KNOWLEDGE

STRICTLY SPEAKING, ALL KNOWLEDGE IS PROBABILISTIC

CLAIMS TO SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

  KNOWLEDGE:
             Knowledge does not exist outside a mind, not in books, articles, encyclopedias, etc.
             Such works are filled with symbols for warranted thoughts, conceptions, and perceptions of presumed external events.
             They are analogous to written notes on a sheet of "music."  The notes, themselves, are not music.
             When the symbols are played, music occurs.
             When the symbols in a book are supported by evidence and "translated" into thought, knowledge occurs.
There can be no knowledge in the absence of a method including some or all of the following: observation, rational assumptions, e.g., a physical world beyond our perceptions, peer review, axioms, rules, laws, primitives, language of "numbers," logic, verifiable and/or falsifiable claims, predictability, recurrability, and more; See SCIENCE below.
         All knowledge is based upon some assumption.
         Knowledge is a warranted state of mind; i.e., it is supported by ONLY AVAILABLE evidence which accounts for its non-absoluteness, i.e, its being ONLY PROBABILISTIC in character to varying degrees.
             A claim to knowledge may be warranted even though upon the discovery of more evidence, it turns out to be false.
             Psychological CERTAINTY (that can "exist"), i.e., not of shadow of doubt that your claim to knowing something is true, must not be confused with evidential certainty which, according to available evidence, cannot "exist."
             You know you left the scissors on the kitchen bar (later to find evidence you had not).
             There are claims we know that are true or false.
             There are claims we do not know whether they are true or false even if they may be.
             There are claims that can't be known to be true or false.
             There are claims that it makes no epistemic sense to say are true or false, i.e.; they are epistemic nonsense claims.
             There is no knowledge without evidence.
             According to available evidence, absolute knowledge does not exist because we can never have 100% evidence.
             All knowledge is probable because evidence is open-ended (i.e., never all in).
         There are, however, many loose uses of the term 'knowledge.'
             See "Use of the Term 'Know'" below.
SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE:
               All knowledge is a (capital S) Subjective  experience, but not all Subjective experience is knowledge.
              A small s subjective experience is private, not accessible to the sense faculties.
              Examples: the shell-shocked veteran who "sees," "hears," and talks to his "friend" whom no one else can see or hear; each person's concept of God, and attendant theistic "existents."
              A (small o) objective  experience is accessible to the sense faculties directly or indirectly (with the use of instrumentation); i.e., it is public.
              Examples: Direct: trees, dogs, people, rocks, etc.
              Indirect: television, movies, photographs, germs, molecules, atoms, etc.,--graphics, morphing, and faking excluded.
SO-CALLED SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE:
      Perceptual, Conceptual, Absolute, Religious, Theistic, Mathematical, Common Sense, Intuition, Faith, Authority, Innate, Instinctive.
PARANORMAL:
      Extra sensory "perception," Precognition, Reincarnation, Clairvoyance, Telepathy.

USES OF THE TERM 'KNOW' (often with psychological certainty *):
      I know I am a person.   (INNATE--BY DEFINITION)*
      I know I think (Descartes): "I think, therefore I am."  (INNATE, ALSO CIRCULAR)*
      I know 1 + 1 = 2.  (PRESCRIPTIVE, BY DEFINITION, ROTE LEARNING)
      I know Lincoln was shot.  (DOCUMENTARY)
      I know there is a god.  (CONDITIONED BLIND FAITH)*
      I know there are atoms, electrons, quarks, etc.  (INDIRECT AND/OR CONSTRUCTIVE, i.e., CONSTRUCTS)
      I know: fill in the name of your best friend.  (RECOGNITION)
      I know the sky is blue.  (SENSE THAT IS "COMMON" and NAME ATTRIBUTION)
      I know there are other minds.  (INFERENCE)
      I know he is in pain.  (INFERENCE--DEDUCTION FROM BEHAVIOR)
      I know she/he loves me.   INFERENCE--DEDUCTION FROM BEHAVIOR)
      I know the encyclopedia is full of knowledge.  ( BELIEF)
      I know absolutely I saw my friend leave the room.  (PSYCHOLOGICAL CERTAINTY and also a HIGH PROBABILISTIC DEGREE OF KNOWLEDGE.)

NON-METHODS OF KNOWLEDGE

COMMON SENSE:
      1. Born with the ability to know (no previous experience required).
      2. Ability to imitate (or follow instructions).
      3. Sense that is "common."
           No study or research required.
           Accidental.
           Haphazard learning.
           Learn merely by being alive.
INTUITION:
      1. Premonition.
      2. Innate ideas (Descartes).
           No evidence is required, self-evident.
      3. Insight based on vast knowledge and experience.
FAITH: 3 WAYS OF ACQUIRING IT:
BLIND FAITH is the antithesis of reason.  Pope John the Second could not have been more wrong when he said, "Faith is the highest form of reason."  Such faith as he espouses requires the total lack of reason and absolute unquestioning acceptance.
      1. Faith-In-The-Absence-Of-Evidence.
           Physiological conditioning by:
                repeated use and unquestioned acceptance of:
                unexamined beliefs, concepts, terminology, and unverifiable claims;
                use of threats,
                promises of rewards,
                instilling a sense of guilt,
                etc.
Under the aegis of the above, some religions will allow an innocent person to be executed to preserve blind faith in their beliefs and dogmas.  As the columnist, Ray Hanania, said, "Faith does not compromise."  If this be moral then the distinction between moral and immoral no longer exists.  It is one thing to give your own life for your convictions.  It is another to sacrifice someone else's for them.  To protect the innocent is the ideal of morality and the epitome of justice.
2. Faith-In-Spite-Of-Evidence
      Incapable of opening one's mind to evidence.
           UNABLE to choose to believe otherwise.
           Only the deconditioning process of pursuing true education, i.e., examining ideas, language, truth, and knowledge (as opposed to mere schooling, i. e., training) can restore the ability to choose.
3. Faith-Based-On-Evidence
      HERE, FAITH IS NOT A MATTER OF BLIND ACCEPTANCE.
                It is a matter of TRUST and CONFIDENCE developed as a result of evidence.
                If that trust is no longer supported by evidence, one will decide (choose to determine) that the trust is no longer warranted.
                This is why so many people have faith in scientific knowledge.
                No one scientist can make a claim that is not immediately intensely scrutinized (and if necessary, corrected) by the world-wide scientific community.
                SELF-CORRECTION is the most noble characteristic of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD and should be strived for in all pursuits of knowledge and claims to knowledge.
                Such self-correction is NOT POSSIBLE when a claim (language) is analytic or unfalsifiable in form.
AUTHORITY
      It is the most efficient method for controlling what the uneducated (in the strictest sense of the term, i.e., those who accept unverifiable claims out of ignorance or conditioning.) think.
      1. Dogmatic Authority: persuades through pronouncements without (and most often incapable of) offering evidence.
      The surest evidence that such authorities do not deal in truth and knowledge is their conflicting opinions, their prejudices, their biases, often their bigotry, their refusal to offer evidence, and, in some cases, their inclination to confuse massive agreement or a majority opinion (voting) with right, wrong, truth, and knowledge.
                The Majority
                Law
                Supreme Court
                Dictatorship
                The Military
                Theistic language
                Theistic Religions
                Tradition
                The above conceive, promulgate, and prescribe untestable, unverifiable claims; they TELL you, WITHOUT producing evidence, what is "true," what you will do, and how you ought and should behave.
                Moreover PROscriptive claims, in the form of laws, dogmas, rules, dictums, and principles, are issued to punish (by fines, condemnation, threats, guilt, ostracism, and the like) if one does not act accordingly.
                None of the above verifies claims or dictums with evidence.
                Such laws and claims to truth and knowledge and what's "right," "wrong," "sinful," or "evil," are founded on moral, theistic, or religious claims, that have evolved and emerged over a period of millions of years from the diverse minds, desires, needs, and ambitions of Homo Sapiens.
                This may account for the conflicting moral, legal, and religious beliefs, and behavior in the various ethnic, national, and racial cultures throughout the world.
                DO NOT CONFUSE THE POSSIBLE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF SUCH LAWS, PRINCIPLES, ETC., WHICH ARE VOTED IN BY A MAJORITY OR DECREED BY SOME AUTHORITY, WITH THE TRUTH OF THEM.
2. Expert Authority
      One who is able to verify the truth of his claims by supplying evidence for them.
      He does not merely tell you what is true.
      He can verify for you what he claims is true, even if, being a dogmatic PERSONALITY, he refuses to.
      He can even teach you how to prove the claims are true if your mind is OPEN to the evidence and you are willing to do the hard work of getting an education, thinking, and learning the methods required.
3. Expert In Dogma
      Such experts "sit" in the seats of power and know exactly how to cite the SOURCES of the laws, claims, dogmas, dictums, rules, and principles.
      They do not and most often cannot verify the truth of them even if they can verify the PRACTICALITY of some of them.

SCIENCE

SCIENCE:
      It is necessary to separate the sciences into two basic categories:
           SOFT Sciences:
           Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Social science, and the like.
       SUCH SCIENCES DO NOT OFFER A HIGH PROBABILITY OF PREDICTABILITY AND VERIFICATION.
           HARD Sciences: The "sticks and stones" sciences:
           Physics, Electronics, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology,  Geology, Astronomy.
       THESE ARE THE SCIENCES WHICH OFFER A VERY HIGH PROBABILITY OF PREDICTABILITY AND VERIFICATION and are our concern here.
SCIENTIFIC METHOD:
      Science is the most RELIABLE source of knowledge because it is self-corrective.
      It depends upon inquiry, observation, experimentation, testing, predictability, and verification.
      It requires facts, evidence, recurrence of events, uniformity of language (i.e., mathematics).
      Do not confuse SCIENTISTS with SCIENCE or with TECHNOLOGY.
       SCIENTIST:
                An individual with all the foibles of other human beings, a finite being capable of being wrong.
                Some are capable of fraud, i.e., fudging the evidence, as history has shown.
                Emotionally or culturally, a few are inclined to theism.
                Many are guilty of the abuse of language.
                As scientists, however, they are expert in matters of science.
                A scientist performs experiments and may offer hypotheses or theories.
                Science (see below) then puts such hypotheses and theories through severe testing procedures, reviewing the offered evidence.
                Unfortunately present day scientists are now on the fringe of delving into bootstrap "theories," i.e., metaphysical speculation beyond any possibility of testing or verification.    
                For instance, some are confusing ideas and expansion of mathematical language with verifiable knowledge.
                Fortunately for science, not all scientists fall into that category.
        SCIENCE:
                An on-going, SELF-CORRECTIVE systematized method of "discovering" and refining the laws (recurrent uniformities of behavior of things and events) in nature (the physical universe).
                A complex of data, theories, hypotheses, rules, laws, observations, etc.
                It utilizes the methods of proof: logic, (deduction and induction) mathematics, (deduction) hypotheses, extrapolation, laws, rules, principles, observations, and classification of facts.
                It also demands verification and testing of evidence that must be possible, probable, recurrable, predictable, public (directly or indirectly), and coherent (consistent) with a comprehensive body of relevant facts, theories, generalizations, and hypotheses.

        SOME FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS OF SCIENCE : TWO THEORIES OF TRUTH

                  Correspondence - Physical - Based on --- Induction -- A posteriori -- Synthetic -- By experience -- Descriptive

                      Uses declarative      world    experience     (probable)     experience        can or            appeal to        of physical

                          statements                      (statements)    conclusions                             cannot            physical           attributes

                     about the world                   propositions    weak, strong                           now be         empirical

                        that can be                                               good, bad                              verified            facts

                   verified or falsified                                                                                                           directly or                

                                                                                                                                                          indirectly

 

                    Coherence ---World of --- Not based --- Deduction ------ A Priori ------Analytic -- By Definition -- Prescriptive

                       Arguments          ideas       on experience   necessary              before           tautology

                       Hypothetico-                                            conclusions:           or in the           cannot

                        deductive,                                              mathematics,        absence of         be verified

                        if ---then,                                                logic, laws           experience  

                       valid or invalid                                          hypotheses

 

 

                                                    SCIENTISTS                                              vs                                                     SCIENCE

 

                                                                                                    

    

                                                 An individual who will                                                                 A complex of data, hypotheses,

                                                     Offer a theory, hypothesis, etc.                                                       rules, laws, observations, etc.

                                                     A finite being who can be wrong.                                                    (All of this is in the hopper)

                                                                                                                                                           Science is on going, "infinite

                                                                                                                                                           -- goes on "forever."  It 

                                                                                                                                                           cannot be "wrong."  Only

                                                                                                                                                           elements within it can be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                           Science is self-corrective.              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                               Science is the hopper (receptacle).  When elements of science pass into the hopper, the elements of 

                                                    science are almost certain, i.e., very highly probable true.  The "certain" content and achievements of

                                                    science remain in the hopper.  

 

                                                 HOPPER

                                                                                                                    l                                                               

                           \             \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ / / / / / / / /                 /                            l  Theories, laws, etc. (a priori)                   l 

                            \                                                            /------------------- l  These are the tools that lead to the          l          

                              \                  Theories, etc.                  /                               l  second aspects below.                            l

                                \                                                    /                              2______________\/___________________

                                  \                 Science                    /------------------------l  Accomplishments, facts, predictive          l 

                                    \--------                   ---------/                                      l  events, (perceptions), evidence, i.e.,         l 

                                                  \               /                                                     l _facts of science.__________                   l                  

                                                    \           /                                                                                       \/

                                                      \       /                                                                         "Certain" according to 

                                                         \/                                                                                available evidence.    

                                                         \/

                                            Mistakes and discards   

                                                         

 

                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

ts of Science

 

Correspondence --- Physical --- Based on   --- Induction --- a posteriori --- synthetic --- By Experience --- descriptive

Uses declarative        World     Experience       (Probable)     Experience       can or              Appeal to          of physical

    Statements                           (Statements)     conclusions                           cannot               physical            attributes                              about the world                       (propositions)   weak, strong                          now be              empirical                                                                                                                               

that can be                                                                                                     verified                 facts

verified or falsified                                                                                                                        directly or

                                                                                                                            indirectly

 

Coherence    ---      World --- Not based on --- Deduction --- a priori   ---  analytic  ---  By definition   ---  prescriptive

Arguments            of ideas    on experience     Necessary        before        tautology     

Hypothetico-                                                    conclusions    or in the        cannot

Deductive                                                        mathematics   absence of     be verified

If --- then                                                          logic, laws     experience

Valid or invalid                                                hypotheses                    

Sound or unsound

 

 

                              SCIENTISTS                                            vs                                              SCIENCE

   

An individual who will                                           A complex of data, theories hypotheses,

Offer a theory , hypothesis, etc.                              rules, laws, observations, etc. 

                                                                                (All of this is in the hopper) 

A finite being who can be wrong                            Science is on going, “infinite” – goes                                              

                                                                                On “forever.”  Cannot be wrong.

                                                                                Only elements within it can be wrong.

                                                                                Science is self corrective.

Science is the hopper (receptacle) when elements of science pass into the

hopper, the elements of science are almost certain, i.e., very highly probable true.  The “certain” content and

achievements of science remain in the hopper.

 

                   HOPPER

                                                                                   l________________________________                                                                                                                                                                                                    \                                                    /                             l   Theories, laws, etc. (a priori)                l                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 \        \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \  / / / / / / /          /                              l   These are the tools that lead to the        l                                                                  

  \            Theories, etc.              /-----------------------l__second aspect below_______________l                                                                                         

   \                                             /                                                               \/

    \                Science              /                                2    _____________\/__________________

     \ ---------- ------------------ /-------------------------l  Accomplishments, facts, predictive          l

    \--------            -----------/                                   l   events, (perceptions), evidence, i.e.,        l                    

       \         /                                                   l   facts of science.                                        l

\     /                                                 

                       \/

 


        TECHNOLOGY
                The physical, mechanical, and/or electronic, etc., application of acquired scientific (and practical) knowledge to the technical and practical (training) purposes and needs of humankind.
        VERIFICATION vs PROOF.
                PROOF:
                     1. The coherence and consistency of statements to each other -- as in logic and math, i.e., no contradictions.
                     2. The NECESSARY conclusions are COMPELLED by valid reasoning from premises.
                     3. A process or operation that establishes the validity and/or soundness of arguments.
                     4. In induction, conclusions are always only probable and the "argument" is only good, bad, weak, or strong, i.e., from highly to barely probable.
          VERIFICATION:
                The establishment of the truth and accuracy of falsifiable claims by an appeal to public, (i.e., accessible to the sense faculties) objective, factual, testable, recurrable evidence.
                Non-falsifiable claims such as are posed in metaphysical, transcendent, supernatural, theistic, and truth-by-definition language are not subject to verifiability in any epistemic sense as related to the physical world.
                Until some tool better than verification is discovered, it will have to do.
                The USE of words does not guarantee that they are intelligible, e.g., "I predict God will strike me with a lightning bolt within the next 15 seconds."
                This sentence is an instance of the fallacy of hypostatization.
                To predict such an event, there must first BE the possibility to be predicted, otherwise, "I predict," is synonymous with, "I claim."
                Being struck by lightening does not verify, "God did it."
                Such a use of the term 'predict' in this claim has no more epistemic value than does the hypostatized term, 'God,' (or any abstract term) designating a non-physical, imperceptible entity.
                No statement is a prediction merely because the term "predict" is used in it.
                Some event that cannot be known will occur CANNOT BE predicted when there is an impossibility of any evidence for it.
                Failure of the claim, called a "prediction," is not due to not having been stricken with the bolt of lightning but to the hypostatized "entity," an incorporeal, unknowable god, being INCAPABLE of doing anything.
        With a spin on Aristotle who said all talk of beginnings and endings of the universe is unintelligible, likewise such uses of language, questions as the following, for which their answers would be unverifiable, are either unintelligible or call for hypothetical answers:
             Who created the universe?
             Why is there something instead of nothing?
             When did the universe begin (i.e. some specific date)?
             How many atoms are there in the universe at this moment?
             What is there after life? (Pope John Paul II)
             Where do our souls go after death?
         Above all else, it must be understood that verification is not a principle founded on blind faith, a fact that so many thinkers, who equate it to "positivism," don't seem to understand.
         It is a tool subject to peer, and evidential, correction.
         It is important to emphasize that such concepts as: verification, falsity, truth, evidence, testing, and knowledge are probabilistic in nature because evidence, itself, is never ALL in -- according to available evidence.
          To use these terms with a sense of absolutivity, except of course psychological certainty (some might argue even the latter is not certain), is to abuse language.

SEE FILE 21: PERENNIAL QUESTIONS

© 1997 by Pasqual S. Schievella