Can knowledge be physically measured?

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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 12:46 pm
So I was thinking of the fact that matter can not be created nor destroyed in my philosophy class while we were discussing epistemology and an interesting question came to me. If matter can not be created or destroyed, where does that leave knowledge? Knowledge can be portrayed in many different embodiments, that much is unarguable, but I'm asking about knowledge on an individual level.

For the sake of understanding my inquiry, picture the brain as a blank sheet of paper. That paper will remain blank until some outside force is acted upon it, much like our mind. Now picture a pencil writing down facts upon this piece of paper. That pencil is like the knowledge we obtain throughout our lives. This is a very good representation in my mind for the way knowledge is imparted to us except for one problem. In real life, the pencil never gets worn down.

We gain knowledge and that manipulates our brain in a way where we retain that information for a decent length of time, and yet we don't lose other knowledge. It's not like we have a limit of knowledge and that we can hold only 50 pieces of information, put in a 51st piece and the 1st piece learned has to be destroyed to make room. As far as we know, human's potential for learning is infinite. If this is so, how does our brain retain the information if matter can not be created nor destroyed?

I don't know if this sounds idiotic or not, but I would like to gain all of your insight into this question.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 12:51 pm
@Karpowich,
First of all, matter cannot be created or destroyed, but a information certainly can. A piece of paper with words on it can be destroyed. All of the atoms etc will still be there but they have to be in a certain order for the information to exist. That order certainly can be created or destroyed.

Second, I don't think human potential for knowledge is infinite. You don't have to destroy the first piece to add a 51st, but often it is covered up. There is solid evidence of both memory decay and of memory interference (new information blocking out old).
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 01:19 pm
@Karpowich,
Karpowich;140629 wrote:
So I was thinking of the fact that matter can not be created nor destroyed in my philosophy class while we were discussing epistemology and an interesting question came to me. If matter can not be created or destroyed, where does that leave knowledge? Knowledge can be portrayed in many different embodiments, that much is unarguable, but I'm asking about knowledge on an individual level.

For the sake of understanding my inquiry, picture the brain as a blank sheet of paper. That paper will remain blank until some outside force is acted upon it, much like our mind. Now picture a pencil writing down facts upon this piece of paper. That pencil is like the knowledge we obtain throughout our lives. This is a very good representation in my mind for the way knowledge is imparted to us except for one problem. In real life, the pencil never gets worn down.

We gain knowledge and that manipulates our brain in a way where we retain that information for a decent length of time, and yet we don't lose other knowledge. It's not like we have a limit of knowledge and that we can hold only 50 pieces of information, put in a 51st piece and the 1st piece learned has to be destroyed to make room. As far as we know, human's potential for learning is infinite. If this is so, how does our brain retain the information if matter can not be created nor destroyed?

I don't know if this sounds idiotic or not, but I would like to gain all of your insight into this question.


But why would anyone think that knowledge is a physical object, or is an object of any kind?
 
sammy phil
 
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 03:30 pm
@Karpowich,
you somewhat answered your own question when you said knowledge at a personal level. it's very true what we create in mind is fragile beyond anything most comprehend. be it on paper or thought it all passes easily and we see that, the effect of this, we grow from those passes as lessons. we can take two old things and make something completely new, thought or object that's impressive. but no matter how much you learn or know there will allways be someone that knows more, or is better, or faster, or whatever. the point to remember is what we can learn while we try to gain our own ground, and the core of beleifs is individual.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 10:37 pm
@Karpowich,
I don't think it is true that matter can't be created or destroyed. I think that is energy. I do know that in subatomic physics, you can collide two particles, and the energy of the collision will create another particle.

Anyway the amount of written knowledge is doubling every few years at the moment, what with the digital revolutioin and all. But there is no way to caculate how much knowledge an individual mind can contain. In fact the question doesn't make a lot of sense, really. It is not clear at all what knowledge really is. There is a lot of evidence that our mind 'stores' a lot of its knowledge in the world itself. This is why, for example, if you're working out a maths problem, you will need to write it out. (This has been verified by some research somewhere.)

anyway this all is in the area of cognitive psychology etc rather than philosophy as such.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 06:40 am
@Karpowich,
Karpowich;140629 wrote:
So I was thinking of the fact that matter can not be created nor destroyed in my philosophy class while we were discussing epistemology and an interesting question came to me. If matter can not be created or destroyed, where does that leave knowledge? Knowledge can be portrayed in many different embodiments, that much is unarguable, but I'm asking about knowledge on an individual level.

For the sake of understanding my inquiry, picture the brain as a blank sheet of paper. That paper will remain blank until some outside force is acted upon it, much like our mind. Now picture a pencil writing down facts upon this piece of paper. That pencil is like the knowledge we obtain throughout our lives. This is a very good representation in my mind for the way knowledge is imparted to us except for one problem. In real life, the pencil never gets worn down.

We gain knowledge and that manipulates our brain in a way where we retain that information for a decent length of time, and yet we don't lose other knowledge. It's not like we have a limit of knowledge and that we can hold only 50 pieces of information, put in a 51st piece and the 1st piece learned has to be destroyed to make room. As far as we know, human's potential for learning is infinite. If this is so, how does our brain retain the information if matter can not be created nor destroyed?

I don't know if this sounds idiotic or not, but I would like to gain all of your insight into this question.
When I was in the military, a mere tank mine would obliterat a solid motor block from a car, there was nothing left.

In sience we invented long ago a phroton cannon (not photon cannon) which could alter the construction of an atom, thereby it's periodic table's ID.

Maybe imaginative things are more solid, and are more resistant to reality. :whistling:
 
sammy phil
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 06:58 pm
@Karpowich,
HAHA that's crazy insane and thanks for sharing Very Happy
 
PappasNick
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 07:10 pm
@sammy phil,
Why can't we refine brain imaging technology to the point where we are able to physically measure knowledge? There is already much we can do with such technology. As of now, there's no reason to think our progress along these lines will cease.
 
Derek M
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 08:25 pm
@Karpowich,
I can't help but imagine a device designed to scan a brain and determine if the chemical synapses are just so as to represent the possession of knowledge, and this brings to mind a question of whose take on what constitutes knowledge are we going to go with to do this measuring? We might be able to determine from a brain scan that I think I have Coca-Cola in my fridge, but if there's no Coca-Cola in my fridge, I doubt anyone would call that knowledge. As a practical matter, I think we would have to conclude that measuring knowledge is impossible. An omniscient computer might be able to do it in theory, but even that strikes me as doubtful. The notion of "knowledge" strikes me as a little too vague for that.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 08:32 pm
@Karpowich,
Knowledge does not only reside in the brain though. It also resides in the body and the whole nervous system. If you look into the state of current neuro science, it is clear that the brain is nothing like a digital storage unit with a 1:1 relationship between concepts and objects. Whenever you think, many different neural networks in the brain fire up, in very unpredictable ways. And should (worst luck) you suffer a brain injury, the brain, or something, will work out ways to re-route the pathways, given enough time.

We had a debate last year where neuro guy produced a study which purported to show neural patterns that represented images. My response was, these are 'images' only in the context of a live brain, in a nervous system. If you show patterns of dots on an x-ray film and claim that it is an image, this too is referring to a framework which includes the device that captured the images, and your ability to interpret them and posit them as representations of images.

The Decade of the Brain, which ended in 2001, provided a huge wealth of research, information and theorising, but also failed to answer very many basic questions about the nature of the brain, how it processes information, and how any of it adds up to a simple thought.
 
Derek M
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 08:44 pm
@Karpowich,
jeeprs wrote:
it is clear that the brain is nothing like a digital storage unit with a 1:1 relationship between concepts and objects. Whenever you think, many different neural networks in the brain fire up, in very unpredictable ways.


They aren't completely unpredictable. We can consider, for example, the "Bill Clinton neuron" which was observed to fire in a women every time she looked at a picture of Bill Clinton. Finding out how our thoughts precisely correspond with brain states (if they do, and I think they do), is a bit difficult, since we can't exactly take a snapshot of someones phenomenal experience to compare to brains states. Furthermore, we don't really seem to ever be in the exact same phenomenal state twice, so we shouldn't really expect as much from brain states.

As for why I think such a correspondence exists, the very fact that brain injury (or the use of psychoactive drugs) can impact phenomenal states, seems to insist upon it.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 08:47 pm
@Karpowich,
Take a look at Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, by James le Fanu. Very interesting analysis of the findings of 'The Decade of the Brain'.
 
north
 
Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 09:02 pm
@jeeprs,
yes , of course

three dimensionaly
 
 

 
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