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What is the Virtue of Admitting Ignorance?

 
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 12:55 am
Understanding the "how" we know of anything is still a philosophically open question.

Is their anything that you can know as certain?

If so, how do you know that?

Fallibilism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallibilism

Is there something to gain by admitting ignorance with regard to knowledge?

If we assumed that:
All 'knowledge' is provisional knowledge.

How would this alter our world view?
Could this help prevent us from becoming trapped within our assumptions?

See Wittgenstein's ladder, Lie to Children, Upaya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie-to-children

Does this position have any negative consequences?
Does assuming this position still allow for discussion regarding what is 'real'?
 
fresco
 
  3  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:05 am
@MattDavis,
Interestingly (prior to reading your refs)I have just used the Newton-Relativity contrast to illustrate embedded domains on the "self" thread !

Note that ignorance has its roots in the verb "to ignore" which can be taken as a willing disregard of "established knowledge" as opposed to being unaware of that knowledge. A pragmatist would argue that "knowledge" is about "what does or does not work in a particular context", and that distinction overrides antiquated distinctions between "appearance and reality". So at one level of "ignorance" (that of being unaware) there may be an entrenched concept of "reality" and what is uncertain about it, but at the second level , ( that of willful disregard) there can be a recognition of different contexts and the selection of what can be considered "factual" for specific purposes.

The argument that "facts" are contextually constructed (from the Latin facere -to make) itself renders arguments about "absolute knowledge" and "ultimate reality" either vacuous or a subject of religious speculation.

So in answer to the question "is it virtuous to admit ignorance ?", my answer would be yes from the willful point of view, provided that the speaker understood the constructionist argument about "facts". It is not virtuous to admit that ultimate truth or reality is "inaccessible" because that presupposes their "existence".


farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:16 am
@fresco,
either admit it or it will become laughingly obvious to others.

NOT admitting ones ignorance of a subject is ones way of showng disdain for ones conversation partner.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:28 am
@farmerman,
Wrong level. The references make it clear we are not talking here about the "normal" use of the word. The implication here is that it refers to the impossibility of "absolute knowledge".
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:29 am
@MattDavis,
Hey, Matt,

I have no problem with using the word “know” when used in casual conversation in sentences such as, “I know 2 + 2 = 4” or “I know I am at my keyboard at the moment” or “I know the capital of New Jersey is Trenton.” The implications of whether we truly "know" stuff like that does not even enter my mind in those instances.

In more rigorous settings, such as Internet debate, I tend to be more careful with my use of the word…and more exacting in what I will accept without question from others.

Quote:
Is their anything that you can know as certain?


It seems to me a logical fallacy is created by asserting that we cannot know anything for certain…so I will not subscribe to that.

Richard Feynman, in a conversation with (I think it was) Charlie Rose, went on at length about how difficult it is to know things for certain. He obviously was of the opinion that it is possible. I was mesmerized by his comments…and they have influenced my thinking of “knowing.”

In any case, I recognize that “know” is greatly over-used…and I am judicious in my own use of the word.


Quote:
Is there something to gain by admitting ignorance with regard to knowledge?


At great deal, in my opinion! You will not search for knowledge if you suppose (correctly or incorrectly) that you already have it. You may stumble on something else…but you will not search for it. The value is in the conscious pursuit of the knowledge.

I'll leave this for now, but I'll be back.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:31 am
@fresco,
either way. "Absolute" is a fleeting concept drawn out by the vast amount of work done in its past.
Certain concepts (Like Newtonian gravity) arent incorrect, they are Incomplete. Yet, having someone in a debate about Newtonian physics and NOT EVEN UNDERSTANDING THAT BIT OF DERIVATION, has laughingly been exposed as ignorant .
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:34 am
@farmerman,
There come basic universal "Truths" that end only as newer (and more correct) truths are revealed.
Ignorance of the basic root or boundar conditions of thetruths is what I see here. You cant carry on an argument about" semantics" of an advanced technology if you dont understand whats gone on before.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:40 am
@farmerman,
Yes. That's the difference between ignorance as "willful disregard" (by a teacher of elementary physics who has studied much further) and ignorance as being "unaware" ( by one who only has knowledge of elementary physics).
Ironically those who are ignorant/unaware of that difference tend to be ignorant/unaware philosophically. Wink
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 09:57 am
@MattDavis,
All empirical knowledge is, in a sense, provisional knowledge. We can only know how things have been in order to predict how they will probably be in the future. Logical truths, however, are not provisional. They are true by their terms.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 04:08 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Logical truths, however, are not provisional. They are true by their terms.

I agree that they are true by their terms.
Just as things can be said to be true in a mathematical system by the terms of the mathematical system.
Logic both formal (mathematical) and informal (linguistic) is an axiomatic system. That is to say such systems must start with some basic assumptions (axioms) from which to "boot strap" on to further knowledge (within the system).
All such logical truths at heart are saying is "From these basic assumptions this is what can be derived."
Sadly (or maybe not sadly) they do not speak as to the truth value of the basic assumptions.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 04:14 pm
@fresco,
Thanks fresco,
I think your response gets quite nicely at the heart of the distinction between any naive realistic view and any view in the existentialist tradition.
How shall one decide?
Where to place the arbiter of truth?
Coherence?
Simplicity?
Predictability (of observation)?
Intuition?
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 04:58 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
So in answer to the question "is it virtuous to admit ignorance ?", my answer would be yes from the willful point of view, provided that the speaker understood the constructionist argument about "facts". It is not virtuous to admit that ultimate truth or reality is "inaccessible" because that presupposes their "existence".

Thank you. I find this a very thorough and succinct answer. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 05:03 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:
I'll leave this for now, but I'll be back.

Thanks Frank.
I credit you as having inspired this thread.
Here is a video that I think has much to say in regard to the OP.
I know you've seen it but want to provide it for others if they are interested.

@https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OntnH4B0mKw
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 06:08 pm
TO EVERYONE:

The video Matt just inserted is definitely worth a look. I normally do not view video links...but I decided to take a look...and was hooked immediately.

Hope you enjoy it.

(Matt, I hope I didn't sour anybody on it by endorsing it!)
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 12:32 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
You will not search for knowledge if you suppose (correctly or incorrectly) that you already have it. You may stumble on something else…but you will not search for it. The value is in the conscious pursuit of the knowledge.
I like that. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 07:42 pm
@MattDavis,
That is a great video even though it is getting late for me and I have to watch the rest tomorrow. I maybe related to him as we both share the same last name. Laughing
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2013 02:00 am
@MattDavis,
An entertaining but philosophically naive video !

Where does the guy get his "percentages" from ? Wink
He demands terms of reference for discussing "God" but does not seem to realize you would equally need them for "know", "information" and "existence"

The entertainment value of QI (a BBC exotic knowledge quiz) is related to what is outside usual (parochial) human experience and expectation. (Bizarre sexual organs, variations in beetles etc)...the "who would have thunk it" angle. Fast forward a thousand years (if we are still here) and such a programme might include film clips of thousands of "worshipers" kneeling in St. Peters Square in front of some old men in frocks uttering Latin incantations, despite it have been an age of significant "scientific progress".


MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2013 02:10 am
@fresco,
Eeeke!
Are you calling the "Professor of Ignorance" naive?
Surely you jest.
Not many other videos on fallibility. Professor Existenz Laughing
Now I'm jesting.
I am not familiar with QI.
The BBC is actually nearly inaccessible in the US. The BBC websites block US IP addresses.
Sure would like to watch "Black Books". Is that even still around?
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2013 05:29 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
An entertaining but philosophically naive video !


would you kindly go into more depth about what you find naive about the video?

I love what I have learned from Plato's writings especially Socrates apology.

If someone has not read Socrates apology I do recommend it and it is very short. Wink
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2013 05:44 pm
@reasoning logic,
I think the naivety is primarily in the (perhaps merely implied) assumption that if knowledge is necessarily dependent upon some basic assumptions, no "knowledge" is possible.
By example:
Maths require some basics axioms(assumptions) to build up to more mathematical knowledge. Does this make mathematics meaningless?
What if we took some other basic assumptions(axioms) such as "I think therefore I am", and then derived some other knowledge from this. Does this make such philosophical knowledge meaningless?
What if we take value in empirical methods as an assumption. We observe "reality" behaving in certain way in accordance with "rules" of nature. Does this make such scientific knowledge meaningless?

What if the mathematical understanding, philosophical understanding, and scientific understanding converge... What if they agree with each other.... still meaningless?
 

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