I've had some measure of difficulty trying to precisely enunciate my thoughts on this. Its subtle and can't be characterized as a "there is"/"there isn't" argument. These are points that mitigate, soften and flesh out the implications of what we're talking about. Begging your patience....
I did not mean to make it black or white. But although I don't know what you mean by "absolute knowledge" (certainty perhaps?) it is true that there are many thing we know.
I understand; and yes there are many things we can (at least reasonably know). This is a product of how I've arrived on these same issues - a result of my own mind's processes and how I've been presented, and subsequently worked through - them.
What I mean by absolute knowledge, in this thread's context, is this: The OP talks about what's answerable. But what is or isn't can be murky depending. Very much like your examples (Mars & water molecular composition), these - I'd say - are quite
answerable. But even these can be phrased or contextualized in such a way as to reveal them as "not quite as clear". For example: What is a planet? By whose definition (e.g., the Pluto Demotion) or perhaps questioning whether or not it is the existence of hydrogen and oxygen alone that comprises water; can't just mix 'em in a beaker, they require an atomic reaction (of sorts) to actually link properly. These are probably weak examples, but only examples of how some folks might look upon the "clearly answerable" as not. The instant we admit this - to any extent - thus enters implications of value in discussing what is or isn't answerable. Short Version
: Nothing is quite so clear as it may appear; so much so, that almost nothing is conclusively "answerable". Yes this is a reach, but its a subtle implication that speaks to the validity of discussion and learning
itself via recognition of the complexity of what appears
... If you just mean in philosophy, then I know that the Ontological argument is wrong, and I know why it is wrong. I know that fatalism is different from determinism, and that fatalism is false, and can be shown to be false....
Aye, and I think I'd agree with you on most points (side note). However, if the premise of the original post's presentation is correct (that which is unanswerable has no value in discussion), then we draw upon our own perspectives to make this decision. In the above examples you give, these are knowable, quantifiable and logical to you. In other words, they've been answered. But to many, their view (or more likely context or framing of such issues) is divergent to the point that such hasn't an answer. Perhaps they require other proofs, illustrations or contexts - unknown to their current mindset - to answer. The point
: Such could be answerable or not, depending on how questions are approached. Because of this, our labeling of "answerable" or "knowable" is spurious and subject to interpretation
; therefore, any such declaration cannot be used - reliably - to characterize the worth of discussion. They may be to you, or to me, or not - but can't very well be generalized across the spectrum.
The trouble is that the view that there is nothing in philosophy for which we can get (at least) highly plausible answers, and that philosophy consists, to quote D.H. Lawrence (not about philosophy) in "talk, talk, talk, and never a thing said" is not only unjust to philosophy since it is not true, but gives philosophy a very bad name, and makes it an object of contempt for many who think that is true.
Concur completely - well put.
- Our understanding is the foundation of any given perspective
- Our perspective defines our reality
- Each person's understanding and perspective is unique to him or her alone
- Our reality frames what is answerable, knowable or not
- Therefore what is "answerable" or "knowable" varies from person to person
Therefore whether or not its worthy of discussion can't be given "one" answer on-the-whole
Yes this sounds like a gross justification for relativism; granted. But even though I'm not much of a "reality is relative" fellow, I believe that as soon as we cross that line into knowable and answerable, such a result is sadly unavoidable.
Thanks for engaging