriam Brianna: when exactly was there a better world? Which deontoligical moral system created it?
[13:57] itsme Frederix: Sam, maybe just symptoms in the BIG idea, not worth to bother
[13:57] oola Neruda: agree Samuel... yes
[13:57] oola Neruda: it IS worth it to bother
[13:57] herman Bergson: Let's focus on the epistemological issue here
[13:57] itsme Frederix: Chat did you read StrawDogs - if not I do recommend
[13:57] Paula Dix: and it looks to be becoming better...
[13:57] oola Neruda: go to a third world country... live in the outback... with the real people
[13:58] oola Neruda: they DO starve
[13:58] Myriam Brianna: sure, to say that this world is perfect would of course be ludicrous
[13:58] Paula Dix: i do oola
[13:58] herman Bergson: Ok..back to the issue of today...
[13:58] oola Neruda: ?-)
[13:58] Paula Dix: then perfect for whom?? :)
[13:58] oola Neruda: :-)
[13:58] herman Bergson: It is clear that what Samual and others bring forward relate to it closely
[13:58] herman Bergson: we still have no definite answer
[13:58] herman Bergson: one can tend to scepticism,
[13:59] herman Bergson: another to relativism
[13:59] herman Bergson: another to rationalism
[13:59] Paula Dix: shouldnt we join all "theories" if we want something absolute??
[13:59] CONNIE Eichel: (got to go, sorry :)
[13:59] herman Bergson: the case isnt closed at all
[13:59] Paula Dix: bye Connie
[13:59] Samuel Okelly: a logical corollary of denying an absolute truth in favour of a relativistic method binds us to the chaotic state we have now
[14:00] oola Neruda: yes
[14:00] Myriam Brianna: semantic nonsense
[14:00] herman Bergson: relativism is self contradictory..
[14:00] oola Neruda: it is correct Myriam
[14:00] Paula Dix: i dont know Samuel, today we have the least proportion of poverty and the better perspectives ever
[14:00] Myriam Brianna: it is raped language. Relativism in ethics is not the same as in ontological questions
[14:00] itsme Frederix: Paula are you sure?
[14:00] Myriam Brianna: one does not follow from the other
[14:01] herman Bergson: I'd suggest to psotpone definite standpoints till later
[14:01] Paula Dix: im not sure of anything :))
[14:01] oola Neruda: there are MANY times as many people as before... which means the poor are still in the majority
[14:01] itsme Frederix: that sounds sure
[14:01] Paula Dix: well the number of people on the planet is a proof of success on some level, right??
[14:01] itsme Frederix: well you only can be rich if there are poor
[14:02] oola Neruda: no... it will destroy us as we run out of resources
[14:02] oola Neruda: we need to control population
[14:02] Paula Dix: maybe, or maybe the population will just be cut to a reasonable number like happens with so many species
[14:02] oola Neruda: especially of americans
[14:02] oola Neruda: who use the most
[14:02] herman Bergson: Well....this is a nice debate but out of focus...
[14:02] itsme Frederix: and what about the potential population - it sounds like ... abortion
[14:02] Paula Dix: we doing it or nature doing it...
[14:03] Paula Dix: lol true herman
[14:03] oola Neruda: we
[14:03] Lovey Dayafter: haha
[14:03] ChatNoir Talon: Back to ontology
[14:03] herman Bergson: So I think it is time to DISMISS CLASS and thank you for your participation
[14:03] JeanLuc Chauveau: Thank you
[14:03] ChatNoir Talon: :)
[14:03] ChatNoir Talon: Thank you, Herman. Great class!
[14:03] herman Bergson: Feel free to contune your debate nevertheless.....
[14:03] Paula Dix: wow i have to re-read all some times!!!!
[14:03] Myriam Brianna: thank you all
[14:03] itsme Frederix: as long as we discuss we do no harm, isn't it, just use some energy
[14:03] Samuel Okelly: thank you herman :)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

13a What is knowlege?

In our former lecture we looked at mathematics. Through history mathematics have been attractive for philosophers. Its universal applicability, its systematic structure, its consistency.

Mathematical deductions always lead to true conclusions. In that light it may not surprise you that Spinoza(1632 - 1677) already believed that he could develop a theory on ethics "Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata", in which the mathematical method was used as a model of reasoning.

However, mathematics may be a kind of knowledge, but in fact only knowledge about itself. That we can apply mathematical calculations to our emperical reality is something special, somewthing pragmatic.

So in fact, mathematical knowledge offers no clues to what we could call absolute and certain knowledge about our reality. We have to approach that issue from another angle apparently.

Again, what is so amazing in the history of thought, it was already Plato (427 - 347 B.C) who formulated the basic problem, or actually portraited Socrates in his dialogs as the searcher for knowledge.....definite knowledge.

And in all these conversations there is that distinction between what one BELIEVES and what one KNOWS. To know something is definitely something different from believing something.

Reality as we experience it, is shaped by our beliefs. Our beliefs guide us through the day. Nothing is more important that what you belief.

How many beliefs does a person have?....ten ..thousands, millions...Some we are aware of , other we become aware of by , for instance, look more closely at our behavior.

We have all kinds of beliefs, trivial ones as well as crucial ones. We believe that it is wrong to steal or to kill, and we also beliefve that 2 is more than 1 and 3 more than 2.

We can look at beliefs in two ways: a subjective and an objective way. With the subjective way I mean the mental attitude of being convinced of something, believing something.

With the objective way I mean the content of the belief, which we also may call a proposition, a statement that claims to have a truth-value. We'll mainly focus on this aspect of our beliefs: their content.

Everything we do is driven by our beliefs. Many philosophers regard human action as an interaction between our beliefs and desires: beliefs + desires = action.

But there is a problem....of course there is a problem...there always is a problem when you make a philosopher look at your stuff (^_^) We can have wrong beliefs, faulty beliefs.

How can we avoid faulty beliefs? The content of our belief is a proposition, as statement which claims to have a truth-value.

And when this proposition is true, isnt the belief then not something more than just a belief; may we not call that knowledge?

What Socrates was after is what we still find in our traditional definition of knowledge. Knowledge = adequately justified correct belief. This is what such a belief makes it differ from guesses, opinions or prejudices.

We can have faulty beliefs, but we can not know something false.....we only can know that something is false or to use the words of Aristotle:

To say of what is, that it is not, or to say of something that is not, that it is, is false; to say of something that is, that it is, and of say of something that is not, say that is not, is true."

Funny guys, those Ancient Greeks, but the question we have to deal with now is, is Aristotle right? Is it that plain and simple. Does truth really exist?

A number of philosophers says, oh yes.....but only in your given context, only from your perspective in your situation.

This is the well known view of relativism. There is truth indeed, but no absolute truth, according to relativism. Truth is always relative to your perspective, your context, your culture and so on.

But as we have seen in another lecture: this point of view is self-defeating, because it takes its own starting point as absolute, which is self-contradictory.

Belief is a necessary condition for knowledge. Truth is another necessary condition. Knowledge is built on true belief, but even that isnt enough.

Suppose I believe the Pope is now brushing his teeth.....And really..somewhere in the Vatican this man is brushing his teeth indeed. This means that the proposition: the Pope is now brushing his teeth is true

So my belief is true, but can it be called knowledge. Did I KNOW the Pope was brushing his teeth? Obviously not. I just was lucky.

So when we say that knowledge = adequately justified correct belief, there still is missing something in our quest for knowledge. What it have till Thursday to figure that out for yourselves.

The Discussion

[13:26] ChatNoir Talon: Oh no, not homework! :(
[13:26] Myriam Brianna: it is already said
[13:26] Abraxas Nagy: o.O
[13:26] Paula Dix: to be continued
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: just thinking
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes indeed ..homework..
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:26] ChatNoir Talon: lol
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: a birthday present from herman
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: oops there goes ari again
[13:27] Paula Dix: :))
[13:27] herman Bergson: What is most important today is the concept of belief...
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:27] herman Bergson: all what we say is, knowledge starts with a belief
[13:27] herman Bergson: and knowledge appears to be a special kind of belief then :-)
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: but have not scientists proved some of the beliefs to be true and so now it is kn owledge???
[13:28] ChatNoir Talon: Can one know something without believeing it? .. I guess not... mhhh
[13:28] Myriam Brianna: a justified belief, in the light of (apparent) evidence, (apparent) sense perceptions, etc
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: well after it is proved
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Gemma....
[13:28] herman Bergson: and the question did they prove it?
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: step by step
[13:29] Elia Scribe: Is it possible that mind can possess truth without what we call belief?
[13:29] oola Neruda: in science, an experiment needs to be repeatable
[13:29] Alarice Beaumont: trying.. collection information
[13:29] herman Bergson: or said otherwise how was it justified being knowledge
[13:30] herman Bergson: Some philosophers agree with you Elia...
[13:30] Paula Dix: you imagine ways to test your belief??
[13:30] oola Neruda: but you will never know if it really is true because the next time you do it might be an exception
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:30] Paula Dix: yes, need continual testing...
[13:30] Elia Scribe: What would they're views be called then?
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: we always end up in the same place
[13:30] herman Bergson: Intuitionism is the most extreme, Elia
[13:30] ChatNoir Talon: Yes, and taking it one step further we can never know if we're inside the matrix really... so there's never a way to be 100% sure of anything
[13:30] Myriam Brianna: there's no way to eliminate what I'd call an epistemic base-doubt. Apart from tautological statements that are necessarily true there's no way to prove something absolutely
[13:31] herman Bergson: But basiclly Rationalism holds such views
[13:31] oola Neruda: yet mathematics is constant (so far) and can even predict
[13:31] Paula Dix: then its the testing, confronting the belief with reality
[13:31] herman Bergson: I agree with that Myriam....
[13:31] herman Bergson: but to get that far in this lecture would have taken too much time :-)
[13:32] Elia Scribe: rationalism holds which views? That truth can be had without belief?
[13:32] herman Bergson: But I must agree that what Myriam says will be our epistemic destiny
[13:32] Paula Dix: yes, makes sense :)))
[13:32] Myriam Brianna: so to speak of "knowing" something is to say: In the light of the (apparent) evidence etc available to me, I'm justified to belief that x is true
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Elia.....a priori knowledge for instance (Kant)
[13:32] ChatNoir Talon: Yeah, sounds good to me
[13:32] herman Bergson: Or I think so I exist (Descartes)
[13:33] Elia Scribe: I thought that was cogito ergo sum.
[13:33] Elia Scribe: I think therefore I am.
[13:33] Elia Scribe: :))
[13:33] herman Bergson: In latin yes, Elia...:-)
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: that is another one
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:33] Paula Dix: then its all probability, right?
[13:34] Myriam Brianna: Cogito, Ego sum. The R was a printer's mistake, at first
[13:34] Elia Scribe: :))))
[13:34] Elia Scribe: ego??
[13:34] herman Bergson: I havent heard that one ever Myriam :-)
[13:34] Paula Dix: we talk about physics laws because they are the same every time we test them, but even if we know they arent necessarily fixed we accept them as being
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Paula....
[13:34] Paula Dix: so its a matter of being used to things...
[13:35] Myriam Brianna: and I sadly don't know where I heard it first *g* ... probably in an discussion of the meditations by a logical positivist ^^
[13:35] herman Bergson: So somehow there must be some kind of theory of truth...
[13:35] Tess Aristocrat: don't seek the truth. just cease to cherish opinion
[13:35] Paula Dix: in the dictatorship times here people used to say Cogito ergo Pum (gun sound)
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Tess...but that brings us to adequately justified correct beliefs...
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: Aye
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well....I think we reached a nice point here....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Myriam already revealed that we are not heading for an absolute truth theory..
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: That'd be impossible
[13:37] herman Bergson: on the other hand does absolute relativism hold either..
[13:37] herman Bergson: so there must be something in between.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: YOUR
[13:37] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:37] Paula Dix: lol
[13:37] ChatNoir Talon: Lol
[13:37] Tess Aristocrat: well there is fact and truth
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: there goes the weekend
[13:38] Tess Aristocrat: and common belief
[13:38] Paula Dix: no its for thursday!!!
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: oh right lololol
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: forgot
[13:38] Paula Dix: lol
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: today is tuesday
[13:38] herman Bergson: You should formulate it differently Tess....
[13:38] Myriam Brianna: weak relativism, - admitting that there's an etic reality beyond the filter of my cognition, and also admitting that there's no way to leave one's emic reality and speak about it :x
[13:38] herman Bergson: There is fact and there is a proposition (statement about the fact)
[13:39] Paula Dix: whats emic reality??
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes what is that Myriam?
[13:39] Elia Scribe: This epistemic base-doubt that Myriam speaks of ... can it not be factored out of any belief system and so we can then talk about absolute proof within that context?
[13:39] Myriam Brianna: on sec ;)
[13:40] ChatNoir Talon: Absolute proof seems pretty far-fetched
[13:40] Tess Aristocrat: do you have a particularformula yougo by?
[13:40] herman Bergson: That sounds contradictory elia...
[13:40] Elia Scribe: sorry to be out of context. I'm a slow thinker. :))
[13:40] Elia Scribe: Why is that Herman?
[13:40] herman Bergson: The proof isnt absolute but relative to its context only
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: emic and etic
[13:40] Tess Aristocrat: when something is wet, is it not wet?
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:41] Elia Scribe: Hmmm. Then I wonder what we mean by absolute.
[13:41] Myriam Brianna: an emic reality: The thoughts, feelings and (apparent) sense impressions that people create by talking to each other(or by communicating in any symbolism); the semantic environment
[13:41] Tess Aristocrat: when something is dead, is it not dead?
[13:41] Paula Dix: thanks Myriam :)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Check the words of Aristotle Tess..:-)
[13:41] ChatNoir Talon: Tess, you should ask Shrödinger's cat
[13:41] Elia Scribe: Tess is cutting through :))))
[13:42] Paula Dix: emic reality is the realm of memes :)))
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: and etic: The hypothetical reality that has not been filtered through a human nervous system ;)
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: you could say that. Our socially formed reality, in which there are no absolute truth values
[13:42] Paula Dix: wow i thougth you meant ethic :))))
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well.....memes are a dangerous subject....
[13:42] Elia Scribe: why is that Herman?
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: and emic and etic are realy terms that need be studied upon....HOMEWORK
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: hello Qwark :)
[13:43] Qwark Allen: Hey! friends
[13:43] Qwark Allen: :-)))
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: Hi Qwark
[13:43] Abraxas Nagy: yooooo Qwark bro
[13:43] Myriam Brianna: it depends on who you are asking if, say, Buddha is a historical person. But either he lived, or he did not
[13:43] Paula Dix: lol nooooo more homework! :)))
[13:43] Myriam Brianna: hehe
[13:44] herman Bergson: Hi Qwark....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Gemma will inform you about your homework :-)
[13:44] Alarice Beaumont: Hello Qwark :-))
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: lololool
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: ^^
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: restate it
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: for rodney too
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ok....we got a few interesting issues mentioned here..
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:45] herman Bergson: one: in what way can a belief be adequately justiefied
[13:45] Rodney Handrick: thanks Gemma
[13:45] herman Bergson: two: apparently won't we find a theory of absolute truth
[13:46] Qwark Allen: omg !!!! i got here after rodneeeey!!!!!!!!!!
[13:46] Paula Dix: lol
[13:46] herman Bergson: three: relativism is seft-defeating so no feasable solution
[13:46] oola Neruda: wonder how bush and cheney would anwser that... how can it be adequately justified
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: omg never
[13:47] herman Bergson: four: new terms : emic and etic ..and semantic environment
[13:47] herman Bergson: How do these terms fit in...
[13:47] Paula Dix: they fit in plato cave
[13:47] ChatNoir Talon writes all down on paper
[13:48] herman Bergson: All text will be publsihed on
[13:48] Elia Scribe: Herman could you say a word or two about why you think memes are a dangerous topic?
[13:48] herman Bergson: No Elia...that is for a nex time when we'll discuss evolutionary epistemology..
[13:49] herman Bergson: At the moment we even have an epistemology...only a theory on beliefs :-)
[13:49] Elia Scribe: okee
[13:49] herman Bergson: And we have to find a way to classify at least a number of these beliefs as knowledge
[13:49] Elia Scribe: what is the fourth term?
[13:49] Paula Dix: emic and etic
[13:50] Tess Aristocrat: ok, so I'm to believe that 'memes' aren't all about 'me' and I should find investigate
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:50] Elia Scribe: memes are conceptual amimals
[13:50] Tess Aristocrat: and etic :)
[13:50] herman Bergson: is a term coined by Dawkins
[13:50] herman Bergson: in 1974
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:51] herman Bergson: We'll get to that, but before that we have a way to go :-)
[13:51] herman Bergson: I have enough on your mind now...:-)
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: wow yes
[13:52] Elia Scribe: I need more. I'm floating away.
[13:52] herman Bergson: So..thank you for your great participation in the debate and for your interest
[13:52] ChatNoir Talon gets her fishing pole and catches drifting Elia
[13:52] Myriam Brianna: not all who wander are lost, Elia =)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Hope to see you next Thursday:-)
[13:52] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:52] oola Neruda: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMAN!!!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAY
[13:53] herman Bergson smiles
[13:53] Paula Dix: yay!
[13:53] herman Bergson: And thank you for your congratulations
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: hu, there's a birthday to celebrate? Gratulations, Herman ;)
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: HAPPY HAPPY!
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: So, a virgo, huh?
[13:53] Frederick Hansome: before you go, could you explain a little more on the second assignment? a theory of absolute truty? Where are we supposed to ge with that?
[13:53] Qwark Allen: I wanna to tell you, in my own special way, that your extra special..............
[13:53] Qwark Allen: so have a GREAT DAYYYYYYYYYYY
[13:54] herman Bergson: a way
[13:54] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY..............
[13:54] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY..................
[13:54] herman Bergson: thank you Qwark :-)
[13:54] Myriam Brianna: lol
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class is dismissed :-)
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: YEEEEEH FKN HAAAWWWWW!!!!!!
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:55] herman Bergson: lol
[13:55] Qwark Allen: HooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo !!!!!!
[13:55] Qwark Allen: Hooooooo!!!!!!! \O/
[13:55] Qwark Allen: |
[13:55] Qwark Allen: / \
[13:55] Qwark Allen: Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: that brings me back
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: thank you

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