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

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment