Know Nothings

Sunday, 29 June 2003

Bear with me here, please.

After brief conscious mastication, followed by a long boil in the subsconscious, and another bout of conscious banging my head against this thread [and accompanying article], these are what I think about some stuff.

We always know nothing. [Yes, that contradicts itself, as do most of my navel-​gazings].

Here we go.

What started me off was this statement by one Ryvar:

It’s important for people to realize that all of the experiential processes you have within the course of a day or year can be explained while accepting that there is no mystical component to consciousness.

Now, I disagree with this quite a lot, but I’ve noticed when disagreements arise it is usually the result of a fallacy in a higher order of thought on the part of all parties, so after I gnawed on this for a bit, decided what was wrong with his argument, I then applied it to my own.

We are both arguing belief systems, he has his determinist approach and I’ve got mine. His is fact based, mine is more of an amalgam of faith and fact. I am not going to explain my belief system, as it would be tangential to what I want to discuss.

Both of us are completely wrong, forever.

What is a fact? Something that can be proven, no? Twice two is four, as the Underground man would say. Humans eat, sleep, and excrete. An acorn grows into an oak tree. Behavior is determined by the stimulus of environment upon molecular systems [If it is cold out, we shiver.]

There is no such thing as fact, with this definition.

Facts are still things that are believed in. I have sort of touched upon this kind of thing here but now it appears to be reaching a type of maturity. A fact is supposedly something that is known to be true, and true faith knows in this way as well. What, ergo, separates the two?

Everything we know we have been taught in one way or another. Yet it seems that we have been taught to believe in knowledge. Belief in Fact is just like Belief in God, we can prove it to ourselves, we can prove it to others, others can prove it to us. Yet, it is still false.

The problem, yes as usual, lies with the old Delphic fiat, Know Thyself, an impossibility. Since no one has attained this goal, any other knowledge they come across, discover, propound, or have propagated upon themselves is flawed. This is because the person who originally thought it up was flawed in themselves, an Original Sin of cogitation, all human efforts become utterly futile. This is sort of how biblical scholars justify various interpretations of the bible, it was handed down from a perfect source, but taken by a flawed being, and is therefore imperfect in its interpretations.

So we cannot ever know anything because everything goes back toward the basic flaw in human understanding. We only believe, have faith, that we know things. Unless we are perfect beings, we have mitigating circumstances to undermine anything we think we believe we know.

I’m sure this is old hat to plenty of philosophers and theologians out there. It seems a bit reminiscent of the whole ‘Do we exist’ argument. We think we exist, we believe it, but we can never quite know it. If we cannot even feel secure about one of the oldest and most basic verbs, the one fundamental for any codified knowledge, we cannot truly know anything.

I think I might eat breakfast now. [At least, that is what I think I believe I know I am doing.]