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# Why do people care about absolute certainty?

fresco

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 12:06 pm
@JLNobody,
You need to examine actual instances where the alternative phrases "certain" and "absolutely certain " are used. I suggest the act of juxtaposing them is an artificial situation divorced from real life payoffs. For example, we are likely to use your "deduction criterion" when considering the valid usage of the term "absolute certainty" for Pythagoras's Theorem, because deductive proofs exist based on particular geometrical premises. But on deeper contextual analysis "faith in those premises" becomes an issue when the theorem is utilized to model aspects of "the world". Thus all "deduction" relies on a concept of contextual closure, but this may be simply another "absolute".
Olivier5

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 12:25 pm
@JLNobody,
To me, certainty requires a (tiny) leap of faith from facts to conclusion. That's why I agree that it takes a little courage. Not much though. Absolute certainty would be a situation where one doesn't have to take any leap of faith, and that's probably impossible.

Even a logical reasoning or mathematical theorem requires a faith in logic... How do we have "absolute certainty" that logic "works"? We don't. We just take that leap of faith, must of us without even realizing we do.
0 Replies

Olivier5

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 12:30 pm
@Frank Apisa,

Let me guess: I'm the fool and you're the chicken, right?
Frank Apisa

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 03:08 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Regarding the distinction made between "certainty" and "absolute certainty", is this meant to distinguish between "faith" or even a conclusion based on induction from empirical evidence or the kind of confidence based on deduction from first principles?

If one is CERTAIN of something...that person is CERTAIN. If the person is not certain...trying to make a space between "certain" and "absolutely certain" is a joke...an attempt to fool self!
0 Replies

Frank Apisa

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 03:12 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Let me guess: I'm the fool and you're the chicken, right?

Nope.

It is just a clown...with a chicken.

Take another look.

0 Replies

neologist

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 05:50 pm
@fresco,
I believe I touched on that here:
http://able2know.org/topic/246101-3#post-5682102
Frank Apisa

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 07:42 pm
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

I believe I touched on that here:
http://able2know.org/topic/246101-3#post-5682102

Certainty is defined by the beholder (the person asserting certainty.)

Absolute certainty is defined by the beholder (the person asserting absolute certainty.)

This entire differentiation is something out of Alice in Wonderland.

A person is either certain...or is uncertain. The addition of "absolutely" changes nothing.

If there is a perceived difference...the change that should be made is not the addition of the word "absolutely"...but rather the elimination of the word "certain."
neologist

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 08:15 pm
@Frank Apisa,
I think I may have just said that.
Except, if you eliminate c e r t a I n, wouldn't you be left with absolute ty?

Just sayin, ya know
Frank Apisa

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 08:27 pm
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

I think I may have just said that.
Except, if you eliminate c e r t a I n, wouldn't you be left with absolute ty?

Just sayin, ya know

No, Neo. Re-read what I wrote. Consider it rather than trying to be cute with it.
neologist

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 08:40 pm
@Frank Apisa,
I know, uncle Frank. But that's where epistemological certainty comes in, right? The word 'epistemological' becomes the limiting factor by the implication of falsifiability.
JLNobody

1
Fri 6 Jun, 2014 11:04 pm
@fresco,
Pardon my ignorance but while I do assume that logic has its functions, I don't see it as generating the kinds of insights provided by intuition. While we rarely benefit from being downright illogical, we must also have the sober realization that logic is limited by its formal characteristics (both its methods and its fundamental premises that amount to simple faiths). The fact that it permits us to bypass emotional inputs is both its principal strength and limitation. I agree that one does not see formal thought operating in everyday practical problem solving--I'm ignoring, of course, the problem solving operations of physicists, because I am ignorant of their culture.
fresco

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 01:00 am
@JLNobody,
JLN and Neo

Mathematical proofs are not "empirical" in an experimental sense as in physics. They usually rely on the application of traditional logical rules such as "the law of the excluded middle". (There are of course other "logics" with their own consistent rule structures). Traditional logic is based on static set theory whose pictorial (Venn Diagram) proofs are "self evident". The "findings" which are involved with such proofs (e.g. the angle subtended by a diameter is a right angle) are tautological rather than empirical, despite the fact that dynamic human activity is involved in the proving process in which we also use the verb "to find". The fact that physicists may indeed exploit those "mathematical findings" to direct their empirical observation is another matter, and is involved in epistemological analysis of terms like "explanation".

With respect to philosophical statements, my own rejection of traditional logical analysis is that static set theory already assumes the first level of measurement...the nominal...the naming of "a thing" which by definition retains its "identity" (set membership) throughout subsequent discussion. But as modern philosophers/psychologists have pointed out, that "identity" shifts dynamically with the shifting of context. The observer/thinger undergoes continous state changes such that "self" and "world" at the start of a discussion have shifted by the end of it*. (Examine yourself prior to reading this, relative to where you are now! )

Thus traditional logic ultimately fails on the deeper general questions about "certainty", for example, because it is based on the assumption of an objective unchanging world. The rejection of this assumption implies an ontological infinite regress. Yet logic still has its uses in limited non-philosophical contexts such as "I am absolutely certain I put my wallet on this table" because the phrase is being used for socially dynamic purposes, rather than as an epistemological exercise.

(*Refs: Wittgenstein; Meaning is Use ....Piaget; Assimilation-Accommodation)
0 Replies

fresco

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 01:55 am
@JLNobody,
Sorry, because I avoided the issue of model applicability,I failed to address your term "insight".
I think to a large extent insight involves the subsequently fruitful application of a formal model to a re-classification of "the world". Einstein's application of non-Euclidean geometry to support his thoughts on space-time are a good example of this. Interestingly, Clerk-Maxwell's earlier adoption of "an elastic aether model" allowed him to develop his successful (i.e.predictive) equations, despite the fact that the model was later rejected and superseded by quantum mechanics. In terms of "progress of knowledge" we might hypothetically ask whether either relativity theory, or quantum mechanics, could have proceeded without Maxwell's equations.
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Frank Apisa

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 04:07 am
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

I know, uncle Frank. But that's where epistemological certainty comes in, right? The word 'epistemological' becomes the limiting factor by the implication of falsifiability.

I'm not your uncle...and what I said was right on the button.

Re-read what I wrote. Consider it rather than trying to be cute with it.
fresco

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 04:23 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
The addition of "absolutely" changes nothing.

Wrong Frank ! It potentially changes the social dynamics of a discourse. See my example.
But of course you think that the meanings of words are context free, as in your simplistic attitude to use of the term "reality". Such ideas are philosophically passÃ© , but why should that bother a golfer ?
Frank Apisa

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 05:06 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
The addition of "absolutely" changes nothing.

Wrong Frank !

No, Fresco...this time you are wrong.

There is no difference between being "certain" and being "absolutely certain." The notion is a sham.

Quote:
It potentially changes the social dynamics of a discourse.

That would be better, and more honestly, served by avoiding the pretense that there is a difference between "being certain"...and "being absolutely certain"...

...to being "certain" and not being certain.

Quote:
See my example.

Quote:
But of course you think that the meanings of words are context free, as in your simplistic attitude to use of the term "reality". Such ideas are philosophically passÃ© , but why should that bother a golfer ?

In this particular case...there us nothing changed by adding the word "absolutely" to "certain" that is not better, and more honestly, changed by changing to "certain" and "not certain."

I suspect you know this, but simply are unable to acknowledge that I am correct on this.

fresco

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 05:23 am
@Frank Apisa,
Are you really too blind to see that the act of adding the word "absolutely" to the word "certain" can be contextually meaningful. Only a fool observing the "wallet on the table discourse" would start cheese pairing about semantics. Those engaged in the wallet discussion are likely to turn on the such a kibbitzer and smash him in the mouth ! Indeed one of the characters in a BBC comedy called "Yes Minister" played the "court jester" role of such a simpleton.
Frank Apisa

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 05:32 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Are you really too blind to see that the act of adding the word "absolutely" to the word "certain" can be contextually meaningful. Only a fool observing the "wallet on the table discourse" would start cheese pairing about semantics. Those engaged in the wallet discussion are likely to turn on the such a kibbitzer and smash him in the mouth ! Indeed one of the characters in a BBC comedy called "Yes Minister" played the "court jester" role of such a simpleton.

One is either certain...or is not certain. Adding the word "absolutely" to it does nothing...except in the minds of people incapable of acknowledging the true difference between being certain...and not being certain.

Try to grok that.
fresco

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 06:36 am
@Frank Apisa,
Give it up Frank! It is obvious to everybody that you have no clue about semantics theory or theories of truth. Speaking of Brit comedy programmes, try and get to see Del Boy at the opera. I''mhinking of a follow up called Frank at the Philosophy Seminar!

Frank Apisa

1
Sat 7 Jun, 2014 06:38 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Give it up Frank! It is obvious to everybody that you have no clue about semantics theory or theories of truth. Speaking of Brit comedy programmes, try and get to see Del Boy at the opera. I''mhinking of a follow up called Frank at the Philosophy Seminar!

Give it up yourself, Fresco.

Either a person is certain...or they are not certain.

Pretending there is a difference between "certain" and "absolutely certain" in order not to have to acknowledge a lack of certainty...is right up your alley. So I can understand you defending it...even though it is an absurdity.

I am thoroughly enjoying watching you do this!

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