The Instigator
MoonDragon613
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
mrmazoo
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Absolute Knowledge is Impossible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/18/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,367 times Debate No: 2742
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (12)

 

MoonDragon613

Pro

Absolute knowledge is impossible for a set of simple reasons

1. all information we gain about our world is derived from our senses.
2. all our senses can be deceived.
3. Therefore, we can never be absolutely certain about any information we "know".

Ever watched the matrix? Same principle. Descartes might believe I think therefore I am, but he was a mathematician and should've stayed where he knew what he was talking about. There is no way to be absolutely certain because everything could be an illusion. We might think 1+1=2 but there is always the possibility its a thought implanted into our minds. What we think is logical and correct is manipulable, and as long as its manipulable, we cannot have absolute knowledge.
mrmazoo

Con

Hi, thanks for inviting me to this debate.

I will attempt to disprove your thesis by giving a single example of absolute knowledge. By giving one such example, I will prove that absolute knowledge is POSSIBLE, thus negating the claim that absolute knowledge is impossible.

Here is my example:

Something exists.

In your initial post, you made the following argument:

1) All knowledge is derived from our senses.
2) Our senses are capable of being deceived.
3) Therefore, we can never be certain of anything.

I agree with premise one and premise two, but I don't agree with your conclusion for the following reason:

Just because our senses are capable of being deceived doesn't mean they are capable of being deceived about anything.

There may be one or two things that our senses are NOT capable of being deceived of and of these one or two things we can have absolute certainty. If there is only such kernel of knowledge that we can be sure of, it must be:

Something exists.

How can you possibly be wrong about this? To even consider whether something exists or not is to prove that it does. Even if your senses are ALWAYS deceiving you, that means that your senses ARE SOMETHING WHICH CAN BE DECEIVED and hence, are SOMETHING. Even if you have no senses but are just some whisp of immaterial consciousness that a malevolent demon has fooled into thinking you are a human being living in a world of other human beings and so forth, that is STILL SOMETHING.

If it were true that nothing exists, then you wouldn't even have any senses at all and the question of whether or not your senses are deceiving you would be absolutely moot. The fact that we are having a debate proves that something exists. Even if this is all an illusion created by a trickster God, it still means that SOMETHING (the illusion) exists.

Consider the keyboard I'm typing on. It might NOT really be a keyboard. It might more accurately be described as a matrix of particular types of molecules and atoms bound together in a certain way. Ok, but that's still SOMETHING. But what if there really is no such thing as molecules and atoms? What if there is no material stuff at all and everything is only in the mind? Well, that's still SOMETHING too! Ok, but what if I only think I have a mind but really I'm just a computer program? Ok, well, a computer program that thinks it is a human being typing on a keyboard made of a particular matrix of molecules and atoms is still SOMETHING. No matter how deep you go, you will never convince yourself that there is nothing.

So, I believe I have shown that there is at least one thing that our senses can not be deceived about and so there is at least one thing that we can have absolute knowledge about. Therefore, absolute knowledge is possible and the claim that it is impossible is false.
Debate Round No. 1
MoonDragon613

Pro

If you wish to truly hinge your argument on "something exists" then so be it.
You only believe something exists because in your mind this is "rational". You in fact even listed all these "rational" arguments in support. But in this debate, the existence of rational arguments cannot be taken for granted. You think something exists because in all conceivable instances of your imagination something has to exist, but it is possible that some being has blocked your ability (has in fact blocked all our abilities) and prevented any of us from being able to imagine a scenario where something does not exist. The beauty of this statement is that you cannot prove me wrong. You cannot prove me wrong because by definition a being that prevents us from imagining its existence cannot be proven not to exist. And so long as it is possible, we have no absolute knowledge.

In short: Only if we accept your conceptualization of the universe can we assume that "something exists".

But we cannot accept your conceptualization of the universe. Perhaps the universe is actually nothing, and we don't actually exist. Perhaps nothing exists, but we are just unable to comprehend this. Perhaps we don't exist. What's typing this then? I don't know. Maybe something, maybe nothing. Maybe these words don't exist. You cannot argue the existence of absolute knowledge through logic because logic itself is vulnerable. And therefore there is no absolute knowledge. Because there is no foundation upon which to deduce anything else; not even something exists.
mrmazoo

Con

Almost every sentence in your last argument is patently absurd:

"You think something exists because in all conceivable instances of your imagination something has to exist."

So, you are saying that my imagination might be incapable of conceiving that nothing exists. But you admit that there is SOMETHING called an imagination which has this incapability.

"It is possible that some being has blocked your ability (has in fact blocked all our abilities) and prevented any of us from being able to imagine a scenario where something does not exist."

But if that is the case, then there is a being which has blocked our ability, and there is an imagination which that being is blocking. So, there are at least TWO things that exist: an evil being which can block imagination, and an imagination that is capable of being blocked.

"...a being that prevents us from imagining its existence cannot be proven not to exist."

Why would I want to prove such a being does not exist? If it does exist, that means SOMETHING EXISTS!!!!

"Only if we accept your conceptualization of the universe can we assume that "something exists"."

But if you come up with a different conceptualization of the universe, then that conceptualization EXISTS. Therefore, something exists.

"Perhaps the universe is actually nothing, and we don't actually exist."

Then why does it appear that there is a debate going on?

"Perhaps nothing exists, but we are just unable to comprehend this."

We???

"You can not argue the existence of absolute knowledge through logic because logic itself is vulnerable."

If logic is vulnerable, then logic is SOMETHING which is vulnerable, and so vulnerable logic exists, and therefore something exists.
Debate Round No. 2
MoonDragon613

Pro

Okay, to put it simply and coherently:
In order to prove that "Something Exists", you used the process of LOGIC. You LOGICALLY believe "Something Exists" and to support it you gave a wide array of LOGICAL reasons. HOWEVER, Logic is NOT ABSOLUTE.
An insane individual believes many things to be true because of "logic".
Children draw "logical" conclusions all the time.

Logic is MUTABLE. There is no reason to believe that Logic is absolute, or that Logic is any guaranteed approach towards truth. Any conclusion we perceive to be LOGICALLY arrived at, cannot be accepted as ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

I'm not attacking your statement. I'm not attacking it because it makes sense. Logically. And there isn't any value from attacking it either since you could just create another logically sound statement of "Absolute Truth". What I am attacking is the principle of LOGIC from which all conclusions you derive.

If there is NO LOGIC, you CANNOT conclude that "Something Exists". In fact, you cannot CONCLUDE anything. All Conclusions rely on the principles of LOGIC, which if do not exist, then neither do conclusions.
mrmazoo

Con

I'm not really going to address any of my opponent's last arguments because I don't think he has done anything to adequately counter the claim that "something exists."

Saying that my claim is an appeal to logic, which may not have a sound foundation itself, still admits that: One, there is a claim. Two, there is a construct called logic.

I'll just leave it up to the readers to decide whether or not it can be doubted that "Something exists." (But if you doubt the claim, then there is something to doubt and there is something which doubts, both of which are SOMETHING. So by doubting the claim, you prove it.)

I'll rest my case here.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Dash555 6 years ago
Dash555
MoonDragon's argument is "Logic need not be absolute." Now, if logic is not absolute than this proposition cannot be proved. There will only be the possibility that the proposition "Logic need not be absolute" is correct and this possibility is according to the author a correct one. Hence, the author agrees with what he disagrees.

Formal logic gives the same result for the same premises irrespective of person. If 1+1 =2 than 2+ =3 for all possible beings.
Posted by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
The idea that something exist is not an absolute truth.

The notion that something exists is relative.

Something doesn't exist in a non existing metaphorical arena.
Posted by Johnicle 8 years ago
Johnicle
I Vote Con for two reasons

1. Pro never proved impossibility
In order to affirm something, it must stand alone, however, Con presented at least a possibility.

2. Something does exist
What I would of liked to have seen in this round is if you can consider nothing... something. It is logical to think that having nothing is having something but this was not argued. But what was argued still flows Con as Pro never offered a situation where there was TRULY nothing.

I vote Con

Thank You for this round.
Posted by MoonDragon613 8 years ago
MoonDragon613
Sigh, sometimes I despair at the magnitude of the emptiness I see in some human minds. I loved how you used the term "hence not appropriate to argue about in normal terms." What in the world makes you think this is a standard argument in an ordinary debate? Do I look like I'm arguing about abortion? I'm arguing against the fundamental principle of Logic being absolute. If rational arguments HAVE to be valid THEN the debate is pointless, because THEN "something has to exist". Only if the absolute nature of Logic is in Question, THEN this debate becomes meaningful. Which it is. Because I've questioned it.
Posted by simmyjaye 8 years ago
simmyjaye
I agree with Korezaan. Too many blunders made MoonDragon's arguments ineffective, the biggest being "you can't use rational arguments or logic", while attempting to use both in your own debate.

That's the equivalent of people claiming wimpy things about religion, such as the existence of God is being "beyond the realm of science and reason", hence not appropriate to argue about in normal terms. If you believed your debate could be won at all, then rational arguments HAVE to be valid, or the debate was pointless.
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
"For logic to be absolute, ALL people would have to make the SAME logical conclusion, if presented with the same evidence. Which is not the state of the world. Thus Logic is NOT Absolute."

I disagree. Only people's usage of logic is not absolute.
Posted by MoonDragon613 9 years ago
MoonDragon613
Yes, I can see that you had to struggle through my argument. Alas, these professors must have despaired at the thought of trying to enlighten you. Very good, you know the definition of epistemology. Would you like a cookie?

I will spell this out to you once again, mostly out of pity. But then again I am a compassionate soul.

Logic is not ABSOLUTE. And because Logic is not ABSOLUTE, you cannot arrive at an ABSOLUTE conclusion if that conclusion comes from the use of Logic.

The conclusion that there is no absolute knowledge is also not absolute because that too would depend on Logic. In fact, yes, if there is NO logic, then there are NO arguments, but I'm not stating Logic does not exist. I am saying that logic MIGHT not exist.

But with all humbleness I must profess I doubt I could succeed where the professors at the "top of their fields" have failed. Because the clearly (though not absolutely) they have.
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
BTW, I voted AGAINST you right after I struggled through your argument.
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
I could begin by poking fun at your poor writing and articulation skills, but I will spare everyone. I think your posts speak for themselves.

I learned from professors who are in the top of their fields and have spent their lives studying epistemology. Do you even know what the word means without wikipedia? You cannot trump someone if you cannot even understand their argument, so you lose. I keep reiterating because you are too dense to get it.

I would not want to quote or be Plato because he didn't know what he was talking about... much like yourself.

Logic has no place in your argument, clearly.

Can you see?
Can you hear?
Can you taste?

If you can do any of these things, then something must exist.

If we are not real, then we are an image or someone else's dream or something. That there appears to be something in front of you is proof that something exists. This is ludicrous. I don't have to prove that logic exists to prove you wrong, even though that contention is also ludicrous.

One more argument.

If you somehow managed to prove that there are no absolute truths, then you would have proved that the statement "there are no absolute truths" is true, which creates an obvious contradiction.

Again your conclusion:

The fact that there are no absolute truths is an absolute truth.

You are saying A does not equal A. The most basic contradiction you can have.

Your contention that logic is fallible is true but it does not rule out the possibility of it being correct in many respects. If there is no logic how can you possibly even have an argument? How can you say anything with any sureity whatsoever, including the contention that absolute knowledge is impossible? It is ludicrous. Go through and read some epistemology like I suggested and get back to me when you learn something about the subject and can actually formulate an argument that makes sense. I will not post again.
Posted by MoonDragon613 9 years ago
MoonDragon613
To Tony:

Telling me you majored in Philosophy makes you MORE an object of my ridicule, not less. And furthermore, being a Philosophy major does not render you immune to the all too common disease known as ineptitude. And since you clearly voted for me, I have no compunction with pointing out the sad (almost absolute) truth.

So long as you keep on with your broken record of "Something Exists" then it's just reinforcing the fact that you very much need to be patronized to, since you obviously cannot think OUTSIDE your little philosophy box. You might be able to quote Plato, but you cannot BE a Plato.

Again, I am launching an attack against LOGIC. In a world without logic, ALL CONCLUSIONS BASED ON LOGIC ARE UNVERIFIABLE. So if Logic is in question, the conclusion "Something Exists" which is based on Logic, is unverifiable. And if unverifiable, then it CANNOT BE ABSOLUTE.

Again, "Something Exists" is ONLY VERIFIABLE by LOGIC.

To Korezaan:
Ahh, someone who did read my arguments and is not stumbling around inebriated. First, I didn't come up with the topic, my opponent did in some other debate, I thought it was interesting and his opponent conceded in Round 2, which was sad and so I issued a challenge. I like his definition of Absolute Knowledge, as implied by his arguments and so I'm sticking with it.

As to what you THINK about Logic, your argument is circular. You used logic to conclude that logic is the truth. As your example shows. But keep in mind, if Logic is absolute, then Logic is universal. But if insane individuals can have a twisted sense of logic, if children have their own brand of logic, if in our dreams we conform to some odd, inexplicable sense of logic, then logic is not immutable, or absolute. For logic to be absolute, ALL people would have to make the SAME logical conclusion, if presented with the same evidence. Which is not the state of the world. Thus Logic is NOT Absolute.
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