• Janus
    11k
    That we know things couched in cultural terms is a given.

    The issue is the dichotomy as proposed by you, namely, "know thyself" vs. "know thyself better".
    The latter is about someone else assuming authority over you.

    As in, I may know myself, but a psychologist claims to know me better; Christians, too, claim to know me better, and so on.
    baker

    No dichotomy! I didn't intend anything like you think I did. I said that we can know ourselves better with the added benefit of science. That doesn't obviate the need for self-examination. I wasn't referring to the question of others knowing me at all.
  • Janus
    11k
    Maybe my language was sloppy. It doesn't mean nobody knows. But it also doesn't mean somebody does. How would we know?Tom Storm

    If we can't possibly know whether there is someone who knows or not what relevance could it have to us anyway? If there were someone who knows, how could she demonstrate her knowledge such that everyone would be able to see that in fact she does know? If they were able to see that she did know then they would also know. If that were possible it would have already happened, and we would all know, I imagine.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    My thoughts precisely.
  • baker
    2.9k
    No dichotomy! I didn't intend anything like you think I did. I said that we can know ourselves better with the added benefit of science. That doesn't obviate the need for self-examination. I wasn't referring to the question of others knowing me at all.Janus

    "Knowing yourself better with the added benefit of science" _is_ knowing oneself on other people's terms.
  • baker
    2.9k
    Lack of consensus doesn't mean that nobody knows; but it can mean that only some know and others don't.
    — baker

    Maybe my language was sloppy. It doesn't mean nobody knows. But it also doesn't mean somebody does.

    How would we know?
    Tom Storm

    It depends on why you want to know whether someone else knows or not.
  • baker
    2.9k
    If there were someone who knows, how could she demonstrate her knowledge such that everyone would be able to see that in fact she does know?Janus

    Why everyone?

    Can you explain?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    No, I'm talking about divine revelation, not that "which one obtains from within", "intuition", or "mystical union". Divine revelation as in, holy scriptures. The "inner" part of all this is just the personal affirmation one feels inside that the holy scriptures are in fact the word of God.baker

    Then I think we were talking about different things, and what you said was not relevant to the point that I was making, which you replied to.

    I was talking about knowing a cause (God for example), through its effects (the physical world He created). We have no capacity to directly observe the cause, but we can observe the effects, and infer the necessity of the cause. If you cannot relate to this way of knowing God, I could switch it for an example from quantum physics. Physicists assume that there is something real represented by the wave function, and they know about it from it's effects, which are observed and expressed as the existence of particles.

    How can you possibly know it's pretense?baker

    Because "knowledge" in the epistemological sense is justified, and "justified" implies demonstrated, which means shared with others. So if an individual claims to know something, but what is known cannot be demonstrated, or shared with others, it is not "knowledge" in epistemology, which is where the accepted definition of "knowledge": is derived from, and it is therefore just a person claiming to have knowledge, which is not real knowledge, but a pretense.

    Remember, in Plato's cave allegory, the philosopher, having seen beyond the reflections, toward understand the true reality, is compelled to return to the cave to teach the others. Without doing this educating, the person would just be someone assuming I am right about reality, and they are all wrong about reality, and such a person would not be a philosopher at all, but a poser.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Without doing this educating, the person would just be someone assuming I am right about reality, and they are all wrong about reality, and such a person would not be a philosopher at all, but a poser.Metaphysician Undercover

    Interesting point of view. Kind of low-rent bodhisattva action, hey? Poser? Maybe the word you want is egocentric? How did you determine that someone who gains philosophical truth must educate the others?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k

    Plato's cave allegory. It's the part from 518-522.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Does it say that the person who does not return to educate the others is not a philosopher and is a poseur? It's more about a responsibility to share truth. Which Socrates seems to know is a pointless task.

    Personally my sympathy has always been with those who stay in the cave. They seem content despite their chains.
  • baker
    2.9k
    Then I think we were talking about different things, and what you said was not relevant to the point that I was making, which you replied to.

    I was talking about knowing a cause (God for example), through its effects (the physical world He created). We have no capacity to directly observe the cause, but we can observe the effects, and infer the necessity of the cause. If you cannot relate to this way of knowing God, I could switch it for an example from quantum physics.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    No, the way to know God is not the way to know tables and chairs, or atoms, or anything else.

    Remember, we started with this:

    We know God through His effects, the reality of physical existence, but we cannot see Him directly as the cause, His existence is inferred.
    — Metaphysician Undercover

    No. Every self-respecting Christian has a personal relationship with God.
    baker

    You started with the example of knowing God. But God is not known through its effects. God is supposed to be known directly.


    How can you possibly know it's pretense?
    — baker

    Because "knowledge" in the epistemological sense is justified, and "justified" implies demonstrated, which means shared with others. So if an individual claims to know something, but what is known cannot be demonstrated, or shared with others, it is not "knowledge" in epistemology, which is where the accepted definition of "knowledge": is derived from, and it is therefore just a person claiming to have knowledge, which is not real knowledge, but a pretense.

    Monotheists frequently demonstrate their knowledge of God with other monotheists; they form an epistemic community.

    Do you think that because monotheists can't/don't/won't demonstrate their knowledge of God with just anyone, or, in this case, you, this means that they are pretending?

    Remember, in Plato's cave allegory, the philosopher, having seen beyond the reflections, toward understand the true reality, is compelled to return to the cave to teach the others. Without doing this educating, the person would just be someone assuming I am right about reality, and they are all wrong about reality, and such a person would not be a philosopher at all, but a poser.

    Again, monotheists are sharing their knowledge outside of their epistemic community as well. It's called proselytizing. It's hardly outrageous to expect that the audience does some work as well.
  • baker
    2.9k
    How did you determine that someone who gains philosophical truth must educate the others?Tom Storm

    +1
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k


    That's my interpretation, applied to the person who claims to have some knowledge of the true reality, but refuses to justify it (teach others). What Plato says is too extensive to be quoted here, but the most significant part is 519-520.

    Those who have obtained the highest levels of education (ascent to the good), but do not partake in educating others (refuse to come back down to the cave), are portrayed as lazy, growing freely like a weed within a society. In such a situation these people are not inclined by any sense of duty or responsibility to teach others. If we allow those who have obtained the highest level of education into the state which we are creating, we have the right to compel them to care for, and educate the others.

    Personally my sympathy has always been with those who stay in the cave. They seem content despite their chains.Tom Storm

    "Sympathy" is an odd choice of words here. "Sympathy" implies feely sorry for, as one might have sympathy for the cattle in the barnyard, who are content despite being slated for slaughter.



    I conclude that you are not familiar with Christian theology then, and especially have not read Thomas Aquinas. He explicitly states (Summa Theologica, Q.2, Art.2) "Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us."

    God is supposed to be known directly.baker

    Monotheists frequently demonstrate their knowledge of God with other monotheists; they form an epistemic community.baker

    These two statements directly contradict each other. Suppose I approach you, and insist "God can only be known directly". Then I say, "let me demonstrate my knowledge of God to you." Or, in the inverse order?
  • Janus
    11k
    I don't see it that way at all: I see it as knowing yourself better with the added benefit of others' experience.

    If there were someone who knows, how could she demonstrate her knowledge such that everyone would be able to see that in fact she does know?Janus

    Why everyone?

    Can you explain?
    baker

    Any knowledge which is reliably transmissable is intersubjectively corroborable; so if anyone understood what consciousness is in a way which was demonstrable it would have already been demonstrated.

    So, the notion that some people could, together or independently, know what consciousness is, even though nobody else knows what they know, or even that they know, seems nonsensical.

    You started with the example of knowing God. But God is not known through its effects. God is supposed to be known directly.baker

    The idea that God can be known directly is nonsensical. All we know directly is what appears to us via the senses and also emotions, feelings and sensations. So someone has an experience of overwhelming ecstasy with a sensation of being engulfed in a rising, all encompassing light, and they say they have directly experienced God; but the inference is not warranted, it is an interpretation of the experience, a reification.

    Monotheists frequently demonstrate their knowledge of God with other monotheists; they form an epistemic community.baker

    How could they demonstrate their knowledge? What you should have said is that share their interpretations and beliefs, because that is all it can be.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Personally my sympathy has always been with those who stay in the cave. They seem content despite their chains.
    — Tom Storm

    "Sympathy" is an odd choice of words here. "Sympathy" implies feely sorry for, as one might have sympathy for the cattle in the barnyard, who are content despite being slated for slaughter.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    This is a digression but I say sympathy because those folk who are said to be in chains are generally derided. People like to look down on those poor fools who are content to live a quotidian life and not 'seek the sunlight'. You say 'cattle' - apt - I think many people who show up with truth stories or pathways to enlightenment often see the mass as a dumb flock of animals.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k

    But in my example, you would have sympathy (feel sorry) for these "animals", not because they are a dumb flock, but because they are unaware of their fate. So it's that particular aspect of their "dumbness", that something is going to happen to them, which they are unaware of, but you know about, which makes you feel sorry for them.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    No, I'm sorry for them because in the history of philosophy discussions it is these folk who are looked down by many for their lack of adventure or intellectual curiosity. We are meant to admire the guy who seeks the sun, but in the end he is the loser. :razz:
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    We are meant to admire the guy who seeks the sun, but in the end he is the loser.Tom Storm

    Why?

    think many people who show up with truth stories or pathways to enlightenment often see the mass as a dumb flock of animals.Tom Storm

    If they do, then they're missing the point, and the target.
  • Varde
    34
    The prisoner may unshackle and free itself. Although this would be behind the scenes.

    Philosophy doesn't do that thing you suggested, people do.

    I'm very fond of illusions, as I am the number 3(1 - the writer. 2 - the Joker. 3 - the illusion; if you want a more comprehensive pattern please ask).Shadows are a 2, I posit.))

    Sunlight is a lot more advanced than Sun Dial logic, there are many more configurations all of which to be understood with the frames you have already perceived through experience of your own shadow.

    The shadow form, if unseen, or partially seen, may manifest into an illusion.

    Think of shadows as man's dormant creation ability, and furthermore, man's dormant imagination. Why isn't our imagination more apparent?

    I'm not suggesting shadows do animate secretly, but that the potential is there, so addressing it as either yes or no is wrong.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    We are meant to admire the guy who seeks the sun, but in the end he is the loser.
    — Tom Storm

    Why?
    Wayfarer

    I was being wry - Socrates was killed because he 'told the truth' isn't that the tale? What did Nietzsche say about Christianity? It failed because the last true Christian died on the cross. :gasp: The fellow who returns to the cave faces violence for daring to to share. The 'truth' doesn't set us free - it sets us on a collision course with others.
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    ‘They have a name for the winners in the world
    I want a name when I lose
    They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
    Just call me Deacon Blues’ ~ Steely Dan, Deacon Blues

    (For decades I wondered what the reference was to Alabama, a few years ago, before Walter Becker died, they revealed that it was a champion college football team, called the Crimson Tide.)
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    :up: Reminds me of a far less classy anecdote. Norman Mailer had dinner with Diana, Princess of Wales (and Charles) sometime in the 1980's. They got to talking about literature and Mailer's book, Tough Guys Don't Dance. "What is the book about?" asked Diana of one of America's greatest living men of letters. "Pussy", said Mailer without skipping a beat.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    The 'truth' doesn't set us free - it sets us on a collision course with others.Tom Storm

    That's why the enlightened don't go around preaching to the unenlightened.

    By definition, special knowledge is the prerogative of the specialists. The masses must remain unenlightened unless they make an effort to acquire special knowledge.

    On their part, the enlightened must compromise and externally adapt to the world of the unenlightened.

    But inwardly, that is, intellectually and spiritually, they have been set free from ignorance.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Socrates presents an image of our education. Several important points follow from this.

    First, it should be kept in mind that Socrates, by his own admission, was ignorant. If there is an escape from the cave, the person telling the story is not someone who escaped it, not someone who has any knowledge of such things. Socrates is not claiming that we are ignorant about all things, but ignorant of what is best, both with regard to what we ought to do and why it is best that things are as they are.

    Second, the shadows are images. As cave dwellers, or, in other words, citizens of the city, our education is one of images. Those who escape the shackles are able to see that the images on the cave wall are images of other images, shadows of the puppets being paraded before the light of the fire in the cave. But to escape the shackles is not to escape the cave or city. We remain in a world of images that determine opinion.

    Third, although those who escape the shackles can become aware of the image-makers, which is to say, the opinion-makers, readers often fail to see that Plato's stories of what is beyond the cave are themselves images. Images do not lead to an escape from images. Accepting Plato's images of transcendent knowledge is merely to replace some images with others. Accepting them as the truth does the opposite of what is promised. By accepting them one mistakes images for knowledge, and thereby does not escape the cave but remains in it.

    Fourth, there is knowledge in the cave. Some become expert on what happens, how certain shadows follow others or are always accompanied by particular sounds. Scientific knowledge is of this sort. We can say what will happen and how it happens but not why it happens, why it is best that things happen as they do.

    Fifth, the image of what is seen by someone who escapes the cave is deliberately ambiguous. On the one hand, what is seen are the things of our ordinary experience under the sun, but on the other, it is some transcendent experience of the truth itself. There is a seamless transition from one to the other as if unproblematic.

    Our education as depicted is not a matter of replacing opinion with transcendent knowledge. Our education remains an education in images. It is not merely an education by means of images, but what Plato provides is an education about images. What we see are images, some combination of the images given to us together with those of our own making. Knowledge is not a matter of replacing our images with imagined originals, whether it be Forms or gods or the Good, but of being able to discern that our images, our opinions, are things of our own making. Rather than mistaking them for the truth, knowledge of our ignorance leads us to know them for what they are; images that are at best likely stories.
  • baker
    2.9k
    That's why the enlightened don't go around preaching to the unenlightened.

    By definition, special knowledge is the prerogative of the specialists. The masses must remain unenlightened unless they make an effort to acquire special knowledge.

    On their part, the enlightened must compromise and externally adapt to the world of the unenlightened.

    But inwardly, that is, intellectually and spiritually, they have been set free from ignorance.
    Apollodorus

    Yes.
  • baker
    2.9k
    ↪baker I don't see it that way at all: I see it as knowing yourself better with the added benefit of others' experience.Janus

    Really? When, say, Evangelical Christians tell you who you really are, do you deem yourself as "knowing yourself better"?

    If there were someone who knows, how could she demonstrate her knowledge such that everyone would be able to see that in fact she does know?
    — Janus

    Why everyone?

    Can you explain?
    — baker

    Any knowledge which is reliably transmissable is intersubjectively corroborable; so if anyone understood what consciousness is in a way which was demonstrable it would have already been demonstrated.

    You didn't answer my question.

    So, the notion that some people could, together or independently, know what consciousness is, even though nobody else knows what they know, or even that they know, seems nonsensical.

    And yet some people can, together or independently, know fancy stuff in, say, advanced mathematics or nuclear physics, even though nobody else knows what they know, or even that they know -- and nobody frets about it!!


    How is it that only when it comes to religious/spiritual topics, that the vocal opponents of those fields of knowledge demand that said knowledge either be accessible, demonstrable to everyone, indiscriminately, regardless of their age, intellectual prowess, education, interest -- or we must claim there's nothing to it?!


    The idea that God can be known directly is nonsensical.

    And you display this same kind of confidence about other things you don't know?
  • baker
    2.9k
    I conclude that you are not familiar with Christian theology then, and especially have not read Thomas Aquinas. He explicitly states (Summa Theologica, Q.2, Art.2) "Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us."Metaphysician Undercover

    And you have not read the Catechism of the RCC, I presume?

    And look, even in the passage you quote, it is said first: "Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us."

    Aquinas assumes the existence of God can be self-evident to us. Making inferences based on His effects is only a secondary epistemic method.

    Monotheists frequently demonstrate their knowledge of God with other monotheists; they form an epistemic community.
    — baker

    These two statements directly contradict each other. Suppose I approach you, and insist "God can only be known directly". Then I say, "let me demonstrate my knowledge of God to you." Or, in the inverse order?

    For monotheists who are part of the same monotheistic epistemic community, this is not a problem.

    You keep insisting on approaching the topic of knowing God on your own terms that are extraneous to monotheism (and you interpret standard monotheistic references to suit this agenda of yours).

    You wouldn't approach mathematics or chemistry on your own terms, would you? No, you comply with the demands of the field of knowledge. It's pretty much only when it comes to religion/spirituality that so many people insist on their own terms. As if religion/spirituality wouldn't be a field of knowledge in its own right.
  • Janus
    11k
    Really? When, say, Evangelical Christians tell you who you really are, do you deem yourself as "knowing yourself better"?baker

    I was referring to neuroscience, not evangelical christianity. That said, any immersion in aspects of culture; whether science, the arts, sports, drug use, meditation practice, religious practice, gambling, addiction or whatever, can lead, through your own experience and the apprehension of others' experiences, to better self-understanding. It can also, of course, lead to greater confusion.

    You didn't answer my question.baker

    And you didn't explain why your thought my response didn't answer your question, so...

    And yet some people can, together or independently, know fancy stuff in, say, advanced mathematics or nuclear physics, even though nobody else knows what they know, or even that they know -- and nobody frets about it!!baker

    Nobody's fretting about—except perhaps you—but the point is that their knowledge is demonstrable; whereas the so-called knowledge that comes with religious experience is not. If you can't see the difference, then I don't know what else to say. I'm not saying that such "knowledge" is of no subjective value to individuals, but the point is that it is really faith not knowledge; the definition of knowledge being that which can be intersubjectively demonstrated.

    And you display this same kind of confidence about other things you don't know?baker

    It's self-evident by definition: god not being an objectively knowable phenomenon. If you want to believe that God is inter-subjectively knowable, then go ahead; I'm done talking to someone who is obviously not open to argument.
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    these people's knowledge is not derived from the observational, empirical knowledge, but is a (directly) received revelation from God.baker

    Many Christians would never claim to know God directly. The emphasis is on faith, believing in the Word, acting in accordance with the moral precepts and as a member the communion of believers. In Orthodox and Catholic theology, the subjective experience of the vision of the divine is called theosis or the beatific vision but it is understood to be extremely rare, only realised by the saints.

    The question of the nature of religious knowledge is very interesting in my view. Of course atheism will say that it's a nonsense question because there's nothing to be known, but I'll leave that aside. I think in Eastern cultures, by way of contrast, there is a different kind of religious sensibility, which is based on the idea of 'realisation'. That is something I read about when I first picked up books on Eastern philosophy and religion. There, the idea is that us ordinary people don't actually know what is real. We're too caught up in our own delusions and attachments to understand it. 'Life is a series of crises, most of which never occur'. When realisation occurs, all of the obscurations fall away and for the first time you see things as they truly are. This can be a shattering experience in some cases. That was the message of some of those books I encountered, for example the Teachings of Ramana Maharishi. (And I do think he was/is a genuine sage, not a hoodoo guru.)

    From the Christian P-O-V, much of what these gurus say seems heretical, even leaving aside the fact that they're not Christian, and so can't be 'saved' as a matter of principle. But Ramana Maharishi himself would frequently invoke Christian principles and Biblical aphorisms. Indian religion tends to the 'many paths up the mountain' attitude which is generally alien to ecclesiastical Christianity.

    But, generally, we don't know. We see 'through a glass, darkly' - hints and signs, feelings and intuitions. One day, maybe.

    it should be kept in mind that Socrates, by his own admission, was ignorant.Fooloso4

    He is also regarded as the archetypal sage. The ignorance he refers to is avidya, not knowing, which is the kind of confusion and delusion I referred to above.
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