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Why do people care about absolute certainty?

 
 
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 04:02 am
Do people really lose sleep at night thinking they might be a brain inside a vat of some evil mad scientist's laboratory?

I think it's reasonably probable to think that I'm not a brain in vat, just like it's reasonable probable to think that the world isn't flat. In fact, I'll go a little further and say I'm certain that I'm not a brain in vat, just like I'm certain that the world isn't flat.

Certainty requires courage. Absolute certainty requires silliness.

Is anyone else feeling as courageous as I am?


Oh and before some smart-arse replies: B-b-but how can you be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you're not ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. It's a contradiction!

My answer in advance: Nice try, but nope. I make no such claim. I'm not absolutely certain I'm not absolutely certain. Rather, I'm courageously certain that I'm not absolutely certain. I never said absolutely certain is impossible, I said it's grossly improbable. Thus, the apparent contradiction sorts itself out.
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 04:13 am
@BL0CPARTY,
It's hard for most people to accept that their perception is relative and that probabilities are more useful than possibilities. But I don't know of anyone losing sleep over it.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 04:17 am
Yeah, i had the same thought about losing sleep. I would ask you why you care about what you see as a flaw in other peoples' thinking. It is also useful to keep in mind that online, people like to argue. They're anonymous, and usually can't be embarrassed. Therefore, it's easy for them to take a position they would never dream of mentioning and defending if they were meeting people face-to-face.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 04:26 am
@BL0CPARTY,
Could you give me some idea of what you consider the difference between being "certain" of something...and being "absolutely certain?"
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 05:22 am
@rosborne979,
I intended that analogy to be taken metaphorically but I can say that I've met people who've literally lost sleep over ideas such as Cartesian daemons and such.
0 Replies
 
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 05:43 am
@Frank Apisa,
Certainty is the best we've got. When I deduce that all unmarried men are bachelors it's possible that my logical reasoning is wrong (for any elaborate reason one may posit). I'm still certain that all unmarried men are bachelors even though I acknowledge the silly possibility that unmarried men may in fact not be bachelors.

Absolute certainty is reserved for omniscience I guess. Using my prior example if I was omniscient I could be absolutely certain if my knowledge told me all unmarried men are bachelors. Unfortunately we're not privileged enough to have omniscience so absolute certainty goes out the window.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 10:03 am
@BL0CPARTY,
For obvious reasons we cannot hold that an empirical generalization like all bachelors are happy is something we cannot hold with certainty, but the analytical generalization that all unmarried men are bachelors is "certain" because it is so by definition.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 11:47 am
@BL0CPARTY,
BL0CPARTY wrote:

Certainty is the best we've got. When I deduce that all unmarried men are bachelors it's possible that my logical reasoning is wrong (for any elaborate reason one may posit). I'm still certain that all unmarried men are bachelors even though I acknowledge the silly possibility that unmarried men may in fact not be bachelors.

Absolute certainty is reserved for omniscience I guess. Using my prior example if I was omniscient I could be absolutely certain if my knowledge told me all unmarried men are bachelors. Unfortunately we're not privileged enough to have omniscience so absolute certainty goes out the window.



C'mon, Bloc.

If you are going to play with definitions...this is going nowhere. (It may be going nowhere anyway, but at least give it a chance.)

If we define unmarried men as bachelors (we do not have to)...but if we do...then unmarried men are bachelors with certainty. What would have to change in order for that to become absolute certainty?

If a thing is certain...it is certain.

If it is not certain...it is not.

The "absolute" makes no sense at all...but I am willing to be convinced. Give it another try.
tsarstepan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 11:55 am
I am absolutely certain that I don't care at all.
http://i58.tinypic.com/f03jmo.jpg

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 01:44 pm
Great movie . . .
0 Replies
 
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 02:54 pm
@JLNobody,
But we can hold empirical generalisations to certainty. We can be reasonably certain that;

The speed of light travels faster than the speed of sound.
Not all bachelors are happy

Those are two very reasonable statements, that, based on empirical information, allow me to be certain about the validity of them. Any problems?

On to your second point. I agree, it's certain because of definition. Any reasonable person would see that. But I don't think it's absolutely certain. What if there's an evil, omnipotent demon who invented logic to trick us into believing things that weren't true? Therefore, every time we use logic, it's actually wrong?

Absurd? Yes. Most reasonable people will see this possibility as being so small we can be certain it's not the case and doesn't warrant any serious contemplation. But it's a possibility nonetheless.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 02:59 pm
@BL0CPARTY,
BL0CPARTY wrote:

But we can hold empirical generalisations to certainty. We can be reasonably certain that;

The speed of light travels faster than the speed of sound.
Not all bachelors are happy

Those are two very reasonable statements, that, based on empirical information, allow me to be certain about the validity of them. Any problems?

On to your second point. I agree, it's certain because of definition. Any reasonable person would see that. But I don't think it's absolutely certain. What if there's an evil, omnipotent demon who invented logic to trick us into believing things that weren't true? Therefore, every time we use logic, it's actually wrong?

Absurd? Yes. Most reasonable people will see this possibility as being so small we can be certain it's not the case and doesn't warrant any serious contemplation. But it's a possibility nonetheless.


There we go with that "absolutely certain" thingy again.

Why not just certain?

Name a specific thing that you say is certain...but that is not absolutely certain.

Just want to understand what in heck you are talking about.
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 03:04 pm
@Frank Apisa,
I agree old man, we're both certain all unmarried men are bachelors.

"What would have to change in order for that to become absolute certainty?"

Well, firstly we would have to be sure that our logic is sound and is not the invention of some mischievous, evil demon who laughs every time we use logic because it's wrong and merely his invention. Can you be absolutely certain this is not the case? Perhaps you would do yourself a service by brushing up on Descartes' Meditations. Just a thought.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 03:07 pm
@BL0CPARTY,
BL0CPARTY wrote:

I agree old man, we're both certain all unmarried men are bachelors.

"What would have to change in order for that to become absolute certainty?"

Well, firstly we would have to be sure that our logic is sound and is not the invention of some mischievous, evil demon who laughs every time we use logic because it's wrong and merely his invention. Can you be absolutely certain this is not the case? Perhaps you would do yourself a service by brushing up on Descartes' Meditations. Just a thought.


Ahhh..."old man."

So you are that kind of discussion partner.

Interesting.

Perhaps you could refer to my post just above your last response...and answer the question I asked.

Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 03:08 pm
@Frank Apisa,
By the way...I did not agree that all unmarried men are bachelors.

Read what I actually wrote.
0 Replies
 
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 03:20 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Haha lighten up, guy. I'm just teasing.

I explained like 4 times already the distinction between certainty and absolute certainty. So please take your dementia pills and listen up carefully! Smile I will not do so again.

"Name a specific thing that you say is certain"

Ok, all unmarried men are bachelors because the definition of a bachelor is an unmarried man. I'm certain of that. Agree?

"...but that is not absolutely certain."

Correct. I'm not absolutely certain that all unmarried men are bachelors because there's probably a small chance that there's an evil, omnipotent demon who invented logic to trick us into believing things that weren't true. So every time I say 'all unmarried men are bachelors' (which is a logical statement), I can't be absolutely certain that an evil demon isn't tricking me. Agree?
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 05:54 pm
@BL0CPARTY,
BL0CPARTY wrote:

Haha lighten up, guy. I'm just teasing.

I explained like 4 times already the distinction between certainty and absolute certainty. So please take your dementia pills and listen up carefully! Smile I will not do so again.


No dementia, Bloc. Why do you have to get into nonsense like that?

Quote:
Quote:
"Name a specific thing that you say is certain"


Ok, all unmarried men are bachelors because the definition of a bachelor is an unmarried man. I'm certain of that. Agree?


Absolutely and positively NOT!

Fact is, that is not the definition of a bachelor.


Quote:
"...but that is not absolutely certain."


That you are right about. And it is not just plain old certain either. What it is...is incorrect.

Quote:
Correct. I'm not absolutely certain that all unmarried men are bachelors because there's probably a small chance that there's an evil, omnipotent demon who invented logic to trick us into believing things that weren't true. So every time I say 'all unmarried men are bachelors' (which is a logical statement), I can't be absolutely certain that an evil demon isn't tricking me. Agree?


Why not give up on this bachelor nonsense...and go on to whatever it is that is bothering you about people expressing a difference between "certain" and "absolutely certain."

Surely you have something better than an error to offer.
Romeo Fabulini
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 06:21 pm
Quote:
BLOCPARTY said: I'm not absolutely certain I'm not absolutely certain.

Yes mate, our entire reality may be unreal, BUT IT'S THE ONLY REALITY WE'VE GOT, so all we can do is chill and ride it out..Smile

"All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allen Poe
"You can be in my dream if i can be in your dream" -Bob Dylan
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on" -The Tempest
"Strawberry Fields...nothing is real" - The Beatles
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one'' -Einstein
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" - Bible,James 4:14
"Have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"- Morpheus in The Matrix
0 Replies
 
BL0CPARTY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 07:32 pm
@Frank Apisa,
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bachelor?q=bachelor

Bachelor n.

1. A man who is not and has never been married. Rolling Eyes
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 10:07 pm
The only "certainty" that matters to me is the FEELING of certainty, despite the fact that it is not ahsolutely certain.
 

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