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How Do I Know?

  1. Jun 4, 2003 #1
    What is it about me that "knows" what it knows? Wouldn't it be fair to say that the acknowledgement of truth is inborn? If not, then how can we acknowledge the truth of anything? Even if it's the truth that science reveals to us? Science is still a by-product of the human endeavor, meaning it's still subject to human interpretation which, by nature is "subjective." Therefore, how do we get around the fact that we're human? Is it possible? Not according to science.

    So what could that possibly suggest? ... that the answers has, and always will be, contained within the parameters of being human. Meaning, if we want to "know" the truth, then we must look within (ourselves) in order to find it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2003 #2
    I don’t know.
    Acknowledgement of anything could fit that description, be it true or otherwise.
    How about kicking a rock outside, then acknowledging inside that our toes are complaining. Now, lets try it again, and again, and again. If a pattern eventually emerges what are we supposed to do?
    You have a mystical experience, I have a mystical experience, they are both different (nearly always). You kick a rock, I kick a rock, we both acknowledge that our toes are complaining. Now, lets try it again, and again, and again. If a pattern eventually emerges that we both seem to have in common (nearly always), what are we supposed to do?
    I give up, tell me.
  4. Jun 4, 2003 #3


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    What is truth? Dictionary.com says:

    1. Conformity to fact or actuality.
    2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.
    3. Sincerity; integrity.
    4. Fidelity to an original or standard.

    a. Reality; actuality.
    b. often Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    So is conformity to fact or actuality inborn? Probably, I'd agree with that. Is it true that you exist? Or are you merely a figment of my imagination? I would say it is true you exist, as it is illogical to think my imagination could act as another person on an internet forum.

    I mean, where are you going with this? Sure, truth is inborn. I mean, do you know if your alive or dead? Is it true that you have a keyboard connected to your computer?

    Really, true is just another word for "fact"

    I have a bag of 10 apples and I give you 3. Is it true (a fact) that I now have 7 apples?

    I would say looking within ourselves for the truth is not applicapble in all situations. For instance, a boulder is falling from a cliff overhead towards you. Would this be a good time to consult ones innerself to determine if it is true that the rock will hit and kill you, or would it be better for you to look outward, towards the rock and determine where the best place to move to would be? It is true that the rock is falling towards you. This is known without having to "look within" as any other observer would note.

    So I'd say not all truth is derived from looking within. Perhaps some truth can be found about yourself, the way you think, what makes you tick, but other then that, there is nothing usefull to be found within yourself about the universe
  5. Jun 4, 2003 #4
    Oh no, say it isn't true!
    Tell me it is just something going on inside you.
  6. Jun 4, 2003 #5
    And yet the acknowledgment (through pain) comes with "the thought" that perhaps we shouldn't do it again.

    Why continue to do something stupid? If you don't get it the first time, you will probably never get it.

    Actually I should have taken some time to rephrase it, because I've already given away the answer, rather than allow for the opportunity for rebuttal.
  7. Jun 4, 2003 #6

    What I'm saying is you can't base anything upon what somebody else tells you (even science) unless you have a means by which to acknowledge it for yourself.

    This is correct.

    And yet it's through insight (that which comes from within) that we acknowledge the truth of the matter, and get the hell out of the way! Your body is not going to do anything (in this instance anyway) unless your brain tells it -- through "conscious acknowledgment" -- what to do.

    Truth is all around us. Truth "is" the reality. And yet it's a reality we can't experience, unless we acknowledge it from within. How else do we interface with it, if we can't see (acknowledge) that there's something to interface with?
  8. Jun 5, 2003 #7
    Then to understand oneself is to understand reality. I have similiar thoughts along these lines, that there is no singular true reality for us humans but reality can become more defined more true and more inclusive of the multitude of many possible views, there is no magic pill that instantly brings one into the true reality but perhaps a gradual refinement of reality like Plato's analogy of the cave. Reality is a reflection of the brain, improving on one improves the other.
  9. Jun 5, 2003 #8


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    You don't. You believe, or you think something is more likely true than not. To know needs objective knowledge of the real world, which does not exist due to our subjective perceptions.
  10. Jun 5, 2003 #9
    I suspect a "lifegazer-ite" is in our midst (though this post is rather refreshing, compared to the utterly biased stances of many others).
  11. Jun 5, 2003 #10
    The Truth Within

    I essentially agree. And yet the fact that we can talk about it and describe it suggests that truth is perceptible. You just can't stop right there and say I can't learn anymore, because I will never know, otherwise you would have missed the whole point. Hmm ... maybe that's why the barrier's there? It enables us to learn and grow (past our ignorance) and ultimately discover the "truth within" -- which, is the only place truth is genuinely experienced (by human beings).
  12. Jun 5, 2003 #11
    Re: The Truth Within

    What truth would that be, exactly, yours or mine?
  13. Jun 5, 2003 #12
    I think I would go so far as to say reality (existence) is absolute, and yet each one of us experiences "the truth" of that reality differently, suggesting that each one of us experiences "truth inwardly."
  14. Jun 6, 2003 #13


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    Where?! Mummy I'm scared...

    I think what BH meant is that can you call these "different experiences of truth" still the truth? Or simply an impression of the truth?
  15. Jun 6, 2003 #14
    And yet if it weren't for the fact that we each have to do different things, meaning everybody's experience is different, then the truth will vary, depending on each person and, the experience.
  16. Jun 6, 2003 #15
    I agree, it's all relative and subjective but since there is general consensus to what the truth is chances are it is becuase we all have fairly the same brains, senses, and live on the same planet though I forget which one. Anyway there's a commonality of neuron functioning somewhere I suspect that defines being human compared to other animals-well that's obvious. Here's something not so obvious, gaze at a fixed point for a few minutes and everything around it will fade, this is typically how neurons respond to repetitive stimulus, by ignoring them but this might be generalized to people becoming desensitized to many other things even corruption within a nation, one neuron ignoring a repetitive stimulus or a complex interconnection of neurons makes little difference, also called taking things for granted.

    Another speculation:
    There may be an instinct or basic function(of neurons) for certainty and control, when things are percieved as out of control we get angry or sad it is an adaptive response within the lizard brain, it is effective and may be the stem of most all thought that is emotion and instinct. The thing is humans have imagination, they ask what if and try to view things from many angles, this leads to a loss of the illusion of certainty and control. What I mean by this is neurons get all set up in complex interconnections and then along comes the "what if", now they have to rearrange to accommodate all new lines of speculation and views so the framework of certainty and control becomes percieved as shaky, it is an unpleasant sensation, it is both an internal real change and an external subjective reality change. What if type thinking has been shown to lead to anxiety problems and yet it is imagination that leads to discovery!
    Conversely there is likely an instinct for exploration or seeking out novel stimulus that counters this.
  17. Jun 6, 2003 #16
    Thus far we've been able to determine the truth with respect to the material world, that indeed we can experience it, but only in a relative and subjective sense. And yet by qualifying it in that sense, we come even that much closer to making an accurate assessment (and hence truthful). Even when one says "I don't know," it becomes an accurate assessment ... Therefore, perhaps the first truth that we need to discover is the truth of our own ignorance, whereby we can begin to comprehend what it means to know versus not to know, and in the process -- of "self discovery" -- discover how to "know" what one knows, which is also called wisdom.
  18. Jun 7, 2003 #17
    Iacchus, just imagine Socrates said over 2500 hundred years ago "I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance", he laid down a fundamental principle for seeking wisdom in a time when people were just learning to comprehend basic math and squabling over the tortoise and the hare! What some philosphophy type people have a relatively deep understanding of today must have been utterly profound during his time, so deep he thought he kept no written records( if I remember right) lest the authorities persecute him for attacking their sense of certainty- is my guess.
    But what strikes me most about Socrates is that he taught Plato what he knew and Plato taught Aristotle what he knew, it was what he was teaching that was the key not that they were naturally great thinkers from birth, but curious students with strong desires to learn.
  19. Jun 7, 2003 #18
    I also understand Plato was a spiritualist, which is getting closer to the https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1649". Which is the whole point. How can you come to accept anything, without the basis of understanding what you know? Anything less than that would be construed as "blind faith" which, is basically the propensity we acknowledge by saying "I don't know." Therefore, if there is an ultimate reality, based upon the existence of God, then perhaps it would be best to just leave it as an open question? For at the very least it creates a void, or vacuum, and you know what they say about nature abhorring a vacuum? Thus perhaps all we would need do is maintain an "honest intent," thereby facilitating the need for an "honest reply" (based upon truth), which should soon be forthcoming ... If, in fact as I say, the acknowledgment of truth is inborn.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  20. Jun 7, 2003 #19
    Ok here I am. Let’s see.
    Acknowledgement is a vague word. It deals with the collection of stimulus from the external world through our senses,transport of this stimuli in the form of electrochemical signals to our central nervous system, specifically the brain and its final processing using previously acquired or inborn standards. For example suppose a cat suddenly appears outside your window. When do you acknowledge that it is there? First light from the sun is reflected from the different parts of the cat’s body and enters your eyes, stimulates your rod and cone cells thus sending an electrochemical pulse via your neurons to the optical lobe of your brain. There such an image of the cat is formed which can be understood by the set of neurons residing in your brain. This is the image that you finally see but it is not necessarily how the cat looks like IN REALITY. The real cat has been replaced in your brain by an equivalent version that the brain can understand. Something like a translation of oliver twist in Spanish so that people of spain can understand it.
    But even after the image has been formed in your optical lobe much is yet to be done before you are actually acknowledging it is there. The neurons of the optical center now passes on this image(loosely speaking) to the other parts of the brain. First it goes to that part of the optical center that stores old images(visual memory). It is compared with images previously stored and suppose a good match is found. The match will certainly be to a picture of a cat. This information is now transmitted to the part that stores auditory memories. Here the word CAT is associated with the image. As the information is passed on feelings and emotions you associate with a cat come to the fore. After all these associations are made instructions are sent to the various parts of your body which tell them how to react to this ‘cat’. Your pupils focus on it. If its your pet, chemicals are released which slow your heart rate,breathing etc.; you relax . If you are afraid of cats the opposite happens and you may even scream and run out of the room. This is some of the many ways we humans acknowledge something. Thus we know what we know by memorizing new events and making associations between them.THUS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IS A VERY COMPLEX PROCESS.
    Our brain gains knowledge by (1)memorizing events and facts and emotions associated with them and makes decisions by(2) comparing new events or facts with previous ones. But some degree of ‘hardwiring’ is done from birth. Thus though we learn to walk through observation, trial and error the hardwiring instructs us to begin trying to walk in the first place. This is called instinct which is fashioned by evolution. As you see events that occur always the same way are the ones we acknowledge as true. Thus the ‘truth’ that a stone always falls down is simply because nobody has yet seen an exception to this event. We know what we know through memorization and our inborn capability in making associations. Wherefrom do we have this capability? EVOLUTION. Because a deer who cannot recognize a tiger even after seeing one before will most certainly die before reaching maturity.
    What do you mean? We believed for thousands of years that the sun moved round the earth because we saw the sun doing just that. It was only when scientists said that the opposite was true and it fitted with newly discovered fact that we acknowledged the truth. Do you mean to say that it was possible for the ancient folks to realize the truth about the solar system by looking ‘within ourselves’? I know that the phrase ‘truth is within us’ is a fashionable one but it is wrong, period.
  21. Jun 7, 2003 #20
    When my breath catches up with my heart and I see it in my mind, then I acknowledge it, which is a totally conscious act.

    Why is it neccessary to over-analyze it? Basically I acknowledge it the moment I see it. Of course if I didn't know what a cat was, I would probably be scratching my head a bit? And yet I still wouldn't find the need to conduct a whole scientific investigation over the matter. What purpose would that serve?

    I'm afraid "the cat" would've been long gone by now. Unfortunately in the process of over-analyzing how something works, we lose sight of what that something is, in which case we begin to lose sight of the forest from the trees. In fact we begin to lose "sight" of our being conscious, as we "immerse ourselves" in our thinking. Can't you accept the fact that consciousness is a usefull means by which to recognize "the fact" -- and hence truth -- that we exist?

    It's our "conscious mind" (not brain) which does the comparing and making decisions. This is like comparing the difference between how a car functions, "properly," and what it takes to actually drive the car, which are two separate matters. In fact this is the very problem that exists with science. They are so busy caught up with how something works, that they lose sight of its actual function, which is just another fancy means of taking things out of context.

    And yet the acknowledgment (of truth) is still maintained within, and yes, I think it would be fair to apply the term "common sense."

    Science is only the extension of our external senses which, is how we used to base our perception of the world, through our external senses. So what what if common sense believed the sun revolved around the earth or, that the earth was flat? Common sense evolves too, and in many ways is none other than the "truth of the day." And yet common sense is also the truth which is "acknowledged within." Or, would that be wisdom?
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