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Other Building up an understanding and knowledge from the ground up

Are there any books or a sequence of books I could study to build up a picture of what I can know for sure and why I can know it? I suppose that's what some people do when they study a subject and move from the basic principles to further stuff.

So like, has anybody started with the smallest possible number of axioms about reality and built up from there?
 

fresh_42

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Are there any books or a sequence of books I could study to build up a picture of what I can know for sure and why I can know it? I suppose that's what some people do when they study a subject and move from the basic principles to further stuff.

So like, has anybody started with the smallest possible number of axioms about reality and built up from there?
I guess, you must be a bit more specific. The answer in this generality is the Encyclopedia Britannica. Otherwise I think music and mathematics are the only areas where you can start from such basics and build up insights, at least in principle. But even in mathematics, you cannot trace back all results to a closed system of axioms.
 

verty

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Why do you want to learn everything? You should not want to learn everything, you should want to learn only what you need to succeed. Success should drive you to want to learn.

How old are you? Have you chosen what you want to study after school?
 

jtbell

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you should want to learn only what you need to succeed.
People shouldn't learn things for their own pleasure or satisfaction?

I agree that people who are currently in school or at university should give priority to their required studies for whatever program they are in. That doesn't need to mean completely ignoring everything else.
 

ZapperZ

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Are there any books or a sequence of books I could study to build up a picture of what I can know for sure and why I can know it?
What is this "it" that you wish to know?

Zz.
 

verty

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People shouldn't learn things for their own pleasure or satisfaction?
I think it would be a mistake for CuriousCarrot to study Encyclopedia Britannica because it is too broad to learn arbitrary facts like that. Or take Astroman707 for example, he was a teacher, becoming a theoretical physicist, thinking about coding, he should keep his focus which I think he is, but he is also wondering if he needs quantum field theory because astronomers don't seem to need it. His questions are headed in more or less the same direction because he is in that period between choosing a career and being able to work in it. He is not also studying Encyclopedia Britannica. If he was, I would say he is distracted from his purpose.

But if he said, I have a passion for American revolutionary history and am learning that on the side, I would say that is okay, but the desire for success should drive him to learn and master his profession so he can succeed. He should not allow himself to be distracted by things that are not relevant.

To @astroman707 I would say, learn quantum field theory if you need it. If you don't, learn it only if it interests you but don't let it be a distraction.

The first point I want to make is: we all need to succeed at life sooner or later. No one can work impossibly hard; we need recreation and we need financial freedom (among other things). And to get those things, one needs to choose a career and make a success of it. And this should drive one because it is so important to reach that point where you are over the hump. From then on it's easier.

Of course it is important to pick a career that one has a real passion for, that one can see oneself feeling proud to be associated with, etc. It's a very important choice to make but success in that chosen career is very important.

Second, science is both a body of knowledge and the practice of generating that knowledge. Choosing a career and studying should be to become the person who not only knows but practices as well. That is the point. I know a lot about computers, trust me I do, but I get to use them every day. The reason I chose computers is because I had a real passion for them and I knew I would always be using them, whether or not I chose it. I worked very hard to make a success of it and that is what we all have to do. And if it doesn't work out, know that you gave it your all. Don't leave stones unturned in your pursuit so that you can move on with pride that you achieved what you did achieve.

I think CuriousCarrot would miss out on stuff like this if he doesn't get serious about his life and his goals.

As for the general point, should we learn recreationally, by all means do it. But should we learn encyclopedicly, no, I don't believe so. I think as recreational learners we should follow our interests. Does that make sense? This is what I meant when I said "only".
 

fresh_42

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I think it would be a mistake for CuriousCarrot to study Encyclopedia Britannica because it is too broad to learn arbitrary facts like that.
This (EB) was a rhetoric mean to emphasize the generality of the question. Your advice to study whatever brings you success on the other hand, which way ever you had in mind to measure this, was not. It was a categorial imperative, which me, and I think @jtbell, too, refused to accept as only possible answer. One other among many possible goals are pleasure and satisfaction. You failed by the nature of your advice as an imperative, not by the content you said under this assumption. But as an assumption, because the OP didn't provide us with any measures, this had to be rejected.
To @astroman707 I would say, learn quantum field theory if you need it. If you don't, learn it only if it interests you but don't let it be a distraction.
Of course it is important to pick a career that one has a real passion for, that one can see oneself feeling proud to be associated with, etc. It's a very important choice to make but success in that chosen career is very important.
... which is a completely different view as what you said prior to this (see above).
As for the general point, should we learn recreationally, by all means do it. But should we learn encyclopedicly, no, I don't believe so.
You totally missed the point. Nobody can learn the EB, that is nonsense and was fairly obvious, even without irony tags. Spoken and written language is neither a formal language nor a programming language. However, what it does demonstrate is the necessity to learn things aside of what you had restricted by your one and only goal success. It is called education and common knowledge. It may be sufficient to survive if you know everything about computers, but nonetheless embarrassing and poor if this was all. And many things in this areas like history, politics, culture or nature can be found in EB. Being perfect in C# and having no idea why we have seasons is not an acceptable advice.

This
you should want to learn only what you need to succeed
is a categorial imperative, and as such a poor advice for any young person!
 
Last edited:

verty

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You totally missed the point. Nobody can learn the EB, that is nonsense and was fairly obvious, even without irony tags. Spoken and written language is neither a formal language nor a programming language. However, what it does demonstrate is the necessity to learn things aside of what you had restricted by your one and only goal success.
I am quite a learned person actually. If it demonstrates anything, it shows this to be paucious: that one should learn everything.

It is called education and common knowledge. It may be sufficient to survive if you know everything about computers, but nonetheless embarrassing and poor if this was all.
Not everybody has the same opportunity. How do I know who will read these threads? It may be someone from a poor family without access to good books, etc. My advice to focus on success could have good outcomes. Your advice could have bad outcomes. See, I do think about this.

And many things in this areas like history, politics, culture or nature can be found in EB. Being perfect in C# and having no idea why we have seasons is not an acceptable advice.
I learned about the seasons in school. I wanted to do well in school. Probably most people who know about the seasons learned it in school. So I don't need to advocate for that. I am talking about that period coming out of school, where one has freedom but also responsibility. One has to choose a career or have a hard life, especially if one is poor, and the poor are the majority so most people reading this can be expected to be poor.

I think I know what you are thinking, that I am a driven person. I think we should all be driven. Call it my Tao or mantra if you like.

This is a categorial imperative, and as such a poor advice for any young person!
I take your point but it's really not such bad advice (you'll see why shortly). If more students focused on their studies and mastering their subject, you wouldn't have so many dropping out or having low gpa's. I'm just trying to help him, so I said what I said. I'm equally surprised that your response was to let him go ahead and try to learn everything rather than realize he should focus his efforts in a direction that can lead to success.

And what would happen if one did try to learn everything? One would soon forget, and what one knew, if we could call it knowledge, would be a hodge-podge bunch of stuff with little coherency and little value to the individual.
 

verty

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CuriousCarrot, I used to think exactly like you. I thought to myself, the first thing to learn is to learn how to learn, so that it is more efficient. It's a kind of fixed point. One should learn how to learn, and then learn how to learn, and then learn how to learn, until two of these steps are the same. Perhaps this can be your first axiom.

See, I don't believe in this anymore so I tried to knock you off it. I think it's a bad idea, my friend.
 

verty

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I think I forgot to make a clear summary.

1. No one can learn everything.
2. You have to choose what you want to learn.
3. Success is important.

There, done.
 

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