Absolute certainty

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MJA
 
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 01:48 pm
@Zetetic11235,
After further analysis then, with absolute certainty you'll find your way here. Once divided, thence united, full circle and back to One again.
I'll wait here.
Happy Trails,

=
MJA
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 09:10 pm
@Zetetic11235,
'Absolute Darkness' and 'Absolute Lightness' seem to be extremes we have conjured in order to suit this dichotomy we seem to be seeking. I find it fascinating one of us constructed the meme, spread it, and then we all approached it in various ways, even though we all had differing notions of this abstract concept.

Zetetic, I like how you defined substance: The set of all possible ways an object can appear.

Goe, I'd like to hear your views on why you regard this as "nonsense". What types of things are more important to contemplate? Are you to say you have an objective scale of importancy that none of us know about, or are you simply applying *your* opinion of what makes more sense to contemplate and then extrapolating that out?
 
meditationyoga
 
Reply Wed 8 Jul, 2009 03:57 am
@Stormalv,
Certainty- Adding to Descartes


Thinking that "I" do not exist is proof that "thinking" exists. As well as thinking, order exists, the order being those thoughts. Those thoughts are either the world, or a representation of the world. So because those thoughts have order, and they reflect attributes in this world, (numbers, comprehensive order, ect) the world exists. Either as thought or as some other way. Either way, we know that existence exists, as thought or as material is to be disputed. But we can be sure that something with order exists.

Another way to describe it would be,

I can be certain that the world exists because it appears as a complex structure with patterns. Because of it's complexity and apparent order of pieces, I can conclude from this, that it is not nothing. If I remove certain pieces I can change the order. Thus I can not change something that doesn't exist. I can only change something that exists.

Anything not existing would not have patterns, pieces or interwoven parts, and would not have structure. Thus the world exists.

I can be certain that I exist because I am a great deal of order and complexity myself. Whatever that may mean. I have pieces and exist interconnected with this world of complexity and order. And I can change the order of this world. Thus because I am part of a whole, I exist just as that whole exists.

I understand that there are many different views regarding this issue. As well, most of these views are very ancient, and some such as Descartes rely on the existence of God. But Logical propositions and all the rules that have evolved in Philosophy simply limit man's inherit natural intelligence. Following ancient rules regarding language and grammar are highly confining and limited. Thus because of these reasons, we have limited definitions when we want unlimited knowledge. Aristotle's "unmoved mover" and reason, and logic in general. All of these things leaving out many pieces which keep our knowledge stifled and in hand cuffs. When man's mind wants to venture into unlimited dimension.

So if the coming Philosophers are to be at all courageous and adventurous, they will abandon much of Philosophy altogether as historic remains of an ancient language. And in order to break free of these rules, man will let himself roam wild. And Philosophy will be a release from conformity and exclusion. No rules or confinement will be suggested. Otherwise we create more problems and fall back on ancient habits.

I understand that man will feel naked, without any footing or security. But this is how he is supposed to be. So I understand my argument might have ancient rules that forbid it to occur, but it is quite simple to understand. And anyone with a natural intelligence untouched by modernity, will think clear, that order, complexity, pieces, structure and attributes suggest "existence." And anything "not existing" would not have any of these features or it would necessarily declare it's existence.

I understand your and other people's scepticism, because in order to justify my argument or believe it, you will have to throw away much of your knowledge of previous Philosophy. That is why it is going to be difficult, because I am fighting a battle with people who have been dead for thousands of years. And I am talking to minds that only think in certain ways. But I hope you see what I am trying to do. And I thank you for your time.

Kevin Thomson
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 8 Jul, 2009 05:34 am
@Stormalv,
The Certainty Bias: A Potentially Dangerous Mental Flaw

A neurologist explains why you shouldn't believe in political candidates that sound too sure of themselves.

Robert Burton is the former chief of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco-Mt. Zion hospital. He recently wrote a book, On Being Certain, that explored the neuroscience behind the feeling of certainty, or why we are so convinced we’re right even when we’re wrong. He and Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters, discussed the science of certainty.

LEHRER: What first got you interested in studying the mental state of certainty?

BURTON: A personal confession: I have always been puzzled by those who seem utterly confident in their knowledge. Perhaps this is a constitutional defect on my part, but I seldom have the sense of knowing unequivocally that I am right. Consequently I have looked upon those who ooze self-confidence and certainty with a combination of envy and suspicion. At a professional level, I have long wondered why so many physicians will recommend unproven, even risky therapies simply because they "know" that these treatments work.

It is easy to be cynical and suspect the worst of motives, from greed to ignorance, but I have known many first-rate, highly concerned and seemingly well motivated physicians who, nevertheless, operate based upon gut feelings and personal beliefs even in the face of contrary scientific evidence. After years of rumination, it gradually dawned on me that there may be an underlying biological component to such behavior.


It is quite likely that the same reward system provides the positive feedback necessary for us to learn and to continue wanting to learn. The pleasure of a thought is what propels us forward; imagine trying to write a novel or engage in a long-term scientific experiment without getting such rewards. Fortunately, the brain has provided us with a wide variety of subjective feelings of reward ranging from hunches, gut feelings, intuitions, suspicions that we are on the right track to a profound sense of certainty and utter conviction. And yes, these feelings are qualitatively as powerful as those involved in sex and gambling. One need only look at the self-satisfied smugness of a "know it all" to suspect that the feeling of certainty can approach the power of addiction.

LEHRER: To what extent do these mechanisms come into play during a presidential election? It seems like we all turn into such partisan hacks every four years, completely certain that our side is right.

BURTON: The present presidential debates and associated media commentary feel like laboratory confirmation that the involuntary feeling of certainty plays a greater role in decision-making than conscious contemplation and reason.

I suspect that retreat into absolute ideologies is accentuated during periods of confusion, lack of governmental direction, economic chaos and information overload. At bottom, we are pattern recognizers who seek escape from ambiguity and indecision. If a major brain function is to maintain mental homeostasis, it is understandable how stances of certainty can counteract anxiety and apprehension. Even though I know better, I find myself somewhat reassured (albeit temporarily) by absolute comments such as, "the stock market always recovers," even when I realize that this may be only wishful thinking.

Sadly, my cynical side also suspects that political advisors use this knowledge of the biology of certainty to actively manipulate public opinion. Nuance is abandoned in favor of absolutes.

LEHRER: How can people avoid the certainty bias?

BURTON: I don't believe that we can avoid certainty bias, but we can mitigate its effect by becoming aware of how our mind assesses itself. As you may know from my book, I've taken strong exception to the popular notion that we can rely upon hunches and gut feelings as though they reflect the accuracy of a thought.

My hope is the converse; we need to recognize that the feelings of certainty and conviction are involuntary mental sensations, not logical conclusions. Intuitions, gut feelings and hunches are neither right nor wrong but tentative ideas that must then be submitted to empirical testing. If such testing isn't possible (such as in deciding whether or not to pull out of Iraq), then we must accept that any absolute stance is merely a personal vision, not a statement of fact.

Perhaps one of my favorite examples of how certainty is often misleading is the great mathematician Srinivasava Ramanujan. At his death, his notebook was filled with theorems that he was certain were correct. Some were subsequently proven correct; others turned out to be dead wrong. Ramanujan’s lines of reasoning lead to correct and incorrect answers, but he couldn’t tell the difference. Only the resultant theorems were testable.

In short, please run, do not walk, to the nearest exit when you hear so-called leaders being certain of any particular policy. Only in the absence of certainty can we have open-mindedness, mental flexibility and willingness to contemplate alternative ideas.

LEHRER: In your book, you compare the "feeling of certainty" that accompanies things such as religious fundamentalism to the feeling that occurs when we have a word on the-tip-of-our-tongue. Could you explain?

BURTON: There are two separate aspects of a thought, namely the actual thought, and an independent involuntary assessment of the accuracy of that thought.

To get a feeling for this separation, look at the Muller-Lyer optical illusion.

(Two horizontal parallel lines (the bottom a bit heavier?).
At each end of the lines is a forking (slingshot like, maybe 1/6th the length of the line). The forks on the upper line pointing back inwards with the forks on the lower pointing outwards.)

Even when we consciously know and can accurately determine that these two horizontal lines are the same length, we experience the simultaneous disquieting sensation that this thought—the lines are of equal length—is not correct. This isn't a feeling that we can easily overcome through logic and reason; it simply happens to us.


This sensation is a manifestation of a separate category of mental activity—-unconscious calculations as to the accuracy of any given thought. On the positive side, such feelings can vary from a modest sense of being right, such as understanding that Christmas falls on December 25, to a profound a-ha, "Eureka" or sense of a spiritual epiphany. William James referred to the latter—the mystical experience—as "felt knowledge," a mental sensation that isn't a thought, but feels like a thought.

Once we realize that the brain has very powerful inbuilt involuntary mechanisms for assessing unconscious cognitive activity, it is easy to see how it can send into consciousness a message that we know something that we can't presently recall—the modest tip-of-the-tongue feeling. At the other end of the spectrum would be the profound "feeling of knowing" that accompanies unconsciously held beliefs—a major component of the unshakeable attachment to fundamentalist beliefs—both religious and otherwise—such as belief in UFOs or false memories.

LEHRER: Why do you think that the feeling of certainty feels so good?

BURTON: Stick brain electrodes in rat pleasure centers (the mesolimbic dopamine system primarily located in the upper brain stem). The rats continuously press the bar, to the exclusion of food and water, until they drop. In humans the same areas are activated with cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, nicotine and gambling—to mention just a few behaviors to which one can become easily addicted.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 9 Jul, 2009 08:24 am
@meditationyoga,
meditationyoga;75873 wrote:


Anything not existing would not have patterns, pieces or interwoven parts, and would not have structure. Thus the world exists.


Kevin Thomson


I wonder from what evidence you came to that conclusion. You could not have examined many things that do not exist, I think.
 
ACB
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 02:59 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76090 wrote:
I wonder from what evidence you came to that conclusion. You could not have examined many things that do not exist, I think.


1. Anything with a pattern or pieces or interwoven parts must be heterogeneous, i.e. it must have at least 2 different components.

2. If something does not exist, it cannot have any components (because if it 'had' anything, it would exist).

3. Ergo, if something does not exist, it cannot have a pattern or pieces or interwoven parts.

4. The world does have such things.

5. Thus the world exists.

And it makes no difference if everything is illusory. A pattern of illusions is still a pattern. An illusion of a tree is a different thing from the illusion of a river; hence there is still a plurality of things. So the world (the set of all things) has at least 2 members; therefore, by the above argument, it exists.
 
DasTrnegras
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 03:28 pm
@Stormalv,
Absolute certainty of reality may be procured through this argument:

1. I think, therefore I am [real].
2. Nothing can not affect Something.
Therefore:
3. Anything affecting me, must be real, precisely to the extent and method by which it affects me.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 03:55 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Absolute certainty can be gained from this as well: All squares have 4 sides. Tautology!

All tautologies are tautological!

There are no round squares!

Circles have no 90 degree interior angles!

The trick is recognizing when a more complex line of reasoning is tautological(or when it is not) given certain premises.
 
Neil D
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:51 pm
@Stormalv,
Stormalv;28107 wrote:
Here's an interesting thought... What can we actually logically know with absolute certainty? With no doubt whatsoever, that those things are correct... One thing at least is that you, if you are reading this and thinking about it and experiencing it, you exist. Your Self. You exist, there can be no doubt about that. I would also argue that you can be a hundred percent certain about mathematics. 1 + 1 can't be anything other than 2, when you picture it in your mind. I know some people will disagree on the math part, I've never understood how though... Anyone care to explain?


I agree with all of that, and logical tautologies with absolute certainty.

Maybe someday I will understand the nature of objective reality with absolute certainty. The Holographic Paradigm adds a nice twist here, but its alot to swallow.

Neil
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 08:40 pm
@Neil D,
Neil;77105 wrote:
I agree with all of that, and logical tautologies with absolute certainty.

Maybe someday I will understand the nature of objective reality with absolute certainty. The Holographic Paradigm adds a nice twist here, but its alot to swallow.

Neil


People make mistakes in math. If I add up a long column of figures manually, I am pretty sure to make a mistake.
 
Neil D
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 11:04 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;77124 wrote:
People make mistakes in math. If I add up a long column of figures manually, I am pretty sure to make a mistake.


Of course it is not absolutely certain that a person will not make a mistake in adding a long list of numbers, but it is absolutely certain that if they add the numbers correctly they will arrive at the right answer, and that answer will absolutely always be the same if the numbers are added correctly.

It is absolutely certain that all squares have four sides. If I ask someone to draw me a square, and they draw a triangle instead, does this mean that its not an absolute certainty that all squares have four sides because human error is a factor? Rubbish!

Neil
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 08:19 am
@Neil D,
Neil;77141 wrote:
Of course it is not absolutely certain that a person will not make a mistake in adding a long list of numbers, but it is absolutely certain that if they add the numbers correctly they will arrive at the right answer, and that answer will absolutely always be the same if the numbers are added correctly.

It is absolutely certain that all squares have four sides. If I ask someone to draw me a square, and they draw a triangle instead, does this mean that its not an absolute certainty that all squares have four sides because human error is a factor? Rubbish!

Neil


Of course if they add the numbers correctly then their answer will be correct. That is a tautology. And it is absolutely certain that all squares have four sides, since, again, that is a tautology. Tautologies are just sentences that are true by definition.
 
ACB
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 04:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;77187 wrote:
Of course if they add the numbers correctly then their answer will be correct. That is a tautology. And it is absolutely certain that all squares have four sides, since, again, that is a tautology. Tautologies are just sentences that are true by definition.


I don't think anyone is disputing that.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 09:46 pm
@ACB,
ACB;77262 wrote:
I don't think anyone is disputing that.


What were they saying, then?
 
ACB
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 05:43 am
@kennethamy,
I think we are all agreed that mathematical propositions are necessarily, and therefore certainly, true. But I wonder whether all necessarily true propositions are true by definitionconsequence of the definition. Similarly, the fact that a certain very large number is prime (if it is) cannot be part of that number's definition if it is not yet known whether it is prime.

I believe some philosophers divide necessarily true statements into two categories:
(a) true de dicto (by definition), and
(b) true de re
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 06:31 am
@ACB,
ACB;77389 wrote:
I think we are all agreed that mathematical propositions are necessarily, and therefore certainly, true. But I wonder whether all necessarily true propositions are true by definitionconsequence of the definition. Similarly, the fact that a certain very large number is prime (if it is) cannot be part of that number's definition if it is not yet known whether it is prime.

I believe some philosophers divide necessarily true statements into two categories:
(a) true de dicto (by definition), and
(b) true de re


Many philosophers would see no difference between (a) and (b) and hold that both were, in the wide sense, "true by definition" or "analytic". And is not clear why one is different from the other, since it would be claimed that (b) could be reduced by analysis to a definitional truth. I would say that a proposition that is a "matter of fact" would be a proposition like "All bachelors are lonely", whereas, one that would be "definitional" would be, a proposition like, "All bachelors are unmarried".

But this is still a controversial issue. See W.V.O. Quines seminal paper, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", and the following good discussion.

Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism - SPSW

Two Dogmas of Empiricism
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 02:22 pm
@ACB,
ACB;77389 wrote:
I think we are all agreed that mathematical propositions are necessarily, and therefore certainly, true. But I wonder whether all necessarily true propositions are true by definitionconsequence of the definition. Similarly, the fact that a certain very large number is prime (if it is) cannot be part of that number's definition if it is not yet known whether it is prime.

I believe some philosophers divide necessarily true statements into two categories:
(a) true de dicto (by definition), and
(b) true de re


In mathematical logic, the true propositions that are consequences of other true propositions are thrown in as theorems. The axioms are theorems (axiomatically Smile) , and their consequences are theorems. Also, the consequences of those are theorems and so on.

The reason that an axiom is a theorem is because Triangles have three sides follows from Triangles have three sides, and so is a consequence of itself.

All in all I would say that it is subject to the quote: 'A difference that makes no difference, is no difference'.
 
 

 
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