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  1. Mar 31, 2005 #1
    While reading and engaging in discussions regarding reality etc, i am struck with an overriding urge to ask the following question:

    Without spewing forth memorised definitions from well established sources, what are some general conclusions/anecdotes concerning the nature of knowledge?

    ta :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2005 #2
    Personal anecdotes and conclusions!

    Well, after perusing your post, I have to "spew forth a definition" so we can know :rofl: what we are talking about.
    But you wanted anecdotes and general conclusions! :biggrin: It seems to me that what you are asking for is an education in epistemology. Now, I am certainly not qualified to serve up such a thing as I do not hold the "anecdotes and conclusions" of professional philosophers in too high a regard. However, I am prepared to serve up my anecdotes and conclusions for your entertainment. (In all honesty, I first caution you that the professional physics community holds that I am a crackpot and has refused to publish almost every paper I have ever written.) :rofl: :rofl: But we can lay that aside as unimportant.

    From my perspective, the first problem is that philosophers assume that the human language they use in their studies of knowledge is the fundamental medium within which to express differentiation between those categories of knowledge: i.e., I hold that they are assuming validity of their own knowledge of communication. It makes it difficult to consider the question if you assume you know the answer (even if you argue it is only a small piece of the answer - which it isn't). Now I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics but left the professional academy because, by the the time I obtained my degree, I had become fully convinced that the physics community had totally dropped the ball on this very issue. They had put no serious thought into how one distinguishes true (adequate) knowledge from false (inadequate) knowledge; they simply presumed they knew. :rofl: :rofl: You don't want to be a Solipsist do you? :rofl: :rofl: (That's an anecdote!)

    Now, let's add the definition of Ontology:
    And how "pray tell" are we to describe "objects" without a solution to epistemology. Some professional philosophers have told me that these are separate fields of philosophy. :wink: Another anecdote! :smile:

    It is my position that the only starting point in this mess has to be abstract as we must assume we "know" nothing for sure while, on the other hand, our knowledge (valid or invalid) changes all the time. It is my opinion that the only mechanism under which we can discuss things which we have not yet defined involves the idea of sets. So I thought I came up with an excellent way of expressing this start point. That starting point is introduced in the thread "Can Everything be Reduced to Pure Physics?" but I have not seemed to interest anyone except "saviormachine". (You asked for anecdotes didn't you?)

    So, from that starting point, I proved that the following equation must be valid.

    \vec{\Psi}\,\,=\,\,K\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\vec{\Psi}\,=

    I first proved (if you accept the idea of "proof" :rofl:) the above relationship had to be true sometime in the late sixties, but I couldn't solve it. (An updated version of my proof can be seen in the "Nuts are us" forum.) Not being able to find solutions to it left me somewhat in a quandary (note that the index range has to be infinite which complicates the problem considerably). When I finally did comprehend how to find solutions (1982), the whole thing became almost trivially obvious so I wrote up a paper for publication. I was turned down by every journal I submitted it to. I don't think a referee ever saw it. Everyone of them said it was not within the subject matter of their journal; the physicists told me it was philosophy, the philosophers told me it was mathematics and the mathematicians told me it was physics. :rofl: :rolf: rofl:

    In 2002, my son in law suggested I learn HTML and self publish on the world wide web. So the solutions are there if you want to see them. The problem is that I don't think anyone on this forum has either the education or the attention span to follow what is there. And that brings me down to my conclusion: I think I have solved the problem of the fundamental nature of reality and have produced the only valid derivation of Quantum Mechanics extant. And it raises some very interesting issues not even dreamt of by our "great thinkers".

    But I am a crackpot and not to be listened to by Novices. When I was a graduate student I brought up some of my observation to the chairman of the Department of Physics. When I showed him some of the relationships I had realized (in coming to the conclusion my equation had to be valid) he said, "What you have done makes sense, but don't show it to any of the other students, it will just confuse them!" That was when I realized I was attending a religious institution. :biggrin: But I have to admit he was right. If you want to see a current version of exactly that same discussion and see the confusion it generates, check out "A Thought Experiment" (also on the "Nuts are us" forum.) And, hypnagogue, if you object to my use of that reference to the forum as uncivil or insulting, I would like to point out that I did not come up with it. It was used by a number of mentors posting to that forum.

    Talk to me and I will talk to you.

    Have fun -- Dick
  4. Mar 31, 2005 #3
    Apparently it's impossible to discuss some issues without being charged with solipsism now and again. That makes me wonder if even the solipsists are solipsists after all, or if they just appear to be. I guess a true solipsist would never talk to anyone, so anyone engaging in a conversation can't possibly be charged with solipsism. Anyway...

    As to knowledge, it's impossible to understand what it is, as the concept is applied to too many different and unrelated phenomena.
  5. Apr 1, 2005 #4
    OK so:
    Knowledge is dependent on the system of language (context).
    Could it be explained as an agreement between individuals using language. Language in the broad sense of the term: communication by way of representation between two or more objects/subjects?

    this would be solopsism (assumed to be the belief that knowledge of consciousness/self to be the only truth) with one simple distinction: that there are other selves/consciousness's inevitably interacting with the original, and these others are assumed to be experiencing phenomena in a similar manner to the original... oh its too paradoxical.

    Aren't all distinctions artificial? this would presume there is only one whole, with infinite fractions (i guess that would be the same as an infinite whole with no fractions. :smile:

    hmmm. as far as i know, i do not know. As for my anecdote, heres one:

    I go around semi-freewilled, gathering data, experiencing sensations, feelings, states, and hover in a general non-physical mind-site, determined by where my consciousness rests. My awareness is limited by my surrounding environment, both physical and otherwise. I act upon my environment, but not wholly consiously. i know that external/internal influences condition the way my energy is directed into action. i also know that i can affect my reality by the way i consiously apply the energy i have a degree of control over. this seems to be very much linked to the way i apply language in my mind, but is not dependent soley on language. i can apply systems of control to my mind, and to some degree limit thought processes or direct my consciousness. contradictions and paradoxes seem extremely powerful in the direction of consciousness, but this is drifting off the topic :rofl:

    doctordick, loved the text :bugeye:. i suppose there are some that see beyond the limits of convention hey? i totally identify, good stuff. let me get this right (excuse my ignorance, i am not on par with most mathematics), you proposed a theory which makes sense, but it is as yet unprovable. is that unprovable with the language/conventions with which you used, or does it mean your theory is unknowable :confused: not sure if i understood completely. very interesting none the less :wink:

    PS. keep the anecdotes and subjective theories coming, its good to see some conceptual diversity :smile:
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  6. Apr 1, 2005 #5
    Knowledge cannot be explained as an agreement on what is true, as you propose. If that were the case, it would be impossible to empirically prove wrong what people have agreed to be a true statement about the world.
  7. Apr 1, 2005 #6
    That is the intention; however, actual agreement is very hard to achieve. In fact, even when you think you have agreement, it is almost impossible to prove that you do. Understanding a language is exactly the same problem as understanding the universe. You may be throughly convinced you understand something and be wrong. And, yes, the problem verges on "paradoxical" but we all have very convincing personal impressions that we understand some things. Every year, millions of babies come into the world understanding not a single word of any language and yet, in a matter of a few short years they all are convinced that they understand a tremendous volume of their experiences. This must be a consequence of a finite number of steps (by the way, infinite means that, no matter how much has been accomplished, you're not finished).
    That's what everyone with any sense says; but, as soon as I pressure them as to how that situation should be handled, they suddenly "know" all kinds of things and have no problem to be handled. Your anecdote is a perfect example: it is chock full of things you "know" and is used to avoid facing the fact that it is all assumed.

    But communication requires a language, vague and misunderstood as it may be. In this respect, mathematics is the most agreed upon collection of definitions and procedures known to man. If we assume people understand what we are saying when we put down a mathematical relationship we can certainly be more confident than we can with any other set of symbols.
    Absolutely everyone, to the last soul, presumes I am presenting a theory. I am not! I am suggesting a procedure for handling the fact that our starting point must be the very absence of understanding of anything. That is why I define the three sets A, B and C.
    You have not thought that out carefully. One does not actually prove any particular agreement is wrong. What every such proof actually proves is that there is an inconsistency in that proposed agreement . An inconsistency is a case where two different results can be obtained from the same axiomatic starting position. The group is thus forced to readjust their supposed agreement. A proof of error is a proof that the supposed agreement does not actually exit.

    Have fun -- Dick
  8. Apr 22, 2005 #7
    instead of 'assumed' i would probably say 'constructed'. surely when one is in thinking mode, one is using language and symbols to attempt a representation of ones ACTUAL experiences. this is a construction based on generalisation and is for communicating as close as possible (if one is honest..:-) the experience or phenomena.

    the act of being or becoming is surely outside systems of physical language, no? that is, actual knowledge is un-representable and non-communicatable. it is just that when one communicates, and is good at it, one can paint a very accurate picture. maths is more like photography... extremely objective but a little lacking in the soul department :biggrin:

    i reckon subjective knowledge is equal to objective knowledge. ie. knowledge of self and knowledge of universe go hand in hand.

    i like to think of all as one infinite process. the tangible world generalised as energy interconnection. and as one observes further abroad in the spectrum one hits on something that gives one insight into a certain direction of energy, or lack of. the possibility of attaining nothingness as pure consciousness then enters ones ego semi-permanently. but the conscious application of the unrepresentable knowledge one encounters can crystallise certainties in ones self.....

    this is part belief, part experience, but it sounds like nonsense so it is usually not worth trying to communicate. :wink:
  9. Apr 22, 2005 #8
    oh and also, can one know without believing? i mean knowledge surely must have an element of trust thrown in otherwise one would be running in robot mode, no?
  10. Apr 22, 2005 #9

    knowledge not only needs believe, but it is believe. but as we can't be more sure than knowing something, or more sure than with our knowledge, then we can only base our demostrations and proofs and lifes in knowledge. and reality. and truth.
  11. Apr 26, 2005 #10
    when I think of knowledge, other words come to mind like: information, memory, vocabulary, detail, order, efficiency, correlation, coherence, relation, experiance, simultaneity, referance, dependance, stuff, meaning, inferance, and so on. In some way or another, all these words have something to do with the word knowledge in my mind. I see knowledge as a tool that helps us do whatever we want to do.

    To be sure of something requires the use of knowledge (i think). Can you be sure of something before you know it?
  12. Apr 28, 2005 #11
    exactly, a tool is a good way of putting it. i suppose it is the most certain type of information within us, which affects our outward actions also.

    for a long time i was discarding the concept of knowledge. i suppose when i think about it, it is really a more certain form of belief.

    when it comes down to the crunch we all could be wrong, so i suppose being absolutely certain about something is, in a way, a block to incoming data which may benefit ones being.... but i think to consciously experience something would give a fairly certain knowledge, and to BE something would give the highest knowledge. ie. being ones self gives direct experience of what it is like to be ones self.

    but this means one would have to distinguish or compare what it is like to be ones self to other experiences of ones self. this is where it becomes tricky, because our thoughts, and states of consciousness are very much affected by our environment and our mood at the time, therefore making any sort of objective (scientific) analysis very difficult.
    There was a guy called Gurdjieff who taught an esoteric philosophy which involved training ones self to remember ones being as much as possible. he taught the concept of 'self remembering' where you practise continually reminding yourself that you are experiencing the situation you are in. he believed most people were not themselves most of the time and therefore not remembering who they were, and the experiences they were having.

    yoga and other spiritual disciplines promote a similar 'watching' of ones thoughts, feelings etc to provide the memory with data of direct experience which, over a period of extended time, can then be generalised about and learnt from subjectively (personally). this self consciousness is something many take for granted, but by developing it, one can 'know thyself' in a systematic way.

    catchya later :wink:

    ps. returning to doctor dicks message mentioning assumption. after thinking about the idea of 'assumption' being what many call 'knowing' is so true. in fact i think most of us would find it hard to pinpoint thinsg they knew in the strictest sense of the word (ie. being it). i know i assume about many things.... looks like a reassesment of self is in order...... :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2005
  13. Apr 28, 2005 #12
    With the greatest respect to Doctordick, in my limited experience it has rather been "talk to me and I will talk DOWN to you"

    Doctordick - IMHO if you really want to find more people to listen to what you have to say, you may have more success if you learn a smidgin' of humility.

  14. Apr 28, 2005 #13
    Question : Are you certain that you are absolutely certain, or do you just think that you are absolutely certain? And.... how would you know the difference?

    Perhaps this is the only certain knowledge that one can have? But then again, it is a tautology isn't it? ("being oneself gives direct experience of what it is like to be oneself" - it's like saying "experiencing the colour red gives direct experience of what it is like to experience the colour red" - hardly an insight?)

    Difficult? I would say impossible. Objective scientific analysis assumes a 3rd person objective perspective (ie an observer which operates independently of the observed), whereas "being onseself" is about as "1st person subjective" as you can get, and simply cannot be described or understood from a 3rd person perspective.

    I agree with this idea. It is far too easy to get caught up in the subjectiveness of being, and we can all learn much by "stepping outside of ourselves" and practising to see the world objectively rather than subjectively. IMHO most people take the world far too seriously.

    IMHO this "stepping outside of oneself" is then a release of 1st person subjectivity and an acceptance of the greater "objective" world viewpoint - this (again IMHO) ia what spiritualists mean by "one-ness" with the rest of the world (releasing the subjective perspective and accepting the objective perspective) - but this is NOT (again IMHO) a route to "understanding subjectivism via objectivism" - it is instead a "release" of subjectivism.

  15. Apr 28, 2005 #14
    Stepping out of oneself is an interesting phenomena in that i beleive one of its early benefits is that people shall become more responsible for their actions.

    The first step is to recognise that oneself is an active consciousness that has got to this exact moment in time by a certain momentum of lifeforce which you as yet may know little about.

    Simultaneously you have to recognise that whenever you are reflecting on past or present or potential future experiences, then this is the first spark to stepping out of oneself.

    The reason for reflections is that you seek a particular type of knowledge , the reason for this particular type of knowlegde is that it is the key to your own expansion of being - whatever that may be to you.

    Therefore , now you have to undertake the transition of creating a new oneself. You step out of yourself and begin a new character that will be a much improved and evolving oneself.
    As the new oneself, you look at the old oneself which is still right here with you, violently struggling to overcome this new oneself which it rightly perceives as the prelude to its own extinction.
    The old oneself has a huge arsenal of weapons in which to snuff out this new oneself. It has all your previous history of "being" including negative and positive attributes with which to work with and yes my friends, it has all the cunning you yourself could imagine.
    But it has one weakness, and this is something that shall become apparent if your newself evolves.

    So now you know the stakes are high and it is only those with serious intent that can make this transition.

    Begin anytime, but if you dare to, you must do so with firm affirmations, the rewards are indeed great.
    Begin by monitoring all your everyday senses and emotional responses , This is the first stage in evolving your newself , you will be amazed at how often the oldself will kick in and overwhelm this newself, but persevere my friends, persevere if you must.

    Do not put any timescale on things, as time is the oldselfs weapon, be at ease with time, love it, forget it and remain vigilant to all your senses. In time , you shall sense an inner calmness within you ,
  16. May 13, 2005 #15
    certainty... such a classic. often i think certainty is something to be avoided and i live in a flux of ideas and beliefs, this can be very liberating, and to a degree i think it is essential to keep a broadminded approach to life. being certain means to be dependent, or connected, in that the more one becomes certain of something, the more limited one becomes in ones existence. BUT, spiritual people (of which i would call myself in a broad sense of the term) believe that knowledge comes with the unity of ones self with the absolute (God, the cosmos, brahma, zen, etc.).

    Now, in the past i have been in situations where i've had extreme feelings of connectedness with my surroundings in certain states of consciousness :biggrin:, which have affected me and given me a drive to understand the apparently unknowable, and gain a greater perspective of this inneffable reality.

    If for example, after much work on ones self and much observation, one becomes permanently in a state of connectedness, or oneness with the infinite (ie. knowing god, or certain of the totality of the universe etc), and the object of certainty was UNLIMITED then the connectedness one would feel, would be not a hindrance, but a freedom, and one would probably defend the concept of certainty, or absolution, to the best of ones powers.

    do you get what i mean or is this common knowledge?

    to be honest i reckon the whole independent observer business is a sham, but an important one. to percieve anything, one is interpreting the thing subjectively (albeit a collective subjectivity consisting of the opinions of many 'authorities' who 'know facts'). i have written and criticised the subjective/objective dichotomy many a time. don't get me wrong, it is a very useful binary to comprehend, but in actuality ones own judgement merges with objectivity and in the end the distinction between the two evades certain conclusions.

    i believe the distinctions we "discover" in nature are illusions manifested with the intellect, and this oneness you speak of is the reality. But, distinctions and knowledge can direct our energy - they can influence our being as willpower, and are therefore a tool to be understood. Note that i say 'believe' because there is no way of proving 'oneness', but experiencing it enhances ones believe a lot.

    yep, it seems to be an objective subjectivity, if such a statement can be used. when one has 'levelled up' to put it in a computer gaming context.... :blushing:
    i suppose there is no limit to this growth of self, but if one finds a path that seems fluid and one is content, then one should probably try to stick to it, until one is faced with a new challenge to adapt to.

    a binary i have been playing with lately is Everything/Nothing.
    everything corresponds to energy... nothing corresponds to mind...
    both are energy... both are mind...
    the interaction between the two is life, the emotions a guide.

    everything is a unique direction of energy.
    nothing is a unique direction of mind.
    balance is a unique mix of the two, coagulated, refined and distributed unselfishly...

    don't quote me on that though.... :smile:
    Last edited: May 13, 2005
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