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DNA

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  1. Fred - Two false dilemmas in your reply. 1) Thus far we're critiquing your "A" and not any "B". To claim self-contradiction without the "B" is specious. 2) The penultimate use of the word knowledge versus the ultimate definition of knowledge is likewise causing you trouble. If we're discussing knowledge about growing good tomato plants, I'm right there with you. But epistemology does not accept the latest fad - such as Hawking's re-re-re-revision on black holes to be called knowledge. A theory yes, but it is not knowledge. I'm not stating "cannot know". I'm saying the human process imperfectly knows. Sometimes that does not matter much - knowing the difference between foods that sit well with you and those that don't for example. Then there are the big issues. Here it matters. You are not certain about the orbit thesis. I believe we orbit the sun. Perhaps you do too. Such a theory conforms to the accepted mathematical models of astrophysics, and to the dimensional models of stellar cartography, but you and I lack exhaustive data to posit what you assert as "absolute certainty". I've been a military instructor pilot for several years, teaching men how to fly warplanes. Your statement " in bad weather it is difficult to land a plane except that your senses provide you with that information" tells me you should rethink your knowledge about flying! Your senses tell you wonderful things. And they are wrong. We use eyes, ears and minds and fingers and hands and so on. But that incomplete perceptive knowledge is wrong. If you want to (statistically speaking) make it safely to the runway in bad weather, you better get knowledge outside your human and your individual perception. And we still find, despite your little miracle statement of 1,000's of planes - that crashes occur even when that knowledge is applied fully and correctly. But because we are human, and the instruments we use in flying are not perfect, the theory occassionally fails. If it is a bright sunny day - probably OK. With ceiling and visibility down to the tarmac - may not go so well. And such is the problem with flawed minds, imperfect sensory interpretation (DavidOdden) and philosophies that are religiously clinging to the "power of the man" and the "power of the individual". On the small stuff - no big deal. On the big issues - where it counts - they are in the dark and claiming the opposite. We've been here before with some of the best humanist minds - and they proclaimed the futility and despair of their thinking as their lives ended. O'ism is simply a repackaged rerun of the renaissance, enlightenment, exitentialists, rationalists. O'ism - an evidentiary dead end, with Voltaire standing on the top of the pile proclaiming "tormented atoms in a bed of mud".
  2. Fred - No, I'm not asking that. What I am saying is that if you intend to use a human mind to posit certainty of knowledge, you are finitely limited, possibly flawed and likely to be usurped by the next person who wants to assert his or her view/evidence. AshRyan's view of sensory perception is a nice-sounding web-note, but leaves us with the assumption of human capacity to perfectly interpret. I could, for example, place you in an airplane at night in weather and ask you to use sensory perception to make your way to the ground. Your sensory inputs in a matter of moments will tell you (incorrectly) where it thinks earth and sky meet, if you are turning, etc. But the scientific term is vertigo, and you will likely be dead wrong in a few moments. I would not want to use objectivism as a means of engaging reality there. Science is a discipline evolved by people seeking to refine knowledge. Yet evidence evolves, and so theories evolve and so science goes on seeking to get its theories "better". Certainty is either a leap of faith for the objectivist (I am sure I am right because my finite knowledge and my finite grasp of partial evidence is assumed comprehensive) or it is simply the pursuit of mythology (I choose to believe this because I do not want to believe that). Currence - I'm using the tool of irony. I too believe in certainty, and you have supported my position. I am saying human knowledge in and of itself is incapable of certainty (This is a discussion of epistemology in the comprehensive sense right?) Thanks for your strong recommendation - I too agree we can in fact know. I'm grateful for everyone's patience with my intrusion here - may I conclude with the observation that objectivism, with an obviously rich commitment toward the pursuit of truth, may for some be a simple repackaging of the numerous efforts in history [existentials, humanists, secularists, and so on] to say "the individual is self-sufficient in his capacity to know and to discern truth, whether or not the evidences from the academies and the intellectuals and the common man even closely match up with what I choose to believe." Aldus Huxley said his choice to not believe in a transcendant epistemology was not due to lack of evidence - he said it was because it freed him to pursue his own desires and pleasures.
  3. Betsy - didn't mean to trouble you. I was simply pointing out that certainty without evidence is as much a problem for a relativist as it is for a theist, atheist or objectivist. My question to the group is 'How does one qualify evidence to be evidence?' To me something maybe fantasy, to you it would be life-or-death certainty. For example, your critique of my finite mind's inability to be certain could be shown likewise show your own mental limitations of certainty, and would leave both of us with the inability to assert "certainty".
  4. This is the dilemma of Bertrand Russell and Hegel. Once this assertion is posited, the non-existence of - in this case God - is equally arbitrary. This leaves us with the infinite unanswerable - there is no sufficient evidence to the pro, nor to the con. But because we are dealing with limited minds, objectively (epistemologically) we cannot posit any certainty, only hopes. Any evidence claiming to assert knowledge becomes the product of a finite sub-set of hopes, wishes and conjecture, which some call evidence and others call fairy tales. In the end, nothing is then provable and the objectivist is left with the problem that there is no evidentiary reality. At this point many humanists and existentialists in history chose suicide over despair for that which could be neither proven or negated. "I am an atheist but I think I am losing my faith." George Bernard Shaw
  5. Objectivists hold that you don't need to be omniscient to achieve knowledge or values. Betsy - I enjoyed reading your note. It seems that AshRyan, Erandror and Marotta are certain of their knowledge, so how does one become epistemologically certain that the notion of God is arbitrary and yet accept consciousness of a finite mind as sufficient to ascertain knowledge....
  6. To the question about Francis Schaefer, his works are substantial, covering law, economics, art, politics, theology and of course philosophy. He enjoyed critical acclaim from a number of academicians, theologians and sitting Presidents for his contributions to modern philosophy. His work on radical despair and existentialism, for example, points out claims that erroneous certainty disguised as philosophies - i.e. Existentialism (A fundamental requirement for Objectivism), are self-impaled by the same skepticism dogging the God-believers - unless of course one wishes to argue he or she is God incarnate, thereby omniscient - which according to the replies in this thread would not be "objectively" possible.
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