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Knowledge Vs. Reality

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Posted by Luis Hamburgh on June 24, 2002 14:53:29 UTC


>>>"I'm not following you here."

This is disappointing. Admitting metaphysics assumes something beyond physics would be admitting the very assumption I'm trying to examine here, and I'd likened your decision to characterize metaphysics as phenomena "in the background" of physics (as opposed to "beyond") to a sign that you do see what I'm saying.

>>>"Metaphysics is an attempt to understand the underlying processes of the Universe that are not empirically at hand."

Act. React. Successful instincts propagate. If we may some day be able to enumerate what works for us on an instinctive level, does that mean there is some "knowledge" out there for us to unravel? Not in my view.

>>>"Metaphysics is an attempt..."

Right. "An" attempt. One way of trying. But not the only possible way.

>>>"All theories are dependent on metaphysical concepts since all theories are not 100% dependent on empirical confirmation."

And so we see again that you are not getting my point. The conclusion that "all theories are dependent on metaphysical concepts" is based on the premises "theory equals knowledge, and knowledge equals reality." I do not think that knowledge is an objective thing; I do not characterize "knowledge" as an outside "something" we may or may not find.

>>>"This summarizes a great deal of the antirealist position"

I know you're trying to identify my position here, but I'm an agnostic; I am not an antirealist. You don't characterize my position as a realist one because you assume reality can't exist unless it can be fully accounted for before it exists. That is, to you reality is its own explanation. But to me this is aggrandizing the concept of "explanation."

In your view, I think, knowledge is perfection, therefore objective knowledge exists... and since none of us is capable of pure objectivity, then something must exist in order to do this objective knowing to begin with, right?

I think you're begging the question with an assumption you cannot seem to dismiss, if even for a moment in order to consider an alternative explanation.

>>>"By saying that we break things down a longtime after we start experiencing the world, you are much closer to understanding my position."

I understand the 'rationale,' but I think I also understand how this 'rationale' is an irrational assumption based on our unavoidable bias. I think I understand what propels us all to feel the way you do; my suggestion is that this force is a function of simple psychology. We all have a well-established sense of "complete," "whole," "myself," etc. once we finally sit down and start discussing reality with one another. We're all very biased.

>>> Me: "In my opinion, an 'imaginary' object is just as real as a 'more-than-imaginary' object.
>>>You: "So, what keeps the dragon in your garage from eating you right now?"

Vis--vis reality, let's consider three phenomena -- (1) an ink pen, (2) looking at the ink pen, & (3) remembering looking at the ink pen. Should we take from your position that only (1) is real? Maybe you believe (1) is real, (2) is partially real, and (3) is mostly unreal? Are some things both real and unreal? What if an object can only exist as a product of the imagination (like a unicorn, or a dragon)? Is this object doubly unreal because as far as we can tell it's never fully existed as an independent, reproducing species?

Strange that you should call me the "antirealist"!

Not so! -- you might say -- there is more to reality than the material reality we observe. But what is the premise for this conclusion? Seems to be, "there is more to reality than material reality we observe." And this premise is based on the assumption that "since there is stuff to know, knowledge is stuff." In other words, "we know stuff, and the knowledge of this stuff was something we found. Therefore the knowledge was there to begin with."

This is, in my opinion, our bias kicking in. Think about a young person contemplating his education:

"There's a whole library of knowledge for me to contemplate. I'm me, I'm a whole being, and there is this universe out there for me to contemplate... this completely objective and separate thing called 'knowledge' that I must acquire."

We inadvertently tend to believe the universe is some massive book already written for us to decipher.

In my opinion knowledge happens only when there is something to do the knowing. You might agree, but the difference lies herein: to my view, it is quite possible that reality would exist whether or not anyone were around to know it.

(If you really want to label me as an "anti-" something, then just call me an "anti-knowist," though I'm afraid the term 'agnostic' does well enough on its own).

What you seek is "true knowledge," a full account of reality, which therefore cannot exist unless there is some omnipotent "knower." This is your entire argument; it assumes its own conclusion before it even begins.


"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing." ~ Socrates

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