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Learning new things by thinking about it

Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.
Subutai
Posts: 3,262
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11/23/2016 9:18:45 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.

Well the only real things you can do this with are in non-empirical fields. I've learned a few mathematical concepts simply by thinking about ones I already knew, and I've made a few philosophical observations simply by thinking about the implications of philosophical facts or theories I already knew.
I'm becoming less defined as days go by, fading away, and well you might say, I'm losing focus, kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself.
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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11/23/2016 9:20:17 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:18:45 PM, Subutai wrote:
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.

Well the only real things you can do this with are in non-empirical fields. I've learned a few mathematical concepts simply by thinking about ones I already knew, and I've made a few philosophical observations simply by thinking about the implications of philosophical facts or theories I already knew.

Nice.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,084
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11/23/2016 9:30:13 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
If all you are doing is thinking and not taking in new facts then all you can do is re-arrange the information to make explicit what was already there.

For example, you may know the two facts:
a) Socates is a man
b) All men are mortal.

But until you get around to thinking about it, the information c) 'Socrates is mortal' was hidden from you.
Q - if you know a) and you know b) do you know c), or do you only know c) when you consciousnly infer c) from a) and b)?
A - I don't know, but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who does!

Thinking is - I suggest - all about giving our brains the chance to connect pre-known facts in new ways and drawing fresh inferences from them.

I don't know what conclusions you made about atheism. Good ones, I hope!
mrsatan
Posts: 429
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11/24/2016 3:44:07 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

There's a word for that. "Concluding".

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.
To say one has free will, to have chosen other than they did, is to say they have will over their will... Will over the will they have over their will... Will over the will they have over the will they have over their will, etc... It's utter nonsense.
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,872
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11/26/2016 5:09:17 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.
My father tells me this story I don't actually remember. He said when I was 4 years old I came home from a friend's house. It was on our road but opposite side of the street where they had many mini ponds etc. It was Florida. When I walked into the house I was soaking wet. Clear sunny day. He asked why are you wet? I said that I had fell into the pond behind my friends house off of his dock. Being Florida and its location swimming wasn't really what they did in those ponds because of possible gators. He asked me how I got out. I said I swam out.... He said how could you do that you've never learned to swim.
Based on what someone calls knowledge there has to be innate knowledge, period. What could possibly be innate is probably the debate. Some 5 year olds play piano with very little teaching. Some people understand a lot of things without being taught. Of course what I describe is borderline knowing something without the forethought of it I guess. Tricky kind of, so literally I'm not sure if it's accurate to say that.
Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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11/26/2016 1:19:52 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.

Scientists learn new things from just thinking about stuff.
They call them thought experiments.

Consider:
"The primary philosophical challenge of thought experiments is simple: How can we learn about reality (if we can at all), just by thinking? More precisely, are there thought experiments that enable us to acquire new knowledge about the intended realm of investigation without new empirical data? If so, where does the new information come from if not from contact with the realm of investigation under consideration? Finally, how can we distinguish good from bad instances of thought experiments? These questions seem urgent with respect to scientific thought experiments, because most philosophers and historians of science "recognize them as an occasionally potent tool for increasing our understanding of nature. ["] Historically their role is very close to the double one played by actual laboratory experiments and observations. First, thought experiments can disclose nature's failure to conform to a previously held set of expectations. Second, they can suggest particular ways in which both expectation and theory must henceforth be revised." (Kuhn, 1977, p. 241 and 261) The questions are urgent regarding philosophical thought experiments, because they play an important role in philosophical discourse. Philosophy without thought experiments seems almost hopeless.

There is widespread agreement that thought experiments play a central role both in philosophy and in the natural sciences. General acceptance of the importance of some of the well-known thought experiments in the natural sciences, like Maxwell's demon, Einstein's elevator or Schr"dinger's cat. Probably more often than not, these, and many other thought experiments have led the careful analysis of their epistemic powers to the conclusion that we should not portray science as an exclusively empirical activity (see Winchester, 1990, p. 79)."
http://plato.stanford.edu...
matt8800
Posts: 2,077
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11/26/2016 7:16:26 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/23/2016 9:02:44 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
Have you ever learned new things just by thinking about stuff?

I have. For me its been the implications of atheism.

Can you explain that last sentence further?
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,872
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11/29/2016 9:58:20 AM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/23/2016 9:30:13 PM, keithprosser wrote:
If all you are doing is thinking and not taking in new facts then all you can do is re-arrange the information to make explicit what was already there.

For example, you may know the two facts:
a) Socates is a man
b) All men are mortal.

But until you get around to thinking about it, the information c) 'Socrates is mortal' was hidden from you.
Keith, how is that hidden from someone who knows all men are mortal? Umm I'm saying it's not. Unless you're implying someone isn't sure whether Socrates is a human.
Q - if you know a) and you know b) do you know c), or do you only know c) when you consciousnly infer c) from a) and b)?
A - I don't know, but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who does!

Thinking is - I suggest - all about giving our brains the chance to connect pre-known facts in new ways and drawing fresh inferences from them.

I don't know what conclusions you made about atheism. Good ones, I hope!
keithprosser
Posts: 2,084
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11/29/2016 11:25:35 AM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/29/2016 9:58:20 AM, skipsaweirdo wrote:
Keith, how is that hidden from someone who knows all men are mortal? Umm I'm saying it's not. Unless you're implying someone isn't sure whether Socrates is a human.

My point is you have to actually make the connection between the premises and the conclusion. If I say to you 'Socrates is man and all men are mortal.. Therefore?' you will probably answer 'Socrates is mortal' straight away.

But suppose one day you learn the fact that Socrates is a man and a week later, quite separately, you learn all men are mortal. In that case you may not draw the inference 'Socrates is mortal' straight away because you haven't connected the information that 'Socrates is a man' with the information 'All men are mortal' yet.

Until you actually draw the conclusion you have the potential to know Socrates is mortal, but not the actual knowledge. It is quite possible that if I asked you 'Is Socrates mortal?' you could answer 'I don't know', even though you have the raw information (in unconnected form) in your brain.
PureX
Posts: 1,533
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11/29/2016 2:46:12 PM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/29/2016 11:25:35 AM, keithprosser wrote:
At 11/29/2016 9:58:20 AM, skipsaweirdo wrote:
Keith, how is that hidden from someone who knows all men are mortal? Umm I'm saying it's not. Unless you're implying someone isn't sure whether Socrates is a human.

My point is you have to actually make the connection between the premises and the conclusion. If I say to you 'Socrates is man and all men are mortal.. Therefore?' you will probably answer 'Socrates is mortal' straight away.

But suppose one day you learn the fact that Socrates is a man and a week later, quite separately, you learn all men are mortal. In that case you may not draw the inference 'Socrates is mortal' straight away because you haven't connected the information that 'Socrates is a man' with the information 'All men are mortal' yet.

Until you actually draw the conclusion you have the potential to know Socrates is mortal, but not the actual knowledge. It is quite possible that if I asked you 'Is Socrates mortal?' you could answer 'I don't know', even though you have the raw information (in unconnected form) in your brain.

This is a good point.

I feel like I learn nearly everything by thinking it through. Even if someone gives me information, I still don't accept it as knowledge until I've considered how to and 'fit it into' my current understanding.

Also, I have had jobs and hobbies that required me to spend a lot of time project-planning. Which essentially requires me to think my way through a complex set of tasks that would be required to result in a specific complex outcome. And I don't know how to obtain this outcome until I've walked through the process in my mind, using my memory and imagination. All the active possibilities are available to me in my memory, but their employment and arrangement have to be determined before I can 'map out' the process strategy for myself or others to follow.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,084
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11/29/2016 8:38:21 PM
Posted: 1 week ago
So to return to the the OP, I would say we do learn things by thinking in the sense that it is by thinking we discover connections between scraps of information already present in our brain and in doing so we transform implicit information into explicit knowledge.

That naturally lead to several questions! Perhaps the most important is how reliable is the knowledge we gain that way. The Socrates example might make it look absolutely reiable, but it's not. Suppose we learn 'All gods are immortal' and 'Socrates is a god'. We would infer the false conclusion 'Socrates is immortal', which is wrong because he died in 399BC. So what we learn by thinking isn't certain to be true - the raw data might be wrong.

Another issue is how we are able to draw conclusions at all. Most people can see that "All A's are X, B is an A so B is X" is a valid inference, but is that because we have a built-in intution about what logical inferences are valid or do learn what inferences are valid by experience?

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