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Is There A Fine Line For Knowing?

  1. Oct 9, 2008 #1
    I've come across a few people who say "I want to know, but I still want to be able to speculate." Meaning, they want to know about something, but they don't want to know everything about it. There reasoning seems to be that if we knew everything about every single little thing then there would be no point in living anymore since we would know the outcome of every single course of action and event. Now we will never be able to know that much. There's too much variance in the universe and it's that variance that makes our universe very exciting to begin with.

    But saying we were capable of knowing everything with such precision that we could determine the outcome of every single event. Would that be the fine line on knowing? Would we have crossed that line because there's no more suspense or anticipation in life? If so, why is speculation more fun than knowing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2008 #2
    you can know where you are going without knowing how you are going to get there.
  4. Oct 14, 2008 #3
    Could you explain further?
  5. Oct 14, 2008 #4


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    Sounds like the routine in a prison. Sounds like the routine in an elementary school. When you know everything will happen according to someone else's plan its as though you've been incarcerated. Its not always someone else's plan that's keeping you in "prison". It can be simply your own idea of how you should be living. There may be variances but you know when they will happen, ie: in the shower, on the playground, on the way to or from home or to/from pressing license plates.
  6. Oct 14, 2008 #5
    Maybe this is talking about avoiding confirmation bias?...
  7. Oct 14, 2008 #6
    That paradoxical because if you know what will happen going one route then you could choose to go a different route and something unforseen would happen. If you also instantly knew what would happen down the different path then you could have a lot of fun trying out different possibilities without ever exerting effort.
  8. Oct 14, 2008 #7


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    Good point. However, I think Lightbulbsun has laid out a frame work that disputes your paradox. This is because knowing everything involves knowing the outcome of every option. It would probably also involve having a particularly large brain like the ones in the pulsing-headed aliens of Star Trek origin.

    So what is the fine-line of knowing... ?. The unknown is vast and the known is only a moment illuminated by our eyes and minds. To be able to calculate events beyond one's life-time or to accurately re-create events before birth can never be verified as correct or as an error for obvious reasons and therefore, knowing and not knowing become superfluous.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2008
  9. Oct 15, 2008 #8
    You should listen to the village elders story around the fire in the movie Apocalypto.
  10. Oct 15, 2008 #9
    Oh, I think I understand you better now that I've read other people's responses.

    It seems like a good question to ask would be, why is it a "spoiler" if you find out the end of a story before you've heard the story itself? It seems to me that this might relate to the bad aspects of knowledge of future events.
  11. Oct 16, 2008 #10


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    This all harkens back to the idea that some people are afraid of living and afraid of death. They are frozen between the two states in fear. They want to know what is going to happen next and they desperately want confirmation of where they've been and what they've gone through. But they do not want a risk. There can be no unknowns for these people. Yet that is all there is and they are sorrily mistaken to think there can be any order other than the order of nature and the unknown to carry them through life. Risk is the result of living the same way death is the result of living. That's something some people never realize even through some of the most blatant lessons.

    So, this urge to know everything and every option at all times everywhere is a result of the type of mind depicted above. It's a vain attempt to escape the unknown. Yet it also offers a great tool in some instances. Its knowing when to use it and when to let it go that takes some consideration.
  12. Oct 16, 2008 #11
    Those are some good thoughts but I don't think that's why people get pissed off when they find out the ending of their Tivoed episode of Lost around the watercooler. :smile:
  13. Oct 16, 2008 #12
    I don't think you can trash talk the concept of better understanding the future because there are more than a few legitimate reasons to do it, and the goal isn't always to see whats coming so you can get out of the way but to decide how you will handle it so that you won't be caught off gaurd.

    Discoveries that have been validated with scientific method have helped me predict my future. Without being on my death bed I can't honestly say whether I'll be freaked out and suddenly find "the Lord" when I am, but from the comfort of relative youth I feel good about acting on the assumption that there is no afterlife. I'm glad Earthly baggage stays on Earth, and I think a person becomes much more selective about what kind of crap they are willing to put up with if they assume their life span is simply 80 years rather than 80 years + infinity in at after life. It's helps a person prioritize big time.
  14. Oct 16, 2008 #13
    They would probably reply with something like "the whole point of reading the story is to entertain yourself for a certain amount of time. If you knew the end result of what you were being entertained by then it's no longer entertaining."
  15. Oct 16, 2008 #14
    Well there's the answer then! The problem with the sort of people you're talking about is that they don't take life seriously enough. They think that the purpose of life is simply entertainment and so it would be a big Life Spoiler to know the future.

    Tell them to eat lots of whole grains and vegetables, get regular exercise and enemas, and think about much money they could make if they knew the future. Which they could invest responsibly for retirement, of course.
  16. Oct 16, 2008 #15
    People seem to get plenty of pleasure doing things with known outcomes. You'll watch a favorite movie or have sex or eat the same pizza you've ordered a thousand times before. I don't think a person would jump off a bridge just becuase they knew how everything would turn out, although their life style and behavior might change considerably.
  17. Oct 16, 2008 #16
    I dunno, sometimes I've had sex even when I've known for certain it's going to be very, very wrong. :tongue2:
  18. Oct 20, 2008 #17
    Well count me as one of those people who think life is entertainment. However, the difference between me and the group I'm speaking of is I find knowledge very entertaining.
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