Is uncertainty certain?

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Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 04:37 pm
If nothing is certain, then how can we be certain of it?

To state the certainty of the concept - that everything is uncertain - poses a paradox.

The existence of nothing (ever) is, as far as I'm concerned, absolutely certain - So how can 'nothing' be certain if it doesn't exist?

If the only thing we are certain of is - there is no certainty - How can we be certain that we are stating a truth?

The common principle that - nothing is certain - falls apart at both the semantic and physical level.

Everything is certain, of course, because the sum of all things=everything, but if everything is certain, then causality demands that 'nothing' is too - being opposites, requires the opposite to have an equal function in said process. The abscence of either/or negates the structure of both.
How can action take place without reaction?

I can explain this quandry, but seriously want your views on this, first.

Thank you everybody/Nobody.

Mark...
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 09:26 pm
@mark noble,
I don't think that it's given that "nothing is certain." I do find the general theme interesting. I do feel that hard skepticism is self-refuting.

"Certain" is a complicated word. Do we really have a precise meaning for it? When we use it casually, how "certain" are we really claiming to be? Is this a precise quantity? Or rather something to be interpreted as music is interpreted?

Of course I see the paradox you are playing with, and it's good one. I like this too:

This next sentence is true. That last sentence is false.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 11:19 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;162271 wrote:


"Certain" is a complicated word. Do we really have a precise meaning for it? When we use it casually, how "certain" are we really claiming to be? Is this a precise quantity? Or rather something to be interpreted as music is interpreted?



In ordinary language (casual conversation) to say that we are certain that a proposition is true is understood as saying that one has a high degree of confidence that the proposition is true.

But philosophers usually mean something different when they say, for example, that they are certain that they exist. What philosophers mean by that is that it is impossible for them to be mistaken about what they are certain. That is, to take the instance of the proposition, "I exist", to be certain that I exist is to believe I exist, and for it to be impossible that belief is false. That is why "I exist" is such an excellent candidate for a proposition one can be certain about, for it does seem true that one cannot believe one exists, and be mistaken.

So, on the contrary, the term "certain" as used in ordinary conversation, and also as used more technically in philosophy, does have a quite precise meaning.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 11:27 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:
If the only thing we are certain of is - there is no certainty - How can we be certain that we are stating a truth?


Well, thank god that "the only thing we are certain of is that there is no certainty" is false.

Let's start here. Why do you think we can't be certain of things?
 
mark noble
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 03:56 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;162309 wrote:
Well, thank god that "the only thing we are certain of is that there is no certainty" is false.

Let's start here. Why do you think we can't be certain of things?


Hello Zetherin,

Nice to meet you.

If we even claim to be uncertain - then we are certain of said claim.
If I think we can't be certain of things, am I not certain of this?

In an absolute causal environment "certainty" is balanced equally and oppositely by "doubt" or, indeed, cannot exist. The greater the value of certainty= the greater the value of doubt.

Therefore - I doubt that I am certain - and certain that I doubt???

Thank you for showing interest in this quandry.

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 11:02 AM ----------

Reconstructo;162271 wrote:
I don't think that it's given that "nothing is certain." I do find the general theme interesting. I do feel that hard skepticism is self-refuting.

"Certain" is a complicated word. Do we really have a precise meaning for it? When we use it casually, how "certain" are we really claiming to be? Is this a precise quantity? Or rather something to be interpreted as music is interpreted?

Of course I see the paradox you are playing with, and it's good one. I like this too:

This next sentence is true. That last sentence is false.


Hello reconstructo,

Let us, for arguments sake, apply a precise meaning to certainty - or we'll open up the "imprecission-paradox" which I don't wish to debate right now.

Thank you and think well.

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 07:10 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;162331 wrote:


If we even claim to be uncertain - then we are certain of said claim.

..

---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 11:02 AM ----------



.


Why ever would you think that was true. Why can't I claim to be uncertain, and actually be certain? A hesitant schoolboy may claim to be uncertain that Quito is the capital of Ecuador when he is certain the Quito is the capital, and even uncertain that he is uncertain.

for arguments sake, apply a precise meaning to certainty.

Fine, but why only for argument's sake? In one sense, to be certain that p is true is to be very confident that p is true. And in a different, more technical sense, to be certain that p is true is to believe that p is true, and error that p is true is impossible.

Those are two quite precise senses of "certainty" which we use all the time. No need for "for argument's sake". It does not follow from the fact that someone does not know what the precise sense of W. is, that W. does not have a precise sense. It may just be that someone does not want to do the work to discover the precise sense of W., or that he is incapable of doing the work.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 07:25 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162357 wrote:
Why ever would you think that was true. Why can't I claim to be uncertain, and actually be certain? A hesitant schoolboy may claim to be uncertain that Quito is the capital of Ecuador when he is certain the Quito is the capital, and even uncertain that he is uncertain.


Hi Ken,

Are you omnipresent? Your wife is right, you do get confused. I am certain of this, I doubt.

Anyway - Are you certain your last post was correct? We all know that Quito is actually Inspector Clouseau's live-in servant, and he's certainly not from Equador.

Excuse my humour Ken, I see, I react, Sorry.

My point is easily processed by reading the origin of this thread. or hard to understand, depending on which side of the fence you are on.
I'm on the fence, myself, and gratefully aknowledge your investment herein.

Thank you Ken

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 07:28 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;162360 wrote:
Hi Ken,

Are you omnipresent? Your wife is right, you do get confused. I am certain of this, I doubt.

Anyway - Are you certain your last post was correct? We all know that Quito is actually Inspector Clouseau's live-in servant, and he's certainly not from Equador.

Excuse my humour Ken, I see, I react, Sorry.

My point is easily processed by reading the origin of this thread. or hard to understand, depending on which side of the fence you are on.
I'm on the fence, myself, and gratefully aknowledge your investment herein.

Thank you Ken

Mark...


Nice. And your point is? And, even more important, your argument is?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 04:55 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble;162331 wrote:

Hello reconstructo,

Let us, for arguments sake, apply a precise meaning to certainty - or we'll open up the "imprecission-paradox" which I don't wish to debate right now.

Thank you and think well.

Mark...


I suppose what I'm saying that such a precise meaning may be impossible. But I'm not certain.

Smile
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 05:55 pm
@mark noble,
There are two possibilities:
1) we can be certain
2) we can not be certain
As these possibilities are exhaustive and exclusive, we can be certain that there are only these two possibilities. Therefore we can be certain.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 05:56 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;162546 wrote:
I suppose what I'm saying that such a precise meaning may be impossible. But I'm not certain.

Smile


But, since precise meanings of "certain" have been given, how come?
 
mark noble
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 09:36 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;162567 wrote:
There are two possibilities:
1) we can be certain
2) we can not be certain
As these possibilities are exhaustive and exclusive, we can be certain that there are only these two possibilities. Therefore we can be certain.


Hello Ughaibu, Are you certain of this?

I have, for now, one additional possibility - I can choose neither, and therefore remain undecided.

This alone makes your statement uncertain, don't you think?

Thankyou Ughaibi and fare well.

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 04:41 PM ----------

kennethamy;162307 wrote:
In ordinary language (casual conversation) to say that we are certain that a proposition is true is understood as saying that one has a high degree of confidence that the proposition is true.

But philosophers usually mean something different when they say, for example, that they are certain that they exist. What philosophers mean by that is that it is impossible for them to be mistaken about what they are certain. That is, to take the instance of the proposition, "I exist", to be certain that I exist is to believe I exist, and for it to be impossible that belief is false. That is why "I exist" is such an excellent candidate for a proposition one can be certain about, for it does seem true that one cannot believe one exists, and be mistaken.

So, on the contrary, the term "certain" as used in ordinary conversation, and also as used more technically in philosophy, does have a quite precise meaning.


Hi Ken,

Highlighted - Just because it SEEMS true doesn't ultimately make it so.

Thankyou Ken

Mark...
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 03:28 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;162954 wrote:
I have, for now, one additional possibility - I can choose neither, and therefore remain undecided.

This alone makes your statement uncertain, don't you think?
No, because it's not a question of choosing, it's the combination that provides the certainty.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 05:44 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;162954 wrote:
Hello Ughaibu, Are you certain of this?

I have, for now, one additional possibility - I can choose neither, and therefore remain undecided.

This alone makes your statement uncertain, don't you think?

Thankyou Ughaibi and fare well.

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 04:41 PM ----------



Hi Ken,

Highlighted - Just because it SEEMS true doesn't ultimately make it so.

Thankyou Ken

Mark...


Exactly, that is why I said that the Cogito was a candidate for objective certainty, and refrained from saying that it was objectively certain. More careful reading seems (is) indicated on your part.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:12 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163358 wrote:
Exactly, that is why I said that the Cogito was a candidate for objective certainty, and refrained from saying that it was objectively certain. More careful reading seems (is) indicated on your part.


Hi Ken,

If I agree with COGITO, that is?
I don't, by the way.

Descartes formula "Cogito, ergo sum (1641) - I think, Therefore Iam" has no foundation.

The correct formulae should read - "I think, Therefore I think"
DEscartes, himself expresses fears that the world around us may well be imaginary.

So, can we prove that the world around us is real, without simply taking somebody else's (indefinite) opinion that it is?

Thank you Ken, and fare well.

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:39 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;163381 wrote:
Hi Ken,

If I agree with COGITO, that is?
I don't, by the way.

Descartes formula "Cogito, ergo sum (1641) - I think, Therefore Iam" has no foundation.

The correct formulae should read - "I think, Therefore I think"
DEscartes, himself expresses fears that the world around us may well be imaginary.

So, can we prove that the world around us is real, without simply taking somebody else's (indefinite) opinion that it is?

Thank you Ken, and fare well.

Mark...


Of course, the Cogito has no foundation. Indeed, that is exactly its point. For Descartes, it was the foundation.

If the formula was, "I think, therefore I think" the only correct response would have been a long yawn, since that formula is just an empty tautology. "I think therefore, I exist" is not an empty tautology.

Sure we can. We can infer that the world is real from the fact that we are able to observe shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, not to mention, cabbages and kings. When we see a shoe, we can infer from that, that there exists a shoe we see. That's not taking someone else's opinion for it. I did not, for instance, ask you whether you believed there was a shoe there.

Every time you sign off with "farewell" I am reminded of the gladiators of ancient Rome who saluted those who sent them to die in the Colosseum with the words, "Ave Atque Vale. Morituri Te Salutant". ("Hail and Farewell. We who are about to die salute you!"). They also, of course, gave that Roman salute while saying those words. It was, I read, very impressive.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:14 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163390 wrote:
Every time you sign off with "farewell" I am reminded of the gladiators of ancient Rome who saluted those who sent them to die in the Colosseum with the words, "Ave Atque Vale. Morituri Te Salutant". ("Hail and Farewell. We who are about to die salute you!"). They also, of course, gave that Roman salute while saying those words. I was, I read, very impressive.


Hi Ken,

It reads "Fare well" - "Fare" = old english "Journey" and well = "Journey well, in "Body and mind", that is.

It is merely a gesture. Why is it so unwelcome?

I have to explain this to "fast", on the "Fatal paradox" thread now too.

Thankyou Ken, and fare well,

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:16 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;163401 wrote:
Hi Ken,

It reads "Fare well" - "Fare" = old english "Journey" and well = "Journey well, in "Body and mind", that is.

It is merely a gesture. Why is it so unwelcome?

I have to explain this to "fast", on the "Fatal paradox" thread now too.

Thankyou Ken, and fare well,

Mark...


It is not unwelcome. Only weird, and little bit pretentious. Also, repetitive. (But fine). It is certainly not a jailing offense.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 09:08 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163404 wrote:
It is not unwelcome. Only weird, and little bit pretentious. Also, repetitive. (But fine). It is certainly not a jailing offense.


Hi Ken,

We are all weird, to a degree. to deny this, is to be mad.

Thank you, and live long and prosper (Spock)

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 04:11 PM ----------

kennethamy;163390 wrote:
Sure we can. We can infer that the world is real from the fact that we are able to observe shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, not to mention, cabbages and kings. When we see a shoe, we can infer from that, that there exists a shoe we see. That's not taking someone else's opinion for it. I did not, for instance, ask you whether you believed there was a shoe there.
.


How do we know - what we perceive to be reality isn't, in fact, a dream?

Thank you and fare well.

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 04:18 PM ----------

ughaibu;163345 wrote:
No, because it's not a question of choosing, it's the combination that provides the certainty.


Hi Ughaibu,

Can we, quantity and properties of unknown realms considered, be indisputably definite that anything is definitely impossible?

Thank you and fare well,

Mark...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 09:55 am
@mark noble,
mark noble;163422 wrote:
Hi Ken,

We are all weird, to a degree. to deny this, is to be mad.

Thank you, and live long and prosper (Spock)

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 04:11 PM ----------



How do we know - what we perceive to be reality isn't, in fact, a dream?

Thank you and fare well.

Mark...

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 04:18 PM ----------





1. I didn't say you were weird. Not at all. You have to read more carefully.

2. Do I know infallibly and without even the barest possibility of error? Of course not. To err is human.
Do I know in the ordinary fallible sense of "know"? Of course I do. And so do you. We are conducting this conversation in English, aren't we?

Yes, I often know that I am not dreaming. And so do you.

How do I know? Well, it is very rare that the issue even comes up, so there is no positive reason to doubt I am awake and conscious. When there is (so rarely) I check in one way or another.
 
 

 
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