Tag Archives: epistemology

Space

Imagine pure space without a single object in it. Not even you, the observer, but nonetheless for some reason you are still able to “observe” this space.

In what way can you differentiate one dimensionless point in this space to another dimensionless point? By what means can you understand the distance these two dimensionless points? How do you discover the size of this space? Or else does this space have a size at all? And how do you differentiate between a point and space, when there is no way to differentiate between the two?

Democritus and Leucippus called this void, but only when compared or contrasted to atoms. In other words, void is defined by the things, or the absence thereof, not by any positive means.

Parmenides found this troubling. For then void cannot be truly void. Nothing must be “something”. He drew the conclusion that all is one, and that change as observed in the world is an illusion.

Einstein described with the equation E=mc2 the world as mass, space, time, and energy. For any one of these elements to have a value would mean the entirety is zero, nothing or void. But nothing seems to have zero energy. Atoms brought to near zero Kelvin slows motion but can never stop it. Everything is in flux as Heraclitus had concluded. So space is energy, and not empty void as such.

Space is likely a thing, but because of its nature as a “homogenous” thing it cannot be observed directly but only by indirect means or inferred through the relationship of things.

Philosophical triangulation

1.
People ask how can the sensory representation of the physical world be relied upon. They ask how can I be sure that thing I see is there. The question is always framed through the visual sense.

Yet, all senses come into play.

The perceived thing visually will likely be accompanied by sound. If near enough I could probably touch and smell it. And if you are a baby you will likely want to lick (taste) it. In short, verification is never in a single sense dimension.

This kind of sensory triangulation is often forgotten. We do it so automatically that we take it for granted.

Yet the “what if the sun doesn’t rise tomorrow?” question should really be more precise like “what if the sun rises tomorrow and I don’t feel its heat?” The discrepancy between senses should trigger alarm bells.

It could be a dream perhaps. Or am I a man dreaming of being in a physical world, or a man in a physical world dreaming?

Silly question really.

For what elaborate reason would there be for creating this kind of The Matrix illusion?

Give me the red pill, please, and bring on the philosophical sentinels.

2.
The problem then with minds, souls, and spirits is that there is no triangulation other than hearsay. And when there is triangulation to the mind it is always through observation of a body-object.

There is no transference of The Matrix-like I-know-kung-fu data.

Nothing is there … or rather only a movie is there.

The imagination of the brain (not the mind) is what gives us The Matrix (literature and entertainment), Idealism (philosophy), the special theory of relativity (science), and God (religion).

Not only does the brain lead us to astray (as metaphors do), it also leads us sometimes back onto the right path (as metaphors do).

First stimulus and the chain of conception

Epistemologically, the first stimulus (my first stimulus) is sensory. It is of the things in the world, including the reflexive sensing of myself as a thing. The evidence is, things are known by sensation, and also things remain regardless whether being sensed or perceived.

You cannot perceive what is not first sensed. And you cannot conceive what is not first perceived. No chain of conception can occur without the first stimulus.

The chain of conception is the illusion of a self. The self is a conception.

The philosophy of “thrown in”

There are things.

When I say this I am more interested in the fact of knowing. I am confronted with things. I do not how I have knowledge of these things. But the fact that this the first act that makes me aware of something.

I am “thrown in” to this knowing, this act of sensing, perceiving, and conceiving without a choice. Only later through reflection that I will realise I cannot know things without actual sensation, perception, and conception.

This kind of process is specific to me being the being that I am.

Meta-epistemology

When I first come online as a being (whatever that may be) is that I am confronted by a reality. I sense the reality but I do not know that I am sensing it. I only see “data” coming in. That data is somehow stored and slowly I begin to make sense (note the metaphor) of it. We call this experience and knowledge. As I build up my knowledge of the reality I begin to understand its limitations and possibilities within it. It is only after some time that I can understand what experience is, and what knowledge is, and that it may or may not a thing. Having these experiences I have to make a decision on how to perceive it and deal with it.

External reality and anti-realism

In anti-realism, the external reality is hypothetical and not assumed. This sounds like a reformulation of the veil-of-appearance argument. Our knowledge of the external world is one mediated by the sense, and never amounts to direct knowledge. The conclusion is that our perception of the world is secondhand information.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the last mind

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the latin title of Wittgenstein’s first and only work published within his lifetime.  It translates roughly to A Treatise on Logic and Philosophy.

The stance then is that of logic.

I do not agree that logic is the best place to start. Logic, to me, seems to be an activity of the mind. And the mind is physical object take performs such processes. To me, place to start is ontology and then epistemology.

Someone commented in a previous post that it is ironic that one must use logic to even start to ask ontological and epistemological questions. I agree. And that tells us something about the inescapability of the act of thinking in order to get to the understanding. Logic, in other words, is a physical act. Logic cannot occur without the availability of the body or mind. This extends to knowledge (the epistemological act) as well. Logic and knowledge do not exist without a mind perform these acts. When the last mind extinguishes form this world so too does logic and knowledge. What continues to remain is the physical world, the reality. And logic and knowledge will restart when another mind comes into (for lack of a better word) being.