Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 08:29 am
This is a thread meant to "park" a debate that promises to be extremely long, devoted to get Frank to understand a tiny tiny detail which emerged on another thread.

The argument was as follows:

In the context of a discussion about what we can know of gods and metaphysics in general, I defined "knowledge" as empirical, based on observation. Therefore, one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe. Common sense, right?

In his usual contrarian way, Frank tried to disagree with that. He said:

Frank wrote:
you CAN make a logical comment about something you cannot observe. “I do not know if there are any living beings on any planet circling the nearest 5 stars to Sol”…is totally appropriate. No need to observe to make that comment.

http://able2know.org/topic/141106-511#post-5661210

I replied that the above statement is about what Frank KNOWS or in fact what he DOESN'T KNOW about planets circling the nearest 5 stars to the sun, not about the planets themselves. He can easily "observe" what he knows through introspection. Therefore, he failed to come up with a knowledgeable statement about something he cannot observe.

Even more ridiculous: when asked why he volunteered a statement about his IGNORANCE of said planets, Frank conceded that:

Quote:
I have knowledge of my thoughts. I do not have knowledge of beings on other planets.

http://able2know.org/topic/141106-513#post-5662105

Which was my point all along: one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe.

This seems fairly obvious, right? But of course Frank will disagree till he drops dead... In the meantime, lets have fun!
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Type: Question • Score: 11 • Views: 6,954 • Replies: 230

 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 08:42 am
@Olivier5,
Quote:
one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe.


Seriously? So you don't exist because there is no way for me to observe you? If you message me your phone number and I call you, am I observing you or just knowing my telephone? The Sun existed yesterday, but not this morning because at 4:00am it is unobservable?
Setanta
 
  5  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 08:50 am
None of you exist. You're all fig newtons of my imagination.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 09:40 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

This is a thread meant to "park" a debate that promises to be extremely long, devoted to get Frank to understand a tiny tiny detail which emerged on another thread.


Actually, the thread ought more aptly be said to be devoted to getting you to understand that I am correct in what I have been saying in our discussion thus far.



Quote:
The argument was as follows:

In the context of a discussion about what we can know of gods and metaphysics in general, I defined "knowledge" as empirical, based on observation. Therefore, one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe. Common sense, right?


That is closer to bizarre than to common sense. (As Bobsal points out up above.)

You have no right to suggest that YOUR definition of "knowledge" (which I see as not only self-serving, but seriously defective) has to prevail.

If you want to discuss observations...call them observations, not "knowledge"...and the problem will dissolve of its own weight.

I can definitely have "knowledge" about things I cannot observe. I can gain "knowledge" by deduction...and by reason. (Both parts of definitions I've seen in dictionaries other than the Olivier Dictionary.




Quote:


In his usual contrarian way, Frank tried to disagree with that. He said:

Frank wrote:
you CAN make a logical comment about something you cannot observe. “I do not know if there are any living beings on any planet circling the nearest 5 stars to Sol”…is totally appropriate. No need to observe to make that comment.

http://able2know.org/topic/141106-511#post-5661210

I replied that the above statement is about what Frank KNOWS or in fact what he DOESN'T KNOW about planets circling the nearest 5 stars to the sun, not about the planets themselves. He can easily "observe" what he knows through introspection. Therefore, he failed to come up with a knowledgeable statement about something he cannot observe.

Even more ridiculous: when asked why he volunteered a statement about his IGNORANCE of said planets, Frank conceded that:

Quote:
I have knowledge of my thoughts. I do not have knowledge of beings on other planets.

http://able2know.org/topic/141106-513#post-5662105

Which was my point all along: one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe.

This seems fairly obvious, right? But of course Frank will disagree till he drops dead... In the meantime, lets have fun!


I most assuredly do disagree...as any reasonable person would.

But let's do have fun!

You are all wrong here. Knowledge is not gained exclusively though observation...and you have not made anywhere near a sufficient case that we all have to bow down to your suggestion that it must.

Ball in your court!



joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 09:57 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:
Which was my point all along: one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe.

Are you suggesting that knowledge is only obtained through induction? What about knowledge obtained through deduction? For instance, if I know that red litmus paper turns blue when exposed to a base solution, and I know that X is a base solution, I don't have to observe the litmus paper being exposed to X in order to know that the paper will turn blue. Wouldn't you agree?

Or are you just using an idiosyncratic definition of "knowledge?"
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:00 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Don't go too fast, you could hurt yourself:

- If you read a post of mine, you have a way to observe my thinking and to conclude that a dude exists who writes that stuff (rather than, say, a computer).

- Of course observation is only one source of knowledge, the other one being reason, i.e. logic, mathematics, etc. E.g. if you can observe the sun, and it coming back every day, you can conclude that it still exists when you don't see it.

BUT, if you never ever had seen or felt the sun, or read any of my stuff, how in hell would you know the sun and I exist?

Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:08 am
@joefromchicago,
I am just stating the obvious: without observation, there is no knowledge. Of course logic also plays a role, but it cannot work alone. It has to start somewhere, i.e. observations.

In your example, you know that X is a base solution based on prior observation, and you also know (supposedly) that red litmus paper turns blue when exposed to a base solution based on prior observation. From there you can predict that the paper will turn blue when exposed to solution X. But that knowledge 1) comes from prior observation; and 2) will be buttressed by actually observing that the paper indeed turns to blue.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:15 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
I can definitely have "knowledge" about things I cannot observe. I can gain "knowledge" by deduction...and by reason.

You can only use logic and reason if you have some observation to start with and to process; e.g. in absence of any observation about planet X, what can you know about it, based on logic alone? Nothing. So my point that knowledge is based on observation IS common sense. Nothing bizarre about it.

But what I found most amusing is that, trying to come up with a comment about something you cannot observe, you ended up saying: "“I do not know etc.". I.e. a comment about yourself.

Therefore, and if we believe you, you cannot observe yourself. :-)
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  3  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:22 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:
. . . I defined "knowledge" as empirical, based on observation. Therefore, one cannot know anything about what one cannot observe. Common sense, right?
I think you have made your definition too narrow. I would agree with Joe that knowledge can be obtained through deduction. We don't observe atomic particles; we observe effects.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:26 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

I am just stating the obvious: without observation, there is no knowledge. Of course logic also plays a role, but it cannot work alone. It has to start somewhere, i.e. observations.

No, not necessarily. For example, if I posit that all unicorns are white, I know that, if X is a unicorn, it will be white.

Olivier5 wrote:
In your example, you know that X is a base solution based on prior observation, and you also know (supposedly) that red litmus paper turns blue when exposed to a base solution based on prior observation. From there you can predict that the paper will turn blue when exposed to solution X. But that knowledge 1) comes from prior observation; and 2) will be buttressed by actually observing that the paper indeed turns to blue.

Quite true. My knowledge of the properties of both litmus paper and the X solution is based on empirical observation. But my knowledge of how the litmus paper will react to X is not based on empirical observation. It is, instead, based upon logical deduction. Are you saying that the latter is not "knowledge?"
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:38 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
if I posit that all unicorns are white, I know that, if X is a unicorn, it will be white.

Still, your argument has a point of departure: the hypothesis that all unicorns are white. Without observation of actual unicorns, that hypothesis is not actual knowledge, and nothing you derive from it will amount to knowledge.

Quote:

Quite true. My knowledge of the properties of both litmus paper and the X solution is based on empirical observation. But my knowledge of how the litmus paper will react to X is not based on empirical observation. It is, instead, based upon logical deduction. Are you saying that the latter is not "knowledge?"

I am saying it is derived logically from prior observation. If you had never ever heard of or seen litmus paper and base solutions, you wouldn't be able to conclude anything.
Foofie
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:41 am
In quantum physics "the wave" collapses upon observation, and a specific reality exists. One "knows" that without "observations" the wave does not collapse and all possibilities exist.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:50 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:
Still, your argument has a point of departure: the hypothesis that all unicorns are white. Without observation of actual unicorns, that hypothesis is not actual knowledge, and nothing you derive from it will amount to knowledge.

No, I have actual knowledge, in that I know if the conditions are met, then the conclusion is ineluctable. Observation is not necessary in order for me to be completely confident of that fact.

Olivier5 wrote:
I am saying it is derived logically from prior observation. If you had never ever heard of or seen litmus paper and base solutions, you wouldn't be able to conclude anything.

Not so. Suppose all boojums are snarks, and suppose X is a boojum. I know that X is a snark, despite the fact that I've never observed a boojum or a snark (or X, for that matter) in my life.

But perhaps you are using "knowledge" in a way that is different from the way I use it. Let's say:

(1) Red litmus paper turns blue when exposed to a base solution;
(2) X is a base solution; and
(3) If red litmus paper is exposed to X, it will turn blue.

As I understand it, you are saying that (1) and (2) constitute "knowledge" because they are based upon observations. But what about (3)? Are you saying that it is not knowledge because it is based on a deductive inference? Or are you saying that it does constitute knowledge because it is derived from empirical observations?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:54 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Or are you saying that it does constitute knowledge because it is derived from empirical observations?

Yes.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 10:57 am
@neologist,
Quote:
We don't observe atomic particles; we observe effects.

The same is true for everything. You cannot see a car, you can only see the light reflected by the car.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 11:17 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
Or are you saying that it does constitute knowledge because it is derived from empirical observations?

Yes.

Then what about:

(1) All boojums are snarks;
(2) X is a boojum;
(3) Therefore, X is a snark.

Would you say that (3) is not knowledge because it is not based upon or derived from actual observations?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 11:19 am
@Foofie,
Quote:
One "knows" that without "observations" the wave does not collapse and all possibilities exist.

The wave can collapse due to any interaction with other bodies, not just observation.

And one "knows" that how, if not based on some prior observation?
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 11:40 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Then what about:

(1) All boojums are snarks;
(2) X is a boojum;
(3) Therefore, X is a snark.

Would you say that (3) is not knowledge because it is not based upon or derived from actual observations?

The objects you are dealing with here are mental objects. You create a set of mental objects called "snarks", another set of mental objects called bojums, and you mentally place set 2 within set 1, and then you mentally observe that all bojums are snarks, by necessity.

One can conceive of mathematics as a science observing the ways some invented mental objects interact with other invented mental objects.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 11:43 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
Then what about:

(1) All boojums are snarks;
(2) X is a boojum;
(3) Therefore, X is a snark.

Would you say that (3) is not knowledge because it is not based upon or derived from actual observations?

The objects you are dealing with here are mental objects. You create a set of mental objects called "snarks", another set of mental objects called bojums, and you mentally place set 2 within set 1, and then you mentally observe that all bojums are snarks, by necessity.

That's fine, but it doesn't answer my question.

Olivier5 wrote:
One can conceive of mathematics as a science observing the ways some invented mental objects interact with other invented mental objects.

So are you saying that there's no such thing as mathematical knowledge?
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 12:25 pm
@joefromchicago,
I am saying mathematics can qualify as knowledge because they are based on the observation of how mental objects interact.

I realize it's a bit of a stretch as compared to conventional wisdom, but not too much I think.

That mathematics deal with ideals, mental things is pretty obvious. It's also obvious that in spite of that, they are not subjective, in that two mathematicians will normally come to the same objective solution (or lack thereof) for a given problem. Therefore, mathematics deals with mental objects which can be created by imagination, and passed from one mathematician to the next by way of verbal or written communication.

I believe that mathematicians work by observing the characteristics and behaviors of these mental objects within their consciousness, and deriving laws from such observation.
 

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