Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Epistemology is the Study of

Everything is subjective. Our physical senses are not only limited but also imperfect and easily fooled, our memories can be erased or altered, and we have no way of truly knowing that what others say about the world outside of our perceptions is true. We live in a dream world where everything seems real - the sky looks like it's blue because it reflects light from the sun, which itself appears to move across an unchanging firmament; however, there may be a different explanation for this apparent movement: if you were on another planet with other stars around them then things would appear completely different to you. Yet even when faced with solid proof such as alternative facts we still have no way of being certain that these new experiences are any more 'real' than those we've had before.

Now let's look at epistemology itself. To study something is to attempt to understand it, so that you have some level of understanding of the thing in question; however, we're not even sure if there is a 'thing' in this case - because are we really looking for an objective truth or merely our own subjective opinion? When studying history how do we know that what people wrote about it isn't just their subjective opinions and not actual facts? In order to truly prove something objectively true then one would need access to all possible minds and perceptions but this would require being able to experience everything which means existing beyond time and space.

Yet even if we could do this it would still be impossible to prove a theory objectively true because in order to observe something you need an observational tool and so on. There is no way of knowing that the glasses you're wearing aren't jamming your vision or that your eyes are actually working correctly - there's nothing more real than what you see with them. The universe may not exist beyond our perceptions, nor may any sort of objective truth exist for us; however, this does not mean that things do not exist independently from perception.

The reason for this is because we cannot know the truth in a way that can be proven objectively. We can only observe the truth through our subjective perception, yet this does not mean that things are not true; it just means we have no objective way of knowing them to be true. Everything you perceive may be real but it could also all be an elaborate delusion created by your mind - who's to say? All you truly know about reality is what your senses tell you and nothing more than that.

I think a person is able to know something when they are aware of the truth behind an issue. The truth can be either directly known or indirectly inferred from evidence.

For example, I am aware that there is a computer in front of me and that it is turned on. One could argue this awareness comes from my senses telling me so directly. But what if these sensors are faulty? Perhaps the computer looks like it's on but really isn't.

Some people may claim that I cannot know for sure unless I personally test the computer and confirm its status. But what if I don't have time to do this? What if it is not practical or even possible?

So, I must rely on indirect evidence. What if the computer is in a room with thick walls and no windows? How can I tell if it's really turned on then?

I can ask other people if they have interacted with the computer recently and what its status was. I can read logs of when it has been turned on in the past. If these sources all agree, then I can be pretty sure that my original belief about the computer is correct.

If the computer is in a room with windows and I can see that it's turned on, then I don't need to rely on indirect evidence. In this case my awareness of the computer comes directly from my senses.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It has nothing to do with justification or rationality; it is an investigation into how humans come to know things about the world and whether they can trust their senses or conclusions.

There are two schools of thought on the matter: skepticism and rationalism. Skepticism is the belief that none of our knowledge is true, but we do not know which claims are false. Rationalism contends that some knowledge can be justified.

In the grand scheme of things, neither is correct. Neither skepticism nor rationalism work consistently, and both are ultimately flawed.

If we accept that some knowledge is justified, then the only way to know if something is true or false is by comparing it with our previously existing knowledge. A claim must be proved using reasoning derived from what we already know.

However, this leads to a paradox. We can only know if something is true or false by comparing it with what we already know, but in order to compare two claims we must already have knowledge of both.

This is the paradox of justification. It has no solution, which means neither skepticism nor rationalism can work consistently.

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