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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