RE: Can we ever know truth?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2006 11:11:20 +1000

Bruno Marchal writes:

> Le 13-août-06, à 19:17, Rich Winkel a écrit :
> >
> > According to Stathis Papaioannou:
> >> The best we can do in science as in everyday life is to accept
> >> provisionally that things are as they seem. There is no shame in
> >> this, as long as you are ready to revise your theory in the light
> >> of new evidence, and it is certainly better than assuming that
> >> things are *not* as they seem, in the absence of any evidence.
> >
> > The process isn't quite that benign, especially when applied to
> > one's treatment of others. There will always be unknowable truths,
> > one should proceed with an acute sense of one's own ignorance. Yet
> > with each advance in science people and their institutions act
> > increasingly recklessly with regard to unanticipated consquences.
> >
> > How can we perceive and measure our own ignorance?
> One way is the following: assume that you are a digitalizable machine,
> and then study the intrinsical ignorance of the digitalizable machine,
> which can be done (through computer science).
> Here I tend to agree with Rich Winkel contra Stathis Papaioannou. To
> accept, even provisionally, that things are as they seem, is akin to
> trust "nature" about the genuiness of the work of our brain with
> respect to some local reality. Then indeed we can revise our theories
> in case they are wrong. But we can also assume some hypothesis about
> the "observer", and realize that in some case things just cannot be as
> they seem. I mean we can find *reasons* why Being take a departure from
> Seeming, especially concerning a global view for which our brain could
> "naturally" be deficient.

If we "realise that things cannot be as they seem" then this is new evidence
and things now seem different to what they originally did! I did not intend
that "things are as they seem" be understood in a narrow sense, such as
what our senses can immediately apprehend. Complex scientific evidence,
philosophical considerations, historical experience: all of it has to be added
to the mix and whatever comes out is what we should accept as the provisional
best theory. We know that it may not be the truth - indeed, that we might
never actually know the truth - but it is the best we can do.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Tue Aug 15 2006 - 21:13:22 PDT

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