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ID: Existence of Unknowable Truths

ConservativePolitico
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9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.
thett3
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9/3/2014 12:11:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
How do you think your position applies to the idea of God? I've always viewed God conceptually as unknowable. Maybe you can know some of God, but our minds are too limited to understand God as He truly is. So I think, in that case at least, there can definitely be unknowable truths.

I think you're putting a lot more stock in human perception than you should in your position.
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ConservativePolitico
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9/3/2014 12:12:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 12:11:06 PM, thett3 wrote:
How do you think your position applies to the idea of God? I've always viewed God conceptually as unknowable. Maybe you can know some of God, but our minds are too limited to understand God as He truly is. So I think, in that case at least, there can definitely be unknowable truths.

I think you're putting a lot more stock in human perception than you should in your position.

I would say that in the case I laid out that if god is unknowable then he doesn't exist.

However, perhaps we can know of god and then by extension know that there are things that god knows and percieves which would technically make them knowable.
AnDoctuir
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9/3/2014 12:19:53 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Christianity is a cult that gets kids with an ominous "We Know What You've Been Doing" coming out of their selfish formative years (that is, the whole "man is born of sin" or whatever bit), wrapping up every bit of feeling that's in us in one great convincing lie, but a lie nonetheless. Some of it is marvelous though, and you can see the keenest of intellect, self-justification and, well, goodness in it, and you'd nearly give it to it that, yeah, we're doomed and that sounds about the best we're gonna get... But holy f*ck is that pessimistic. Most Christians are cunts.
AnDoctuir
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9/3/2014 12:22:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
You're a pair of eyes in eye sockets and the rest is just seeing sh*t. There's no truth only in what you see - that what you see is there.
s-anthony
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9/3/2014 12:24:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.

If the unknowable does not exist, neither does the knowable. How can something be known if nothing is unknown? In other words, to know something, it must be unknown, first.
Ragnar
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9/3/2014 1:58:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
... However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.
Which raises the question, is anything at all truly unknowable?
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Toviyah
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9/3/2014 2:13:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.
I'm pretty sure Fitch's Paradox of Knowability would refute that.
It states that if all truths are possibly knowable (there are no unknown truths) then all truths are actually known. But, that is false. So there are unknowable truths. Here it is laid out:

(in restricted quantification)

Suppose that Knowability Principle (what you are advocating)
(KP) (All) p(p --> <>Kp)

It follows from this that either p exists, or it is not knowable that p (as all truths are possibly knowable, if something is not possibly knowable, then it is not true (by modus tollens)):
(1) p (or) ~Kp.

(2) (p (or) ~Kp) --> <>K(p (or) ~Kp)
That is to say, if (1) is true, then (1) is possibly knowable, for it is a truth.

However, it can be shown that it is impossible to know (1).
To show this, take two epistemic Lemmas:
Lemma 1 K(p (or) q) --> Kp (or) Kq
In other words, to know a conjunction is to know each of the conjuncts.

Lemma 2 Kp --> p
And, knowledge empties truth.

And now two Modal Lemmas:
Lemma 3 If something entails p, then something necessarily entails p.
(id eat, all theorems are necessary).

Lemma 4 []~p -->~<>p.
If necessarily not p, then it is impossible that p.

We are now in a position to prove Fitch's Paradox.

(3)K(p (or) ~Kp) Assumption for reductio
(4)Kp (or) K~Kp from 3, by (Lemma 1)
(5)Kp (or) ~Kp from 4, applying (Lemma 2) to the right conjunct
(6)~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 3"5, by reductio, discharging assumption (3)
(7)[]~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 6, by (Lemma 3)
(8)~<>K(p (or) ~Kp) from 7, by (Lemma 4)

For a reductio, assume the knowability thesis. By (2), the knowability thesis is possibly knowable. By Lemma 1, both conjuncts are known. Applying Lemma 2 (knowledge implies truth) to the right disjunct (K~Kp) then ~Kp. Putting all this together, it follows that it is not knowable that p or ~Kp. From Lemma 3, this is a necessary truth. By Lemma 4, this is impossible. But, that contradicts the original assumption, namely that all truths are knowable. Thus, not all truths are knowable and therefore, there are unknown truths.

The only option left for you is to say that collectively, we are omniscient. But it then follows that all truths are now known (for, collectively, we currently know all truths) which is absurd.

Hope this was intellectual enough for you :)
Installgentoo
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9/3/2014 9:19:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Considering we've only observed about 10% of what our entire Universe, I'd say it's a bit arrogant to say that God/gods is an unknowable truth.
xXCryptoXx
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9/3/2014 10:31:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 12:12:20 PM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
At 9/3/2014 12:11:06 PM, thett3 wrote:
How do you think your position applies to the idea of God? I've always viewed God conceptually as unknowable. Maybe you can know some of God, but our minds are too limited to understand God as He truly is. So I think, in that case at least, there can definitely be unknowable truths.

I think you're putting a lot more stock in human perception than you should in your position.

I would say that in the case I laid out that if god is unknowable then he doesn't exist.

However, perhaps we can know of god and then by extension know that there are things that god knows and percieves which would technically make them knowable.

The idea is that God, an infinite being, cannot be fully understood by finite beings. However, God's existence and nature can be deducted through reason alone. An analogous example would be that even though through reason we know that conceivably a shape that has 1,567,412 sides could exist, we cannot fully comprehend what exactly that would look like due to its sheer greatness.
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the_croftmeister
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9/3/2014 11:46:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I take issue with Fitch's analysis on the grounds that it ignores agency in knowledge, i.e. that it can be acquired through the expenditure of resources (mental or otherwise). Applying that framework to this I believe only proves that for any particular truth we can acquired knowledge of it, not that we can acquire knowledge of all truths simultaneously.

The translation of knowable to possibly known is the primary place that the issue arises. I would rather translate it to 'able to obtain justification for'. This is more likely to be translated using temporal logic i.e. p -> <>FKp or 'If p, then it is possible that in the future I will know p' or a logic of action.

The glossing of knowable as <>Kp means it is possible that I actually know p, which to me seems intuitively less likely. Consider the following scenario. The fact that an asteroid is colliding with a planet 50 lightyears away is not possible for me to know for at least 50 years, but given the appropriate resources, it is definitely possible to obtain knowledge of this fact.

Thoughts?

I apologise that I haven't had the time to formalise my thoughts. I'll try to do a formal proof tonight and get back to you.

At 9/3/2014 2:13:51 PM, Toviyah wrote:
I'm pretty sure Fitch's Paradox of Knowability would refute that.
It states that if all truths are possibly knowable (there are no unknown truths) then all truths are actually known. But, that is false. So there are unknowable truths. Here it is laid out:

(in restricted quantification)

Suppose that Knowability Principle (what you are advocating)
(KP) (All) p(p --> <>Kp)

It follows from this that either p exists, or it is not knowable that p (as all truths are possibly knowable, if something is not possibly knowable, then it is not true (by modus tollens)):
(1) p (or) ~Kp.

(2) (p (or) ~Kp) --> <>K(p (or) ~Kp)
That is to say, if (1) is true, then (1) is possibly knowable, for it is a truth.

However, it can be shown that it is impossible to know (1).
To show this, take two epistemic Lemmas:
Lemma 1 K(p (or) q) --> Kp (or) Kq
In other words, to know a conjunction is to know each of the conjuncts.
I presume you meant disjunction and disjuncts here, I'm curious as to your justification of this, I'm not at all convinced of this intuitively and it isn't used in the exposition of the paradox on wiki.

Lemma 2 Kp --> p
And, knowledge empties truth.

And now two Modal Lemmas:
Lemma 3 If something entails p, then something necessarily entails p.
(id eat, all theorems are necessary).

Lemma 4 []~p -->~<>p.
If necessarily not p, then it is impossible that p.

We are now in a position to prove Fitch's Paradox.

(3)K(p (or) ~Kp) Assumption for reductio
(4)Kp (or) K~Kp from 3, by (Lemma 1)
(5)Kp (or) ~Kp from 4, applying (Lemma 2) to the right conjunct
(6)~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 3"5, by reductio, discharging assumption (3)
(7)[]~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 6, by (Lemma 3)
(8)~<>K(p (or) ~Kp) from 7, by (Lemma 4)

For a reductio, assume the knowability thesis. By (2), the knowability thesis is possibly knowable. By Lemma 1, both conjuncts are known. Applying Lemma 2 (knowledge implies truth) to the right disjunct (K~Kp) then ~Kp. Putting all this together, it follows that it is not knowable that p or ~Kp. From Lemma 3, this is a necessary truth. By Lemma 4, this is impossible. But, that contradicts the original assumption, namely that all truths are knowable. Thus, not all truths are knowable and therefore, there are unknown truths.

The only option left for you is to say that collectively, we are omniscient. But it then follows that all truths are now known (for, collectively, we currently know all truths) which is absurd.

Hope this was intellectual enough for you :)
UchihaMadara
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9/4/2014 2:18:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 2:13:51 PM, Toviyah wrote:
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.
I'm pretty sure Fitch's Paradox of Knowability would refute that.
It states that if all truths are possibly knowable (there are no unknown truths) then all truths are actually known. But, that is false. So there are unknowable truths. Here it is laid out:

(in restricted quantification)

Suppose that Knowability Principle (what you are advocating)
(KP) (All) p(p --> <>Kp)

It follows from this that either p exists, or it is not knowable that p (as all truths are possibly knowable, if something is not possibly knowable, then it is not true (by modus tollens)):
(1) p (or) ~Kp.

(2) (p (or) ~Kp) --> <>K(p (or) ~Kp)
That is to say, if (1) is true, then (1) is possibly knowable, for it is a truth.

However, it can be shown that it is impossible to know (1).
To show this, take two epistemic Lemmas:
Lemma 1 K(p (or) q) --> Kp (or) Kq
In other words, to know a conjunction is to know each of the conjuncts.

Lemma 2 Kp --> p
And, knowledge empties truth.

And now two Modal Lemmas:
Lemma 3 If something entails p, then something necessarily entails p.
(id eat, all theorems are necessary).

Lemma 4 []~p -->~<>p.
If necessarily not p, then it is impossible that p.

We are now in a position to prove Fitch's Paradox.

(3)K(p (or) ~Kp) Assumption for reductio
(4)Kp (or) K~Kp from 3, by (Lemma 1)
(5)Kp (or) ~Kp from 4, applying (Lemma 2) to the right conjunct
(6)~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 3"5, by reductio, discharging assumption (3)
(7)[]~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 6, by (Lemma 3)
(8)~<>K(p (or) ~Kp) from 7, by (Lemma 4)

For a reductio, assume the knowability thesis. By (2), the knowability thesis is possibly knowable. By Lemma 1, both conjuncts are known. Applying Lemma 2 (knowledge implies truth) to the right disjunct (K~Kp) then ~Kp. Putting all this together, it follows that it is not knowable that p or ~Kp. From Lemma 3, this is a necessary truth. By Lemma 4, this is impossible. But, that contradicts the original assumption, namely that all truths are knowable. Thus, not all truths are knowable and therefore, there are unknown truths.

The only option left for you is to say that collectively, we are omniscient. But it then follows that all truths are now known (for, collectively, we currently know all truths) which is absurd.

Hope this was intellectual enough for you :)

probably a bit more so than he was looking for :P
s-anthony
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9/4/2014 10:53:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:16:15 PM, apb4y wrote:
An unknowable truth cannot be known, so how would we know if such a thing exists? It's a useless concept and a pointless debate.

All truth is unknowable; if it weren't, it couldn't be unknown.

Saying something is unknowable simply means it has the capacity for being unknown.
Enji
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9/5/2014 10:01:42 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/4/2014 10:53:58 PM, s-anthony wrote:
At 9/3/2014 11:16:15 PM, apb4y wrote:
An unknowable truth cannot be known, so how would we know if such a thing exists? It's a useless concept and a pointless debate.

All truth is unknowable; if it weren't, it couldn't be unknown.

Saying something is unknowable simply means it has the capacity for being unknown.

Unknowable truths is intended as the opposite of knowable truths. If a knowable truth is a truth which can be known, then an unknowable truth would be a truth which is unable to be known. This is why ConservativePolitico presents an unknowable truth as "something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way" which wouldn't make sense if unknowable truths are simply knowable truths with the capacity for being unknown. So your assessment isn't accurate in the context of this thread.
zmikecuber
Posts: 4,071
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9/5/2014 3:55:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.

It depends what you mean by "unknowable." If by unknowable you mean "impossible for us to know of" I would disagree. It may be impossible for a child with DS to understand quantum physics, but this doesn't mean they're false.

On the other hand, if by "unknowable" you mean something incoherent, then I agree that these unknowable truths do not exist. But not because they are unknowable, but because they're incoherent.

So I would agree with the proposition.. "Some unknowable statements do not exist" but not the statement "All unknowable statements do not exist."

Your argument can essentially be formulated as...

P1: Whatever exists, or is true, is able to interact with reality, and thus knowable
P2: Unknowable statements are unknowable
C: Unknowable statements do not exist/are not true

This is a valid form of reasoning.

However, I simply disagree with P1. The idea of something being true, yet impossible to interact with our reality seems perfectly coherent. I don't see anything contradictory about the two. Something seems to be perfectly able to be unknowable and true. Such as, for example, a completely different substance which does not share any properties with us, and is thus unknowable to us.

So I simply disagree with your first premise. Just because something is true, this doesn't mean that it must be able to interact with reality, or leave a footprint.
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"primal man had the habit, when he came into contact with fire, of satisfying the infantile desire connected with it, by putting it out with a stream of his urine... Putting out the fire by micturating was therefore a kind of sexual act with a male, an enjoyment of sexual potency in a homosexual competition."
zmikecuber
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9/5/2014 3:58:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.

It also depends what you mean by "knowing" something. If by "knowing" something, you mean containing information with 0% chance of being incorrect, then this seems controversial. Also, we can know things in an analogous sense. We don't understand the thing itself, but we understand something similar to the thing itself, and can thus get an idea of what the thing is.
"Delete your fvcking sig" -1hard

"primal man had the habit, when he came into contact with fire, of satisfying the infantile desire connected with it, by putting it out with a stream of his urine... Putting out the fire by micturating was therefore a kind of sexual act with a male, an enjoyment of sexual potency in a homosexual competition."
s-anthony
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9/5/2014 7:36:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 10:01:42 AM, Enji wrote:
At 9/4/2014 10:53:58 PM, s-anthony wrote:
At 9/3/2014 11:16:15 PM, apb4y wrote:
An unknowable truth cannot be known, so how would we know if such a thing exists? It's a useless concept and a pointless debate.

All truth is unknowable; if it weren't, it couldn't be unknown.

Saying something is unknowable simply means it has the capacity for being unknown.

Unknowable truths is intended as the opposite of knowable truths. If a knowable truth is a truth which can be known, then an unknowable truth would be a truth which is unable to be known. This is why ConservativePolitico presents an unknowable truth as "something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way" which wouldn't make sense if unknowable truths are simply knowable truths with the capacity for being unknown. So your assessment isn't accurate in the context of this thread.

In using your definition of -able, would we be prevented from describing something as immovable, unfashionable, or unpleasurable for fear of it becoming movable, fashionable, or pleasurable at some point in the future?
Enji
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9/5/2014 10:01:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 7:36:28 PM, s-anthony wrote:
In using your definition of -able, would we be prevented from describing something as immovable, unfashionable, or unpleasurable for fear of it becoming movable, fashionable, or pleasurable at some point in the future?

I'm simply pointing out that your criticism that if a truth weren't unknowable then it couldn't be unknown doesn't seem to make sense in the context of the OP.
s-anthony
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9/5/2014 11:06:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 10:01:02 PM, Enji wrote:
At 9/5/2014 7:36:28 PM, s-anthony wrote:
In using your definition of -able, would we be prevented from describing something as immovable, unfashionable, or unpleasurable for fear of it becoming movable, fashionable, or pleasurable at some point in the future?

I'm simply pointing out that your criticism that if a truth weren't unknowable then it couldn't be unknown doesn't seem to make sense in the context of the OP.

And, I'm simply pointing out his use of the term unknowable doesn't make sense in the context of a standard dictionary.

To say something is unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous. First of all, if a truth has, merely, the capacity for being unknown, it's ridiculous to speak of it as though it were knowable.
Enji
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9/5/2014 11:10:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 11:06:00 PM, s-anthony wrote:
To say something is unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous. First of all, if a truth has, merely, the capacity for being unknown, it's ridiculous to speak of it as though it were knowable.

I think you're actually agreeing with the OP. Alternatively you'e not conveying your point very well.
s-anthony
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9/5/2014 11:39:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 11:10:16 PM, Enji wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:06:00 PM, s-anthony wrote:
To say something is unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous. First of all, if a truth has, merely, the capacity for being unknown, it's ridiculous to speak of it as though it were knowable.

I think you're actually agreeing with the OP. Alternatively you'e not conveying your point very well.

Maybe that's why it is I'm not debating the OP; I'm debating you. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're the one who made this statement:

"This is why ConservativePolitico presents an unknowable truth as 'something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way' which wouldn't make sense if unknowable truths are simply knowable truths with the capacity for being unknown. So your assessment isn't accurate in the context of this thread."

Further, how is it my comments are not "...accurate in the context of this thread" if I'm actually agreeing with the OP?
TheGallagher
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9/6/2014 12:50:20 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.

I disagree. In a material universe made of matter, maybe yes. However I can no longer conceive how such a universe would exist in a practical sense. I think of everything in terms of patterns of energy, and energy as consciousness. So with the fundamental "substance" being consciousness, the harder we search, the more we will find. Its like a dog chasing its tail. The act of looking creates something to look at.

So unknowable truth is not just feasible but inseparable. By very definition to have a known you must also have an unknown. If you have taken any basic art class they have most likely taught you of positive and negative space. The negative space is just as important as the positive space. A shape cannot exist without a boundary between what it is and what it is not.

So think of it this way, every time you bring something into existence you not only create what it is but what it is not by the possibilities inherently implied by its existence. There is no end to the complexities possible.

So naturally, where does this leave God, Atman, Allah, Tao, Jehovah, or whatever title you placed on the "Whole Enchilada"? A good way of putting it, I forget who came up with it, "consciousness without an object". The only way to be all is to not be, or a better way to put it, just be. This is where language fails us, as language is humans putting a box of understanding around something. Whereas we are trying to describe something that contradicts conception.

On a side note, atoms and dark matter were conceived as early as ancient Greece, however it is entirely possible it was even earlier. They called dark matter ether.
Enji
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9/6/2014 8:53:08 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/5/2014 11:39:44 PM, s-anthony wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:10:16 PM, Enji wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:06:00 PM, s-anthony wrote:
To say something is unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous. First of all, if a truth has, merely, the capacity for being unknown, it's ridiculous to speak of it as though it were knowable.

I think you're actually agreeing with the OP. Alternatively you'e not conveying your point very well.

Maybe that's why it is I'm not debating the OP; I'm debating you. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're the one who made this statement:

"This is why ConservativePolitico presents an unknowable truth as 'something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way' which wouldn't make sense if unknowable truths are simply knowable truths with the capacity for being unknown. So your assessment isn't accurate in the context of this thread."

Further, how is it my comments are not "...accurate in the context of this thread" if I'm actually agreeing with the OP?

The comment I originally replied to stated that all truths are unknowable; this is the opposite conclusion of the OP who states that unknowable truths do not exist. Why did you reach such different conclusions? The OP is using unknowable truth to mean "unknowable without the ability to be known", whereas you used unknowable to mean "knowable with the ability to be unknown."

But this apparent disagreement is only because of different interpretations of what unknowable should mean, later you state that something being unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous -- which is why the OP concludes unknowable truths do not exist.

The OP's intended meaning of unknowable should be preferred because the context of the OP establishes the topic of discussion (and also, dictionary definitions generally define unknowable as "not able to be known, not knowable" rather than "capable of being unknown" http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
s-anthony
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9/6/2014 11:07:50 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/6/2014 8:53:08 AM, Enji wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:39:44 PM, s-anthony wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:10:16 PM, Enji wrote:
At 9/5/2014 11:06:00 PM, s-anthony wrote:
To say something is unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous. First of all, if a truth has, merely, the capacity for being unknown, it's ridiculous to speak of it as though it were knowable.

I think you're actually agreeing with the OP. Alternatively you'e not conveying your point very well.

Maybe that's why it is I'm not debating the OP; I'm debating you. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're the one who made this statement:

"This is why ConservativePolitico presents an unknowable truth as 'something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way' which wouldn't make sense if unknowable truths are simply knowable truths with the capacity for being unknown. So your assessment isn't accurate in the context of this thread."

Further, how is it my comments are not "...accurate in the context of this thread" if I'm actually agreeing with the OP?

The comment I originally replied to stated that all truths are unknowable; this is the opposite conclusion of the OP who states that unknowable truths do not exist. Why did you reach such different conclusions? The OP is using unknowable truth to mean "unknowable without the ability to be known", whereas you used unknowable to mean "knowable with the ability to be unknown."

The reason I came to this conclusion is because you can't speak of something that doesn't exist as though it does and say that's not a contradiction. For example, for me to say, "Nonexistence is nonexistent," is a contradiction in terms. Anytime we give something being, as in using the state of being verb is to describe the subject nonexistence, we are in essence saying it exists; and, this is a contradiction.


But this apparent disagreement is only because of different interpretations of what unknowable should mean, later you state that something being unknowable without the capacity for being known is ludicrous -- which is why the OP concludes unknowable truths do not exist.

The OP's intended meaning of unknowable should be preferred because the context of the OP establishes the topic of discussion (and also, dictionary definitions generally define unknowable as "not able to be known, not knowable" rather than "capable of being unknown" http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

The suffix -able means "having the capacity for", and rightly so. A person looking into the dark night thousands of years ago and saying, "Whether people live on the moon is unknowable," was speaking truthfully. At that time, whether the moon was inhabited was unknowable. However, just because a truth is unknowable doesn't mean it is in all places and at all times unknowable. That's like saying a knowable truth has not the ability to be unknown and vice versa.

Whether you prefer using the word ability or capacity is immaterial; they're interchangeable terms.
Raisor
Posts: 4,459
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9/6/2014 5:56:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/3/2014 2:13:51 PM, Toviyah wrote:
At 9/3/2014 11:14:40 AM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The following is meant to be a good intellectual discussion. If you plan on posting on this thread please remember to respect the other users posts, ideas and argument structures. Thoughtful, provoking, constructive questions, comments, ideas and rebuttals are encouraged.

The question being raised by this thread is as follows...

Is the existence of unknowable truths a feasible idea?

I would say no. In our reality if something exists it leaves some sort of mark or imprint in which sentient beings, after a long enough time, will be able to perceive and therefore find truth about. Take for example the atom.

Previous to the last couple of centuries the idea of the atom and cells was completely unknown to humanity. However, after awhile, due to the fact that these things exist and interact with our reality, they became knowable through observation. Similar things are happening with dark energy and dark matter today in the field of astrophysics.

Contrast this to the idea of an unknowable truth. Something that is unknowable is something that does not interact with our reality in an observable way. If something does not interact with our reality in any observable way I would assert that that thing therefore does not exist (at least not in any meaningful way).

Therefore, the idea of an unknowable truth is infeasible.
I'm pretty sure Fitch's Paradox of Knowability would refute that.
It states that if all truths are possibly knowable (there are no unknown truths) then all truths are actually known. But, that is false. So there are unknowable truths. Here it is laid out:

(in restricted quantification)

Suppose that Knowability Principle (what you are advocating)
(KP) (All) p(p --> <>Kp)

It follows from this that either p exists, or it is not knowable that p (as all truths are possibly knowable, if something is not possibly knowable, then it is not true (by modus tollens)):
(1) p (or) ~Kp.

(2) (p (or) ~Kp) --> <>K(p (or) ~Kp)
That is to say, if (1) is true, then (1) is possibly knowable, for it is a truth.

However, it can be shown that it is impossible to know (1).
To show this, take two epistemic Lemmas:
Lemma 1 K(p (or) q) --> Kp (or) Kq
In other words, to know a conjunction is to know each of the conjuncts.

Lemma 2 Kp --> p
And, knowledge empties truth.

And now two Modal Lemmas:
Lemma 3 If something entails p, then something necessarily entails p.
(id eat, all theorems are necessary).

Lemma 4 []~p -->~<>p.
If necessarily not p, then it is impossible that p.

We are now in a position to prove Fitch's Paradox.

(3)K(p (or) ~Kp) Assumption for reductio
(4)Kp (or) K~Kp from 3, by (Lemma 1)
(5)Kp (or) ~Kp from 4, applying (Lemma 2) to the right conjunct
(6)~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 3"5, by reductio, discharging assumption (3)
(7)[]~K(p (or) ~Kp) from 6, by (Lemma 3)
(8)~<>K(p (or) ~Kp) from 7, by (Lemma 4)

For a reductio, assume the knowability thesis. By (2), the knowability thesis is possibly knowable. By Lemma 1, both conjuncts are known. Applying Lemma 2 (knowledge implies truth) to the right disjunct (K~Kp) then ~Kp. Putting all this together, it follows that it is not knowable that p or ~Kp. From Lemma 3, this is a necessary truth. By Lemma 4, this is impossible. But, that contradicts the original assumption, namely that all truths are knowable. Thus, not all truths are knowable and therefore, there are unknown truths.

The only option left for you is to say that collectively, we are omniscient. But it then follows that all truths are now known (for, collectively, we currently know all truths) which is absurd.

Hope this was intellectual enough for you :)

Quality contribution. Please post more.