Saturday, 9 January 2016

My epistemology

I used to be much troubled by questions of epistemology - how did we know that we knew something - how did we even know that knowledge was possible?

As far as I could see, there seemed no way that anything could be known.

But nowadays I am no longer plagued by such nihilism - and this is the solution I have worked-out (it seems valid enough to be going on with).

1. God knows - because he is the creator

2. We know because we are God's children

Explanation: We are God's literal (not symbolic) children - and therefore have inherited something of God in us, including the knowledge of the creator.

This establishes that validity of human knowledge is possible; because we have somthing of the creator (who made things) in each of us.

There remain many questions about explaining or deciding between disagreements in knowledge claims, errors, imprecision, uncertainty, changes etc.

But I find that the above simple epistemology does most of the heavy lifting in getting the weight of solipsism off my shoulders.

(Solipsism is the belief, or perhaps rather the fear, that I am the only thing which exists; and everything else is just in my mind.)   


David said... feels as though this is like finding a profound mystery at the heart of all existence...Finding it deeply troubling to handle the existential uncertainty of not knowing and then elegantly performing a magic trick of placing that unfathomable mystery in a box and then kicking it out of bounds into a transcendental/imagined psychologically safe location and then looking at it with a 'faith' that the mystery can now be accepted comfortably even though no knowing has necessarily occurred. I'm sorry to say I am still deeply troubled by epistemology even if you are not. I can see why it feels good to frame the mystery or put it in a box but if I ask myself honestly do I know that this belief is true?! I find when I have accepted it as true it is probably being partially dishonest with myself. I can 'feel' it is true or want it to be true but if I analyse it honestly I find increasingly the honest answer for me is "I just don't know!" It is easy to get carried away with warm fuzzy ideas that displace uncertainty but how do I 'know' What I would like to believe is true? And yes I'm sure you can tell me no one can compel me to believe anything, that it all rests on metaphysical assumptions, etc. that prayer can lead to revelations and my answer is...I really hope you are right...but as time goes by and I look at the shadows in Plato's cave...I must confess uncertainty of what the shadows are even though I would like dearly to belief it is the shadow of heavenly father.

More to come on this theme on another of your posts...They have made me think a great deal about this. I have several difficulties with your analyses that I need to work through. Still, I want to give it the benefit of the doubt and so I continue to pray: Dear God please help me with mine unbelief.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - You need to find out the metaphysical basis of your doubt. Only you can do this. WHen you know what your doubt is based-on, what positive assumptions your uncertainties derive from - you will be in a position to do something about it - but not until then.

Nicholas Fulford said...

The rational mind draws axioms in the sands of the universe. Grains of those sands become as grit to the mind, which irritated spins pearls. From time to time it is essential to drop the pearls into wine and get drunk on the draught. The creative mind likes to recast old realities into new ones; to play, create and make visible the percolations which bubble to the surface from the unfathomable depths - the dark spaces which are not penetrable by reason - but which inform and shape the path of reason's raft, floating on that great ocean.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nicholas - You're such a post-modernist!

Observing said...

I'm reminded of the panpsychist view, though replacing Mind with God.

The Crow said...

Best leave being God's children in the symbolic, rather than the literal, since the literal involves some serious idol-worship/hubris.
Soul is the part created in God's image, and one may, or may not, have one.
If one does, then knowing is as simple as observing, sans interference with what is observed.
If one does not, then the surrogate for knowing, is transparent madness.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Observing - Yes, everything IS alive, and conscious - but in many ways and degrees: this is logically entailed, but is also spontaneously known by all humans (in childhood) who later suppress the knowledge with a false metaphysics.

@Crow - Symbolism is not supposed to replace the literal truth, but to make better sense of it. We start with knowing that God is literally a part of us - somehow, in some way. It is a further set of questions (which go on and on...) to try and understand this, but we must start with the reality.