Re QM: Why Not Knowledge

  • Thread starter reilly
  • Start date
  • #51
340
0
Sherlock said:
The fundamental constituent of the universe is waves in media of unknown structure.
I respectfully submit that not only is the structure of the media unknown, but that the constituency of the media is also unknown.
Sherlock said:
Physical science doesn't tacitly assume that consciousness corresponds to brain activity, it overtly assumes it. Consciousness = brain activity.
I respectfully submit that this overt assumption might impede or prevent discovery of the true fundamental constituent of the universe.
Sherlock said:
I think Occam would have stopped you at (and disallowed) the primordial knower = ability to know thing.
I don't think so. Occam's advice picks the simpler of two theories which offer explanations for the same phenomena. If only one of the theories offers an explanation, then that one should be chosen regardless of its complexity. Certainly you would agree that modern physics is more complex than classical theory, would you not?
Sherlock said:
No problem for who?
For those who do not rule solipsism out without giving it serious consideration.
Sherlock said:
Your construction is very ... anthropic. You've abstracted from too high a level of complexity. The vocabulary that you're applying is scale-specific. You want something more general. A way of talking about nature that transcends all scales and is therefore applicable to any scale. Then Occam will not be offended (unless of course you unnecessarily complicate things using the more fundamental terms.
Yes. I'm sure it sounds that way. But the terminology I used is the vernacular that is most easily understood in an introductory discussion of these ideas. Some of the terms, like 'concept', 'knowing', 'consciousness', 'will', 'information', and 'knowledge' are not scale-specific unless you insist on relating them exclusively to brain activity. As I have suggested elsewhere, my proposal can be couched in terms of Gregg Rosenberg's definition and development of the notion of "Natural Individuals". I also suspect that the ideas could be formalized in mathematical structures. Neither of these approaches would be anthropomorphic or scale-specific, but, IMHO, both would be less accessible to readers of this forum -- not to mention the fact that I have not developed the ideas using either approach. If you open your mind just a little more as you consider these ideas, I'm sure you can get past the anthropic trap.

Thanks for your thoughts, Sherlock.

Paul
 
  • #52
755
0
Dr.Bohr said:
Physics is not what nature is

Physics is only what we are able to say about nature.
You can say anything you want about nature but, as someone pointed out, Socrates (as well as Sgt. Scholtz from Hogan's Heros) have already figured out that we "know nothing". And, by my calculations, we don't know "nothing", either.
 
  • #53
339
0
Paul Martin said:
I respectfully submit that not only is the structure of the media unknown, but that the constituency of the media is also unknown.
Yes that too. I added the "in a medium of unknown structure" because we're in the metaphysics forum doing some metaphysical speculation, and waves imply a medium. But the fundamental medium (or media) can be omitted.

The fundamental constituents (of our universe) would be waves then --- disturbances in an undetectable medium which combine to form higher order media.
Sherlock said:
Physical science doesn't tacitly assume that consciousness corresponds to brain activity, it overtly assumes it. Consciousness = brain activity.
Paul Martin said:
I respectfully submit that this overt assumption might impede or prevent discovery of the true fundamental constituent of the universe.
I don't think so. Human behavior, and its associated terminology, aren't fundamental. I suggest (respectfully of course) that a metaphysics beginning with some sort of primordial wave would be more in line with what physics and astronomy have revealed to us about our universe, rather than a metaphysics beginning with a primordial consciousness.

This primordial wave would be the universal wave front, the edge of our universe, created via the Big Bang and propagating isotropically away from its origin. Some subset of the chaotic flotsam and jetsam in its wake, which includes us humans, is what constitutes the physical (observable) universe.
Sherlock said:
I think Occam would have stopped you at (and disallowed) the primordial knower = ability to know thing.
Paul Martin said:
I don't think so. Occam's advice picks the simpler of two theories which offer explanations for the same phenomena. If only one of the theories offers an explanation, then that one should be chosen regardless of its complexity. Certainly you would agree that modern physics is more complex than classical theory, would you not?
Knowing involves a level of complexity far removed from simple wave mechanics. Knowing is a phenomenon that has emerged via gazillions of interactions, involving many and various wave structures in lots of different media.

The quest is for a few (or maybe even just one) basic rules governing wave behavior, in accordance with which the complex (and more or less chaotic), evolving structure that we call our universe has emerged.
Paul Martin said:
... the terminology I used is the vernacular that is most easily understood in an introductory discussion of these ideas.
They might seem to be more easily understood. But, actually, they aren't. Consciousness and knowledge are not fundamental physical concepts.
Paul Martin said:
Some of the terms, like 'concept', 'knowing', 'consciousness', 'will', 'information', and 'knowledge' are not scale-specific unless you insist on relating them exclusively to brain activity.
Well, we can talk about, say, galactic motions in terms of galactic social hierarchies and what the galaxies want to do, and so on, using terms and constructs that we apply to people-scale behavior and interactions. That would be quaint, but hardly suitable for the metaphysical underpinnings of a physical theory of nature.

Physics already has a language that can be applied to fundamental questions. Waves and/or particles are the ontological primitives.

The terms you're pushing are higher order terms. They don't refer to fundamental entities. So, you'd have to redefine them. Seems like an unnecessary complication when you've already got waves and/or particles to work with.
Paul Martin said:
As I have suggested elsewhere, my proposal can be couched in terms of Gregg Rosenberg's definition and development of the notion of "Natural Individuals". I also suspect that the ideas could be formalized in mathematical structures. Neither of these approaches would be anthropomorphic or scale-specific, but, IMHO, both would be less accessible to readers of this forum -- not to mention the fact that I have not developed the ideas using either approach. If you open your mind just a little more as you consider these ideas, I'm sure you can get past the anthropic trap.
What's the anthropic trap?
 
  • #54
340
0
Sherlock said:
But the fundamental medium (or media) can be omitted.
Of course it can. It is simply a matter of choice. It is exactly this type of choice which characterizes our differences here, Sherlock. The question is, what mysteries are we interested in and which do we choose to "omit" or ignore?

Science has traditionally chosen to omit any mystery which cannot be investigated by experimental means. Thus, the mysteries of bigfoot, ESP, religions, witchcraft, etc. have been declared outside the province of science -- and rightly so. By making this choice, science has succeeded in providing us with the first real effective solutions to the basic problems that have plagued all animals for most of the planet's history, namely starvation, predation, hypothermia, and infection. This has been a remarkably praiseworthy achievement by science, and it isn't finished yet.

In my view, having nearly solved these problems, the next-most-serious problem we humans face is "man's inhumanity to man". History clearly shows that the most egregious examples of this problem stem from religious differences and from ideological differences. These differences have to do with peoples' beliefs. And beliefs have to do with mentality and consciousness. It is for this reason, after waiting for most of my life for science to get past the Skinnerian posture, I am delighted to see science finally enlarge its domain to include consciousness as a serious subject of study.

But, and here is where my views depart from yours, Sherlock, I think that there is an "anthropic trap" which scientists can too easily fall into.
Sherlock said:
What's the anthropic trap?
I'm glad you asked. The trap is, as I told you once before, making the overt (or in some cases tacit) assumption that all mental functions and mental aspects are located strictly within the brain. I agree with you that this assumption is consistent with traditional assumptions of science. And I agree that marvelous scientific accomplishments have been made so far even with this assumption. But, as I have tried to explain, I think even greater insights into what is really going on in the world, particularly in the domain of human activity, could be gained by abandoning this assumption and doing some investigation making different assumptions. In particular, I suggest making the assumption that there is only a single consciousness in all of reality. This may sound like a wild idea, but Irwin Schroedinger himself came to believe this was an inescapable logical conclusion. I think we throw the baby out with the bath water when we dismiss this idea.
Sherlock said:
Human behavior, and its associated terminology, aren't fundamental.
I agree completely. Human behavior has only recently made its appearance in our isolated corner of the universe. But, unless you assume that mind and mental functions occur only within brains, this does not mean that some sort of mind or mental functions haven't been part of cosmology since the beginning. Gregory Bateson made a good case for this idea, IMHO.
Sherlock said:
I suggest (respectfully of course) that a metaphysics beginning with some sort of primordial wave would be more in line with what physics and astronomy have revealed to us about our universe, rather than a metaphysics beginning with a primordial consciousness.
And I agree with you completely here. That is because what science has revealed to us so far has indeed been based on assumptions excluding a primordial consciousness. But, the ontological underpinnings have remained elusive. Indestructible atoms, ether, various fields, etc. are examples of ideas that didn't quite work out.
Sherlock said:
Physics already has a language that can be applied to fundamental questions. Waves and/or particles are the ontological primitives.
I agree that taking those as primitive allows us to make successful calculations. But the mystery remains as to what the medium for the waves is, or what the particles are made of.
Sherlock said:
The terms you're pushing are higher order terms. They don't refer to fundamental entities. So, you'd have to redefine them. Seems like an unnecessary complication when you've already got waves and/or particles to work with.
The terms are higher order and introduce complication if and only if you fall into the "anthropic trap" and assume that the terms refer to functions or aspects of brains. Maybe we should redefine the terms, as you suggest, or choose new ones, to refer to primitive and rudimentary precursors of the modern equivalent terms. In my view, the basic "ability to know" seems to be a good candidate for the most primitive and fundamental of these ideas. I think that "complication" appeared only gradually over the course of eons of Cosmic Time (as opposed to the time dimension of our physical space-time) as the universe evolved, the appearance of brains being very late in this process.

Since our disagreements seem only to be in our different choices of assumptions, I don't think there is much we can do to resolve them unless one of us agrees to change our choice.

Thanks again for your thoughts, Sherlock. It's been fun talking with you.

Paul
 
  • #55
Rade
Paul Martin said:
...In my view, the basic "ability to know" seems to be a good candidate for the most primitive and fundamental of these ideas...
Paul, on another thread I made a suggestion that the concept of "to know" in your PC hypothesis represents what we call fundamental forces of the universe--thus the negative electron "knows" the positive proton in the hydrogen atom, the proton within deuteron [NP] "knows" the neutron, the anti-up quark "knows" the down quark in the negative pion, the earth "knows" the moon via gravity, etc. Therefore, it is clear that neither your concept of PC, nor any concept of human brain, are required to understand the "ability to know" between two things that exist priori to any "knowing". That is, one does NOT need a consciousness to know--clearly it is one way, but not the only way. Things that exist in the universe have "known" each other many billions of years priori to any "consciousness", and no concept of "primary consciousness = PC" is needed to begin the knowing process. Now, correct me if I error (I'm sure you will :biggrin:), but since you hold that your PC hypothesis requires that "to know by PC" takes primacy over "to exist", and I have just logically falsified this claim by showing that the primary process of "to know" is derived from force interactions of things that first exist, then I suggest that your PC hypothesis (e.g., that knowing takes primacy to existence) is then falsified. Here I at least take it that you view your PC a true scientific hypothesis that is open to falsification. So, if I do error, then I would need for you to tell me (and others) what set of observations (facts) would be needed to falsifiy your PC hypothesis.
 
  • #56
340
0
Rade said:
Here I at least take it that you view your PC a true scientific hypothesis that is open to falsification.
Thank you, Rade, but here you give me too much credit. I am not a scientist and I really don't know what constitutes falsifiability. Someone else pointed out that my idea of PC does not qualify as a true scientific hypothesis. I am also not a philosopher, so the language I use in trying to describe my ideas may be full of errors of protocol as accepted by true scientists and philosophers. What I try to do is to make my ideas as clear as possible and let someone else classify, categorize, and label them. What I am really interested in is whether or not my ideas make sense. If they do, you may classify them however you like. If they do not, I am extremely interested in why you think they do not make sense. If you can convince me that my ideas are nonsense, I will not hesitate to abandon them. So let me try to do a little explaining.
Rade said:
Paul, on another thread I made a suggestion that the concept of "to know" in your PC hypothesis represents what we call fundamental forces of the universe--thus the negative electron "knows" the positive proton in the hydrogen atom, the proton within deuteron [NP] "knows" the neutron, the anti-up quark "knows" the down quark in the negative pion, the earth "knows" the moon via gravity, etc.
It sounds like your notion of "to know" is almost exactly like my notion. I agree with all the examples you gave here.
Rade said:
Therefore, it is clear that neither your concept of PC, nor any concept of human brain, are required to understand the "ability to know" between two things that exist priori to any "knowing".
Here it sounds like you think my concept of PC is similar to the concept of knowing associated with the human brain. As I just tried to explain to Sherlock, I don't see these as the same at all. In fact, considering PC to be related to brain activity is what I called the "anthropic trap". The 'P' in 'PC' stands for primordial, so in my view, that places the existence of PC billions of years prior to the existence of brains. Furthermore, in my view, PC was extremely rudimentary and simple early on, whereas human brains are extremely complex. So I think you might have misunderstood my notion of PC.

In my view, PC is the very most fundamental ability to know that is exhibited by, and shared by, the fundamental forces and particles you mentioned.

I don't know if you have read Gregg Rosenberg's "A Place for Consciousness", or followed the discussion of the book in this forum, but in my view, my notion of PC sort of fits into Rosenberg's notion of a Natural Individual. These are the fundamental elements of causation. On page 247 he says, “…the causal nexus has three aspects: its effective dispositions, its receptive dispositions, and the carriers of this nomic content.” In this framework, the ability to know is the ability of the receptive disposition to receive, via the carrier, the effects of the effective disposition of some other individual. This fits your examples of particles and forces, and it also fits the conscious experience of knowing associated with human brains. Rosenberg shows how a causal hierarchy can transmit the knowledge from one Natural Individual to another up and down the hierarchy. In my PC scheme, the same thing happens except that I deny that any but the very top element in the hierarchy, PC, actually is conscious. The rest are simply devices which can transmit the information further up the chain.

My view of cosmology is that PC started out extremely primitive, as the bare ability to know, but knowing nothing at all. Then, after a considerable period of evolution, which is still in progress, knowledge accumulated. It is this knowledge which constitutes the primitives of the physical world. So PC, the pure ability to know existed prior to any knowing and human brains didn't appear until much, much later.
Rade said:
That is, one does NOT need a consciousness to know--clearly it is one way, but not the only way. Things that exist in the universe have "known" each other many billions of years priori to any "consciousness", and no concept of "primary consciousness = PC" is needed to begin the knowing process.
I don't think we disagree very much here. I think the problem is that we haven't clearly defined 'consciousness' and I probably shouldn't have used the term 'consciousness' in my 'PC' acronym. I probably should have called it PATK, or the primordial ability to know.

Thanks for your comments, Rade.

Paul
 
  • #57
Rade
Paul, you need to help me better understand your hypothesis. Your last post was very helpful. But, if you hold that PC "starts" as pure potentiality [what you call "ability to know"], and next that at the start ["PC knows nothing"], and then that PC is at the top of a Rosenberg type hierarchy and is in fact "conscious"--I see a logical contradiction in your argument. That is, how can PC at the start "actually" be conscious if at the same time it is pure "potentiality" and is conscious of nothing, not even itself ? Thus, I tend to agree with you that you need to drop the term "conscious" from your hypothesis and stay with your new concept of PATK (=primordial ability to know). So, if I read you correct, you are saying that "at the start" there was a PATK (= pure potentiality to know)--but in fact there was no "knowing" because no-thing yet existed to be known (that is, PATK is not a thing that exists otherwise it would be known). Thus, it was not until EXISTENCE emerged (such as the electron and proton) that pure actuality of knowing started. And this state of affairs makes sense--that is before I can "know" anything, do I not first have to have the "potential to know".
 
  • #58
192
1
If what you seek is knowledge, might I suggest that you begin by asking yourself, “What exactly is knowledge?” Useful and reliable knowledge requires a certainty that can only be achieved by building it upon a firm foundation; indeed, it is this foundation that makes knowledge possible. Yes, birds and planes can fly but they cannot achieve this ability by first taking to the sky and then sprouting wings.

The foundation for and of all human knowledge rests on the evidence provided by our senses. This raw data is organized by an evolutionary process into perceptions. What we perceive is reality. From this point on our examination, evaluation, experimentation, judgments and conclusions must follow precisely and logically from these fundamental perceptions or our knowledge looses clarity and validity with each deviating thought.

Successful communication of knowledge requires that one person can show the relationship their knowledge has to the other’s. For those who have an insufficient or improperly supported knowledge base this may require breaking it down to perceptual level concepts.

Until knowledge can be perceptually grounded and logically formulated, the best that can be hoped for is floating abstractions to be conceptually link to reality at some future time. In the meantime, flights to distant stars should be limited to the imagination.
 
  • #59
340
0
Rade said:
Paul, you need to help me better understand your hypothesis.
I'll be happy to try.
Rade said:
But, if you hold that PC "starts" as pure potentiality [what you call "ability to know"], and next that at the start ["PC knows nothing"], and then that PC is at the top of a Rosenberg type hierarchy and is in fact "conscious"--I see a logical contradiction in your argument. That is, how can PC at the start "actually" be conscious if at the same time it is pure "potentiality" and is conscious of nothing, not even itself ?
I think you already have an idea how to solve this apparent contradiction because you enclosed the word "starts" in quotes. I think that "start" is the source of the confusion, and the mystery. Here's how I see it.

First of all, starting has to do with time. The start marks the beginning of an interval of time which includes everything that got "started". So we have two things to clear up here: 1) What do we mean by an interval of time? and 2) What are we talking about having been started?

1). Time is another parameter (in addition to space) with which we can measure, or describe, the separation between events. (I just made that up, but that is what I think time is.) So, in order to even have time, we must have at least two distinct events. And, in order to have multiple events, something must change. That means that a specific interval of time is defined by a specific set of separate events.

2). What, exactly, is it that "got started"? Here, as you point out, we have two candidates: a) The potential to know, and b) Knowledge itself. I think we must mean b).

Knowledge can have a beginning marked by the "knowing" of the very first known thing. (In my opinion, there is no such thing as infinity in nature, so the set of known things must be finite. Therefore, there must be some ordering of the "knowing" events on some temporal spectrum in which there is a first such event. This temporal spectrum, I call 'Cosmic Time', to distinguish it from our perceived dimension of time.)

But a), the potential to know, is a different breed of cat. Since nothing need change at all in order for a potential to exist, there need also not be any events. So if a potential exists, and nothing whatsoever changes, there are no events and thus there is no such thing as time. Without a definition of time, we don't have a definition of "starting" either. So to ask when the potential "started", is meaningless.

Of course, this does not satisfy our curiosity to make sense of the "origin" of that potentiality. So we imagine some sort of "time" which is indeed infinite in the past direction and suppose that the potentiality has existed "for all prior eternity". It's either this, or we imagine that the potentiality sort of magically appeared out of absolutely nothing, and got its start spontaneously. Neither of these ideas makes sense. But we don't seem to have any alternative.

Now it is important to note that what I have just said about the "potential to know", can be said of any other ontological primitive no matter what it is. For those who claim that the ontological primitive is some sort of medium which can host waves, the same puzzle about its origin arises. For those who claim that the ontological primitive is a set of physical laws, or an almighty God, or a stack of turtles, or a Higgs Field, or whatever else, the exact same puzzle applies. I think we waste our time if we spend too much of it trying to resolve this puzzle.

So, to sum up, the PATK (=primordial ability to know) somehow mysteriously existed as the fundamental ontological primitive. Next, that PATK somehow acquired its first bit of knowledge. That event marked the beginning of a temporal dimension I call Cosmic Time. As more bits of knowledge were acquired, the set of knowledge grew. The relationships among the subsets of this growing set can be interpreted as causal relationships in the sense that new knowledge was based in part on previous knowledge. The network of these relationships formed (at least) a structure which could be interpreted as a Minkowski space-time continuum. Perturbations in this continuum produce the physical features of the physical universe that we humans observe. The rest is Physics.

What remains is the question of consciousness. As humans, we "know" that we experience such a thing. At least I do, and from the reports I hear from others, it seems that they experience much the same thing that I do. But, what is the actual "I" that does the experiencing? Many people adamantly claim that it is the brain in my body which does the experiencing. I disagree with that viewpoint and claim that there is some single, unique, entity which does the experiencing and which is outside of, not only the brain, but the entire space-time structure in which the body resides.

So what is this entity? Well, I'd say it is the "current state" of that PATK. But here we have to be careful. It is natural for us to think of the "current state" to be measured and marked by our familiar time dimension and claim that the "current state" is presently about 14 billion years after the big bang. But I think that is wrong. I think the "current state" of the PATK is some point in Cosmic Time. From the Cosmic Time POV, our Minkowski space-time continuum is a static structure, similar to a big wad of steel wool, or to Brian Greene's loaf of bread. And, from the Cosmic Time POV, PATK is no longer an appropriate term since the ability to know is no longer primordial but has evolved to enormous complexity and capability (just think of how complex that wad of steel wool is).

Maybe I should digress a little here to emphasize the difference between Cosmic Time and timelike lines in physical space-time. As we know from SR, the rate of the passage of ordinary time is dependent on the observer's motion. In particular, for a microwave photon which left the early physical universe and "now" comes to us observers of the CMB radiation, time has not passed at all. In other words, if an observer had been riding along with that photon, from that observer's POV the entire history of the physical universe since the big bang until "now" would all occur, or exist, at once at one Cosmic instant. That would be consistent with the way in which our space-time would appear as a static wad of steel wool, or a loaf of bread if somehow it could be observed from PATK's POV. If, on the other hand, PATK could somehow take a ride along the world line, not of that photon, but of the body of one of us humans, then from that POV, time would appear to run in accordance with our clocks and calendars. And, if PATK during that ride, were so distracted by the sights and sounds of our physical world that she/he/it forgot all about the Cosmic environment and imagined that this physical universe were all that exists, then that experience would describe exactly what you and I report that we experience. And I think that's what's happening.

So, finally I will define consciousness. Consciousness is that state of the evolved PATK which is the acquisition of the new knowledge that old knowledge already exists. In other words, when PATK reflects on what it/he/she knows, she/it/he comes to know that there already exists a set of knowledge which could be called 'the past'. Some of that old knowledge consists of the facts that PATK can 1)imagine novel ideas, and thereby create new knowledge, 2)recognize certain patterns in the old knowledge and construct new knowledge from the abstractions of those patterns, 3)choose to let certain algorithms operate and thereby create new knowledge comprised of the outcomes of those algorithms (think laws of physics operating on the steel wool), 4)exercise free will to alter certain algorithms and information in the knowledge base, and 5) (my favorite) willfully choose certain outcomes of quantum interactions in the steel wool, which would be allowed within the HUP but which nevertheless would increase the probability of a higher level outcome. (I think this happens in the microtubules of neurons in order to start a cascade of brain functions leading to deliberate manipulation of muscles (thanks to Penrose and Hameroff for this).)

So with this definition, consciousness has (or has had) a wide spectrum of sophistication. Early on, when PATK was truly "Primordial" the rudimentary knowledge of those first few bits (maybe like knowing that nothing was known, i.e. having it finally dawn that this one fact, that nothing was known, was now something that was known. The days (or eons) of knowing nothing were over.) would seem to be a very dim conscious experience indeed. Whereas, after constructing the enormously complex wad of steel wool, and then taking a ride on one of our world lines, the conscious experience would be truly breathtaking.
Rade said:
So, if I read you correct, you are saying that "at the start" there was a PATK (= pure potentiality to know)--but in fact there was no "knowing" because no-thing yet existed to be known
Yes.
Rade said:
(that is, PATK is not a thing that exists otherwise it would be known).
Ummmm...This is not exactly the way I see it, unless I misunderstand you. I'd say PATK exists "prior to" knowledge, but it may not be a "thing", depending on your definition of 'thing'. As for being known, since there is only the one knower, viz. PATK, there would be a first time when PATK would know of its/his/her existence. Prior to that event, its existence would not be known.
Rade said:
Thus, it was not until EXISTENCE emerged (such as the electron and proton) that pure actuality of knowing started.
Here I think it would help to qualify some of your words. If by 'existence' we mean physical existence, then I would agree with what you say here. Physical existence, i.e. the structure and history of the Minkowski space-time wad of steel wool, emerged with its electrons and protons at some point in Cosmic time, and it proceeded to develop with the big bang on the extreme front end of its (local) time-like dimension. How it evolved in Cosmic Time is another matter.
Rade said:
And this state of affairs makes sense--that is before I can "know" anything, do I not first have to have the "potential to know".
I agree. The potential to know must come first.

Thanks for your thoughts, Rade.

Paul
 
  • #60
340
0
Dmstifik8ion said:
If what you seek is knowledge, might I suggest that you begin by asking yourself, “What exactly is knowledge?” Useful and reliable knowledge requires a certainty that can only be achieved by building it upon a firm foundation; indeed, it is this foundation that makes knowledge possible.
Good suggestion. That is exactly the place to start. I have given this question some thought when I was having a conversation with Moving Finger at https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=64156&page=9
(if you read this, be aware that PNS = Physical Neurological System = biological body).

The conclusion I reached in that discussion was that while qualifying the term 'knowledge' by saying 'certain knowledge' is redundant, it nonetheless emphasizes the question of what knowledge is. Indeed, it raises the question of whether any knowledge can exist at all if it must be certain. How can anyone be certain about anything? I think it is not possible. So what does 'knowledge' mean if the known "facts" are not certain?

I think the only way out of this is to consider knowledge to be characterized on a scale from, say, 0 to 1, where 0 means it isn't knowledge at all, and 1 means certainty. Then "facts" would fall near the upper end of the spectrum even though none would be exactly on the 1. Thus we could have useful and fairly reliable knowledge without requiring certainty. The foundation would be at least as firm as what we build houses on.



Dmstifik8ion said:
The foundation for and of all human knowledge rests on the evidence provided by our senses.
I agree. But I would point out that you have qualified 'knowledge' by restricting it to "human knowledge". It leaves open the question of the existence of a knower other than humans which might have a very different basis for knowledge.
Dmstifik8ion said:
What we perceive is reality.
There are a few assumptions buried in this claim. First of all, the meaning of 'we' isn't clear. Of course the tacit meaning is the collection of humans involved in this discussion. But in my view, I don't think the perceiver, in the sense of the conscious awareness of the perceptions, is necessarily confined to the brain. So when we talk about what "we perceive" we might be talking about the information that can be reported by a biological body, or we might be talking about some other entity (my PC or PATK) separate and apart from the body.

Another ambiguous term is 'reality'. Since so many people assume that reality consists of nothing more, or beyond, the physical universe, we are left with no term to describe anything that might exist in addition. So, I would suggest saying, what we humans report perceiving is physical reality. I also suspect that what PC perceives via information from a particular brain on a particular world line is largely a portion of physical reality informed by that particular POV. Further, I suspect that PC may perceive things outside of physical reality even though he/she/it might do so via information from a particular brain (say Les Sleeth's) on a particular world line (say during one of Les's meditation sessions). In short, I'd say that reality is much greater than what is conceived by scientists to be the universe.
Dmstifik8ion said:
From this point on our examination, evaluation, experimentation, judgments and conclusions must follow precisely and logically from these fundamental perceptions or our knowledge looses clarity and validity with each deviating thought.
Amen! (So to speak) I think that happens in spades. In particular, I think any access to non-physical information as reported by humans is always so distorted and unreliable as to be nearly useless. To wit, all the religions of the Earth and the confusion, error, hostility, devastation, and error they have wrought in trying to interpret their respective revelations.
Dmstifik8ion said:
Successful communication of knowledge requires that one person can show the relationship their knowledge has to the other’s. For those who have an insufficient or improperly supported knowledge base this may require breaking it down to perceptual level concepts.
I agree. Science, and in particular mathematics, has set the standard for deriving knowledge from what we can perceive.
Dmstifik8ion said:
Until knowledge can be perceptually grounded and logically formulated, the best that can be hoped for is floating abstractions to be conceptually link to reality at some future time. In the meantime, flights to distant stars should be limited to the imagination.
I suppose you might be right. But this wild speculation is still a lot of fun. Moreover, I think that at least some progress can be made strictly by using logic and exploring the implications of some unconventional hypotheses. And, as I keep saying, it seems to me that the implications of assuming the existence of only a single consciousness leads to a framework which not only accommodates all the explanations of science, but also all of the mysterious behavior of human beings as well.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Paul
 
  • #61
Rade
Paul Martin said:
...
Thank you for your response to my questions. Your concept of PATK is fine with me, of course we must have "potential" to effect before "actual" effect. But perhaps we both error in our quest for truth--I looking to defend primacy of being, you looking for primacy of consciousness (or ability to know)--here for example is an alternative view from someone I admire greatly:

"If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time".

* * *

"Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chit" means consciousness.
"Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, "I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being. I think it worked".

--Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 113, 120
 
  • #62
192
1
Paul Martin said:
Good suggestion. That is exactly the place to start. I have given this question some thought when I was having a conversation with Moving Finger at https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=64156&page=9
(if you read this, be aware that PNS = Physical Neurological System = biological body).

The conclusion I reached in that discussion was that while qualifying the term 'knowledge' by saying 'certain knowledge' is redundant, it nonetheless emphasizes the question of what knowledge is. Indeed, it raises the question of whether any knowledge can exist at all if it must be certain. How can anyone be certain about anything? I think it is not possible. So what does 'knowledge' mean if the known "facts" are not certain?

I think the only way out of this is to consider knowledge to be characterized on a scale from, say, 0 to 1, where 0 means it isn't knowledge at all, and 1 means certainty. Then "facts" would fall near the upper end of the spectrum even though none would be exactly on the 1. Thus we could have useful and fairly reliable knowledge without requiring certainty. The foundation would be at least as firm as what we build houses on.



I agree. But I would point out that you have qualified 'knowledge' by restricting it to "human knowledge". It leaves open the question of the existence of a knower other than humans which might have a very different basis for knowledge.
There are a few assumptions buried in this claim. First of all, the meaning of 'we' isn't clear. Of course the tacit meaning is the collection of humans involved in this discussion. But in my view, I don't think the perceiver, in the sense of the conscious awareness of the perceptions, is necessarily confined to the brain. So when we talk about what "we perceive" we might be talking about the information that can be reported by a biological body, or we might be talking about some other entity (my PC or PATK) separate and apart from the body.

Another ambiguous term is 'reality'. Since so many people assume that reality consists of nothing more, or beyond, the physical universe, we are left with no term to describe anything that might exist in addition. So, I would suggest saying, what we humans report perceiving is physical reality. I also suspect that what PC perceives via information from a particular brain on a particular world line is largely a portion of physical reality informed by that particular POV. Further, I suspect that PC may perceive things outside of physical reality even though he/she/it might do so via information from a particular brain (say Les Sleeth's) on a particular world line (say during one of Les's meditation sessions). In short, I'd say that reality is much greater than what is conceived by scientists to be the universe.
Amen! (So to speak) I think that happens in spades. In particular, I think any access to non-physical information as reported by humans is always so distorted and unreliable as to be nearly useless. To wit, all the religions of the Earth and the confusion, error, hostility, devastation, and error they have wrought in trying to interpret their respective revelations.
I agree. Science, and in particular mathematics, has set the standard for deriving knowledge from what we can perceive.
I suppose you might be right. But this wild speculation is still a lot of fun. Moreover, I think that at least some progress can be made strictly by using logic and exploring the implications of some unconventional hypotheses. And, as I keep saying, it seems to me that the implications of assuming the existence of only a single consciousness leads to a framework which not only accommodates all the explanations of science, but also all of the mysterious behavior of human beings as well.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Paul
That thread predates me but I have posted a reply.

Certainty is A, if not The, big one. As I understand the meaning of the term "knowledge" certainty is a measure of how well a given fact of reality (knowledge) can be validated in ones own mind. I ascribe knowledge solely to the human existent for the purpose of most philosophical discussion with the following qualification; I know of no other beings with the capacity for validating knowledge although it is entirely possible that other creatures exist in the universe with this capacity. Animals are certainly capable of knowledge on the perceptual level but I doubt they have the ability to validate it epistemologically.
 

Related Threads on Re QM: Why Not Knowledge

  • Last Post
Replies
20
Views
3K
Replies
9
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
666
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
24
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
Replies
28
Views
4K
Top