The problem with perspectivism

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richrf
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 03:23 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76694 wrote:
Well, they didn't know the truth. Does that mean that some people do not know the truth, just because other people think they know the truth and, in fact, do not? Galileo did know the truth, didn't he?


Yep. There are people who know the truth and there are people who know the truth. The main difference between the two is that one knows the truth and the other one only knows the truth. In either case, they both know the truth ... and you had better well listen or else!!!

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 03:35 pm
@richrf,
richrf;76704 wrote:
Yep. There are people who know the truth and there are people who know the truth. The main difference between the two is that one knows the truth and the other one only knows the truth. In either case, they both know the truth ... and you had better well listen or else!!!

Rich


No. The truth is that there are people who only think they know the truth, but do not; and then, there are people who think they know the truth, and do, in fact know the truth. For example, those people who believed they knew that the Earth is in the center of the solar system, really did not know the truth; but Galileo, who believed that he knew that the Sun was in the center, did know the truth. Another example is that you think you know that there is no difference between knowing the truth, and not knowing the truth; and I think there is a difference between knowing the truth and not knowing the truth. And I am right, and you are wrong. It is really very obvious. All you have to do is to think intelligently about it.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 03:42 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76694 wrote:
Well, they didn't know the truth. Does that mean that some people do not know the truth, just because other people think they know the truth and, in fact, do not? Galileo did know the truth, didn't he?


It appears that he was closer to the truth than his opponents. But all hypotheses are provisional, so we cannot say without qualification that he "knew the truth". We can never say that of anyone.

We can believe (as I do) that there are truths "out there". But we obviously cannot be 100% certain that we know them. Can we claim to know them beyond reasonable doubt? Well, we need to be careful about that. Galileo's persecutors thought their beliefs true beyond reasonable doubt, but it turned out that they were not. So it is better simply to believe a thing than to believe that one knows it; the latter can lead to intolerance, as richrf points out.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 03:53 pm
@ACB,
ACB;76711 wrote:
It appears that he was closer to the truth than his opponents. But all hypotheses are provisional, so we cannot say without qualification that he "knew the truth". We can never say that of anyone.

We can believe (as I do) that there are truths "out there". But we obviously cannot be 100% certain that we know them. Can we claim to know them beyond reasonable doubt? Well, we need to be careful about that. Galileo's persecutors thought their beliefs true beyond reasonable doubt, but it turned out that they were not. So it is better simply to believe a thing than to believe that one knows it; the latter can lead to intolerance, as richrf points out.


The fact that a person who knows the truth cannot be "100% certain" that he knows the truth, doesn't mean he doesn't know the truth. Only that he cannot be "100 %" certain that he knows the truth. That people who believe they know the truth with "100 %" certainty can be intolerant is a weakness of people. It has nothing to do with knowledge of the truth, and is not an objection to whether we can know the truth. I can certainly say of Galileo, that he knew the truth, and I would be right. The fact that I might be mistaken, although correct, is not relevant as long as what I say is true. That I might be mistake does not shoe that I am mistaken, does it?
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 05:18 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76712 wrote:
I can certainly say of Galileo, that he knew the truth, and I would be right. The fact that I might be mistaken, although correct, is not relevant as long as what I say is true.


The two phrases in bold are mutually contradictory as they stand. Don't you mean "I would probably be right" or "I believe I would be right" or "I am sure I would be right"?

Quote:
That I might be mistaken does not show that I am mistaken, does it?


No, but it leaves that possibility open.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 05:56 pm
@ACB,
ACB;76719 wrote:
The two phrases in bold are mutually contradictory as they stand. Don't you mean "I would probably be right" or "I believe I would be right" or "I am sure I would be right"?



No, but it leaves that possibility open.



No. Consider this example:

I know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. But, it is possible that in the last half-hour, the Ecuadorean legislature has changed the capital to Guyaquil (Ecuador's second city). However, that did not happen. But if it had happened (which it did not) I would have been mistaken. However, since it did not happen, I do know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, even if I might be mistaken. So, there is no contradiction between, I know that p, but I might be mistaken that p. The point is that knowing is not the same as certainty. What would be contradictory would be, I am certain that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, but I might be mistaken.

It is not logically possible that (P and not-P). But it is logically possible that (P and (possible) not-P).
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 07:20 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76726 wrote:
But, it is possible that in the last half-hour, the Ecuadorean legislature has changed the capital to Guyaquil (Ecuador's second city). However, that did not happen.


Can you please clarify the following:

(a) Do you know that it did not happen?
(b) Are you simply assuming that it did not happen?
(c) Can you simply assume it, yet nevertheless know it?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 07:27 pm
@ACB,
ACB;76734 wrote:
Can you please clarify the following:

(a) Do you know that it did not happen?
(b) Are you simply assuming that it did not happen?
(c) Can you simply assume it, yet nevertheless know it?


I don't know it did not happen. But let's just assume it did not.
Yes
I am assuming it for the sake of the argument.

Imagine the following conversation:

Teacher: Johnny, do you know what the capital of Ecuador is.
Johnny: Yes, it is, Quito.
Teacher: You do not know it is Quito.
Johnny: Why? Isn't it Quito?
Teacher:Yes, it is Quito, but it might not be Quito, so, even if it is Quito,
you do not know it is Quito.
Johnny: HUH?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 07:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76735 wrote:
I don't know it did not happen. But let's just assume it did not.
Yes
I am assuming it for the sake of the argument.

Imagine the following conversation:

Teacher: Johnny, do you know what the capital of Ecuador is.
Johnny: Yes, it is, Quito.
Teacher: You do not know it is Quito.
Johnny: Why? Isn't it Quito?
Teacher:Yes, it is Quito, but it might not be Quito, so, even if it is Quito,
you do not know it is Quito.
Johnny: HUH?


Let me give you a different dialog:

Judge: Kennethamy, are you certain about your testimony?
Kennethamy: Yes, judge. I am certain.
Judge: You are certain?
Kennethamy: Yes, I am positive.
Judge: You know, we are sending this person up the river based upon your testimony. So, I just want to make sure, that you are absolutely certain.
Kennethamy: Yes, Judge. As certain as anybody can be.
Judge: OK. Thank you for your testimony.
Kennethamy: May I say one more thing judge?
Judge: Yes, please do.
Kennethamy: I could be mistaken.
Judge: :perplexed:

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 08:22 pm
@richrf,
richrf;76736 wrote:
Let me give you a different dialog:

Judge: Kennethamy, are you certain about your testimony?
Kennethamy: Yes, judge. I am certain.
Judge: You are certain?
Kennethamy: Yes, I am positive.
Judge: You know, we are sending this person up the river based upon your testimony. So, I just want to make sure, that you are absolutely certain.
Kennethamy: Yes, Judge. As certain as anybody can be.
Judge: OK. Thank you for your testimony.
Kennethamy: May I say one more thing judge?
Judge: Yes, please do.
Kennethamy: I could be mistaken.
Judge: :perplexed:

Rich

Of course, you have begun to use the term "certain". In my example, the word I used was, "know" and knowledge is quite different from certainty. Knowledge admits of the possibility of error (but not the actuality of error, of course). But certainty does not allow even for the possibility of error.
And I should not have said I was certain, except in the sense that I felt confident. But "certain" does not mean "feeling confident". "Certain" means it is impossible for me to be mistaken. And, it is always possible for me to be mistaken. So, when the Judge asked, "are you certain?" I should have replied, "Yes. Judge, I feel very confident that I am right". And that, after all, is what the judge was really asking me. We have to distinguish between two kinds of certatinty. Psychological, or subjective, or philosophical, or objective. We all feel psychologically, or subjectively certain of many things. But that is different from objective certainty where the claim is that it is impossible that one is mistaken. We have that (if at all) about very few things. Good question, since it allows me to make that clarification.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 09:25 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76737 wrote:
We have to distinguish between two kinds of certainty. Psychological, or subjective, or philosophical, or objective. We all feel psychologically, or subjectively certain of many things. But that is different from objective certainty where the claim is that it is impossible that one is mistaken. We have that (if at all) about very few things.


I take it that you are arguing as follows:

1. Psychological/subjective certainty about a belief that happens to be true constitutes knowledge.

2. When you call something "possible", you mean that it could logically have happened, even though in fact it definitely did not. In this sense of "possible", therefore, it is possible that Germany won the Second World War.

3. The likelihood of the capital of Ecuador having been changed in the last half-hour is negligible for the purpose of deciding what you know about it.

4. If, nevertheless, you were to discover at 8.45 that the capital had been Guayaquil since 8.15, you would still maintain in retrospect that at 8.30 you had known it was (then) Quito.

Is that an accurate representation of your argument?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 09:40 pm
@ACB,
ACB;76749 wrote:
I take it that you are arguing as follows:

1. Psychological/subjective certainty about a belief that happens to be true constitutes knowledge.

2. When you call something "possible", you mean that it could logically have happened, even though in fact it definitely did not. In this sense of "possible", therefore, it is possible that Germany won the Second World War.

3. The likelihood of the capital of Ecuador having been changed in the last half-hour is negligible for the purpose of deciding what you know about it.

4. If, nevertheless, you were to discover at 8.45 that the capital had been Guayaquil since 8.15, you would still maintain in retrospect that at 8.30 you had known it was (then) Quito.

Is that an accurate representation of your argument?


1. No, I am not arguing that at all. The standard definition of "knowledge" is, justified, true, belief. As a matter of course, people who believe they know, feel certain. But not necessarily. But the feeling of certainty is not a part of the idea of knowledge.

2. Yes, it was logically possible that Germany won the war. Which is to say, that Germany won the war is not self-contradictory. Sometimes, it is possible that p means epistemic possibility. It is "epistemically possible that p" means something like, "for all I know, p". And, of course, it would be false for me to say that for all I know Germany won the war. Since I know that Germany lost the war. But I am using the term modally, and not epistemically. I am sure that is a source of confusion.

3. It is negligible. But that is not the point. The point is that whether it is negligible or very great, it does not matter as long as it did not happen.

4. Certainly not. I cannot know what is false. So, while Guyaquil was the capital, I would not, and could not. have known that Quito was the capital. That is why I said above that the degree of liklihood is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether there was a change. Why, though, would you have supposed that I was arguing that I could have know the capital was Quito when it was not Quito? What have I written that might give you reason to suppose such an obvious decisive objection to what I might have said? It is not possible that A know that p, and p be false. But it is possible that A know that p, and it be possible that p is false. Which is to say that knowing that p is true does not imply certainty that p is true. Knowledge does not imply certainty. That is called, "fallibilism". And, of course, conforms with scientific knowledge, since if infallibilism were true, then there could be no scientific knowledge, and that is, of course, absurd.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 09:14 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76751 wrote:
1. No, I am not arguing that at all. The standard definition of "knowledge" is, justified, true, belief. As a matter of course, people who believe they know, feel certain. But not necessarily. But the feeling of certainty is not a part of the idea of knowledge.


Interesting. I don't think I would say "I know" (or "I knew") if I didn't feel (or hadn't felt) certain. I would say "I think" or "I believe" or "I'm fairly sure".

Quote:
2. Yes, it was logically possible that Germany won the war. Which is to say, that Germany won the war is not self-contradictory. Sometimes, it is possible that p means epistemic possibility. It is "epistemically possible that p" means something like, "for all I know, p". And, of course, it would be false for me to say that for all I know Germany won the war. Since I know that Germany lost the war. But I am using the term modally, and not epistemically. I am sure that is a source of confusion.


I agree it was logically possible that Germany won the war. What confused me was your use of the present tense "is". But I understand you now.

Quote:
3. It is negligible. But that is not the point. The point is that whether it is negligible or very great, it does not matter as long as it did not happen.


This comes back to point 1. If the likelihood of the capital having been changed was very great, you wouldn't say you knew it was still Quito, would you? That would be a misuse of the word "know". And even if (despite being aware of the likelihood of change) you still believed it was Quito, such a belief (though possibly true) would not be justified, so it could not objectively be called knowledge.

Quote:
4. I cannot know what is false. So, while Guyaquil was the capital, I would not, and could not. have known that Quito was the capital. That is why I said above that the degree of liklihood is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether there was a change. Why, though, would you have supposed that I was arguing that I could have know the capital was Quito when it was not Quito? What have I written that might give you reason to suppose such an obvious decisive objection to what I might have said? It is not possible that A know that p, and p be false. But it is possible that A know that p, and it be possible that p is false. Which is to say that knowing that p is true does not imply certainty that p is true. Knowledge does not imply certainty. That is called, "fallibilism". And, of course, conforms with scientific knowledge, since if infallibilism were true, then there could be no scientific knowledge, and that is, of course, absurd.


Sorry, I was confusing your argument with that of Zetherin in an earlier thread (post #51 of 'Absolute Truth is Unobtainable'). He was, I think, arguing that we can sometimes know things that are false (e.g. that a vase is on a table when in fact it has been taken off for cleaning). So - let me get this straight - you would initially claim to know that Quito was the capital, but, when you discovered it was not, you would rescind that claim.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:08 am
@ACB,
ACB;76804 wrote:
Interesting. I don't think I would say "I know" (or "I knew") if I didn't feel (or hadn't felt) certain. I would say "I think" or "I believe" or "I'm fairly sure".



I agree it was logically possible that Germany won the war. What confused me was your use of the present tense "is". But I understand you now.



This comes back to point 1. If the likelihood of the capital having been changed was very great, you wouldn't say you knew it was still Quito, would you? That would be a misuse of the word "know". And even if (despite being aware of the likelihood of change) you still believed it was Quito, such a belief (though possibly true) would not be justified, so it could not objectively be called knowledge.



Sorry, I was confusing your argument with that of Zetherin in an earlier thread (post #51 of 'Absolute Truth is Unobtainable'). He was, I think, arguing that we can sometimes know things that are false (e.g. that a vase is on a table when in fact it has been taken off for cleaning). So - let me get this straight - you would initially claim to know that Quito was the capital, but, when you discovered it was not, you would rescind that claim.


You talk about what people would say under this or that circumstance. And you may be right. Perhaps, since you are well brought up, you would not say that you knew that p, unless you thought that p was true, and that you were justified in thinking so, for that would be misleading, if not a downright, lie. But that has nothing (it seems to me) to do with the question we are dealing with, namely whether certainty is a condition of knowing that p. The conditions of saying or asserting something may (and usually are) different from the truth conditions of what you say. The feeling of certainty is (perhaps) a condition of saying you know; but it is not a condition of knowing. You see the difference? Another example. Take the sentence, "It is raining, but I do not believe it". One cannot utter that sentence without some kind or incoherency. But, nevertheless, it could very well be true that it is raining, but that I don't believe it is raining. The conditions of assertion, and the conditions of truth, are not the same.

Again, if the likelihood of the capital being changed was great, I might not assert I know it. But that would be irrelevant to whether it is true that I know it is the capital. But, I think that has much more to do with the justification condition of knowledge, than with the truth condition. If it was very likely that capital would be changed, then my belief would not be justified, for the justification conditions would be stricter than they normally would be, and so (on the JTB definition of knowledge) the justification condition would not be satisfied.

Of course I would take that back if it turned out that what I said I knew was false. A necessary condition of knowing is truth.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 02:24 pm
@kennethamy,
Kennethamy - Thanks. That clears up most of my queries, but I have one further point to put to you.

Suppose I have a vague recollection that Quito is the capital of Ecuador (which it still is). Actually, someone has told me so in the past, but I have only a dim memory of this and am far from confident about it. I say: "Well, I think the capital is Quito". My belief is both justified and true, but very tentative. Now, if an Ecuadorean tells me: "You're right - it is Quito", can I then truly assert: "So I knew it all the time"?

There is such a thing as tentative belief. If such belief is both justified and true, does it become tentative knowledge? Is there such a thing? In other words, is there a symmetry between belief and knowledge, such that "I tend to believe P" becomes "I tend to know P" if the truth and justification conditions are satisfied?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 02:30 pm
@ACB,
ACB;76863 wrote:
Kennethamy - Thanks. That clears up most of my queries, but I have one further point to put to you.

Suppose I have a vague recollection that Quito is the capital of Ecuador (which it still is). Actually, someone has told me so in the past, but I have only a dim memory of this and am far from confident about it. I say: "Well, I think the capital is Quito". My belief is both justified and true, but very tentative. Now, if an Ecuadorean tells me: "You're right - it is Quito", can I then truly assert: "So I knew it all the time"?

There is such a thing as tentative belief. If such belief is both justified and true, does it become tentative knowledge? Is there such a thing? In other words, is there a symmetry between belief and knowledge, such that "I tend to believe P" becomes "I tend to know P" if the truth and justification conditions are satisfied?


That seems to raise the question of whether belief is a condition of knowledge. Can you know that p without believing that p? I would say, no. And, a tentative belief is, nevertheless, a belief. I don't think it makes any sense to say, "I tend to know". Either I know, or I don't. As I argued, confidence is not a necessary condition of knowing, although it may be a necessary condition of claiming to know.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Mon 10 Aug, 2009 10:59 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;71162 wrote:
Perspectivism is the philosophical view developed by Nietzsche which says that truth is a matter of individual perspective, and that we cannot have knowledge of the thing in itself. It also says that we must adopt one of the perspectives, but no perspective is more correct than its rivals.

The problem with this is that perspectivism is in itself a perspective, and so it is somewhat self-defeating.


Perspectivism is a perspective, but that makes it self-defeating only if it claims to be true, i.e. to be 'the perspective,' thus contradicting its own basic tenet. To my knowledge, Nietzsche made a lot of rather wild claims, but never claimed that anything he said was true.

Quote:
Secondly, suggesting that we must adopt a particular perspective seems to suggest that at least one perspective is closer to the truth than the others, which contradicts perspectivism's claim that no perspective is more correct than the other.


I take the suggestion that we 'must adopt a particular perspective' more as a description of what occurs than a moral statement: i.e must = will, not must = should; and I take 'particular perspective' to mean 'one perspective' (as in, we cannot have several at once), not 'a certain one instead of others' (as in 'this one but not that one, because this one is better') We cannot avoid existing from a certain perspective, and we will end up with one, not several. Nietzsche might tell us which he finds most aesthetically pleasing, or most suited to excersizing the will to power, but he won't tell us which one is 'true' or the correct choice.

Quote:
Perspectivism seems to suggest that there can be no objective reality (another perspective), and that reality is a matter of individual perspective. This sounds like another philosopher putting human perception at the center of the universe. Science tries to discover what's real in spite of our mental perceptions and concepts, and I would say that it is quite successful at doing this (certainly the most successful).


Nietzsche thought that scientific claims of objectivity were vain and false. Science is a systematized, made-regular kind of interpretation, but it is an interpretation nonetheless. It is not possible for man to escape from his perspective, to obtain some perch outside the world from which he can objectively evaluate the world. He is always in the world, seeing it through his own eyes. As Nietzsche said, 'An instrument cannot examine itself.' Science is not truth, useful as it may be. Paraphrasing, 'A belief may be absolutely essential for survival, and still be false.' Gravity, the Laws of Motion, etc. Useful does not equal true in an absolute, epistemological sense.

Quote:
Last but not least, like most of Nietzschean philosophy, perspectivism only deals in the negative, not contributing any practical theory to the field of philosophy.


This is not entirely true. If you mean that Nietzsche did not put forth a comprehensive, philosophical system, you're right, but that doesn't seem to have been his intention. I think the point, among others, was not to answer the questions traditionally posed by philosophy, but to demonstrate, using methods not approved by rationalist philosophy, the fallacy inhrent in many of those questions, and to point the way to new questions.
 
Fabulam narravit
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 10:31 am
@hue-man,
All knowledge, to some degree, is based on a series of assumptions. Even what we see with our own eyes is fundamentally uncertain: we must assume that the images before us were properly reflected onto our retinas and encoded by our occipital lobes. Electrons follow an uncertainty principle, as well. At any moment, an electron may be defined as hypothetically anywhere and everywhere within its given "shell."

I sometimes prefer to think of science as the struggle to eliminate (or reduce as much as possible) uncertainty. We strive to observe and assimilate patterns in our environments; logic (itself a hazy concept) dictates that the more that a causal relationship is observed, the less likely it is to be false. Therefore, if what we see is generally consistent, if light enters our eyes in the same way in each instance - providing that we aren't delusional or hallucinatory - we assume that the world before us must, in fact, exist.

I would be the first to assert that knowledge is a beautiful artifact, a glorious pursuit, when sought for its own sake. However, I feel that pursuing it ought to have a primary purpose: learning from the past for future benefit. Pragmatism is crucial. One step in scientific advancement provides a segue into the next; at each "tier," new options are made available to us. Immunology is a prime example. We study viral infections and recognize patterns to ensure that future illness may be prevented.

In itself, knowledge is a summation of past lessons - failing to learn from history (no matter how recent or ancient) is one of the worst mistakes humankind can make.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 11:24 am
@Fabulam narravit,
Hi,

Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
All knowledge, to some degree, is based on a series of assumptions.


Yes, we must start from somewhere. Different people start with different assumptions and thus the path is different.


Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
I sometimes prefer to think of science as the struggle to eliminate (or reduce as much as possible) uncertainty.


Science certainly tries to make us feel more certain. However, I don't think I feel any more certain today about anything than I did when I was born. If anything, my auto tends to break down more often as more gadgets are piled into it. I think I can reasonably say that nothing ever turns out as I planned it or envisioned it.

My own take on science is that it documents habits and attempts to predict, as best it can, based upon known habits.

Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
I would be the first to assert that knowledge is a beautiful artifact, a glorious pursuit, when sought for its own sake.


It may be all that there is to life. Just observing, learning, experimenting, and sharing. Not much different than what we did as children in the playground.

Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
However, I feel that pursuing it ought to have a primary purpose: learning from the past for future benefit.


The concept of benefit is a bit difficult to define. It seems like what benefits here is a loss there.

Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
We study viral infections and recognize patterns to ensure that future illness may be prevented.


It seems to me that we are spending more money on health than ever before and we just get stranger and stranger illnesses propping up all over the place. Maybe simple basics such as good food, exercise, relaxation, fresh air and clean water(remember this one because it is getting to be harder and harder to find), is all we really need.

Fabulam narravit;97680 wrote:
In itself, knowledge is a summation of past lessons - failing to learn from history (no matter how recent or ancient) is one of the worst mistakes humankind can make.


Yes, but things still seem or re-occur as we evolve. It is an interesting spiraling path.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 11:54 am
@richrf,
richrf;97685 wrote:
Hi,



Yes, we must start from somewhere. Different people start with different assumptions and thus the path is different.





Rich



And yet, if we know what the capital of Ecuador is, we know it is Quito, and not, La Paz. And, if we know how to spell, "weird", we know it is that way, and not, "wierd".
 
 

 
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