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Are Humans Capable to Comprehend?

GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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8/24/2010 1:13:23 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
People always like to talk about things that are unknowable or beyond human comprehension and use that to defend propositions and sort of shield them from argumentation. I've also heard those who say you can't teach a dog calculus just like humans are incapable of learning or knowing certain things a well.

But I say this is all false. The human mind IS capable of comprehending anything.

It is a fallacy to say that because dogs can't comprehend some things, therefore there are things humans can't comprehend. Or the other notion of a person in 2D flatland who can't comprehend 3D, but that doesn't mean us in 3D can't comprehend other dimensions.

I say that the dog analogy doesn't work because a dog can't even question why he doesn't understand calculus whereas humans have the ability to analyze, conceptualize, discern, question, disect, represent ideas with language, and communicate.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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8/24/2010 1:18:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I greatly dislike the argument that is used in defence of an apparent inconsistency in religion... oh it's beyond human comprehension. It is weak. That said their may be certain concepts that we can't understand! How would we know?
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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8/24/2010 2:00:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 1:18:47 PM, Cerebral_Narcissist wrote:
I greatly dislike the argument that is used in defence of an apparent inconsistency in religion... oh it's beyond human comprehension. It is weak. That said their may be certain concepts that we can't understand! How would we know?

That is correct, though I am trying to figure out a way to prove the contrary.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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8/24/2010 2:22:10 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 2:00:53 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 8/24/2010 1:18:47 PM, Cerebral_Narcissist wrote:
I greatly dislike the argument that is used in defence of an apparent inconsistency in religion... oh it's beyond human comprehension. It is weak. That said their may be certain concepts that we can't understand! How would we know?

That is correct, though I am trying to figure out a way to prove the contrary.

I am not sure how you can though, I mean in am inclined to agree with you, but I don't know how you can actually show that everything is within human comprehension.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
tBoonePickens
Posts: 3,266
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8/24/2010 2:57:11 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 1:13:23 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
People always like to talk about things that are unknowable or beyond human comprehension and use that to defend propositions and sort of shield them from argumentation. I've also heard those who say you can't teach a dog calculus just like humans are incapable of learning or knowing certain things a well.
I think I agree somewhat, but I the examples are a bit odd.

But I say this is all false. The human mind IS capable of comprehending anything.
Sure, anything but the incomprehensible.

It is a fallacy to say that because dogs can't comprehend some things, therefore there are things humans can't comprehend. Or the other notion of a person in 2D flatland who can't comprehend 3D, but that doesn't mean us in 3D can't comprehend other dimensions.
Ah! This example I like very much! Now the answer depends on what you mean by "comprehend." A flatlander (2D-geometrical or 3D-area-time) may be able to comprehend that there can be higher dimensions BUT he cannot "envision" them. They are abstract concepts. Same as us in (3D-geometrical or 4D-space-time): we can comprehend a 4th & 5th (...) geometrical dimension, but we CANNOT "envision" them. This is akin to a person born blind: they can comprehend color but they can never envision it. So, if your definition of comprehend DOES NOT include "envision" then I agree; otherwise, I totally disagree.

I say that the dog analogy doesn't work because a dog can't even question why he doesn't understand calculus whereas humans have the ability to analyze, conceptualize, discern, question, disect, represent ideas with language, and communicate.
I agree: the dog analogy does suck.

-Cheers!
WOS
: At 10/3/2012 4:28:52 AM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
: Without nothing existing, you couldn't have something.
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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8/24/2010 4:00:01 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Ok, here goes an attempt.

Problem: Can humans comprehend possibly anything there is to know in the cosmos?

- We have omnidirectional perception.
- We can percieve matter in all possible states.
- We can observe both the quantum level and macrocosmic level of reality. And even the microcosma we can't yet see with current magnification, we can conceptualize.
- We can identify something that is different from something else.
- We can comprehend something that is all pervading.
- We can comprehend voids.
- We can comprehend space-time (though a bit difficult to envision the "fabric" of such).
- We can comprehend the electromagnetic spectrum as well as spectrums that exceed the EM.
- We can comprehend different frequencies of existence as well as comprehend other dimensions (which can be graphically visualized as planes curving in on themselves or planes that are cylindrical).

[Note that I am not saying we can particularly know everything, but rather comprehend everything.]

I would say, given the above, there is nothing that cannot be comprehended by our faculties and cognition.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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8/24/2010 4:03:11 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 4:00:01 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Ok, here goes an attempt.

Problem: Can humans comprehend possibly anything there is to know in the cosmos?

- We have omnidirectional perception.
- We can percieve matter in all possible states.
- We can observe both the quantum level and macrocosmic level of reality. And even the microcosma we can't yet see with current magnification, we can conceptualize.
- We can identify something that is different from something else.
- We can comprehend something that is all pervading.
- We can comprehend voids.
- We can comprehend space-time (though a bit difficult to envision the "fabric" of such).
- We can comprehend the electromagnetic spectrum as well as spectrums that exceed the EM.
- We can comprehend different frequencies of existence as well as comprehend other dimensions (which can be graphically visualized as planes curving in on themselves or planes that are cylindrical).

[Note that I am not saying we can particularly know everything, but rather comprehend everything.]

I would say, given the above, there is nothing that cannot be comprehended by our faculties and cognition.

Okay, but given that our senses are by definition flawed, and that our science is ultimately predicated on these senses then there may be something that we do not know of, that we do not even know to look for, that when discovered we can not understand.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
Atheism
Posts: 2,033
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8/24/2010 4:17:27 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
"perceive: to become aware of through the senses; "I could perceive the ship coming over the horizon" "
Definition of comprehend
http://www.google.com...
Question:Can humans become aware of anything through the sentence?
I miss the old members.
Atheism
Posts: 2,033
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8/24/2010 4:18:32 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 4:17:27 PM, Atheism wrote:
"perceive: to become aware of through the senses; "I could perceive the ship coming over the horizon" "
Definition of comprehend
http://www.google.com...
Question:Can humans become aware of anything through the senses?
Added this specifically because someone may become confused.
I miss the old members.
belle
Posts: 4,113
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8/24/2010 4:23:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 4:00:01 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Ok, here goes an attempt.

Problem: Can humans comprehend possibly anything there is to know in the cosmos?

- We have omnidirectional perception.
- We can percieve matter in all possible states.
- We can observe both the quantum level and macrocosmic level of reality. And even the microcosma we can't yet see with current magnification, we can conceptualize.
- We can identify something that is different from something else.
- We can comprehend something that is all pervading.
- We can comprehend voids.
- We can comprehend space-time (though a bit difficult to envision the "fabric" of such).
- We can comprehend the electromagnetic spectrum as well as spectrums that exceed the EM.
- We can comprehend different frequencies of existence as well as comprehend other dimensions (which can be graphically visualized as planes curving in on themselves or planes that are cylindrical).

[Note that I am not saying we can particularly know everything, but rather comprehend everything.]

I would say, given the above, there is nothing that cannot be comprehended by our faculties and cognition.

the problem of course being if we can't comprehend something we find ourselves unable to conceptualize it and put it on a list of things we can't comprehend. its like a blind spot in our cognition- not only are we completely unaware of whatever it is we can't understand, we have no way of ever finding out about it. the state of not being able to comprehend something is, in this case, identical to the state of not knowing that such a thing even exists. it seems like you are limiting "lack of comprehension" to the equivalent of what would happen in a really hard math class or something... you hit your abstraction ceiling and you have trouble making sense of what you should be doing, though you usually eventually get it. but thats not the same as whats going on here, namely something being so far out of our range of understanding that we can't even comprehend it enough to realize that we don't understand it- which really is analogous to the dog/calculus example.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
tBoonePickens
Posts: 3,266
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8/24/2010 5:12:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 4:18:32 PM, Atheism wrote:
At 8/24/2010 4:17:27 PM, Atheism wrote:
"perceive: to become aware of through the senses; "I could perceive the ship coming over the horizon" "
Definition of comprehend
http://www.google.com...
Question:Can humans become aware of anything through the senses?
Added this specifically because someone may become confused.

My sentiments exactly. Unfortunately, they went unanswered for me. Hopefully you'll fair better.

At 8/24/2010 4:00:01 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
- We have omnidirectional perception.
No we do not. We perceive in 3 dimensions + time.

- We can percieve matter in all possible states.
All possible states that we know of.

- We can observe both the quantum level and macrocosmic level of reality. And even the microcosma we can't yet see with current magnification, we can conceptualize.
Most quantum level things are "experienced" indirectly.

- We can identify something that is different from something else.
I agree: we can take any 2 things no matter how alike they are and find differences.

- We can comprehend something that is all pervading.
OK.

- We can comprehend voids.
In the same way we can comprehend square circles.

- We can comprehend space-time (though a bit difficult to envision the "fabric" of such).
Agreed.

- We can comprehend the electromagnetic spectrum as well as spectrums that exceed the EM.
Not sure, but ok.

- We can comprehend different frequencies of existence...
Huh? What's that? Things either exist or they do not.

...as well as comprehend other dimensions (which can be graphically visualized as planes curving in on themselves or planes that are cylindrical).
They can be graphically visualized as an abstraction of other dimensions, but they are not the real thing. Therefore, they cannot be visualized.

[Note that I am not saying we can particularly know everything, but rather comprehend everything.]
I think that it may be possible, but maybe impossible to prove true.

I would say, given the above, there is nothing that cannot be comprehended by our faculties and cognition.
Like I said, we cannot envision a 4th geometrical dimension.
WOS
: At 10/3/2012 4:28:52 AM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
: Without nothing existing, you couldn't have something.
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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8/25/2010 9:19:25 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 8/24/2010 1:18:47 PM, Cerebral_Narcissist wrote:
I greatly dislike the argument that is used in defence of an apparent inconsistency in religion... oh it's beyond human comprehension. It is weak. That said their may be certain concepts that we can't understand! How would we know?

Though I can understand where you're coming from here, I think this is because whereas religious people do not expect every single person who is suspicious or wary of religion to be scientists, those who question religion expect all religious people to be theologians.

I'm sure there are some scientific questions that you don't know the answer to and further scientific questions that are "beyond our comprehension." That doesn't necessarily debunk science, though, does it?

That said.

I think that the dog analogy is an example of a capacitative limitation in an intelligent being that can understand other relatively sophisticated elements of human cognition, such as emotion and social behavior.

I would imagine attempting to understand a higher dimension is akin to understanding a textbook about a science you've never been exposed to and written in a language of which you've never heard. But, there are some pretty clever people out there, so you never know. Everything was a mystery to us, once.

Alternately, given that people still seem to have a hard time understanding themselves and the most fundamental concepts derived from physical study, it seems likely that there are limitations to our capacity for understanding. At least, currently.