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Are there 'things' humans can't not know?

  1. Oct 2, 2004 #1
    -> Are there 'things that every human being knows at some level, even if he pushes them aside and never reveals them, while they are hiden under a false bottom? ' Is there some sort of whole (or even unwhole/Incomplete) universal truth; whether it be in one aspect of life or life altogether ?


    Another miscellaneous question:
    --> Would you agree that Bible citings can no longer be counted as "trump cards" in the court of law? Keeping in mind that there was a day when a Bible citing could have been used as something capable of making a decisive difference.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2004 #2
    What I observe is that, when I am accepting, then I often become aware of my own self-deceptions and unaccepting attitudes. Acceptance then is for me the universal awareness from which all my other awareness come.
     
  4. Oct 3, 2004 #3

    selfAdjoint

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    Yes, Bible citations have completely lost their force in US courts. I think they would be found unconstitutional if used. The current hoo-haw about having the ten commandments posted in court is just an attempt by religious judges to cope with the cognitive dissonance caused by this decline in religious authority.
     
  5. Oct 3, 2004 #4
    Thanks for the replies. Wuliheron, would you mind expanding a little on your response?


    The first question however, can be looked at as a metaphor for a similar question: "Is there a natural law?"
     
  6. Oct 3, 2004 #5

    Nereid

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    Was this ever the case, in any country? Surely it can never have been true in a place like Iran, or China, or India? or Japan? or Thailand? If a country's history has had strong influences from a well-established religion (or three) other than christianity, to what extent can it be argued that all religions are merely social constructs (or conventions)?
     
  7. Oct 3, 2004 #6

    Nereid

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    Metaphysics and epistimology are foreign countries for me, so my response may show laughable ignorance, please be gentle.

    What does it mean to say 'know at some level'?

    How can 'some sort of universal truth' be demonstrated? tested? How could the existence of such a thing be determined (even if its contents remain indeterminate)?

    To what extent is there a difference between 'a natural law' and 'a (physical) theory with universal applicability'?
     
  8. Oct 3, 2004 #7
    Natural Law is very hard to explain. Some explain it as "the desire for good and the ignorance of evil." Others state natural law is "the purpose of an object or being." Personally, i reason natural law is the feeling of compassion when you see a man with sorrow in his joyless eyes. The feeling of an odd admiration for human life when you are present during a birth. It is the feeling of relief when you are honest and truthful. It is the appreciation for the good. This unexplainable noumenon (antonym of phenomenon?) is indeed the nature of human beings: the appreciation and hunger for the good, otherwise known as the “natural law” set upon humanity. We are unable to escape our nature. Our body and soul continuously demonstrate the presence of this metaphysical power, through our conscience, design, and natural consequence. A universal standard is shown with the use of conscience, since, “Deep conscience…is an ‘interior witness” , “…it is ‘the reason why even a man who tells himself there is no right and wrong may shrink from committing murder.’” Our design also demonstrates the existence of a natural law, with human features such as interdependency (all humans somehow depending on each other), the complementary nature of males and females, and the complexity of the human body. Lastly, natural consequence also proves the existence of a natural order.

    ---

    Subconsciously.

    How everything seems oddly created for something else. How if one valve in our heart malfunctions, our entire body stalls. How everything depends on something else. How the food chain is in chaos when one animal goes instinct.

    Universal applicability does not include moral order.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2004
  9. Oct 4, 2004 #8
    Your question has to do with spirituality, and acceptance or surrender is the heart of spirituality. Whether one chooses to view acceptance as a natural law or a spiritual reality is just a question of personal perspective. Demonstrably, words only have meaning according to their function in a given context.
     
  10. Oct 5, 2004 #9

    Nereid

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    Not to be too crass, we could hook up all kinds of SQUIDS, do PET and fMRI scans, etc, etc, etc, and characterise your feeling, and others' when they report 'compassion'; we could then form hypotheses about 'compassion', test them, and so on.
    Ditto.
    Assuming this research program were to be successful (and there's no way of knowing to what extent it would be, ahead of the results), we would have then quite precisely described and formed testable hypotheses about these subjective feelings. Of course, nothing at all in the results will substitute for the subjective experiences, but at least the extent of their objective reality will have been well defined.
    Well, objectively, executioners in the pay of the state appear to have no qualms about firing the gun, releasing the trapdoor, pressing the plunger, etc. Nor, apparently, do those who commit 'honour killings', or community sanctioned 'revenge killings'. Also, we should be able to study all these subjective feelings using the scientific method of today's science, which could, in principle, show that a) 'our nature' is largely predictable, based on our genes and the circumstances of our birth and early childhood, b) 'this metaphysical power' has (or has not) any physical realisation, c) the extent to which 'a universal standard' is truly universal (well, wrt Homo sap. individuals; doubtful we could even say anything about other mammmals, let alone plants or fungi)
    Well, E. O. Wilson pretty much showed that most of this is common among a certain types of mammals, and is related to the strategies that evolution has 'lead' our species to adopt, and that other 'natural laws' are quite successful as adaptations, for other mammalian species.
    I didn't follow this at all, could you clarify please?
     
  11. Oct 7, 2004 #10
    I can very much sympathise with you and share some of your concerns, but in asking these questions it is very important to make the following fundamental distinctions:

    1) Things that are knowable but which are currently beyond the limits of the human visual perception. That is, the fact that we do not know them now does not mean that they will never be known. The truth-values of such things are relative to visual capacities. The knowldege of such things are quantitatively and logically not ruled out at all.

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    The knowledge of such things increases or decreases relative to the increase or decrease in the human visual capacity. It's entirely up to science or God to make that crucial and fundamental decision as to whether to do something significant to increase the human visual capacity or not.
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    2) Things that are truely, or forever, unknowable. I would presume that these are things that no amount of improvement in the human visual capacity can ever lead to knowing them. To be honest with you, I cannot personally imagine what such things might be. On this, your guess is as good as mine!


    NOTE: Anyone who is honestly interested in the proper conduct of the human reason, along with an unshakable will and desire to survive, must pay absolute attention to the above distinctions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2004
  12. Oct 9, 2004 #11

    Moonbear

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    I'm not sure I completely understand your question. Are you asking if there is something humans know that isn't taught or learned? If so, I can think of only one thing that would fit that criteria, and that is how to learn. Once we know how to learn, then it becomes impossible to rule out learning as the means of acquisition of any other knowledge we possess.
     
  13. Oct 9, 2004 #12

    Moonbear

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    Why do you limit knowable things to those perceived by vision? Such a statement would imply that blind people have no knowledge, certainly an untrue statement. Perhaps if you extend that to all human senses, it would be a better criterion. We can know what a sound is, even know who is talking to us by the sound of their voice, yet, that sound is beyond the scope of our visual perception, but not unknowable.
     
  14. Oct 10, 2004 #13

    Chronos

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    Shouting [using big, bold letters] does not impress me. But, don't let that stop you from basking in the glow of your self-created illusions of intellectual superiority. When you stop talking down to the rest of us 'lower life forms', perhaps we will be more inclined to listen.
     
  15. Oct 10, 2004 #14

    Eh

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    Are there 'things' humans can't not know? Yes, it's called sense data.
     
  16. Oct 10, 2004 #15
    After investigating the issue much more, i have found this to be the valid conclusion. The natural law is the universal truth.

    -

    It is the feeling of admiration for human life when you are present during birth; the feeling of relief when you are honest and truthful, instead of deceitful. It is the appreciation for the good. This unexplainable noumenon (Emmanuel Kant’s premise) is the nature of human beings: the appreciation and hunger for the good, otherwise known as the “natural law” set upon humanity. We are unable to escape this nature. Our body and soul continuously demonstrate the presence of this metaphysical power, through our conscience, design, and natural consequence. A universal law is shown with the use of conscience – since, “Deep conscience…is an interior witness”, “…it is the reason why even a man who tells himself there is no right and wrong may shrink from committing murder.” Our design also demonstrates the existence of a natural law, with human features such as interdependency (all humans somehow depending on each other), the complementary nature of males and females, and the complexity of the human body. Lastly, natural consequence also proves the existence of a natural order.

     
  17. Oct 10, 2004 #16
    'Sense-Data' in the philosophical jargon, is supposed to refer to the objects of our sensory awareness. They are the things to which we are directly acquanited when we have a sensory experience. So, when I look at the apple on my table, I have an experience of a reddish, roughly spherical object before my mind. The object of my awareness is not any physical object, it is a mental object, a mental representation of the physical object. This mental representation is the sense-datum. So, most philosophers who talk about sense-data will be talking about the fundamental objects of our empirical knowledge, the things we are directly acquainted with. It seems strange that you would use the term in such a radically different manner. Perhaps you mean something different by 'sense-data' than what philosophers mean byt 'sense-data'.
     
  18. Oct 10, 2004 #17

    Eh

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    How am I using it in a different manner?
     
  19. Oct 10, 2004 #18
    My mistake, glancing at your claim, I thought it said "cannot know", rather than "can't not" know.

    Here's an interesting objection to the sense-data view:

    Sense-data were originally postulated as the mental object with which we were directly acquainted in perceptual experience. Roughly, we are able to perceive physical objects in virtue of perceiving s sense-datum that represents that physical object. Now, how does this 'direct acquaintance' work? When we are acquainted with a sense-datum, is this sense-datum somehow represented in our mind, or is it not represented in our mind. If the former, then it seems that to perceive a sense-datum, one would need a further sense-datum representing the first sense-datum. If the latter, then how are we aware of the properties of the sense-datum with which we are acquainted?
     
  20. Oct 11, 2004 #19
    Sorry Moonbear.......for not warning you before hand on my posting. I think I have warned people elsewhere on PF about my use of the term 'visual'. This has a wider scope in my usage. I use it sometimes to cover all aspects of the human perception......that is, all the means by which we become aware. This is owed to the way that I have defined consciousness in the past and I tend to stick to that wider definition....I still do. My definition never excludes neither the means by which a blind person comes to know nor how much he or she may know. It covers all types of knowing, their limitations (categories by categories) inclusive.
     
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