"Nothing can be known, not even this"

For the love of the pursuit of knowledge

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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 #2

Post by Goat »

Haven wrote:
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?
Darn it.. a philosopher that actually made a statement that made sense.. will wonders never cease? With that definition (the 100% certainty), I would say almost certainly that knowledge is not possible. There might be things we are 100% correct about, but we , as fallible human beings, wouldn't know what they are.

However, due to the preponderance of evidence, I would have to say retreating to pure sophism is just plain stupid. Not even people who intellectually retreat that LIVE as if that were true. They accept their senses in living their everyday life, they only retreat there to hold non-provable and non-rational ideas.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

Angel

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

Post #3

Post by Angel »

Haven wrote:
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?
In practice, science is a combination of reason and empiricism. No scientists that I know of would claim that their current facts/observations/data will always stand as truth so we can rule out science being knowledge, as you defined it.

I honestly don't know if knowledge is possible. I wonder how would the 3 basic laws of logic (law of non-contradiction, etc.) fit in with knowledge. Do we accept these laws based only on necessity or do we have the ability and means to justify them or show that they are true.

Haven

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

Post #4

Post by Haven »

Angel wrote: In practice, science is a combination of reason and empiricism. No scientists that I know of would claim that their current facts/observations/data will always stand as truth so we can rule out science being knowledge, as you defined it.
True. Science is about finding the best explanation of the evidence, not about discovering absolute truth.
I honestly don't know if knowledge is possible. I wonder how would the 3 basic laws of logic (law of non-contradiction, etc.) fit in with knowledge. Do we accept these laws based only on necessity or do we have the ability and means to justify them or show that they are true.
The laws of logic are simply presuppositions we make based on the way things within the universe behave. There is nothing transcendental about them. We can't externally justify the laws of logic, because in order to do so we would need to use logic, which would be circular.

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

Post #5

Post by bernee51 »



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

There are three aspects to it: the knower, the known and the act of knowing.  The known and the act of knowing depend on the senses and, as senses can be mistaken, there is no certitude to be found there.

This leaves the knower. 

True knowledge can only arise when there is an apprehension of pure Awareness, when the knower, the Self is realized (made real).
"Whatever you are totally ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else"

William James quoting Dr. Hodgson

"When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. My life is a movement between these two."

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Mr.Badham
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Post #6

Post by Mr.Badham »

Without knowledge of language, reading and writing, how could I possibly reply to such a question? Oh, wait....

Okay, so I can't know for sure that I'm answering your question about knowledge, but, wait....

Did you ask me something? I can't know for sure, except that I thought I might try to answer, but, wait.......

The act of asking a question, shows knowledge of something.

Angel

Post #7

Post by Angel »

Mr.Badham wrote:Without knowledge of language, reading and writing, how could I possibly reply to such a question? Oh, wait....

Okay, so I can't know for sure that I'm answering your question about knowledge, but, wait....

Did you ask me something? I can't know for sure, except that I thought I might try to answer, but, wait.......

The act of asking a question, shows knowledge of something.
So you're basically asking or suggesting that we can be absolutely certain that the word "knowledge" is spelled k-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e?

I don't know how a skeptic would answer this but there are other areas of inquiry that aren't as simple to answer like on if all current scientific theories are correct, etc. Perhaps a skeptic would refer back to the point about not being able to know about the nature of existence or not being able to know absolutely (that it would stand the test of time for eternity and on all levels). Your point would fall into that indirectly. A more direct answer would be addressing your point by bringing up some theory or fundamental aspect of language or philosophy.

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Post #8

Post by Mr.Badham »

Angel wrote:
Mr.Badham wrote:Without knowledge of language, reading and writing, how could I possibly reply to such a question? Oh, wait....

Okay, so I can't know for sure that I'm answering your question about knowledge, but, wait....

Did you ask me something? I can't know for sure, except that I thought I might try to answer, but, wait.......

The act of asking a question, shows knowledge of something.
So you're basically asking or suggesting that we can be absolutely certain that the word "knowledge" is spelled k-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e?

I don't know how a skeptic would answer this but there are other areas of inquiry that aren't as simple to answer like on if all current scientific theories are correct, etc. Perhaps a skeptic would refer back to the point about not being able to know about the nature of existence or not being able to know absolutely (that it would stand the test of time for eternity and on all levels). Your point would fall into that indirectly. A more direct answer would be addressing your point by bringing up some theory or fundamental aspect of language or philosophy.
And yet you use the English Language.

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Jax Agnesson
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Post #9

Post by Jax Agnesson »

I know that I am capable of error. I think this knowledge (that I am capable of error) is absolute. If this knowledge is indeed absolute, it follows that no other knowledge can be absolute for me.
Proof.
I remember a time (t) when I strongly believed proposition P.
I remember a time (t+n) when I strongly believed that proposition P had been wrong at time t.
Either:
I was wrong at time t.
Or I was wrong at time t+n,
or I was wrong both times,
or my recollection of these events is wrong,
or, this logical reasoning is itself flawed.
In any case, whatever I think I know, I have to recognise that I could be wrong.
So the 'not even this' in the OP doesn't work.
Of course, to anyone who thinks they have never been wrong, this reasoning would not apply. Would it?

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Post #10

Post by Mr.Badham »

Woops

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