The Instigator
darkenedcorridor
Pro (for)
Tied
9 Points
The Contender
wingnut2280
Con (against)
Tied
9 Points

We cannot know anything empirically.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,885 times Debate No: 922
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (6)

 

darkenedcorridor

Pro

Nietzsche says that all truths are merely metaphors that have lost their sensuous force. In other words we cannot know anything. His reasoning for that is that our perceptions of our senses are all translations of translations (e.g. in touch we have the physical touch which is translated to the wholly different medium of nerve signal, which is translated to the wholly different medium of perception)
wingnut2280

Con

Solipsism is a basic exception to this philosophically popular argument. Neitzsche originally got it from Berkely who also argues against the certainty of knowledge because of perception. However, solipsism, the belief that the only thing that can be proven is MY mind and its contents defeats this. The very fact that I am having these perception, whether they are valid or not, is a testament to the existence of my mind, and at the very least its abstract processes. DesCartes ever overpopularized "I think, therefore I am."

So, if you want to claim I can no NOTHING. Than clearly, I know my self, and that is something.

ALso, the statement in its self is a paradox. If I can't know anything, how can I know that I know nothing? The simple fact that I am aware that I know nothing is knowledge of my lack of any other knowledge. To clarify, knowing nothing is something that I know, so therefore, I know something.
Debate Round No. 1
darkenedcorridor

Pro

I believe you may be mistaken as to exactly what I'm proposing. My argument is against empirical knowledge, not knowledge generally. You know that you are a perceiver and that as such you perceive images of something that resembles an outside world. Also logic presumably you can know since it is a priori and not dependent on empirical validation
wingnut2280

Con

wingnut2280 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
darkenedcorridor

Pro

I suppose that my opponent decided that he was not actually apposed to my position. Well I will write this so as not to forfeit.
wingnut2280

Con

Sorry for the misunderstanding. Still, we know ourselves through experience of perception and the mental processes. This knowledge (solipsism) is empirical because we can only konow the existence of self through experience.

Second, the statement is still paradoxical. If I know nothing, how do I know your claim? The claim you try to make is inexistent through lack of empirical knowledge, because I would have to empirically know that I know nothing in order for you to be right, making your claim impossible.

Also, I can know relational properties. No matter how transitory or possibly skewed my perceptions are, I still know things as they relate to each other in my perception. For instance, I know the desk is in between the chair and the wall, regardless of how skewed my perception may be.

Finally, I apologize for not making my last deadline. This, however, does not mean you need to assume I agree simply because I did not have the time to check the site during the holidays. It was a little childish.
Debate Round No. 3
darkenedcorridor

Pro

I apologize for jumping to conclusions, I merely thought that you did not want to continue debating after realizing I held a different position then you had originally thought. I didn't mean it as a childish gloat, but sincerely thought you had decided not to continue.

I should have laid out my original position more explicitly. My argument was specifically against our ability to gain knowledge of the outside world via our five senses. It seems that you mostly appose the idea that we cannot gain knowledge of ourselves; I would agree with you that we do know ourselves to a certain degree, though of course I would caution that our knowledge is only true in a phenomenal sense not in a noumenal sense (i.e. I know that I see a computer, but I do not know that the computer exists independently of myself). The only things that I would be willing to say I can Know are, straight from Descartes, that I exist and that I have thoughts, including perceptions of an outside world.

In terms of the relational properties, to say that you know the chair is between the chair and the wall, takes for granted that there does indeed exist a chair and a wall. Now if you simply say that I know that I have a perception of a chair between a wall; then, you are pretty safe, but you're also not saying to terribly much.

I was wondering if you would catch the paradox that I borrowed from Nietzsche, using empirically grounded neuroscience to claim that you cannot know things empirically. It was intentional, but it is only used to make a point. It serves to set up a dilemma, which I'll lay out to show that the overall position is still tenable. Either you can know things via the senses or you cannot. If you go with the assumption that you can then the very appearances of things empirically shows that you actually cannot. And if you go with the assumption that you cannot know things via the senses then you don't need convincing.
wingnut2280

Con

My argument is that the knowledge of the self that I have been advocating is, in fact, empirical. I have to experience things and processes in order to "know" myself. This is empirical data.

Next, if we are concerning the outside world, the argument about relational properties still holds. Just because my perception is fallible does not mean my experience of the object is.

Nietzsche's paradox and the conclusions it reaches assume that appearances of things are contigent solely on my perception of them. Yes, my perception is fallible, but the falliblities I experience are explainable through reflections of light, anamolies etc. This means that I can experience the world as a functioning, knowable thing, which I can access, at least partially through experience. This allows me to know things empirically.

As a final note, you never addressed the paradoxical nature of this entire debate. Your claim requires empirical knowledge. It is impossible for you to be correct, because in order to know that we lack knowledge, we must know at least that fact. In other words, we can't know nothing, because in order to know that we know nothing, we have to know that. That is wordy, but hopefully I have clarified it over the course of the debate. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
Try "The Gay Science" he lays out a pretty good survey of his ideas in that one. It may help understand where he's coming from
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
I'm going to try "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" before I continue with "Beyond Good and Evil." I hope to become more familiar with his style and possibly get a handle on some of the concepts. Or would that just be a waste of time?
Posted by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that part refers the the think part of "I think", Nietzsche is on one hand a lot easier then a lot of philosophers because he has a very literary style, but he plays word games so it can be difficult to pin him down intellectually.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Maybe, I'm reading Beyond Good and Evil right now, and Nietzsche just said that the statement "I think" is an assumption as well.

I don't understand a lot of it, but he seems to be saying that most philosohpy is a play on words, which is why the philosophies coming from similar languages are much closer to each other than philosophies coming from a more distantly related language.

Of course, I might be completely wrong about that. I've read hard books before, and Nietzsche is only about average as far as philosophy books go, but he's still kicking my butt.
Posted by Pluto2493 9 years ago
Pluto2493
Yeah Nietzsche! check out my nietzsche debates
Posted by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
He said that descartes was full of crap for how far he took it beyond simply I know I exist and have perceptions
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Didn't Nietzsche say Descartes was full of crap too? Or did I miss something?
Posted by Raisor 9 years ago
Raisor
Philosophy is extraordinarily useful.

It shapes our judicial system, it lets us examine scientific practices, if you are a religious person-theology is a form of philosophy, philosophy gives us ethical inquiry (questions of things like natural rights, is torture ever legit, death penalty, etc.)

I have no idea what engineering has to do with whether or not things can be proven empirically. I study engineering and have never heard a teacher say "this is beyond question TRUTH." Indeed, time and time again I have heard professors say that we should be cautious about our assumptions of what we know.

And everyone knows that you cant PROVE anything through science. My 7th grade brother knows that. Science is necessarily inductive reasoning and can never yield absolute certainty. Maybe you'd know that if youd taken a basic philosophy course ;)
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
you didnt touch on engineering

I got out of science becuase it was too much government funded and philosophical, rather than rubber hits the road real world

also I wanted to make some real $$

peace
Posted by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
Regardless of your opinion of philosophy, I find that it fit's my interests better then other subjects. I understand that you likely think my objection is sophomoric since it "doesn't effect the way we see things around us." but my interests lie in discovering the true limits of our knowledge as well as other philosophical pursuits. Science is great, and I'm not trying to abolish it. I recognize its role in shaping the world around me. But my lack of faith in empirical knowledge is backed up by the science you claim to be paramount. Neuroscience as a model for our interaction with the world, says that our knowledge of the outside is translated at least two times. Now it may be that nothing is lost in translation, but I find that relatively unlikely, especially considering the various tricks we can recognize our senses playing on us.

Concerning philosophy's usefulness in the real world, well sometimes it is not useful at all, and sometimes it is. Philosophy gave you the different forms of government we have now, and philosophical analysis is the way to fix what may have gone wrong with them. It is the same for science. Science can be very useful for the real world, and it can also be useless on occasion. You don't always know beforehand what particular facts about the world will be useful in future endeavors (that holds true in science and philosophy).
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Vote Placed by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
darkenedcorridorwingnut2280Tied
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Vote Placed by Pluto2493 9 years ago
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