From Use Of Which Of The Following Can You Obtain Knowledge? Feelings, Intuition, Prayer, Reason, Hope, Emotions Or Faith.

Intuition is not valid. Feelings, intuition, prayer, hope, faith and revelation are not valid sources of knowledge. There is only the noncontrictory integration of perceptual evidence, otherwise known as reason. To be valid, a concept must fit without contradiction into your knowledge base both:

HIERARCHICALLY-perceptions(colors/shapes) -->1st order concepts (chair)-->2nd order concepts (furniture)-->3rd order concepts (goods). Spirit is not valid because it is not made up of any essential constituents. Choice is real and valid because I can identify, by reducing a pattern of behavior to perceptual evidence, the essential characteristics.


CONTEXTUALLY-Santa Claus does not integrate contextually. He's a man, yet can visit millions of homes and climb down each chimney in one night! Contradiction. Must reject! God is omniscient. An all-knowing being must know what is about to happen to be omniscient, so he cannot know surprise. Contradiction. Must reject.

If there is a contradiction, go back, you must check your premises.

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Comment by MCT on January 27, 2011 at 11:26am
I figured I'd get shit for that. She gets such a bad rap.
Comment by Daniel Smith on January 27, 2011 at 11:12am
Ayn Rand?? Really??? :-)
Comment by MCT on January 27, 2011 at 6:55am
JC & DS,
So yeah, I get a bit upset, but in a sort of fun angry competitive way. I actually appreciate this sort of discourse a great deal. I love the brain computer metaphor, although before long, it will be less of a metaphor, imo. We humans all have very similar hardware, but us intellectual giants have some of the same updated software, obviously. The more updated versions of reality, with a more accurate view of the nature of reality than more primitive versions like theism. We have undeniably progressed, philosophically and technologically.

It is important to me that, as a society, we make progress in our understanding of our metaphysical realm and epistemology, as well as the rest of philosophy, such as morality, because so much in this world depends on these things. This is most important to me because we all share this world and I wish live with laws that allow freedom and progress. Our culture’s philosophical ignorance is a huge aspect of the cause of what I see as nothing less than rampant evil (as the opposite of good). This post-modern subjectivist relativist skeptical tainting of reason and logic, while having many merits as a mental exercise, for probing the limits of our perception and for technological advance, sanctions people to go willy-nilly with their philosophy, encouraging toleration of the use of metaphor as a means of verification. If we are to have a conversation about philosophy, then we must use concepts we agree on and that mean something very specific and not other things and stem from this reality. Both of you guys clearly know what’s up enough to think about particle physics, but when you teach in universities that knowledge is impossible, this leads to respect for emotions over reason, for diversity over merit, for equality over freedom and society over the individual. Oh and don’t forget toleration of other’s irrational beliefs, like invisible pink unicorns controlling our lives with rainbows. It’s even worse, it really doesn’t matter what you believe in most public arenas, these days, only that what you believe is irrational. This is why I get emotional, but not why I believe what I do.

First of all JC, you have got to stop asserting that universal truths are impossible. This is a bold contradiction. And you must admit that you cannot know for sure that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge. I will admit that I cannot have perfect knowledge, something I actually might think the uncertainty principle has something to do with, but I do not think that is really relevant. What is relevant is if a conceptual idea integrates into a knowledge base without contradiction and is therefore valid. You can appropriately call that idea knowledge if it is valid (integrates without contradiction). The more valid connections it has with other concepts verified by comparison to reality, often done with the scientific method, the more confident we can be about its validity or truth. Reality is the gold-standard. And it can be said to exist for sure! The primaries of cognition, the axioms of existence, consciousness and identity and therefore causality, not only assume, but subsume, are necessary for cognition to occur. It is not a trivial assumption, DS, it is not like we are 'all' sitting back and saying I am simply assuming that existence exists, no, no, no, the axioms must be valid in order for thought to occur. For the ability to make a knowledge base to exist, existence must have primacy over consciousness, consciousness must be the faculty of perception and interaction, not creation, and a thing that exists must have identity and therefore act only in a way consistent with its structure. JC, you mentioned change is the only constant, but you are forgetting that we must recognize a thing as existing with identity then another thing existing with a different identity to observe the change.

Existence has primacy. It came first. It must exist or we wouldn't be here. You do not first know that you existence because you think. You are first aware of the object of your subjective consciousness. The very first thing one can say about reality is that they are aware of something. And that thing must have identity. It is the object they are aware of. They are not first aware of their thoughts. They are aware that something else in there. Yes, their senses tell them, but they tell them something about reality. Your senses do not fire because of your consciousness, they fire because of the environment and it is not magical. The sense organs are simple machines. They do not make decisions. They simply relay signals from the environment. They don't make shit up, either. They show only what is there and don't omit shit. Again, we can certainly misinterpret the signals, but that mistake is in the brain. Our sense perception is a reflection of and a tool for interacting with reality.

Reality is real and we can have knowledge of it. Kind of like DS wrote, some is more subjective and some is more objective but it is only as valid as it is objective. It is the objective universe that is our gold-standard and what represents it the closest is most true.

So, JC, I just spent some time in your quantum soup links and I did not find any hint that macroscopic things can have spooky action at a distance. And if scientists and engineers ever figure a way to couple entangled particles and do something crazy in the macroscopic realm, I would definitely be impressed, but not swayed that our new technological gadget could change the nature of human knowledge acquisition and identity identification.

I don't care what anybody says, it is an immutable fact that Obama is POTUS!!! The essential character of that fact is objective. It does not matter what language you speak, whether you define a president as a person who sucks ass for a living or you only like the color orange in the winter, there is no subjective view that can change that he is POTUS. I have an absolute standard for this determination and it is the one knowable reality.

JC, You’re still making metaphorical transitions from the quantum realm to the rest of reality. And you’re taking doubt in the limits of our perception and blowing them up to include doubt in our ability to know about reality. And remember, perfect understanding of a thing is not necessary for knowledge.

“’You cannot prove that you exist or that you’re conscious,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that proof presupposes existence, consciousness and a complex chain of knowledge: the existence of something to know, of a consciousness able to know it, and of a knowledge that has learned to distinguish between such concepts as the proved and the unproved.”
-Ayn Rand, For The New Intellectual
Comment by John Camilli on January 27, 2011 at 5:59am
ut humans are forever stuck by the paradox of being an observer of a system of which we are a part. We not only have an effect wherever we cast our glance, but our view is framed in pre-conceived notions of what is "natural." That is the nature of subjective knowledge. It is not just our understanding of information that is subjectively skewed, its the very eyes through which we look at the world, always looking for the familiar, always seeking patterns, always desiring control. Human notions.


The tower of scientific information exists because mankind has been seeking patterns for a long time. We call it progress that we have recognized all kinds of patterns in nature, and can predict all kinds of outcomes, but there are still so many patterns we have not noticed. And don't they sometimes change the whole way you look at reality. You learn something and it just makes you stare, unseeing, re-framing vast tracts of how you think of the world, and yourself? Like quantum entanglement demonstrating that space doesn't separate things.


I have enjoyed studying and learning and writing all my life, and that still happens to me all the time, so I wont be convinced that you all have reality stone-cold figured out; that you can observe and judge the value of a thing as objectively as nature herself. An assumption of any kind is not tiny. Knowledge will be found under the smallest grain. If there is no proof either way that reality is what we think it to be, then there is no more validity in either assumption. I do admit that the one assumption seems to dead-ends itself, but I strongly suspect the dead-end is in man's understanding and not in the assumption.


And I agree with your friend, DS. I wrote this a year or so ago:


You who think one answer to a question

Give credence far too much to a suggestion

For where one quality a human sees

Are likely many symptoms to perceive

And laziness will plant its moral hedge

Where careless cuts Occam's razor edge.

Comment by Daniel Smith on January 27, 2011 at 1:56am

JC, once one makes the tiny leap of assuming that there is an external reality and that we do perceive it at least in part, then the process of understanding the nature of that reality can be made in a method that approaches objectivity. As a friend of mine once said, "the universe isn't binary, it's analog". The idea that we must see knowledge as either subjective or objective ignores the fact that there is an infinite gradient between those polar extremes. The truth is that nothing is either wholly subjective or wholly objective, but that everything falls someplace along the spectrum between those two platonic states. For something to be wholly subjective the holder of the idea could have no reference to anything outside themselves, and for something to be wholly objective the idea holder would have to have perfect and complete knowledge of that thing. Neither of these states ever actually exists.


Some "knowledge" is closer to the subjective end of the range. I would argue that the entirety of religious "knowledge" is as close to being purely subjective as ideas can get, because the ideas do not refer to evidence from the external reality we (almost) all assume exists, but are fictional constructs built wholly on the imaginations of the practitioners and are often at odds with perceived reality, or are born of a misperception of that reality.

The reason I discard the notion that all knowledge is subjective is that knowledge acquired thru a scientific methodology must have specific qualities, among those being that the ideas put forth are not contradicted by evidence, and that evidence that supports the ideas must be reproducible by other people. This removes the ideas from the imagination and bases them on "reality", at least to some extent.  Complete objectivity would require perfect knowledge, so I would never say that any idea is completely objective, but ideas that are largely in accordance with perceived reality are much closer to the objective end of the scale.

The only way that all knowledge is subjective is that external reality either does not exist or is not what we are perceiving. If that is the case all bets are off. But once the assumption has been made that reality does exist and we do perceive it, however dark our looking glass, we can make an assessment of how closely our ideas of its nature coincides with the evidence of our perception and drive our knowledge closer to being objective. As I've said before, objectivity is a goal, not a state of being.

Comment by John Camilli on January 27, 2011 at 12:30am
BTW, I've been looking for people like you all my life, and have found so few. I hope you will all take my arguments as being in the spirit of curiosity and discovery. Of course I get frustrated at times, as do you, but let's all take time to realize that we are spending our energies toward the same end of understanding. At least I think we are, what do I know? Nothing, that's what, and you muthas can't prove me wrong, lol.
Comment by John Camilli on January 27, 2011 at 12:27am

DS says - "My only point in bringing up Descartes is that once one makes the rather trivial assumption that an external reality exists everything else that has any real significance flows from evidence and interpretation of that assumption, but it is still unprovable. To say that you know you aren't dreaming all of this because you have seen that  EEG's show a different pattern in a sleeping brain than a waking brain is a tautology (I know that my perception isn't a dream because I have perceived that dreams produce a different brainwave pattern). As I say, it is a trivial assumption, but an assumption nonetheless."




All I'm trying to get people to realize is that any method we have found by which to build "progress" has been built on some initial assumptions. I'm not degrading them; I'm not saying mine is right and yours is wrong; I'm saying they are all equally unprovable. But I don't understand, DS, how you can say this and then go on to say that existentialism is bunk. If we can't prove to ourselves anything beyond our own existence, then anything beyond that cannot accurately be called "knowledge." It's all just information, about which opinions have been formed by some observers, nothing more.


And all of you keep going back to this notion that what we have now is better than what we had before; that we've made progress, but I have to insist that we cannot know that the progress isn't just a facade. Perhaps we have been making all the wrong assumptions, and getting further and further from the truth. Perhaps we only make guesses that happen to predict simlar results to what we get, but that arrive there by totally incorrect means. How can we know? I've had a broken clock that was right twice a day, as the saying goes, and I've seen humans arrive at conclusions I agree with by means whith which I disagree. We cannot know with any certainty that science has made any progress at all. We cannot say religions are not closer, not for sure. I like to doubt that as much as you guys, but I can't prove it one way or the other.

Comment by John Camilli on January 26, 2011 at 11:50pm

I have been saying only subjective knowledge exists all along. I have said over and over that the first two steps of the epistemological process are self-evident assertions, but that we cannot, as humans, progress to the third step. Yes, we can all agree that 2+2=4, but we cannot agree on anything in reality to which such an equation could be applied. You could not get everyone to agree that 2 particular humans are the same value as two other humans, or that two apples are the same as two other apples. Likewise, You can say that BO is president, but you cannot get everyone to agree that a president is a law enforcer that should be respected, or whatever, so they won't actually be agreeing on anything but a label, for which they each then have a different interpretation of meaning.


The only way that people could actually agree on objective knowledge, if it even exists, is if they all had exactly the same definitions for everything they were talking about. And you might not find much problem in asking people to define a "chair" perhaps, but certainly in defining concepts like "good, bad, right, wrong, and evil."

Comment by John Camilli on January 26, 2011 at 11:50pm

If you refuse to believe that "spooky action at a distance" is possible, as Einstein refused to believe, then I shall have to direct you to some links so that you don't have to take my word for it:


Here is one about a recent conference in India, discussing quantum entanglement, with several leads for people who've demonstrated it experimentally.


Here is one about recent progress with studying the phenomenon, which discusses quite plainly the applications of "spooky action at a distance."


Wikipedia has a very thorough discussion of various experiements that have demonstrated entanglement, and its implications on science specifically, and philosophy in general.


Check out John Stewart Bell, if you get curious. He was the first to experimentally demonstrate the reality of entanglement.


And btw, a photon is bigger than single quarks of certain flavors, but they are not really proper units by which to measure size because quarks cannot appear in isolation unless the universe has so much energy that gluons can range freely instead of being bound within the radius of a nuclei (i.e. its pretty much impossible for us to ever observe). The universe was like that very shortly after the big bang, but once the energy was diffuse enough, quarks congealed into the duplicate and triplicate structures of fermions. And I didn't read all that from somewhere, which is just to show you that I do "know" what I'm talking about, lol.


Anyway, the size of the particle does not matter. All matter is energy, and is convertable into all other types of matter and energy. If entanglement can be shown with photons, it is a property of matter and energy, period. The reason photons are most commonly used (although it has been done with electrons as well), is because it's easy to produce polarized pairs of them, while producing coupled electrons is a more difficult process of controling atomic decay.

Comment by Daniel Smith on January 26, 2011 at 11:18pm

Perfection is the enemy of good enough.


Michael, I get the feeling you are in fight mode and are striking out in all directions here. I am as hard core a rational materialist as you are likely to encounter, and I disagree with none of the substance of your points. My only point in bringing up Descartes is that once one makes the rather trivial assumption that an external reality exists everything else that has any real significance flows from evidence and interpretation of that evidence, but it is still an unprovable assumption. To say that you know you aren't dreaming all of this because you have seen that  EEG's show a different pattern in a sleeping brain than a waking brain is a tautology (I know that my perception isn't a dream because I have perceived that dreams produce a different brainwave pattern). As I say, it is a trivial assumption, but an assumption nonetheless.


As to the accuracy of our perceptions, you say that "no one's perceptions were inaccurate". I would agree that our sensory organs are no more (or less) accurate than those of our ancestors, but our brains are an integral part of our perceptual apparatus and the fact that modern peoples have an additional accumulation of cultural interpretation of sensory input and more sensory input than that which was available to our ancestors (technology and education) means we are able to produce a more accurate interpretation of the data we are presented than they were. In computer terms, we have the same hardware, but better software. Any differences we have on these points are purely semantic it seems to me.


As human beings we have created a body of knowledge that exists outside of any individual human. Our culture has allowed us to transmit ideas across both time and space from individual to individual and the rise of the scientific method has given us a framework within which we can evaluate those ideas using a reasonably objective standard. With these tools as a group we have created a world that would have been inconceivable to our ancestors. The very postmodern POV that "all knowledge is subjective" is, I agree, pure bunk. The entire reason that the scientific method has been so successful is that it removes much of the subjectivity from our pursuit of understanding, and gives us a reasonably objective way to evaluate ideas.


We constantly strive to improve the tools we use to gather data from our environment, which means that we are aware or at least suspect that things are happening beyond our current limits of perception. And we are constantly being surprised by what we find once we build those tools.


Oh, btw, any time you preface something with "no offense", it is a clear signal that what follows is sure to be offensive. If you don't wish to offend, don't say it.



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