The Faith of Uncertainty.
OF OUR ABSOLUTES
As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
bsolute Truth or Knowledge (capitalized to appear divine), the idea of a state of omniscience strictly
unavailable to the minds of men, is a strange paradox
. Because we are not privy to this
"truth", if we are to be certain
of such a state, we must also be uncertain
of it. We must be somehow certain of our uncertainty and
uncertain of our certainty. Don’t even bother contemplating it—minds have cracked for less.
If we untwist the paradox a bit and take a better look at this assumption, we find that the basic premise is that only the “universe can know the
universe”, or “only God can know God”, or only “absolute truth can know absolute truth”. Whatever tautology we employ, it renders
knowledge—despite being a human affair—out of the hands of humanity.
The same can be said of ill-conceived notions of truth. If truth is “that which a thing is”, namely the reality of what we attempt to know,
something incapable of existing in the human mind, we are once again excluding the human intellect for no purpose. Since knowledge is more applicable
as a correspondence to reality, and not applicable as reality itself, truth must also be more applicable as a correspondence to reality, and not
reality itself. Saying truth is reality is simply naming reality something else—something we are all too prone to do—and renders the idea of truth
Luckily, truth and knowledge do not extend beyond how humans define truth and knowledge. We are the truthmakers. There simply is no Absolute Truth nor
Absolute Knowledge outside of the idea of truth and knowledge in human thought. Everything else is simply what it is; no truth and no falsity.
Knowledge is an act of the human intellect, and, paraphrasing Aquinas, truth is the equation of human knowledge and reality (“Veritas est
adaequatio rei et intellectus”
). We write the equations; we write the rules of truth; we write the rules of knowledge. Truth is hence the
agreement between the knowers (humanity) and the known (reality).
We can see that truth and knowledge are possible, insofar as they are applicable and adequate descriptions of reality as viewed through human
experience. Knowledge is never an exact one-to-one ratio of correspondence to reality, but an adequate representation thereof. Truth is true because
it works, not because it circumscribes something absolutely. This seems simple, practical and rational. But this view, as it so happens, is still not
OF OUR UNCERTAINTY
We often hear that we simply cannot know one way or the other, it is impossible to know for sure, and every quest for truth is fundamentally futile;
but when we look deeper into these claims, we are witness to something more devious: the Socratic paradox in its manifested form, a faith in
“I know that I know nothing...” is unclear. One cannot know "nothing" as nothing has no thing to know. One can only know something
Socrates’ was being his ironic self, and his assertion was his way of saying we cannot know everything. Changing some words and saying it like this
removes the paradox of his assertion and seems evident. Of course we cannot know everything; we don’t have the time to know everything. Yet the
paradox seems to persists in those who, when faced with “truths” that they do not agree with or simply do not like, find solace in their own
uncertainty, where Infinite Possibility (capitalized to appear divine) leaves their ideas untouched, unharmed and alive in the realm of of their
uncertainty. When someone say "prove such and such doesn't
exist", when there is nothing that says it exists in the first place, they are
saying in a round-about way that they are relying on the mere possibility
of it existing as foundation to base their beliefs. This is extreme
skepticism—the faith in uncertainty—and the irrational refusal to justify believing in the evidence that proves the contrary.
Take Descartes for example. He doubted himself as far as he could, out of his body, away from his senses, out of the world, until he wasn’t able to
doubt that he was doubting. Of course, there was no evidence nor practical reason to suggest that he even needed to doubt that far, but he wanted to
find something of which he can be certain and a premise from which he could deduce. Finally, he found a premise from where he could acquire the steady
footing to stand on: “I exist”. Brilliant? Yes. Obvious? Of course.
But where did he go from here? Having doubted everything besides the fact that he existed, he fathomed the idea that there is a demon pulling the
strings of his world like a marionette, and that you, me and everyone else are simply illusions created by this demon to fool Descartes. This is the
reason we exist: to fool a man who lived almost 400 years ago. Despite the comedy of such a thought, it persists even to this day;
, the simulation
, and the brain in a vat thought experiment
are all regurgitations of Descartes’
Evil Demon theory
. Even though there’s not a single slice of evidence that would suggest these
conclusions about our existence, they are nonetheless “still possible” when inferred from Descartes premise, and hence remain as blemishes on the
face of metaphysics.
Philosophy has ruined herself through epistemology. Not only has it cast the entirety of human knowledge in doubt, it has posited, in its place, the
realm of possibilities and the paradox that we simply “cannot know”, allowing ideas which have no relevancy to human experience to exist in our
thoughts (but no where else apparently). Sure, anything is possible. In some universe, in some future, in some realm, we can crush diamonds with our
bare hands, walk on clouds, and pigs do indeed fly. That I will concede; but philosophy need not spend her time contemplating it.
How was Socrates so certain that he cannot be certain? He must have, at some point, arrived at this conclusion and believed enough to be certain of
it, thereby refuting himself in a few words; but he still “knew” it despite this glaring paradox. It would appear that what he was so certain
about was not his uncertainty, but that he could never fit the entirety of reality in his head. Of that, we too can be certain.
Thank you for reading.
edit on 12-5-2013 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)