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1. ## Can one be honestly, genuinely certain but wrong?

Here is a brief answer for now, and I'll get one for your post in my intro a bit later (that will not be brief). Its finals for me so my responses might be a bit slow over next 2 weeks. Consider this; Note that in my quote I used the words "repeatedly, purely and overwhelmingly" Case 1- I have only seen one white swan in my life. Case 2- I have seen too many white swans to count, over the course of my life, and never a black, and have no reason to believe one would be white; since I have observed many other similar species (repeatedly and overwhelmingly) that only appear in one color. Are you saying that I have no more rational basis to be certain that all swans are white, in case 1 than in case 2? if so we can debate this. I think I can be more clear about something, though. Specifically, the probability is the probability that you are wrong. Assume that swans can be black or white, and have equal probability of being one or the other. Then from this fact I can conclude that if I observe a certain large number of swans I will observe a black and a white one (there is a mathematical theorem that proves this, the law of large numbers). This is the same as saying, If I toss a coin long enough I will see a head and a tails. It is possible that I see all heads, but the chances are astronomical (99.999999....). In case 1 I don't have sufficient reason, by virtue of a statistical argument, to argue that all swans are white. Only with the overwhelming case 2 do I have sufficient reason.
2. ## Master And Commander

I enjoyed the film. The plot I thought was existent, but perhaps could have been more well defined. That sometimes happens when a movie is made from a book. There was a conflict between duty and personal will I thought. Lucky Jack was taking a personal initiative, exceeding his orders by hunting the Acheron. Matterin accuses him of this (he "smacks of pride"), but Matterin was also taking his own personal initiative when he explored the island. And in the end, both of their initiatives worked to generate their victory. Their duty is fullfilled, but not because they blindly followed it. So it presents a harmony between personal intiative and duty, with personal initiative as the more powerful force. And, their duty is justified rationally as the defense of their home. A harmony is also achieved between the conflicting interests of Matterin and Jack, symbolized in a poetic way when they play music together.
3. ## Mental Exercise - What Would You Do...

Andrew, it was called the Dark Ages for a reason. Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history? Our quality of life in this current "Age of Irrationality" is significantly higher than even a king would have enjoyed during those times. But if you really think that life was better then, I might suggest that you join an agrarian society. There are still some of them left! Try Africa, I think its your best bet. You don't seem to be happy here. Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history? I'll tell you what a medieval student of philosophy would think if he was transported here. He would think he was in Heaven. RedCap: The first thought I had when I read your question, was about the need I would have to communicate some of my scientific knowledge, and how I would go about it.
4. ## Quantum Reality And Objectivism

Shrodingers cat is a thought experiment. A similar sort of strangeness does occur at the quantum level, but quantum states break down in any structure bigger than a molecule, and the idea of a cat being in a quantum state is just silly. And consciousness does not have the power to change any quantum states, its the other way around- quantum states must resolve before we can sense them. Also the idea that because something is a "duality" that means it contradicts the law of identity is rather absurd. Its only that an energy state has different aspects, and we're not smart enough to understand them yet without confusing our English. Like I said, the one thing I must accept about quantum theory is the efficiency of its equations, not the power of its advocates to explain reality. ibridges didn't answer my question
5. ## Quantum Reality And Objectivism

Ibridges, you seem to be at cross purposes. Are you arguing about Objectivism being alive, or about Quantum Mechanics? The issue here concerns A=A, since this is the only part of Objectivism that Quantum Mechanics can possibly contradict. Your first argument about A=A is Heraclitean and you should admit that. A=A can't be elaborated upon or mature in any way, its the very base of knowledge. So RedCap was right to question you here. I have taken some basic courses in Physics, and I'm familiar with diffraction patterns. However, I have no trouble reconciling the law of identity with the physics. Perhaps you could explain your troubles more specifically?. I view some of the explanations of Q.M. with skepticism, notably the uncertainty principle and Shrodingers cat. I think that the idea of a particle as a wave of probability is the best so far. But I trust the mathematical formulas, they are really the core of this theory. This is probably because the science was partially created by several different mathematicians. What the experiments seem to say, irrefutably, is that a particle behaves as a probability wave, cancelling with other particles. This is plausable if you consider that a particle is really a state of energy. But perhaps scientists and philosophers misunderstand each other here... there is no reason to assume this contradicts A=A. Let me be clear: A=A is not merely a definition of the equals sign. It is a definition and base of our knowledge. Q. M. may shake up our idea of reality on a fundamental level, but nevertheless - we still say that the state of energy exists, whatever form it takes- whether it be wave or particle.
6. ## Can one be honestly, genuinely certain but wrong?

Perhaps that sentence was poorly worded, AshRyan. I was meaning to say that certainty can be achieved by observing an overwhelming majority of events. So it isn't strictly a function of probability, but certainty can be a function of probability. Probability is observed hits/total observations. As in the infant, who reaches certainty by observing independent existence repeatedly, purely, and overwhelmingly. Scientific theories have this nature, their proof is that they accurately and consistently predict phenomenon to a certain degree. After reviewing these posts, I gather that the only meaningful way this question can be interpreted is that it concerns practical applications of knowledge, namely how cautious we could be about our own certainty (ascertaining the context of the knowledge, rejecting arbitrary claims). Everyone here agrees that certain things cannot possibly be wrong in any universe, such as mathematical facts, existence exists, time flows, sense data, etc. Also, the question of whether our senses are globally being decieved, as in an experience machine, is meaningless to us, since it is rather useless to consider that possibility (except if you're in Hollywood). I thought that the idea of probability would be helpful to consider, because it concerns situations where falsity may possibly exist and how these situations may be translated into certainty.

8. ## Can one be honestly, genuinely certain but wrong?

first of all I apologize for my bad decorum. I know you gotta be tough on the newbs though. That last quote was from Hume, since I was Hume's ghost, and I was haunting AshRyan. Here is my clarification, RedCap. Usually people discover this by a negative process where they find their theory has internal inconsistencies, and they know they must be missing some of the picture. RbUoUF always implies that one's current knowledge is flawed, that something you see is not what it seems. Because the truth exists, your knowledge is compared as a subtraction from a hypothetical truth-world, where everything is known, and can be more or less consistent with it. There is no way of knowing that RbUoUf don't exist in some cases, except perhaps if you possess divine knowledge. The implied meaning of my quotes above is that certainty itself is a function of probability. Probabilities can be expressed as ratios 1/x, so when they multiply each other, 1/(x*x) an event becomes less probable at an exponential rate (in a court case, if the suspect is to be tried by circumstantial evidence, mulitiple proven evidences are required). In reality, we are faced with a multitude of probabilities multiplying each other to argue that our senses are correct, say 99.999999999% of the time. So we approximate and say this is equal to 1, and you probably won't be proven wrong, and its irrational to assume the opposite when the probability is so overwhelming. (in the case that your senses are being fooled by an intelligent force, and in that case its not even your fault). If you choose the .0000000001%, then you are right approximately 0% percent of the time. We can assume the full probability for things implicit in our very existence, such as 1 + 0 = 1, because probability is a measure of what may exist, and if you ask what the probability is of something currently existing to exist then it always comes to be 1. This method is insufficient to determine all truth since new conditions are always being created and the past cannot fully contain the future. I think thats partly why science is so successful, because a good scientist assumes his theory is guilty until proven correct. If its not proven, its a hypothesis. Its called the critical method. The greater the degree to which you check yourself for error and scrupulously base your evidence on reality, the more rights you have to say that the probability of your truth is significantly deeper than in another theory. The theory is proven by multiple and self-reinforcing coincidences. We are human beings, and not gods, so we don't have perfect and complete knowledge given to us. We discover it by painful effort. Our brains were designed by evolution mostly to make tools and manipulate static matter, so we have to overcome many arbitrary distortions. We thought the earth was flat, because the caveman has no evolutionary need to think otherwise. So, the best way for us to gain knowledge is to maintain a healthy balance between self-doubt (to prevent errors from multiplying) and certainty (to multiply the truths). If we automatically assumed everything was correct for the most part, than we might still be in the stone age. Its hard to imagine evolution without natural selection. I agree with AshRyan that the definition of knowledge implies certainty. Its true that at one point in time I can say that a person has knowledge of a certain state, and then later it can be proven false. In retrospect, I was in error when I assumed the person had knowledge of that state. I define knowledge as an inner state which corresponds to reality.