Is there anything you know that was not arrived at scientifically?

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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 06:49 pm
Is there anything you know that was not arrived at scientifically?

I said in another thread that I would move this question here.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 07:27 pm
@Resha Caner,
How do you qualify 'know'. I ask this in all earnesty, because, if I say that I 'know' God exists, is that something I know or something I believe? What defines the boundries of knowing and believing?
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 10:43 pm
@de Silentio,
I think that de Silentio is pointing towards the thought that facts (judgements!) can only be acquired by reasonig. Intuitions on the other exist on a totally different "level". That, however, cannot be called "knowedge" because it is not something that has arrived in our memory as such. It is something else.

Perhaps this quote of Plato's "Seventh Letter" can shed some (2500 year old) light on the matter:

"In one word, the man who has no natural kinship with this matter cannot be made akin to it by quickness of learning or memory; for it cannot be engendered at all in natures which are foreign to it. Therefore, if men are not by nature kinship allied to justice and all other things that are honourable, though they may be good at learning and remembering other knowledge of various kinds-or if they have the kinship but are slow learners and have no memory-none of all these will ever learn to the full the truth about virtue and vice. For both must be learnt together; and together also must be learnt, by complete and long continued study, as I said at the beginning, the true and the false about all that has real being. After much effort, as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed by question and answer without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers. Therefore every man of worth, when dealing with matters of worth, will be far from exposing them to ill feeling and misunderstanding among men by committing them to writing. In one word, then, it may be known from this that, if one sees written treatises composed by anyone, either the laws of a lawgiver, or in any other form whatever, these are not for that man the things of most worth, if he is a man of worth, but that his treasures are laid up in the fairest spot that he possesses. But if these things were worked at by him as things of real worth, and committed to writing, then surely, not gods, but men "have themselves bereft him of his wits."

Centuries later Immanuel Kant wrote some more on the subject. He describes a priori intuitions which are used to examine sense-information to form thought-objects. The intuitions are a means of understanding our sense-information in a way which is a priori true.

Perhaps this helps a bit.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 10:53 pm
@Resha Caner,
You need to rephrase the opening question.

I know that the earth orbits the sun because of science, but I didn't come to know that information scientifically.

I know that the malaria parasite utilizes PfRh and EBA invasion ligands to invade red blood cells, and I DID come to know that information scientifically by doing the experiments.

But the problem here is that you fail to acknowledge the relationship between knowledge derived from science and knowledge derived from plain old observation.

If I see a small and a large rock fall at the same speed, that's not science -- that's just an anecdote. Just as I know many things from my own experience. Science differs only in how organized and deliberate the process is by which information is gathered. So in the case of science, rather than just watching a small and large rock fall, I declare a hypothesis, I propose a method, I gather data (including the mass of each rock), I time the release and the impact, I repeat the experiment several times, I use different objects of different weights to repeat the experiment, and if I'm good I use independent observers to time the interval between release and impact for corroboration. And then I explain my findings. That is more deliberate and organized than my anecdote, and it becomes more generalizable to a human understanding of the physical world.
 
Quixote phil
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 11:23 pm
@Resha Caner,
To combine Di Silentio's and Aedes' responses, it seems that we need a working definition of both 'science' and 'knowledge' before the question's meaning can be determined. Instead of proposing definitions, I'm curious what Resha had in mind when she chose the words 'know' and 'science'. This could be an interesting thread.
 
Quixote phil
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 11:24 pm
@Resha Caner,
Oops, I meant 'know' and 'scientifically'.
 
aaron the red
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:00 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
Is there anything you know that was not arrived at scientifically?

I said in another thread that I would move this question here.


i don't mean to seem rude, but know about what. i know that i have to pull a string to start my lawn moywer but no scientist told me that. so what particular aspect of knowledge are we discussing.

de Silentio wrote:
How do you qualify 'know'. I ask this in all earnety, because, if I say that I 'know' God exists, is that something I know or something I believe? What defines the boundries of knowing and believing?


nothing. they are the same. thats where certain psycosis comes from. they are people who don't know(or believe) basic things we understand as fact.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 05:56 am
@aaron the red,
I know I have sinned and in doing so, I nailed Jesus to the cross because, He died for our sins. Whether I repent or if I am forgiven, should I not acknowledge that He is the son of God and He did die for me I shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. All this knowledge without a scientific basis but, what do I know.

I should stop watching South Park.

Knowledge is not necessarily the truth or fact and so may never be proven scientifically
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 12:52 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
How do you qualify 'know'.


You guys are so much fun. :p

I never came up with anything I liked, but I'll throw something out there to seed the discussion, and let you wordsmith it for a day or so before trying to move on. So, rip it apart, propose alternatives, shore it up ... whatever.

This isn't meant to be all-encompassing, but just to address the context of the question.

Know: Sufficient understanding of an entity, within the context of how one interacts with that entity, such that a plausible interpretation of those interactions can be made.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:24 pm
@Resha Caner,
Seeing as knowing is a posteriori I think that your "know" means the opposite from the word "know" in the dictionary....That's pretty strange...
 
Martin Cothran
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 09:20 pm
@Arjen,
How about the fact that I can know anything at all?
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 09:01 am
@Martin Cothran,
Arjen wrote:
Seeing as knowing is a posteriori I think that your "know" means the opposite from the word "know" in the dictionary....That's pretty strange...


I was trying to be concise and brief, and I got tangled up in anticipating the debate that would follow. Specifically ...

Martin Cothran wrote:
How about the fact that I can know anything at all?


So, let me abandon attempts to be brief. "Philosophers" sometimes analyzes words to the point where it drives their definition to uselessness. As an example, the whole "do I exist?" question is another debate that I find pointless. I'm not saying ontology is useless, but if I don't exist, there's no point in asking the question.

"Can I know anything?" is, IMO, another pointless question. It typically pivots about issues of omniscience. Only God is omniscient (yes, I realize some of you won't even concede that). Given that none of us is omniscient, defining "know" in that way quickly makes the discussion useless. Yes, defined in that way, none of us know anything. It makes my original question meaningless, because by that definition we don't even know science.

So, I'm trying to define the word with a more common usage. When someone says, "I know my name," or, "I know 1 + 1 = 2", or "I know apples are real," what do they mean? They mean that their experience of life has led them to a conclusion. So, I think I am using the word a posteriori. Further, they mean that the evidence of those experiences has convinced them that the statement they would make is true. They mean that if someone were to attempt to refute their statement, they would continue to maintain that they "know".

They do not mean "absolute knowing" or "perfect knowing". They do not mean no contrary evidence, experience, or argument exists. They do not mean they never have nor never will doubt. They mean the weight of experience in their possession has led them to a conclusion about which they can make a statement that they believe to be true.

The problem is in the attempt to give the word an absolute meaning - to create a binary condition where one must either say "I know" in the perfect sense or resign to saying "I doubt". That is not the common usage of the term, and it is the attempt by "philosophers" to push such a usage that causes people to roll their eyes and dismiss philosophy as idiocy.

So, my usage acknowledges gray lying between black and white, but also says that their comes a point where life experience causes someone to flip a switch and say "I know", treating an issue as if it is black and white.

It is akin to the engineer who acknowledges error in his measurements, but still stands by his conclusion that the airplace will fly. The fact that crashes have occurred does not prevent him from making a declaration that the airplane he designed will fly. The alternative is paralysis ... and maybe those who go to that extreme don't exist. Wink
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 12:32 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
I was trying to be concise and brief, and I got tangled up in anticipating the debate that would follow. Specifically ...

If you are willing, please do elaborate on your definition of the word "know" in this context.

Smile
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 01:14 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
If you are willing, please do elaborate on your definition of the word "know" in this context.


I don't understand your question. That's exactly what I tried to do. I acknowledged that my first attempt became too convoluted, and made a second attempt to elaborate on what I meant.

Caner
 
chad3006
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 02:15 pm
@Arjen,
Isn't simple observation a rudementary scientific method? Some of the most primitive people of the world have knowledge of medicinal herbs, etc.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 02:43 pm
@chad3006,
chad3006 wrote:
Isn't simple observation a rudementary scientific method?


I would say no. If such is the case, then everything we do is scientific, and the word becomes meaningless.

A few posts back I discussed the extremes of narrow definitions. At the opposite end is the extreme of too broad a definition. If I understand correctly, Popper opposed this as well.

As an example, here is my "theory of everything": stuff happens ... or maybe not. While everything fits with that theory, it's completely useless. Scientific methods narrow the scope by introducing ideas of repeatability and falsifiability.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 07:57 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha, Smile
Resha Caner wrote:
I don't understand your question. That's exactly what I tried to do. I acknowledged that my first attempt became too convoluted, and made a second attempt to elaborate on what I meant.

Caner

Yes, but how can it be that your definition of "know" is the oppisite of what "know" means in the normal way? I mean this in the sense that it no longer means an a posteriori judgement, but a judgement before the fact.

Resha Caner wrote:
I would say no. If such is the case, then everything we do is scientific, and the word becomes meaningless.

I am going to quote this one very often. The unfortunate truth is that a very large number of scientists does think empirism the only real scientific view on things. To me, the science of those people is quite meaningless.

Quote:

A few posts back I discussed the extremes of narrow definitions. At the opposite end is the extreme of too broad a definition. If I understand correctly, Popper opposed this as well.

It is with predication that these difficulties start to exist. While things exist as they exist our definitions take many forms. Neither extremes, nor a middle way, are solutions which will fit all situations, nor do they fit only one situation. Such seperations depend on many variables.

Quote:

As an example, here is my "theory of everything": stuff happens ... or maybe not. While everything fits with that theory, it's completely useless. Scientific methods narrow the scope by introducing ideas of repeatability and falsifiability.

Because scientific methods narrow the scope of research it can no longer examine everything. It is as much a weakness as a strength.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 07:00 am
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
Yes, but how can it be that your definition of "know" is the oppisite of what "know" means in the normal way? I mean this in the sense that it no longer means an a posteriori judgement, but a judgement before the fact.


You're missing my point somehow. I'm trying to agree with you, and you keep disagreeing.

Arjen wrote:
Because scientific methods narrow the scope of research it can no longer examine everything. It is as much a weakness as a strength.


How refreshing. But I wonder if we who agree with this are in the minority.
 
chad3006
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 08:15 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
I would say no. If such is the case, then everything we do is scientific, and the word becomes meaningless.

A few posts back I discussed the extremes of narrow definitions. At the opposite end is the extreme of too broad a definition. If I understand correctly, Popper opposed this as well.

As an example, here is my "theory of everything": stuff happens ... or maybe not. While everything fits with that theory, it's completely useless. Scientific methods narrow the scope by introducing ideas of repeatability and falsifiability.


Well, then not everything I know has been arrived at scientifically.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 08:22 am
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
Because scientific methods narrow the scope of research it can no longer examine everything. It is as much a weakness as a strength.
This is widely said among scientists. It's not only a majority view, it's probably a universal view. It's actually a well worn cliche in science and medicine that scientists know everything about nothing and physicians know nothing about everything.

Science is reductionist. We look at trees and infer forests. For example we can better understand cellular physiology by closely studying a critical subcellular mechanism. But the better we study the trees the better we feel we understand the forests as a whole. We certainly understand the organization and regulation of the human genome now that we've sequenced the whole thing -- though we haven't sequenced everyone's genome so we have to generalize out from it.

But I don't see this as either a weakness or a strength. It is what it is. If there's something lacking in that, like the reductionist approach seems unsatisfying for "big picture" questions, then that's not a criticism of science -- it's just a call for something else that can satisfy them.

If the whole scientific conception of the universe is that there are fundamental particles and forces, then to understand something globally you need to understand its tiniest mechanisms. That means looking at smaller and smaller particulars. With good enough study scientists will have enough confidence to generalize findings -- for instance no one has studied whether I have protons and electrons in my body, but we're confident enough to assume that I do.
 
 

 
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