Metaphysical Knowledge

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prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:05 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;136378 wrote:
Spot the odd one out. Atheism isn't a speculation because it isn't a positive claim.
Well people do talk about positive and negative atheism.
There is no god
versus
I do not believe in a god.
Intolerance runs both ways. It is mostly intolerance I am after.
One should disthinguish between rational specualtions and the absolute denial of fact.
I think to deny evolution is to deny fact.
I think to claim the earth is 6000 yrs old is to deny fact.
I am not sure these claims deserve much tolerance or much respect.
People always deserve a certain degree of respect but not their ideas.
On the other hand certain theistic conceptions remain rational specualtions and deserve a hearing and some respectful consideration.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:08 am
@prothero,
prothero;136385 wrote:
On the other hand certain theistic conceptions remain rational specualtions and deserve a hearing and some respectful consideration.
Sure, but if the case is unconvincing and there is also a case against, then such theistic conceptions should be rejected, just as much as determinism or materialism should be rejected. And atheism is the rejection of the theses of theism.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:11 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;136386 wrote:
Sure, but if the case is unconvincing and there is also a case against, then such theistic conceptions should be rejected, just as much as determinism or materialism should be rejected. And atheism is the rejection of the theses of theism.


and nonism eats them both....:bigsmile:
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:11 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;136386 wrote:
Sure, but if the case is unconvincing and there is also a case against, then such theistic conceptions should be rejected, just as much as determinism or materialism should be rejected. And atheism is the rejection of the theses of theism.
do you have a brief statement of your worldview because it seems you reject materialism, determinism and theism and I am curious where that leaves you?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:33 am
@hue-man,
But I am asking, is there is such a thing as metaphysical knowledge. Are there are valid objects of knowledge, things that actually are real, which persons adept at metaphysical disciplines can actually perceive? Certainly there is such a thing as speculative metaphysics - actually that is a large percentage of the content of the forum. But what of metaphysical knowledge, noesis, gnosis, call it what you will? An intellectual discipline with a valid object of knowledge?

The response is, 'show it to me, show me one of your metaphysical objects! Go on! I bet you can't because there AREN'T ANY!'

(Picture our protagonist now with arms crossed and a triumphant smile.)

But as said above, there might be mathematical proofs which are real, which are valid, which one can't see, because one lacks the discernment to see them, to understand the proof. Why then may there not be objects of philosophical knowledge which are not available to the uneducated, to the common man, to the hoi polloi, but which can only be 'discerned by the wise'?

There might be, or might not be, such truths, but I propose that within the context of traditional Western philosophy, this is how the nature of 'metaphysical knowledge' should be assessed. It requires, as I said, an act of sympathetic imagination, to enter into that realm of discourse, and try to imagine what is being spoken of, instead of trivialising it by comparing it to Santa Claus or something.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:44 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136397 wrote:
But I am asking, is there is such a thing as metaphysical knowledge. Are there are valid objects of knowledge, things that actually are real, which persons adept at metaphysical disciplines can actually perceive? Certainly there is such a thing as speculative metaphysics - actually that is a large percentage of the content of the forum. But what of metaphysical knowledge, noesis, gnosis, call it what you will? An intellectual discipline with a valid object of knowledge?

The response is, 'show it to me, show me one of your metaphysical objects! Go on! I bet you can't because there AREN'T ANY!'

(Picture our protagonist now with arms crossed and a triumphant smile.)

But as said above, there might be mathematical proofs which are real, which are valid, which one can't see, because one lacks the discernment to see them, to understand the proof. Why then may there not be objects of philosophical knowledge which are not available to the uneducated, to the common man, to the hoi polloi, but which can only be 'discerned by the wise'?

There might be, or might not be, such truths, but I propose that within the context of traditional Western philosophy, this is how the nature of 'metaphysical knowledge' should be assessed. It requires, as I said, an act of sympathetic imagination, to enter into that realm of discourse, and try to imagine what is being spoken of, instead of trivialising it by comparing it to Santa Claus or something.


yes. yes. I think the math metaphor is good. that's why i love wittgenstein. he presents a minimal logical metaphysics. a euclidean point that punches a hole in small ways of thinking about reality. it's logic.

maybe it was for some of the ancients. pythagoras, etc. i'm diving into math studies at the moment. number is numinous. and metaphysics in some cases is a looking for the number behind number, so to speak. the root logic. ...that protganist you mention is good... yes, he will use the word "real" in the common-man unconsidered vague sense of the word, which is the only sense he knows, a stranger to logic & math & euclidean geometry
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:29 am
@hue-man,
actually I want to add, I just had a look at all the threads started by Hue-man, and they are a very diverse and interesting range of questions indeed.

I suspect I'm rather too religious for Hue-man's liking, but I thought I might mention that.

R - you have such a magnificently flamboyant style of expression. You remind me of a...hang on, wait for an image to come to mind...I know! Philosophy as the Pinball Machine!! Can't you see it! Marvelously lurid Nietzsche on the backboard with spiral eyes..the pinball wizards MERGES with the machine....BING it's derrida BING BING it is the numinosity of number...(OK you get the picture. I'm loving it.)

Prothero - what is this thing about Young Earth Creationism? I still think you have a hang up about religiosity. How does neoplatonism equate with fundamentalism? Origen thought Creationism was idiotic in the First Century. He was so clever, mind you, the church expelled him.....
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:58 am
@prothero,
prothero;136389 wrote:
do you have a brief statement of your worldview because it seems you reject materialism, determinism and theism and I am curious where that leaves you?
If a "worldview" is something complete, I haven't got one. Otherwise, I'm not really sure what you're asking.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 06:37 am
@prothero,
prothero;136340 wrote:
I rather think that you are right.
Metaphysics is rational speculation about matters "unknowable".
Philosopers can not even agree on what "knowledge" is much less what "metaphysical knowledge" could be. Heck, they can not even agree on what metaphysics is and if it is worthwhile (verificationists and logical postivists).
Some of these rational speuclations may be "true" and later become "knowledge" but that is a speculation itself.



Most educated philosophers tend to agree that they know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, though. Should they agree about what knowledge is before they agree about whether they know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?

---------- Post added 03-05-2010 at 08:21 AM ----------

Reconstructo;136402 wrote:
.. yes, he will use the word "real" in the common-man unconsidered vague sense of the word, which is the only sense he knows, a stranger to logic & math & euclidean geometry


What is that sense you know that no one else knows? More important, is there, a sense of the word, "table" that, is the common-man unconsidered vague sense of the word, which is the only sense he knows, a stranger to logic & math & euclidean geometry, and then another sense of the word "table" that philosophers know? And so on for every word? Two languages: vague, hoi polloi, and precise and philosophical. Is that right?
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 09:06 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136420 wrote:
Prothero - what is this thing about Young Earth Creationism? I still think you have a hang up about religiosity. How does neoplatonism equate with fundamentalism? Origen thought Creationism was idiotic in the First Century. He was so clever, mind you, the church expelled him.....
It is just an example of a religiously motivated belief, which many people think or claim is true, which can not be true if one has any faith in the facts of science. It is not rational speculation about matters "unknowable". It is just plain wrong and does not deserve any special consideration or respect just because it is a "religious" notion.

The YEC's do serious harm to the cause of religion.
The scientific atheists who attack any and all forms of religion do serious harm to the cause of science by claiming science shows what it can not and does not.

I am a sort of neoPlatonist myself, but only those propositions which are not in conflict with reason and science ie. rational speculations, i.e. philosophy. Science can not and does not tell us everything or provide an adequate worldview but what it does tell us must be taken into serious account as it is one of the most reliable forms of "knowledge".

True, I am not a fan of organized religion or of any form of religious dogmatism ie. articles of faith.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 12:44 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;136438 wrote:
Most educated philosophers tend to agree that they know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, though. Should they agree about what knowledge is before they agree about whether they know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?



If there is no prior agreement about what knowledge is then the statement that 'Quito is the capital of Ecuador' could be characterized by educated philosophers as being a contingent, or accidental or a posteriori, or synthetic form of knowledge.

There are a variety of schools of thought within the field of philosophy. The Analytic school of philosophy holds that necessary truths are disguised forms of contingency. But this doesn't mean that, prior to any justification, all philosophers are required to accept those views.

-
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 12:59 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;136539 wrote:
If there is no prior agreement about what knowledge is then the statement that 'Quito is the capital of Ecuador' could be characterized by educated philosophers as being a contingent, or accidental or a posteriori, or synthetic form of knowledge.

There are a variety of schools of thought within the field of philosophy. The Analytic school of philosophy holds that necessary truths are disguised forms of contingency. But this doesn't mean that, prior to any justification, all philosophers are required to accept those views.

-


I don't know what contingent, accidental. or synthetic form of knowledge would be, but I think that all philosophers would say that the knowledge that Quito is the capital of Ecuador is known a posteriori.

I would not know what it means to say that necessary truths are, "a disguised form of contingency", so I really would not know whether that is true, but I would doubt it.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:19 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;136544 wrote:
I don't know what contingent, accidental. or synthetic form of knowledge would be, but I think that all philosophers would say that the knowledge that Quito is the capital of Ecuador is known a posteriori.

I would not know what it means to say that necessary truths are, "a disguised form of contingency", so I really would not know whether that is true, but I would doubt it.


When you say that the knowledge that Quito is the capital of Equador is a posteriori you are making a statement about what type of knowledge it is. Even though you had previously asked whether agreements about knowledge among educated philosophers was required in order for us to accept the statement as knowledge.

So, you have answered your own question in the affirmative.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:21 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;136420]Prothero - what is this thing about Young Earth Creationism? I still think you have a hang up about religiosity. How does neoplatonism equate with fundamentalism? Origen thought Creationism was idiotic in the First Century. He was so clever, mind you, the church expelled him.....[/QUOTE]I am still thinking about the phrase "metaphysical knowledge". In some ways it strikes me as an oxymoron.

There are rational speculations and metaphysical assumptions which are; I think; necessary to do meaningful philosophy at all but I sort of cringe at labeling such things as "knowledge".

The entire area of epistemology of course has to do with what can we know, how do we know it, what is "knowledge" etc.

Which metaphysical claims deserve contemplation, consideration and respect? I do not think claims that are clearly in conflict with reason and experience (i.e. in conflict with scientific knowledge) deserve serious consideration. i.e. (divine miraculous interventions, YEC, fixity of species, physical resurrection of the dead). That leaves a large area of religious or spiritual speculations (telos in nature, reason and intelligence behind the universe, some form of existence after physical death, mind as a property of nature) which while not subject to empirical and scientific testing and verification also do not directly conflict with, reason, experience, intuition or scientific "knowledge".

We all engage in these types of metaphysical assumptions and philosophical (rational) speculations in forming our world views. I am not sure they can properly be called "knowledge". Some of these assumptions defy science, reason and experience and do not deserve serious philosophical discussion. Other such speculations do not defy science, reason or experience and do deserve philosophical discussion.

These assumptions and speculations on which we base our larger world views (is there a god, does the universe have purpose) remain, however as rational metaphysical (thus philosophical) musings not "knowledge". We can get very attached to our assumptions and vigorously defend them since they do form the basis for our larger world view but we should not fool ourselves into thinking we "know" what we do not.

What distinguishes philosophy from just plain old speculation and assumption is its reliance on reason and the inclusion of "knowledge" from science and experience in forming these types of proposals and hypothesis. So the claim of religious or intuitive or metaphysical knowledge is subject to the rules of reason, science and experience. It is not a free for all pass to just throw any old idea out there and expect it to be respected or seriously considered.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:30 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;136560 wrote:
When you say that the knowledge that Quito is the capital of Equador is a posteriori you are making a statement about what type of knowledge it is. Even though you had previously asked whether agreements about knowledge among educated philosophers was required in order for us to accept the statement as knowledge.

So, you have answered your own question in the affirmative.


But saying that some knowledge is a posteriori is not agreeing about what knowledge is. It is just saying that some instances of knowledge are a posteriori knowledge. So, I think you are a little confused.
 
SammDickens
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:40 pm
@hue-man,
Yeah. What Prothero said (in post #54).

Samm
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:44 pm
@SammDickens,
Samm;136621 wrote:
Yeah. What Prothero said (in post #54).

Samm


Well, he says a number of different things in that post. Could you be more specific?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:47 pm
@prothero,
prothero;136471 wrote:
It is just an example of a religiously motivated belief, which many people think or claim is true, which can not be true if one has any faith in the facts of science. It is not rational speculation about matters "unknowable". It is just plain wrong and does not deserve any special consideration or respect just because it is a "religious" notion.

The YEC's do serious harm to the cause of religion.
The scientific atheists who attack any and all forms of religion do serious harm to the cause of science by claiming science shows what it can not and does not.

I am a sort of neoPlatonist myself, but only those propositions which are not in conflict with reason and science ie. rational speculations, i.e. philosophy. Science can not and does not tell us everything or provide an adequate worldview but what it does tell us must be taken into serious account as it is one of the most reliable forms of "knowledge".

True, I am not a fan of organized religion or of any form of religious dogmatism ie. articles of faith.


I agree that young-earth creationism is ridiculous. I don't know why anybody pays them any attention. People believe all kinds of ridiculous ideas.

But there is another question in all of this. Is there a type of knowledge which is neither scientific, dogmatic, nor speculative? I gave a definition of noesis in post 31. There are similar types of word used in many philosophical and spiritual traditions. I think you are equating this with religious belief, but it is really a different thing altogether.

This is the summary of the levels of knowledge in Platonic epistemology (from Wikipedia):

Types of knowledge in Platonism

1. Philosophical knowledge (noesis) Forms, Form of the Good

2. Mathematical knowledge (dianoia) Number, geometric order

3. Beliefs about physical things (pistis), Scientific knowledge, knowledge of physical objects

4. Opinions, illusions (eikasia), shadows, illusions, things with no actual being

The question should also be considered as to whether there is a hierarchy of being, or levels of reality, with which the different levels of knowledge in this scheme are associated.

I would suggest that everything you are considering falls into 2, 3, or 4. I don't think that (1) is recognized or understood at all in the modern world, but is regarded (wrongly) as part of religion or 'dogmatic faith'.

(Knowledge of the capital of Ecuador is included in 3.)

You will probably say that this is an ancient idea that has been superseded by subsequent developments in science, philosophy, and the like. That is certainly true in many respects. It is also true that many of the original platonic distinctions have morphed into new forms over the centuries and have re-appeared in subsequent thinking in various forms. All true and I won't contest that. I still maintain, however, that this 'higher knowledge', noesis, still exists, is not reducible to the other types, is not religious dogma, and is the proper domain of the subject of metaphysics.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 03:58 pm
@hue-man,
jeeprs wrote:
I still maintain, however, that this 'higher knowledge', noesis, still exists, is not reducible to the other types, is not religious dogma, and is the proper domain of the subject of metaphysics


Ok, you have seen my name. You have seen "Zetherin". Do not immediately assume I'm attacking you or metaphysics (that goes for you too up there, Pyth.) :flowers:

Now, let us suppose you are correct. There is this sort knowledge which exists. How do we go about discovering it? And, once we have discovered it, is it communicable? And if not, why? Is it something like what Wittgenstein called 'private language'?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 04:00 pm
@hue-man,
and that, furthermore, the reason we don't 'get it' is because we have divided the world up into these dualistic categories of 'religion' vs 'science' and 'belief' vs 'knowledge' and so on. All of these divisions are rooted in the most fundamental division at the bottom of the ego, that is, what I believe versus 'the other'. And within this landscape, it is certainly true that there is no higher knowledge, no noesis, and we are therefore quite correct in declaring it non-existent.

---------- Post added 03-06-2010 at 09:13 AM ----------

Zetherin;136625 wrote:
Now, let us suppose you are correct. There is this sort knowledge which exists. How do we go about discovering it? And, once we have discovered it, is it communicable? And if not, why? Is it something like what Wittgenstein called 'private language'?


Actually I don't want to get into the dynamic of evangelizing this viewpoint. The argument I am trying to advance is that 'metaphysical knowledge is best understood in the context of pre-modern Western philosophy, where it was an important part, or even the lynchpin, of a universe of discourse.' Even though I believe there is such a thing, I would like to have the discipline to consider it from the position of a disinterested observer. Because, otherwise, it becomes another 'believer vs non-believer' debate, and I really don't want to go there. It is a fine line, and I might have already crossed it, but that is a statement of intent.

Now are these things communicable? As mentioned in response to Prothero above, these terms are meaningful within communities of discourse. An example from Eastern culture is within Zen Buddhism. Zen has a collection of epigrammatic teaching stories and anecdotes called Koans. These are associated with attaining 'Satori' which is roughly analogous to 'insight into metaphysical truths' (with the qualification that there is no term which directly translates as 'metaphysics' in Buddhism). In any case, within this 'community of discourse', the Zen master is said to be able to gauge the authenticity of the satori of the student by his understanding of the Koan. "Koan", incidentally, means "public case".
 
 

 
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