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Sat Oct 18, 2014, 07:24 PM

 

How do you know you are right?

What is reality, what is truth, what is knowledge, and what is right or wrong, good or evil, are all questions that philosophers-and human beings in general- have preoccupied themselves with, for the better part of many millenia.

The question is: How do you know you are right? Because every human being has, at their very core, philosophical assumptions about all of those things. Is it possible to transcend those core, foundational philosophical assumptions about the world, about the universe, and about the nature of being? Is there such a thing as a universally shared assumption in philosophy-and if there is, what if we ALL got it wrong? (Which brings us back full circle...what is "wrong"?

Do we have any way of knowing for sure that we are right?

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply How do you know you are right? (Original post)
YoungDemCA Oct 2014 OP
defacto7 Oct 2014 #1
defacto7 Oct 2014 #2
Fortinbras Armstrong Oct 2014 #3
SoLeftIAmRight Feb 2016 #5
Sweeney Nov 2014 #4
ZombieHorde Apr 2016 #6
Dworkin Jun 2016 #7
PoliticalMalcontent Jun 2016 #8
Name removed May 2017 #9

Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)


Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Sun Oct 19, 2014, 11:19 PM

2. The only thing we can know for sure is that we don't know for sure.

Which of course is a fun thing to say though it's a logical fallacy.

How do you know you are right?

I can't KNOW anything. My philosophy on the matter basically asks about the probabilities of anything. I think my perceptions are simply my perceptions, and my choices are based on those perceptions. I choose to trust any idea, person, or ideology based on how I perceive evidence. Evidence is all I have to know anything and if the evidence changes then my trust must change with it. I have no sets that allow me to be absolute. The evidence seems to be that perception and absolutes cannot coexist, therefore my perceptions can only organize by probability.

The only thing we can know for sure is that we don't know for sure.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Mon Oct 20, 2014, 07:48 AM

3. My immediate reaction on reading the OP was a rather sarcastic

"Congratulations on having discovered epistomology", but that was perhaps unkind.

Epistomology is concerned with two very basic questions, how do we know something? and what are the limits of our knowledge?

I shall pretty much ignore the second one, except to mention that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the Gödel Incompleteness Theorem demonstrate that there are some things which are inherently unknowable (I had a long argument on this point with my Introduction to Philosophy instructor -- I still say he was wrong).

The question "how do we know what we know?" is at the heart of quite a few subjects, such as psychology, intelligence work (yes, I mean spies -- there is an excellent discussion of the problem as it relates to intelligence in, of all places, the science fiction novel Torch of Freedom by David Weber), economics (Ludwig von Mises, whose political ideas I abhor, wrote an excellent book, Epistemological Problems of Economics), ethics (Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, I-II, question 76 considers the moral problems of acts done in ignorance at some length), the physical sciences and others.

I started writing an article on how we know things, but I got bogged down in a discussion of something called the Gettier Problem, and rather than post something really technical and difficult to follow, I thought I would just say a few brief words and let you look things up for yourself.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 8, 2016, 01:28 PM

5. William James

 

Localized knowing - interesting way around the bigger problems

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 12:34 AM

4. Life is change.

Only the dead do not change, but their bodies are changed. The dead do not act, but are acted upon.
What people understand instinctively as animals is the terror of death. So we must often act not knowing whether we act in view of the truth or blind to it. Socrates said Knowledge is virtue. Whether I understand this correctly or not, it is certainly more easy to do good and do right with reason and true knowledge, while good is nearly impossible to do by accident out of ignorance. To say anyone must have certain knowledge in order to act is a death sentence. We will never know the truth, never know enough and yet still must act. In our actions we are helped by culture and morality. Culture is knowledge and morality is community. If we do well in the eyes of our community we at least have a legitimate defense of doing wrong in the eyes of the world.
Culture is the knowledge of community, and while progress still requires that ones culture be questioned if not rejected, still, health and survival and all those behaviors contributing to survival, and those behaviors counter to survival are in the book of culture. We may disagree, and we may see our culture in a different light, but raised in a certain culture we are never as subjects of it, capable of an objective judgment of it. It is what it is, and all of our knowedge not arrived at from individual experience is our culture.
So we can and must act though we do not know, and we can make ourselves more certain of our knowledge without the pretense of certainty.
Sweeney

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:56 AM

6. We know we have experiences.

You're having an experience right now. Even if the experience is 100% out of touch with reality --if there is such a thing-- the false experience is still an experience.

What is reality, what is truth, what is knowledge,


In my opinion, these things aren't very relevant. I think predictability is more relevant, or at least more functional. The scientific method helps us to create more reliable predictions.

and what is right or wrong, good or evil,


This is an easy one. They are emotional reactions to perceived stimuli.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Sun Jun 12, 2016, 03:32 AM

7. Knowing

Hi,

My old philosophy prof used to say, "The only thing I can be sure of is that I might be wrong". I think he wisely avoided the word 'know'.

D.

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Response to Dworkin (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 25, 2016, 07:12 PM

8. Good comment. :) And welcome to DU.

There are very few true certainties in life.

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