Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Knowledge is the accumulation of subjectively true information accessible to a sentient being.

Knowledge is the accumulation of subjectively true information accessible to a sentient being.

Information =/= knowledge but knowledge = information.

Information only becomes knowledge when it is accessible to a sentient being.

 

For example a book may provide information, but a book can not know things. If the writer of the book dies before anyone else has read the book then no one knows what information resides within. If within the book was written the sentence, “lava is hot.” and you were to read it, you would then know that the book says lava is hot. You would not necessarily know whether or not lava actually is hot, only that the books says it is. If you had never experienced lava before then you would not simply all of a sudden know that lava is hot, the book could say “lava is cold” and you would be none the wiser. The book could provide untrue information but just because you read somewhere that something is something, does not mean that you know that it is, you only know that you have read that it is what it is. Information does not have to be true, but knowledge has to be true subjectively for it to be knowledge. If you were to experience lava yourself and you were to touch it, you would then know whether or not it was hot or not.

 

We can not know things objectively, we can only know things subjectively.

 

My post gets quite solipsistic here in that we can not know that an objective world exists, we can only be sure that our subjective experience exists. Likewise we can not know things objectively, only subjectively. We can read a book that states “lava is hot” and we would know that we have read that lava is hot, but we can not know that lava exists, or that the book exists outside of our experience with it. You can know how to ride a bike but you can’t know that your bike exists objectively. If you were to touch lava and it was hot, you would know that when you touched it, you felt heat, but you would not know objectively that your body actually did heat up and you would not know objectively that if you touched it again that it would not be cold. You could only know if it would be cold the next time you touched it if you touched it again, and even then you wouldn’t know if you would get the same result again if you tried a third time.  You could do the same experiment 999,999,999 times and get the same result but you wouldn’t know what result you’ll get the 1,000,000,000th time until you do it the 1,000,000,000th time, you would only know what result you got the first 999,999,999 times.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

 

 

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Gorgias and Nothingness

Solipsism was first documented from the Greek sophist Gorgias who stated:

1. Nothing exists

2. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it, and

3. Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others

4. Even if it can be communicated, it cannot be understood.

What Gorgias states abgeorgias1ove is the idea that existence can not be proven nor disproven

as we are not able to access each others thoughts or experiences. We are only aware of others through our senses making it impossible to prove or disprove this notion. If something does exist, we will never be able to know about it because we cannot effectively communicate this and be fully understood.

In my last blog post I spoke about solipsism suggesting that anything outside one’s own mind is uncertain and that the external world and other minds can’t be known or might not even exist outside the mind. Gorgias’ statement formed the basis of this now widely known theory.

“How can anyone communicate the idea of colour by means of words since the ear does not hear colours but only sounds?”

This quote by Gorgias was used to prove his theory that “nothing exists.” Gorgias argued that nothing exists and even if it did, we would not be able to communicate it to each other as communication can not be relied upon because it differs from person to person.

This theory of solipsism was thought up by Gorgias in the late 5th century BC and still puzzles philosophers today.

 

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Solipsism

Does the world exist outside of the mind?

solipsism4

This question has been running through my mind for a considerable part of my life. I have had questions as to whether what I see is really there or if it is just a figment of my imagination. 

Naturally, the first place I looked for an answer to my question was google. The first link that popped up was a Wikipedia link to solipsism. I quickly discovered that solipsism is the idea that the only thing that is sure to exist is one’s mind.

Solipsism suggests that anything outside one’s own mind is uncertain and that the external world and other minds can’t be known or might not even exist outside the mind.

solipsism-all-about-me

We are not able to perceive anyone else’s feelings and experiences, therefore, how do we really know if they exist?

How is it possible that my mind has created all of this?

If i am creating the world I live in, then why isn’t my world perfect?

These questions are some that I came across when thinking about solipsism.

To conclude, I don’t feel that there is any real purpose behind trying to explain whether or not what we see is real, however, it is an interesting topic to ponder. At the end of the day, what we see cannot be changed and our inability to change what we see cannot be changed or questioned either.  

 

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The End of the World Means Nothing (or: a lively unicorn debate)

Take a moment to look around you. You’re probably in your home, at school, maybe out in a coffee shop. There may even be people around you. Now imagine that just like that,

there is nothing.

(Sound effect courtesy of David Keller)

Now, the idea of nothing is vague. I’ll assume you imagined a large black space. A void, if you will. If you didn’t, go ahead and explode everything still left mentally until you have a large black void. I’ll wait a moment.

The concept of capital ‘N’ Nothing in philosophy was first discussed by Parmenides, who said that nothing could not exist because to be able to talk about something, it had to exist. Even though Parmenides’ theory on nothing has mostly been discredited or altered to make more sense, I liked it, if only because the concept assumes that ideas are things.

To explain, think of a unicorn.

 

You probably thought of something along the lines of this:

Rob Boudon, Unicorn - Full Speed

Rob Boudon, Unicorn – Full Speed ((A real photograph of an imaginary unicorn))

Obviously, unicorns don’t exist, yet you still imagined one. Parmenides said

For never shall this prevail, that things that are not are.

which, frankly, is more confusing than it has any right to be, but I digress. Parmenides meant that when you discuss something (unicorns), you aren’t actually talking about it—you are discussing the idea or concept of it. If a unicorn cannot be, then what must be is your thoughts, or the idea of a unicorn.

This is a roundabout way of saying that ideas are things. While they may not be tangible, they still are, in the same way that you are and a rhinoceros is and Pepsi Salty Watermelon is.

But Jess!, my imaginary version of you is saying. What about the concept earlier? When you discussed the fact that there was nothing!

Well, if you’re still somehow juggling thinking of unicorns, asking me questions, and thoughts on the void, you’ll remember that our concept of nothing was just a black void. If you’ve been keeping track, though (and even I have only barely been able to, so kudos) you may be thinking:

  1. Black is still a thing.
  2. The idea of void is something, because we just decided that ideas are things.

Well, voice in my head/audience, you’ve come to the crux of the issue. To me, nothing is a concept that we cannot fathom, if only because we cannot imagine it. Personally, even the idea that there is nothing is kind of absurd to me, if only because of the following thought, which I’ll walk through:

VOID.

As the caption clearly states, this is our void. Let’s label it!

SELF-EXPLANATORY VOID.

So this is our nothing, but if we assume that ideas are things, then would facts and concepts not also be things? As in, the very concept that there is nothing?

A CONCEPT.

So if our lonely little concept, the very concept that there is nothing, is something, then doesn’t that mean that our nothing is now something?

SOMETHING (?)

So even if we assume that everything around us is real, then what remains is still that stubborn little concept. Descartes thoughts on nothing were that, instead of beginning with something, as we did earlier, we start with nothing and allow what can be proven to fill the void. The concept of solipsism assumes that you can only be sure that you exist, and everything else is unproven.

So if we do assume that there is at least something, then what does that mean?

It means that nothing is an impossibility. Even in the complete absence of something, there still remains the concept that there is something. So if the world were to end, right here and right now, and it somehow took everything along with it, that would mean absolutely, positively nothing something.

 
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