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I Thought You "knew"

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on October 15, 2002 15:00:03 UTC

Hi Harv,

***It all depends on what you mean by 'know'.***

I am trying to understand what you mean by 'know'. You seem to have a definite idea of the distinction between epistemology and ontology and I thought the former was what we know and the latter was what is. So, if there is any ontological fact at all, and we know that fact, wouldn't it then fall into both categories? And if there were some ontological fact which we didn't know, then we wouldn't know it, would we?

***If you mean that there is absolutely no way it can be wrong, then I have no examples (even 'thought happens').***

Even though I know for certain that thought happens, I can understand the possibility that you might not. For all I know, you might be the newest version of some conversational program set loose on this forum to pretend to be a sentient person named Harv. Anything's possible.

***2) I know that you exist***

You don't know that! I might be the newest version of some conversational program set loose on this forum to pretend to be a sentient person named Paul.

***3) I know that the earth exists***

You might think so, but you might be a brain in a vat being fed the illusion of earth. But, you are probably right.

***I take these four examples as ontological knowledge even though I am not completely sure, however I am quite sure all four are correct statements about the world.***

I don't get it. Where is the dividing line between epistemology and ontology?

***Rather than give you verb descriptions...***

Verbs?? I gave you a list of adjectives. If I tell you which of these adjectives I claim apply to God, will you tell me which ones you think apply? Anticipating that you will agree, I'll tell you mine. I think all the odd-numbered ones apply and that none of the even-numbered ones apply. Now you owe me.

***I prefer the various descriptions of philosophers down through the ages: ***

Now that was what I was getting at -- with strong emphasis on the "various". I think that your claim that there is a traditional notion of what God is all about is faulty. The notion of God has been drastically updated throughout history, and I think it is overdue for another major revision at this moment. I think people should think about my even/odd distinction.

***There's many definitions and various views, however the ultimate substance of spacetime is not one that comes to mind.***

I think that if you opened your mind just a little more, it could easily come to mind.

Good talking to you, Harv.

Warm regards,


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