"Nothing can be known, not even this"

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Haven

"Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #1

Post by Haven »

Carneades wrote:Nothing can be known, not even this!
In 159 BCE, ancient Greek skeptical philosopher Carneades made this statement in an attempt to refute the possibility of human beings having knowledge of anything, with knowledge defined as "belief that precludes the possibility of error." Carneades believed claiming knowledge of any sort was dogmatic.

For the skeptic, certitude of anything (even this statement) is impossible for humans to obtain. Instead, skeptics believe that humans can only assign degrees of probability to any proposition, granting higher probabilities to seemingly plausible propositions and granting lower probabilities to seemingly implausible propositions.

The principles behind skepticism are the fallibility of the human brain and the uncertain nature of reality. Science has demonstrated that the brain is capable of misinterpreting phenomena, creating hallucinations, and thinking irrationally.
Additionally, we do not even know what reality is: for all we know, we could be living in a computer simulation in which everything we can detect -- matter, energy, and other minds -- are all constructed from lines of computer code. Solipsism, the idea that nothing except one's own minds exists, could be true: after all, you could be a brain in a vat hooked up to a machine feeding you stimuli that causes your brain to react as if it were experiencing reality.

Skepticism appears the only truly rational response in the case of these considerations.

Debate question: is knowledge possible? Can anything be known with certitude? If so, how?

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #61

Post by Daedalus X »

Seek wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:54 am If 100% certainty is a requirement for knowledge, then nobody knows anything.
I am a 100% certain that if I think, then I know that I am.

I do think, therefore I am a 100% certain that I am.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #62

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Haven wrote: Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:13 pm
Carneades wrote:Nothing can be known, not even this!
In 159 BCE, ancient Greek skeptical philosopher Carneades made this statement in an attempt to refute the possibility of human beings having knowledge of anything, with knowledge defined as "belief that precludes the possibility of error." Carneades believed claiming knowledge of any sort was dogmatic.

For the skeptic, certitude of anything (even this statement) is impossible for humans to obtain. Instead, skeptics believe that humans can only assign degrees of probability to any proposition, granting higher probabilities to seemingly plausible propositions and granting lower probabilities to seemingly implausible propositions.

The principles behind skepticism are the fallibility of the human brain and the uncertain nature of reality. Science has demonstrated that the brain is capable of misinterpreting phenomena, creating hallucinations, and thinking irrationally.
Additionally, we do not even know what reality is: for all we know, we could be living in a computer simulation in which everything we can detect -- matter, energy, and other minds -- are all constructed from lines of computer code. Solipsism, the idea that nothing except one's own minds exists, could be true: after all, you could be a brain in a vat hooked up to a machine feeding you stimuli that causes your brain to react as if it were experiencing reality.

Skepticism appears the only truly rational response in the case of these considerations.

Debate question: is knowledge possible? Can anything be known with certitude? If so, how?
The statement "Nothing can be known" cannot itself be known to be true - according to the reasoning in the OP.

It is an oxymoron.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #63

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 2:37 pm
Haven wrote: Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:13 pm
Carneades wrote:Nothing can be known, not even this!
In 159 BCE, ancient Greek skeptical philosopher Carneades made this statement in an attempt to refute the possibility of human beings having knowledge of anything, with knowledge defined as "belief that precludes the possibility of error." Carneades believed claiming knowledge of any sort was dogmatic.

For the skeptic, certitude of anything (even this statement) is impossible for humans to obtain. Instead, skeptics believe that humans can only assign degrees of probability to any proposition, granting higher probabilities to seemingly plausible propositions and granting lower probabilities to seemingly implausible propositions.

The principles behind skepticism are the fallibility of the human brain and the uncertain nature of reality. Science has demonstrated that the brain is capable of misinterpreting phenomena, creating hallucinations, and thinking irrationally.
Additionally, we do not even know what reality is: for all we know, we could be living in a computer simulation in which everything we can detect -- matter, energy, and other minds -- are all constructed from lines of computer code. Solipsism, the idea that nothing except one's own minds exists, could be true: after all, you could be a brain in a vat hooked up to a machine feeding you stimuli that causes your brain to react as if it were experiencing reality.

Skepticism appears the only truly rational response in the case of these considerations.

Debate question: is knowledge possible? Can anything be known with certitude? If so, how?
The statement "Nothing can be known" cannot itself be known to be true - according to the reasoning in the OP.

Paraphrased "I am 100% certain that I cannot be 100% certain about anything".

It is an oxymoron.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #64

Post by Purple Knight »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 2:37 pmThe statement "Nothing can be known" cannot itself be known to be true - according to the reasoning in the OP.

It is an oxymoron.
It is self-referential and not a true statement.

The consistent position to take is that humans cannot have absolute knowledge. Does this itself count as absolute knowledge? No. I may as well say, look, let's just cook up something purely logically true and say that's now absolute knowledge. Either the cat is a cat or it's not, aha, now I have absolute knowledge!

Nope. Doesn't pass muster.

We must know the difference between a statement and the reality it describes. It is the latter we say we cannot have absolute knowledge about.

The problem, "Could God make a rock so heavy he couldn't lift it?" is a similar construction of language. The answer is no, and the no does not describe a deficit of ability. Reality, not statements.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #65

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Purple Knight wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 9:08 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 2:37 pmThe statement "Nothing can be known" cannot itself be known to be true - according to the reasoning in the OP.

It is an oxymoron.
It is self-referential and not a true statement.

The consistent position to take is that humans cannot have absolute knowledge. Does this itself count as absolute knowledge? No. I may as well say, look, let's just cook up something purely logically true and say that's now absolute knowledge. Either the cat is a cat or it's not, aha, now I have absolute knowledge!

Nope. Doesn't pass muster.

We must know the difference between a statement and the reality it describes. It is the latter we say we cannot have absolute knowledge about.

The problem, "Could God make a rock so heavy he couldn't lift it?" is a similar construction of language. The answer is no, and the no does not describe a deficit of ability. Reality, not statements.
Yet "I exist" is something I know, I regard it as "absolute knowledge", undoubted, fact.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #66

Post by William »

[Replying to Sherlock Holmes in post #65]
Yet "I exist" is something I know, I regard it as "absolute knowledge", undoubted, fact.
Are you sure you actually know yourself?

Or is it that what you identify with as your 'I' is more something of a fictional character which has been shaped and influenced by environmental factors, such as parental figures, human authorities, religious mythologies and unsubstantiated belief systems...
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Role-playing in a setting created for that purpose...

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #67

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

William wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 12:50 pm [Replying to Sherlock Holmes in post #65]
Yet "I exist" is something I know, I regard it as "absolute knowledge", undoubted, fact.
Are you sure you actually know yourself?

Or is it that what you identify with as your 'I' is more something of a fictional character which has been shaped and influenced by environmental factors, such as parental figures, human authorities, religious mythologies and unsubstantiated belief systems...
Image
Role-playing in a setting created for that purpose...
Oh I assure you, there's nothing fictional about Sherlock Holmes, getting others to believe I am a character of fiction was always part of the plan!
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #68

Post by nobspeople »

[Replying to Purple Knight in post #64]
The consistent position to take is that humans cannot have absolute knowledge.
What is absolute knowledge, exactly? How do you define it? What's the consensus' definition of it? And how is it humans can't have it?
It is self-referential and not a true statement.
What is 'a true statement', exactly? How do you define it? What's the consensus' definition of it? Why is it 'not true' (seemingly) because it's self-referential?
We must know the difference between a statement and the reality it describes.
As we don't know exactly what reality is, how is this statement true?
Even IF it were true, why? What gives one the ability to define what everyone else must do or not do, know or not know?
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #69

Post by Purple Knight »

nobspeople wrote: Wed Feb 16, 2022 8:52 am [Replying to Purple Knight in post #64]
The consistent position to take is that humans cannot have absolute knowledge.
What is absolute knowledge, exactly? How do you define it? What's the consensus' definition of it? And how is it humans can't have it?
My idea is that because you can't have an infinite chain of verifications all the way up to the top, the only things we can know are things we define that we know, like math. And logic. And perhaps morality. I didn't say that humans can't have absolute knowledge and I know so, I just said it's a consistent position, in other words, there's nothing logically inconsistent about being uncertain of every piece of knowledge you have.

See my post on statements in the Logics section. I give a good argument that a statement should not reference itself or else become something that should not be regarded as a statement but as meaningless verbal flatulence.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 2:59 pmOh I assure you, there's nothing fictional about Sherlock Holmes, getting others to believe I am a character of fiction was always part of the plan!
Something I do that confuses and upsets people is that I address everything as if it is true and go from there. This is my version of eliminating the impossible - eliminating very strictly only the impossible - and it works incredibly well.

This links up with my musings on whether fiction can be true. If we elected Mickey Mouse as president then he would be president, and whether or not he would be capable of doing his job, or doing it well, is another matter. And does the God of the Bible have to exist, to exist? I don't think so. I think if people worship a fictional being it can still qualify as a god. And aside from that, if there is any sort of infinity of existence, then it is fairly logical that everything possible exists, though not necessarily right now or in our universe, and that doesn't rule out something being impossible though we don't understand why.

But something that William said got me thinking about your declaration that you exist: If you really were fictional, how exactly would you know so? The thoughts in your head are real to you, but how do you know that beings that have no more existence than lines on a page and what those lines mean to people, don't also have thoughts in their heads that seem real to them?

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Re: "Nothing can be known, not even this"

Post #70

Post by nobspeople »

[Replying to Purple Knight in post #69]
My idea is that because you can't have an infinite chain of verifications all the way up to the top, the only things we can know are things we define that we know, like math. And logic. And perhaps morality.
You have me until the morality part. Unless, you're saying humans know what morality is by definition? Then maybe. But what some say is moral others don't many times. And what's moral today may not be in 20 years, just like what was more 200 years ago isn't today.
I give a good argument that a statement should not reference itself or else become something that should not be regarded as a statement but as meaningless verbal flatulence.
I don't know anyone that would agree that using a term to define itself is logical so I would agree.
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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