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Los
 Los
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18/03/2010 4:28 pm  

This is going to be a moderately long post, as there is some groundwork I want to lay first. I'm still working through some of my thoughts on this issue, and I welcome comments on any of these musings, particularly from those who are of the opinion that knowledge is impossible.

A thread that was locked the other day -- the one titled "93" in the introductions section -- was beginning to delve into an interesting point: Crowley's perspective on "knowledge." I'd like to examine these ideas a little more closely.

In several works, Crowley argues, essentially, that knowledge is impossible on the grounds that all statements can be reduced to S = P. Thus, all statements can be represented as tautologies that convey no knowledge. For example, the statement "a cat has four legs" can be reduced to "a furry animal with four legs is an animal with four legs." Therefore, runs this argument, knowledge is impossible, and knowledge and reason are self-defeating.

Of course, it should be noted that Crowley is sharp enough to realize -- as he does in Little Essays Towards Truth -- that the statement "There is no such thing as knowledge" can also be reduced to S = P, invalidating this very "proof" against knowledge (in other words, by the logic of this argument, we can't even know that we can't know anything).

Crowley's essential position -- though not his exact argument -- was invoked by Ianrons on the closed thread. Ian writes: "knowledge of things leads one to question those very things [...] which then leads on to other things that make us question whether we really know anything at all, including necessarily the original supposed 'knowledge' [...] [it] doesn't say anything about true "knowledge" in an objective sense."

The antagonist of the locked thread, Erwin Hessle, points out that this Crowleyan/Rons-easque critique of knowledge criticizes knowledge on false grounds -- i.e. on a false understanding of what "knowledge" actually is. Erwin writes: "This 'true knowledge' of which you speak bears absolutely no relation to actual knowledge in the real world. It's an entirely imaginary concept which philosophers have invented, apparently for the sole purpose of arguing over. These philosophers are defining 'knowledge' in a way that they think it should be, instead of looking at actual knowledge in the real world and try to reason about that."

As an illustration of the point Erwin is making, consider the fact that everyone knows the difference between a cat and an apple (and can demonstrate that knowledge). Whatever we might say about knowledge, it certainly appears to be possible. One does not need "true knowledge in the objective sense" in order to possess knowledge of some things. This observation, of course, renders "true knowledge in the objective sense" -- if it even exists -- completely useless for all practical purposes.

In short, when someone says, "Gaining knowledge of something leads us to wonder whether we have true knowledge of anything at all," that person is talking about two different things, but using a single word ("knowledge") to label them both. The one kind of knowledge is the real kind: the kind we mean when we say, "I know the bus comes every day at 9:30." The other kind of knowledge is the imaginary kind: the imagination of knowledge as a big tautology that cannot give us "true knowledge." Of course, the fact that one can use word games to deconstruct the imaginary knowledge (i.e. knowledge in the second sense) does not mean that "there is no such thing as knowledge" (i.e. knowledge in the first sense).

What's the problem with all of this? The problem is that on the basis of these logical flaws, people can attempt to deprecate actual knowledge or reason. As an example, the poster of the original thread started to claim that he has never found knowledge to be useful and instead decides to go with what he has experienced and what his heart tells him.

More to the point, these attempts to deprecate reason or knowledge often lead to attempts to ignore legitimate skeptical inquiry into the nature of the universe. It's easy for a cascade of false conclusions to follow. For example: if knowledge is impossible, then no one has knowledge; if no one has knowledge, then any person is just as "knowledgeable" as the most respected scientists; if everyone is just as knowledgeable as everyone else, then any random (and batshit crazy) belief is just as much "knowledge" as anything else; if any random belief is knowledge, then anything can be and is true; if anything can be and is true, conclusions suggested by feelings are just as true as conclusions suggested by evidence-based inquiry. On the basis of ideas like these, a person can easily convince himself that he has "knowledge" that reincarnation is true or that souls exist or any number of similar beliefs that are unjustified by reason and cannot be demonstrated.

In other words, this one logical flaw and incorrect conclusion about knowledge quickly leads to an intellectual sludge. Rather than "transcending" the reason, the person in question ironically becomes victim to his own poor reasoning.

In fact, it seems apparent that knowledge is quite possible, that even if we can reduce a statement like "The bus comes at 9:30 each day" to an S = P statement, learning that statement consitutes actual knowledge.

What it really seems like is that Crowley's argument is a sort of deconstructionist, Derridean critique of language itself -- i.e. that language never points to an "ultimate signified" because words only ever signify other words, which signify other words, etc., etc. However, such a critique -- whatever its merits -- doesn't mean that "knowledge is impossible" or that there isn't truth. Deconstructionist critique relies on the existence of truth and knowledge, since without truth and knowledge, its own claims would be rendered pointless (and, as I pointed out earlier, the claim "knowledge is impossible" would be rendered false).

It seems to me that knowledge and reason aren't impossible or flawed so much as they are insufficient for accomplishing the task of discovering the true will. Reason is to be "transcended" to the extent that it cannot be used to directly discover the will, nor can the images of the mind substitute themselves for will. But the task of discovering the will cannot proceed properly without a clear understanding of one's environment, a clear understanding of the universe outside of oneself. Reason is not capable of discovering the will, but it *is* capable of allowing us to come to reliable conclusions about the world around us. A failure to observe the flaws in one's reasoning -- often exacerbated by misguided attempts to ignore the reason altogether -- can quickly lead to false conclusions about the world that will lead one astray.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 5:39 pm  
"Los" wrote:
Of course, it should be noted that Crowley is sharp enough to realize -- as he does in Little Essays Towards Truth -- that the statement "There is no such thing as knowledge" can also be reduced to S = P, invalidating this very "proof" against knowledge (in other words, by the logic of this argument, we can't even know that we can't know anything).

Crowley's essential position -- though not his exact argument -- was...

I think it's important to point out that this is an "essential position" of Crowley's, rather than the "essential position" of his. Crowley was himself perfectly aware of the problems with this position as well. For instance, in The Solider and the Hunchback, published way back in 1909, he said (emphasis added):

"The Christian insists on notorious lies being accepted as an essential part of his (more usually her) system; I, on the contrary, ask for facts, for observation. Under Scepticism, true, one is just as much a house of cards as the other; but only in the philosophical sense.

"Practically, Science is true; and Faith is foolish.

"Practically, 3 * 1 = 3 is the truth; and 3 * 1 = 1 is a lie; though, sceptically, both statements may be false or unintelligible.

"Practically, Franklin's method of obtaining fire from heaven is better than that of Prometheus or Elijah. I am now writing by the light that Franklin’s discovery enabled men to use...

"...I claim nothing absolute from my Samadhi - I know only too well the worthlessness of single-handed observations, even on so simple a matter as a boiling-point determination! - and as for his (usually her) future, I content myself with mere common sense about the probable end of a fool."

These folks who attempt to argue that Crowley was advocating a "balance" between reason and lack of it simply haven't read enough of him, because it's a total misrepresentation of his position.

I applaud the sanity and positive spirit in which your post is offered, and I think we need more that around here, but I will refrain from commenting on the rest of it, since I think I've already made my position on the matter clear enough in other threads here, and I don't want to distract from responses to your own points.

"Los" wrote:
What's the problem with all of this? The problem is that on the basis of these logical flaws, people can attempt to deprecate actual knowledge or reason. As an example, the poster of the original thread started to claim that he has never found knowledge to be useful and instead decides to go with what he has experienced and what his heart tells him.

If I, as a member of the Aleister Crowley Society, may be so bold as to offer my own opinions on that Society and the resources available to it, I think what you've described here has polluted the forums to a shameful level, and really needs to end.

There are some people here who seriously advocate a "balance" between "rationality" and irrationality when it comes to discussing these subjects. In the very thread you cite, someone seriously tried to argue that it was "against his Will" to "indulge in an excess of reason". In no field other than religion and occultism - which I don't consider to be real fields at all - would any serious participant actually advocate approaching their subject in an irrational way, and further, go on to point out that knowledge and reason are actual impediments to understanding their subject.

When people make outrageous claims - I remember one in a past thread where one poster was claiming to have had an actual honest-to-goodness street fight with an actual honest-to-goodness demon - those claims should be vigorously challenged, not allowed to pass out of a misguided sense of politeness. In reality, what more often happens is that certain elements of the posting membership actually try to censure such challenges, apparently on the grounds that there's no such thing as reality, that "reason" is some kind of handicap, and that pretending to have street-fights with demons is just as "valid" a way of approaching reality as any other.

This is an absolutely obnoxious and contemptible attitude which I think is going to be fatal to any serious attempt to assess, examine, and appreciate the legacy of Aleister Crowley, and fatal to any serious attempt to do anything else, for that matter. I think this kind of attitude does a grave disservice to the membership of the Aleister Crowley Society and to its objectives, and it is my view that anybody actually interested in the Society and its objectives would consider themselves to have a collective responsibility to eradicate it on these forums wherever it is found. I shudder to think how some of what passes for discussion on these forums must look to an objective outsider who stumbles across it.

It is not appropriate in any sane and sensible circles to advocate a "balance" between approaching the subject in a rational and factual way, and approaching the subject in an irrational, make-believe, and grossly misleading and distorting way. One should strive for the former all the time when involved in the discussion of Aleister Crowley's legacy or in any other discussion.


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alysa
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18/03/2010 6:27 pm  

Los wrote "so many things".


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Autotelos
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18/03/2010 6:52 pm  

I think the reference to Derrida is useful, and should perhaps be analyzed a little deeper. The first fallacy you describe is not necessarily a critique of knowledge but of language. That is, the symbol cat only carries negative information; this is not a dog, not a lion, not a table, etc. The problem Derrida ran into though, is that we can never escape language, which I think can be broadened into a neat theological argument, in the beginning was logos, and all that. It also fits in with the use of symbols in the occult, focusing the mind on correlations of ideas through symbols to eventually allow oneself to transcend those.
I also feel that the most prominent disagreements on the boards lately aren't a case of reason vs irrationality, though there has been some of that. Its a question of the appropriate epistemology for understanding on the one hand, Crowley's life and legacy, and on the other, a broader understanding of thelema specificallyy and the occult in general.
While I agree that there needs to be a consensus understanding of reality, I feel it is just that, a need not a preexistence. Binocular vision, language, the concept of zero, the concept of History, of Ethics, these are things which contribute to our understanding of the world we live in and are necessary to the way we live in modern society. Assuming gravity will always work, using mathemetical formulae, assuming the electron cloud works like we think it should. These assumed fictions help us create actual beneficial technology by relying on a really good and sound theory.
Which is why I also see the typhonian point that fictions can be as useful as facts for metaphysical, psychological, occult, whatever, kind of workings. If you want the system to be sound, you have to accept certain fictions and I would argue that this is the same as the "real" world.


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Los
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18/03/2010 7:49 pm  
"wolf354" wrote:
There is always the trap of because ...

There is. And that trap, as clearly explained in the Book of the Law -- as others have pointed out -- is that reason should not be used to discover the will. However, the Book of the Law does *not* ever say that reason should not be used to come to conclusions about the universe.

You can take Crowley's word for it if you like. From the New Comment: "We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else [...] It makes reason the autocrat of the mind."

I gave an example of poor reasoning in my first post that can lead to false conclusions ("I know souls exist"), which can very easily lead to actions taken on that basis -- a potential example of the trap of because.

"Autotelos" wrote:
The problem Derrida ran into though, is that we can never escape language, which I think can be broadened into a neat theological argument, in the beginning was logos, and all that. It also fits in with the use of symbols in the occult, focusing the mind on correlations of ideas through symbols to eventually allow oneself to transcend those.

Well, Derrida did observe that there's no escaping language and that language can only be defined in terms of other language.

However, that critique is entirely apart from the observation that we can have knowledge. Whatever label I use for "cat," I have knowledge of what it is and can reliably identify things as cats. My knowledge also enables me to do things like distinguish cats from things that are not cats and to know how to take care of one (I know, for example, to feed it food and not rocks).

What you suggest here is that there are certain methods of "exhausting" the mind by means of connecting correspondences; by distracting the mind in this way, one can look past the mind and perceive the will.

This is completely separate from the point that knowledge exists.

Assuming gravity will always work, using mathemetical formulae, assuming the electron cloud works like we think it should. These assumed fictions help us create actual beneficial technology by relying on a really good and sound theory.

See, this is where we run into problems. You use the word "fiction" to label conclusions that we have derived from copious amounts of evidence, on the grounds (presumably) that we cannot be absolutely certain of these conclusions. Then you turn around and equate these conclusions with an entirely different kind of fiction, i.e. ones that are invented wholesale in the imagination and come from fantasy stories:

Which is why I also see the typhonian point that fictions can be as useful as facts for metaphysical, psychological, occult, whatever, kind of workings.

Don't you see that you are talking about two completely different things and using one single label ("fiction") for both of them?

And, anyway, I wouldn't use "fiction" to describe assumptions like, for example, gravity will keep working tomorrow, except in the context of the most technical philosophical discussion (and keeping clear that it's an entirely different kind of "fiction" than something like a horror short story). I would describe our understanding that gravity will function tomorrow as knowledge, and the fact that we can't be absolutely certain about it doesn't make it any less knowledge.

Absolute certainty, in the way that some people describe it, doesn't seem to exist, so we can safely discard it for our purposes.


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Los
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18/03/2010 7:58 pm  
"Erwin" wrote:
There are some people here who seriously advocate a "balance" between "rationality" and irrationality when it comes to discussing these subjects.

It's ironic -- a true balanced approach would advocate applying reason in those situations where reason is applicable (such as coming to conclusions about the universe) and not applying reason in those situations where reason is not applicable (such as experiencing sensations or observing the will).

To do otherwise is an imbalance.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 8:06 pm  
"Los" wrote:
a true balanced approach would advocate applying reason in those situations where reason is applicable (such as coming to conclusions about the universe)

Are you familiar with Descartes' Evil Demon hypothesis and, if yes, how does the statement "I think therefore I am" prove anything? As linguistics shows the singular personal pronoun "I" is an aspect of language and says nothing of real identity. So "who" is thinking and what does any of that prove?


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ianrons
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18/03/2010 8:08 pm  

Los,

I’m going to provide a few different ways of looking at this question of “knowledge”, because it is an important question and one worth discussing. Firstly, however, I’d like to note that (as David Hume wrote) there is no need for anyone to be a philosopher, or to go beyond “I know what a cat is”, in life. The view of the philosopher is, however, different:

"David Hume" wrote:
In all the incidents of life we ought still to preserve our scepticism. If we believe that fire warms, or water refreshes, ’tis only because it costs us too much pains to think otherwise. Nay, if we are philosophers, it ought only to be upon sceptical principles, and from an inclination which we feel to the employing ourselves after that manner.

And there can be no doubt that philosophy can have no tolerable prospect of attaining “truth”; thus it may seem folly, and thus some would counsel against enquiring too deeply of what a cat is, should that lead us to discover that we really cannot know anything truly or to deny reason itself. Mathematics, too, leads us to all sorts of quandaries, with “imaginary” numbers and much stranger monsters of the deep. However, to refuse to assay these depths is to stay slumbering by the fireside – safe, perhaps; but sound?

To go back to what Erwin has said about knowledge, I’ll paste a couple of quotes:

"Erwin" wrote:
It is not necessary to know everything in order to know something.
The traditional misunderstanding of the occultist, which holds that because “reason is imperfect” that “nothing can be known”, or that “knowledge is impossible”, is instantly revealed to be nonsense. As a simple demonstration, ask yourself the following two questions:
1.Do you know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the position and velocity of every particle in the universe at the current time, and the complete set of laws that govern them, such that you can deduce – with 100% accuracy – the precise positions and velocities of all the particles of the universe at any given time in the past or future that you choose? and
2.Do you know what 2 + 2 equals?
If you answered “no” to question 1, and “yes” to question 2, then you have demonstrated to yourself that it’s not necessary to know everything in order to know something
"Erwin" wrote:
I can put two photographs in front of you, one a photograph of a cat, and one a photograph of the space shuttle. Now you will - I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt - be able to reliably identify which is which. That is, you can correctly identify a photograph of a cat as a photograph of a cat, and you can correctly identify a photograph of the space shuttle as a photograph of the space shuttle.

Do you need to know what a cat "really is" to have this knowledge? Do you need to know what a space shuttle "really is"? No, you don't. All you have to be able to do is to reliably assemble a collection of various impressions into a composite that legitimately goes along with the label "cat". You don't have to know everything in order to know something. You don't have to have knowledge of some "fundamental essence of a cat" in order to be able to correctly identify a cat, and to have confidence that you have, in fact, correctly identified it.

I think these “demonstrations” are pretty close to being appeals to gut instinct. “Don’t look into the abyss of philosophy!”, they seem to say. And yes, in our experience of the world, a cat certainly seems to be a cat, or to put it more philosophically, our impression of a cat fits our idea of that class of things under the label “cat”. But there are a few different ways of critiquing this which I shall now elaborate.

Firstly, just to kick things off, “dream argument” (from Descartes, after Plato). If, in a dream, one sees a cat, is it a cat? Certainly we can interact with it in much the same way as we would if awake. It can appear like a very real cat, according to how clearly one dreams; but this raises questions about the wake-world, and might make us ponder whether we are right simply to accept that we “know” what a cat is. It might be a figment of our imagination, or maybe a collective imagination, as it was in the dream. Maybe it’s correct, but maybe there’s a better form of knowledge. Are we correct, then to accept Erwin’s “knowledge” of a cat and refuse to go further? There seem to be prima facie grounds for thinking perhaps not.

But moving for a moment to cover the basics, what happens if we do question what a cat actually is? We run into difficulties quite soon. You might say that a cat is a mammal. So what is a mammal? An animal. Part of the universe. But what is the universe? By enquiring in this way, we run out of generalizations. We could look at it in a slightly different way, and say that a cat is composed of fur, claws, flesh, bone, etc., all of which are composed of different chemicals which are themselved composed of atoms, quarks, gluons and what-not, till eventually we can no longer analyse a cat. In short, we have a chain of links that (skipping slightly the full proof) lead us to the conclusion that we don’t really know what a cat is, and moreover that we can’t possibly know what a cat (or indeed anything) is. Following this process, we are eventually led to the the view that neither can we know reason itself, whether it be true – and here Crowley said “It is forbidden to him to seek any refuge from his intellect. Let then his reason hurl itself again and again against the blank wall of mystery which will confront him.”

But that’s if you use reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is. Erwin forbids it, apparently seeking refuge from his intellect. However, there is a problem. In his “demonstration” that we can know what a cat is, even this process of fitting the photograph of a cat into a general idea of “cat” is a process of the intellect. Sometimes it is imperceptible, but there can also be occasions when one struggles to identify a face, showing us that something is taking place in the mind to allow us to make that identification. Is this some type of reason, of the type used in philosophy (he describes it as “loosely rational”)? I would argue that both are functions of the mind, even if differing slightly in what regions of the brain are used. Perhaps he regards the faculty that identifies photos as superior to other types of (presumably “stricter”) reason; but on what grounds? He doesn’t seem to offer any, and in fact in one of his essays he asks the reader who doesn’t simply accept his “demonstration” to stop reading. I find this approach highly anti-intellectual (certainly anti-philosophical), and I would say not that “[‘true knowledge’ is] an entirely imaginary concept which philosophers have invented”, but rather that this sort of “knowledge” is nothing more than a convenient fiction, and a self-contradictory one.

I should note also that Erwin does state clearly his belief that reason is reliable, such as when commenting on his belief that Gödel “affirms the reliability of reason”, so more generally there does seem to be a real problem with refusing certain types of reasoning, such as the argument against knowledge, whilst allowing others. It seems to be an entirely utilitarian kind of philosophy, opposed to (quoting Sir William Hamilton) “every philosopher of every school” (with the exception of “a few late Absolutist theorisers in Germany”). In fact it seems more like a form of pedagogy.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 8:11 pm  

Greetings!

What an interesting topic Los!
Would you identify knowledge with experience?

Regards
Hecate


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Los
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18/03/2010 8:26 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
If, in a dream, one sees a cat, is it a cat?

No, it's a dream of a cat. You just said so yourself.

this raises questions about the wake-world, and might make us ponder whether we are right simply to accept that we “know” what a cat is. It might be a figment of our imagination, or maybe a collective imagination, as it was in the dream.

What you're proposing here is a version of the silly "brain in a vat" thought experiment: "What if everything I perceive is an illusion created by a mad scientist and my reality is actually the matrix?"

This thought experiment fails because *even if it were true* -- and there's no indication that it is -- it does not change the fact that we have knowledge.

It might, I admit, be true that I'm a brain in a vat. It might also be true that the universe was created last Tuesday by pixies, complete with false memories of things that happened before last Tuesday. It might also be that I'm in an insane asylum right now dreaming all of this. It might also be that I'm a butterfly dreaming that I'm a man.

All of the above is completely and totally irrelevant to knowledge. There's no good reason to suppose that any of the above hypothetical situations are, in fact, true, but even if they were true, it doesn't change the fact that the reality I experience -- whatever its nature -- is something about which I can gain knowledge.

And that's the point here. Whatever the nature of reality is, it's something about which we can gain knowledge.

You have invented a completely different kind of knowledge that relies on us knowing the "true reality" of something. That kind of knowledge -- a made up, fantasy idea of knowledge that bears no relation to what everybody else means by the word -- is both impossible and irrelevant to the fact that I can know what a cat is and how to take care of one.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 8:28 pm  

Ian - to reduce your arguments down to a few observations.

Our inability to directly know what something “is” via reason or language is a fundamental state of reality, consistent with many root-theorems of world religions and Platonic idealism – namely reality lies in the realm of ideals/Supernals rather than the world of appearances/below the Abyss.

In between these two realms lies Knowledge. The tautological and limited nature of Knowledge does not mean one should throw reason out the window, but rather recognize the limitations of the intellect in apprehending Being. We can certainly apprehend this via direct intuition and understanding, but not through attempts to reason our way there – unless, of course, our reasoning follows the Socratic method of questioning and path of negation.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 8:33 pm  
"Los" wrote:
is both impossible and irrelevant to the fact that I can know what a cat is and how to take care of one.

Los - you're using "knowledge" in a sense different from Daath - or what Crowley is refers to as Knowledge in Little Essays.


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ianrons
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18/03/2010 8:36 pm  

Los,

I brought up the dream argument simply to loosen the valves up a bit -- I fully realise it doesn't imply anything, which is why I used the word "maybe" a couple of times, and the word "perhaps"; but my main arguments you have not addressed. I'd like to hear your views on those.

tai,

I am certainly not arguing for throwing reason out of the window -- in fact, quite the reverse. It seems to be that Erwin's position is opposed to reason, in that whilst he seems willing to accept that reason leads to paradoxes and problems, he prefers not to worry about those and simply take a pragmatic approach to everyday life. The same kinds of arguments were made against "imaginary" numbers too; but imaginary numbers turn out to be useful in the real world (and quite fundamental in quantum physics).

Then again, I am not arguing that reason tells us reality -- in fact, I think the very contradictions it presents show us that cannot be so.

I am not quite sure whether we are in agreement on those points or not.


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Los
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18/03/2010 8:36 pm  
"Hecate" wrote:
Greetings!

What an interesting topic Los!
Would you identify knowledge with experience?

Regards
Hecate

No, "knowledge" is a rational extrapolation from evidence. Experience can comprise evidence, but we cannot equate experience to knowledge.

For example, I can have the experience of seeing a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, but I can also know that I'm observing an illusion being performed for my entertainment. Furthermore, I can have the experience of a dream (or a scrying session or something) and know that the experience was generated entirely by my mind and that the entities I saw (whether dream cats or spooky demons) don't exist outside of my mind.

Experience is part of the evidence we take into account when coming to rational conclusions (knowledge) about something. It should be obvious that a personal experience of voices in the head is not evidence of god talking to you. Experience, all by itself, does not yield knowledge. Experience always has to be interpreted by the reason -- which is why ignoring reason can lead you to make rational mistakes, and come to false conclusions like, "My experience proves that reincarnation is real."

Just to be clear, "know" doesn't mean "100% absolutely certain with no chance of error." Knowledge is always tentative, based on the best evidence we have. As we gain more evidence, we refine our knowledge.

"tai" wrote:
recognize the limitations of the intellect in apprehending Being. We can certainly apprehend this via direct intuition and understanding, but not through attempts to reason our way there

The statement that "intellect is limited in apprehending Being" is a conclusion, and as such, you must have reached it via reason. "Intuition" cannot produce rational conclusions.

I have to apologize -- I will be away from the internet for a few hours. I will field any new posts after that time.


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Los
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18/03/2010 8:51 pm  

Well, it looks like I have a few minutes before I have to go, so I'll field one more now. I suppose this is what Ian means by his argument (and correct me if I'm wrong):

what happens if we do question what a cat actually is?

If we question what a cat "actually" is (using your peculiar definition of "actually"), we define a cat by a number of terms that are defined by other terms that are defined by other terms and on and on and on and on. Exactly as you explained.

But that has nothing to do with the fact that "cat" is a label for a certain part of our experience. We don't need to rigorously define every aspect of our experience and engage in the circular dance to know a cat from a stick. As Erwin was trying to get you to see, that's not how knowledge actually works. We don't acquire knowledge by working from dictionaries and proceeding from definitions. We label parts of our experience -- that's what knowledge is, at its most basic level.

There are two kinds of "knowledge" under discussion here. One is the practical, real world knowledge. The other is "actual knowledge" or "true knowledge," which is an imaginary construct that has nothing to do with the other kind of knowledge. You can't criticize the former on the grounds of the latter.

And you certainly cannot turn around and then declare that there's no such thing as knowledge and that any random belief is just as much knowledge as any evidence-based conclusion.

More to come later.


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ianrons
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18/03/2010 9:12 pm  

Thanks Los,

As it seems from your final sentence, you haven't yet got to the main arguments I was making, but I look forward to hearing your views on those.

Re: the label "cat", this is addressed by Russell, and I can come back to that if necessary; but I would rather stick to the points I have already made, to keep it simple.

As regards the idea that that there are two different kinds of knowledge, I do not see this as a necessary step in my argumentation, or yours. If you think it is, then please make the case for it. Otherwise I think it is better that we simply use the term "knowledge".

Lastly, I am not saying that there's no such thing as knowledge, merely that it seems impossible to pin it down. It seems Erwin and yourself wish to pin it down somehow, but I don't think that's possible.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 9:13 pm  
"Autotelos" wrote:
Which is why I also see the typhonian point that fictions can be as useful as facts for metaphysical, psychological, occult, whatever, kind of workings. If you want the system to be sound, you have to accept certain fictions and I would argue that this is the same as the "real" world.

I find it ironic in the extreme that the Typhonians find such meaning in MAAT - the Egyptian cosmic principle of order and truth. To the ancient Egyptians - the order of the universe was everywhere apprehendible in nature around them - and so were the two truths of Maat; The order of the outer universe as well as the inner order and truth of the indivisible light and life.

M.A.A.T is of every Aeon. Those that take only one half of her truth and place her on a pedestal know her NOT. And this is no little thing - for in this Aeon it is proclaimed in the unity of Liber Cheth:

13. Yea! verily this is the Truth, this is the Truth, this is the Truth.*(*) Unto thee shall be granted joy and health and wealth and wisdom when thou are no longer thou.

When we study the Egyptian Mysteries then the essential funeral role of the goddess was personified in the Merti - the eyes of Ma'at, even as she was the eye of Ra. In the Hall of the two horizons, the Merti await by the door - representing the two truths of inner and outer order and rightousness.

And Crowley wote: "As men multiplied, the frailty of man necessitated an exterior society which veiled the interior one, and concealed the spirit and the truth in the letter, because many people were not capable of comprehending great interior truth. Therefore, interior truths were wrapped in external and perceptible ceremonies, so that men, by the perception of the outer which is the symbol of the interior, might by degrees be enabled safely to approach the
interior spiritual truths.

But for those that do comprehend the interior truth of Ma'at, this is not what we find in Grant's writings. Instead we find disorder, and no essential interior truth that is reveiled in symbolic form for the aspirant.

We find - to quote Crowley again: "...the difference between the madman and the genius is not in the quantity but in the quality of their work. Genius is organized, madness chaotic....Disorder is always a parody of order, because there is no archetypal disorder that it might resemble. Owen Seaman can parody a poet; nobody can parody Owen Seaman.'

There is no inner truth that shines from Grant's work in light and life. He stands alone in his madness and disorder, and it may look like truth to those that only have the half of it, but half a truth is only a lie and a fiction. These fictions the Typhonians seek to uphold (with thier reason no less!) - and little wonder that their temple caves in on itself like a house that has mocked the need for a roof and 4 walls built carefully and it's builders instead groap in the dark for straws in it's fear.

Review the lesson of the big bad wolf (Anubis) - for he shall huff, and he shall puff, and then... he will blow your mockery of a house down.

In the Greek mysteries - the two Merti translate to Nemisis riding hard on the heels of Themis (divine Law), for All transgressor.


* I leave Crowley to explain how this pertain in this Aeon: In Liber B - vel Magi :

By a Magus is this writing made known through the
mind of a Magister. The one uttereth clearly, and the other
understandeth; yet the Word is falsehood, and the
Understanding darkness. And this saying is Of All Truth.

[His note affixed reads] - All is Maya. Even above the abyss the triad is only perfect insofar as it is found in One. Seperately Chokmah and Binah are partial. They need Kether.

** Please review 'The 3 aspects of Da'ath for how this pertains to this Aeon.'


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 9:51 pm  

Greetings!

"Los" wrote:
No, "knowledge" is a rational extrapolation from evidence. Experience can comprise evidence, but we cannot equate experience to knowledge.
For example, I can have the experience of seeing a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, but I can also know that I'm observing an illusion being performed for my entertainment. Furthermore, I can have the experience of a dream (or a scrying session or something) and know that the experience was generated entirely by my mind and that the entities I saw (whether dream cats or spooky demons) don't exist outside of my mind.

Experience is part of the evidence we take into account when coming to rational conclusions (knowledge) about something. It should be obvious that a personal experience of voices in the head is not evidence of god talking to you. Experience, all by itself, does not yield knowledge. Experience always has to be interpreted by the reason -- which is why ignoring reason can lead you to make rational mistakes, and come to false conclusions like, "My experience proves that reincarnation is real."

Just to be clear, "know" doesn't mean "100% absolutely certain with no chance of error." Knowledge is always tentative, based on the best evidence we have. As we gain more evidence, we refine our knowledge.

"Los" wrote:
We don't acquire knowledge by working from dictionaries and proceeding from definitions. We label parts of our experience -- that's what knowledge is, at its most basic level.

In the case of the rabbit being pulled out of a hat:
You experience this fact –your eyes watch the magician actually pulling the rabbit from its ears out of the hat- and, at the same time, you remember another experience of yours, where you watched the actual way of doing this trick. Then you can say you know.

If you had just heard from a friend that it’s a trick, but didn’t have the chance to watch a demonstration yourself, you would still avoid being fooled, but your mind would be puzzled because it wouldn’t understand how it can happen. In this latest case, you wouldn’t be based upon your own experience or knowledge, but rather on the good faith on your friend’s account.

In this context, would one be wrong to say that knowledge is based on experience? And further than that, would one be wrong to suppose that knowledge is the result of the apperception of our sensory organs?

Regards
Hecate


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 10:15 pm  

"In this context, would one be wrong to say that knowledge is based on experience? And further than that, would one be wrong to suppose that knowledge is the result of the apperception of our sensory organs?"

I want to turn your experience around Hecate. I want to ask - what of the person that routinely see's through the rabbit in the hat type tricks and the illusions? There are such people, but they just experience sensory data in a different way - processing it through a different part of the brain. Their 'knowledge' is based upon sensory experience too.

Isn't - to 'know thyself' therefore to test your sensory limits to apprehend external truth?

And after that - isn't 'to know thyself' an internal investigation that goes beyond the self referential question of 'who we are'?


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 10:23 pm  

Ian,

"ianrons" wrote:
I think these “demonstrations” are pretty close to being appeals to gut instinct.

Albert Einstein famously said in a letter to Max Born:

"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice."

Now, we do not yet have the much-vaunted "theory of everything", and so we do not know if quantum mechanics "bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'", but the point here is that Einstein rejected the idea not because he had evidence against it, but because he didn't like it. His "inner voice" rejected it; he refused to accept as a matter of policy that the universe could be based upon such a principle.

I bring this up because it's exactly what you appear to be doing, here, and exactly what you appear to have repeatedly done in respect to this subject. You've made a number of comparisons to "gut instinct", "truthiness", and "does one just 'know'" that appear to indicate that you reject the real-world phenomenon of knowledge because you just don't like it, as if it isn't precise enough for you, and as if knowledge should be something "more" than that. But, as with Einstein's mistake, it's not a question that can be determined by mere feeling, but by evidence.

Knowledge, in the real world, is not a precise thing. An infant does not learn what a cat is as a result of a formal logical extrapolation from axioms. It just doesn't, if for no other reason than it's too young to even have a conception of logic. People do not learn their first language by reading a dictionary and defining words in terms of other words. They don't do it. Whether or not you think "knowledge" should be a precise thing that should answer questions about "what a cat actually is", it just isn't. Your objection here is not a rebuttal; it's merely an expression of personal disapproval, and the universe is under no obligation to act in the manner that you think it should.

To anticipate, if you argue that "we have a chain of links that...lead us to the conclusion that we don’t really know what a cat is, and moreover that we can’t possibly know what a cat (or indeed anything) is" - which you do - then this leaves you with two options. Either:

1. You accept and admit that you, Ian Rons, personally, do not know what anything is. That is to say, you accept and admit that you, Ian Rons, personally, do not know your own name, you do not know where you live, you do not know what a cat is, you do not know who the current prime minister of Great Britain is, you do not know what a dictionary is, you do not know what a web site is, and that you do not know a vast, long list of other things which just about everybody else on the planet does know.

or:

2. You accept that your "chain of links" does not "lead us to the conclusion that...we can't possibly know what a cat (or indeed anything) is" at all.

As I've already explained, even if you go with option 1, your argument still fails, because in order to assert that you don't know anything, you have to know something, such as knowing what the word "know" means, and what the word "something" means, and that you do not know anything, as some obvious examples.

There is a very simple and obvious point which you have not yet grasped, and which at least one other person on this very forum has grasped without any difficulty. It is not a point which is beyond your intellectual capacity to grasp. As I suggest above, I don't think you are failing to grasp it as much as you are refusing to grasp it, but you must grasp it if you are to have any hope of engaging with these ideas.

You say this:

"what happens if we do question what a cat actually is? We run into difficulties quite soon. "

There's the problem right there. You can make a statement such as "I know the sky is blue" without there being any metaphysical implications about the "ultimate nature" of sky or the "ultimate nature" of blueness. As I said in the other thread, you appear to want to suggest that any meaningful statement consists of an effectively infinite chain of support back to some ultimate essence, but the fact is that actual statements people make do not consist of that.

Similarly, you can make a meaningful statement such as "I know that is a cat" without there being any metaphysical assertions on the subject of "what a cat really is" being inherent in that statement, and when people do say things like that, the vast majority of the time they are, in fact, not making any such metaphysical assertions. A statement of knowledge does not have to go arbitrarily deep in order to have meaning, and in order to qualify as knowledge. If you accept that you do know things, then you have demonstrated to yourself that even you do not use the word "know" to imply such a chain of metaphysical assertions.

Therefore, as a point of principle, you cannot attack the idea that "we know what a cat is" by appealing to "what happens if we do question what a cat actually is?", because no assertion as to "what a cat actually is" is inherent in the original statement, either implied or explicit.

You say that: "You might say that a cat is a mammal. So what is a mammal? An animal. Part of the universe. But what is the universe? By enquiring in this way, we run out of generalizations." But, when people say that "a cat is a mammal", they are not, in fact, making any assertions as to the nature of the universe, so any inability to say "what the universe is" is irrelevant to the truth of that original statement. You can say that you know what a cat is, and that knowledge will still be knowledge whether or not there is even a physical universe at all, because that statement simply does not rely on what the nature of the universe might be, or even whether there is a universe.

What is happening here is that you are insisting on a definition of "knowledge" that requires such metaphysical assertions in order to be valid, and you are going on to reason that, since we cannot demonstrate that assertion, we therefore do not have knowledge. The fundamental mistake you are making is that real-world knowledge does not either arise from or contain such a stack of assertions, so any attempt to attack real-world knowledge on this basis fails, as a matter of principle.

So here's the problem: You are mistakenly attempting to attack the concept of "knowledge" which is used in the real world by attacking a concept of "knowledge" which does not coincide with that real world usage. As I said in the other thread, this is a gigantic red herring, and the straw man argument to end all straw man arguments.

In order to grasp what I am saying, and in order to grasp what other people have grasped, you need to drop your insistence that "knowledge" must mean what you want it to mean, and instead focus on the actual knowledge that exists in the real world. You are attempting to attack real world knowledge by attacking an imaginary notion of knowledge, and this approach is not going to work. If it helps you, try to think about real world knowledge as a biological phenomenon rather than a philosophical one. It also may help you to reflect that to know something, and to know that you know it, are two very different things.

"ianrons" wrote:
I should note also that Erwin does state clearly his belief that reason is reliable, such as when commenting on his belief that Gödel “affirms the reliability of reason”

Again, you are here demonstrating a curious tendency to egregiously misread simple sentences. You say that "Erwin does state clearly his belief that reason is reliable", but then you attempt to support that by paraphrasing what I actually did say, which is that Godel "affirms the reliability of reason", something completely different. What I actually said was "The theorem affirms the reliability of reason; if it did not, it would not be a 'proof'." That is to say, you cannot use a formal rational proof to conclude that reason is not reliable, because if you do then you've invalidated your own proof.

Now, as it happens, I do think that reason is reliable, but it's got nothing to do with Godel. Rather, it's because the application of reason has enabled us to make vast strides in both understanding and dealing with the universe, in a way that woolly faith-based thinking never did, and never could.

"ianrons" wrote:
so more generally there does seem to be a real problem with refusing certain types of reasoning, such as the argument against knowledge

Here you are just mistakenly conflating "reason" and "knowledge". Reason is a process. Knowledge is, in part, something that can be arrived at as a result of reasoning from facts. There is no "real problem with refusing certain types of reasoning" at all. The problem is that if you reason, entirely legitimately, off the back of a complete fantasy, then that reasoning will not - and cannot - tell you anything about the world, and it cannot give you knowledge of anything real. It doesn't matter how reliable the process of reason is - if you apply it to false facts, you're going to get false facts coming out of the other side, too. More particularly, you can't reach any conclusions about one subject by reasoning, however rigorously, about a completely different one.

Your objection here again illustrates your failure to grasp the fundamental objection that has been raised. I don't have any problem with people engaging in the type of epistemological investigations that you have talked about. What I do object to is the false belief that you are going to discover anything about real world knowledge by doing that. If you start with a definition of "knowledge" which is at odds with actual knowledge - such as a definition which requires knowledge to consist of an unbroken chain of reasoning all the way down to "what the universe really is" - then it simply doesn't matter how much rigorous and legitimate reason you apply to that; it's not going to tell you anything about real world knowledge, because that's simply not what you are reasoning about. Again, please try to put your personal disapproval of the concept aside and try to grasp this fundamental objection, because without such a grasp you're never going to be able to successfully engage with these ideas, whether or not you end up agreeing with them, and your attempted criticisms of them are going to continue to be misdirected.


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 10:43 pm  

Greetings!

"alrah" wrote:
I want to turn your experience around Hecate. I want to ask - what of the person that routinely see's through the rabbit in the hat type tricks and the illusions? There are such people, but they just experience sensory data in a different way - processing it through a different part of the brain. Their 'knowledge' is based upon sensory experience too.

Isn't - to 'know thyself' therefore to test your sensory limits to apprehend external truth?

And after that - isn't 'to know thyself' an internal investigation that goes beyond the self referential question of 'who we are'?

I believe this too alrah.

On the other hand, I’m willing to see the opposite side as well and, sincerely, I think it will be a nice experience to follow the train of thoughts Los wishes to show us, step by step.

I love the adventures to unknown territories and this is a great opportunity for me to explore Reason. 😀

Regards
Hecate


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 10:58 pm  
"Hecate" wrote:
Greetings!

"alrah" wrote:
I want to turn your experience around Hecate. I want to ask - what of the person that routinely see's through the rabbit in the hat type tricks and the illusions? There are such people, but they just experience sensory data in a different way - processing it through a different part of the brain. Their 'knowledge' is based upon sensory experience too.

Isn't - to 'know thyself' therefore to test your sensory limits to apprehend external truth?

And after that - isn't 'to know thyself' an internal investigation that goes beyond the self referential question of 'who we are'?

I believe this too alrah.

On the other hand, I’m willing to see the opposite side as well and, sincerely, I think it will be a nice experience to follow the train of thoughts Los wishes to show us, step by step.

I love the adventures to unknown territories and this is a great opportunity for me to explore Reason. 😀

Regards
Hecate

'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' is rather good - especially if you ride too? 🙂


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ianrons
(@ianrons)
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Posts: 1126
18/03/2010 11:23 pm  

Erwin,

I don't have time this evening to write a reply to your post, but I note that you have not addressed the central arguments as set forth in my penultimate paragraph. In order to save time, so that I can write a consolidated reply tomorrow, may I refer you again to that paragraph?


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 Anonymous
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18/03/2010 11:37 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Erwin,

I don't have time this evening to write a reply to your post, but I note that you have not addressed the central arguments as set forth in my penultimate paragraph. In order to save time, so that I can write a consolidated reply tomorrow, may I refer you again to that paragraph?

I would also appreciate a reply from you both. I think you both understood what I said in my first post to this thread.


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ianrons
(@ianrons)
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Posts: 1126
18/03/2010 11:55 pm  

alrah,

I don't really disagree with you re: Grant, but at the moment I would prefer to concentrate on the issues raised by Los, so I'll take a rain check.


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 12:03 am  
"ianrons" wrote:
alrah,

I don't really disagree with you re: Grant, but at the moment I would prefer to concentrate on the issues raised by Los, so I'll take a rain check.

OK - np - I'm just another star (like you). 🙂


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 12:28 am  
"ianrons" wrote:
I don't have time this evening to write a reply to your post, but I note that you have not addressed the central arguments as set forth in my penultimate paragraph.

Well, I already have, but I'm happy to reiterate myself in response to that paragraph, point-by-point. To be scrupulously fair, one of the points I will reiterate was not made recently, but way back in the Go-go-Godel thread, so you can be forgiven for not being able to immediately recall it to mind.

"ianrons" wrote:
But that’s if you use reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is.

No - that's what happens if you use reason to analyse what "knowledge-which-requires-an-unbroken-chain-of-metaphysical-assertions-all-the-way-down-to-the-ultimate-nature-of-the-universe-of-a-cat" is.

When you analyse the actual knowledge-of-a-cat that people really do have have - which is not the same kind of knowledge you were talking about in the above-quoted sentence - that isn't what happens at all. What happens in that case is that you come to the conclusion that I've been repeatedly stating here.

"ianrons" wrote:
Erwin forbids it, apparently seeking refuge from his intellect.

No, I don't "forbid" it. You have this idea that I am somehow opposed to applying reason to the idea of knowledge. The very fact that I am here on this forum having this conversation with you, reasoning about the idea of knowledge, should fairly convincingly demonstrate to you that I am not.

What I do object to is the application of reason to a conception of "knowledge" which is demonstrably at odds with real-world knowledge, and then attempting to use the fruits of that application to draw conclusions about that real-world knowledge. It's not the application of reason that I object to - I merely require that you apply reason to the same object you wish to draw conclusions over, and that isn't what you're doing.

"ianrons" wrote:
However, there is a problem. In his “demonstration” that we can know what a cat is, even this process of fitting the photograph of a cat into a general idea of “cat” is a process of the intellect. Sometimes it is imperceptible, but there can also be occasions when one struggles to identify a face, showing us that something is taking place in the mind to allow us to make that identification. Is this some type of reason, of the type used in philosophy (he describes it as “loosely rational”)?

Whoa there, cowboy. Let's break that last sentence up.

Firstly, is this "some type of reason"? I would say it is "some type", yes. It's not the formally logical type of reason, but as I've repeatedly said, reason is a significantly larger concept than logic. The human mind/body appears to have some inbuilt evolved faculty for drawing associations and whatnot, otherwise infants wouldn't be able to learn. Although I'm no biologist, and it's not a germane point to the argument, I'd suggest that the human faculty of reason is a developed form of this inbuilt faculty. So, yes, I have no problem describing it as "some type of reason", and that would indeed be an example of what I mean by "loosely rational", since it is based on consistent extrapolation from evidence, no matter how primitive.

It is reason "of the type used in philosophy", though? Probably not, but as I've repeatedly said, I'm not having a philosophical discussion here. It is the type of reason that I have consistently defined as "the mental power concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences" way back in the Go-go-Godel thread. In other words, I employ the word "reason" in a completely conventional dictionary-definition way which is consonant with how the word is actually used in the English language, with little concern for any alternative definitions philosophers might like to argue about.

"ianrons" wrote:
I would argue that both are functions of the mind, even if differing slightly in what regions of the brain are used.

I would also argue that "both are functions of the mind", not least on account of having defined "reason" as "the mental power concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences". I'm honestly a little mystified as to how anyone could argue they are anything else.

"ianrons" wrote:
Perhaps he regards the faculty that identifies photos as superior to other types of (presumably “stricter”) reason; but on what grounds?

Presumably you are suggesting this because of the implication that I "forbid....using reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is". Since I've explained above that this is a false implication, no response to this point is necessary.

"ianrons" wrote:
He doesn’t seem to offer any,

As per previous response, since this is based on a false implication, no response is necessary. The process of reason and its superiority or inferiority to any other process is most emphatically not the issue. The issue is the object to which you apply that process.

"ianrons" wrote:
and in fact in one of his essays he asks the reader who doesn’t simply accept his “demonstration” to stop reading.

And I wholeheartedly stand by my position that anybody who doesn't know that 2 + 2 = 4 does not have the intellectual capacity to understand what I write, and would be well advised to refrain from trying to read it.

"ianrons" wrote:
I find this approach highly anti-intellectual,

1. If "this approach" refers to the false implication that I "forbid....using reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is" then again, no response is necessary, since it is indeed a false implication.

2. If "this approach" refers to advising anyone who doesn't know that 2 + 2 = 4 may want to quit reading my essays, then I'm mystified how anyone could characterise that as "anti-intellectual". Quite the opposite, in fact.

"ianrons" wrote:
(certainly anti-philosophical)

Again, I've repeatedly said that I am not having a philosophical discussion, and that the root cause of the widespread confusion within the occult community that I am describing is a direct result of people thoroughly confusing themselves with philosophy, so I have no objection to this.

"ianrons" wrote:
and I would say not that “[‘true knowledge’ is] an entirely imaginary concept which philosophers have invented”,

Well, I would say it is, for the reasons I've given, and for the overriding reason that if it's the kind of knowledge that nobody has - which is what you have yourself claimed - then using the word "true" for it is at the very least exceedingly strange, and more correctly described as enormously misleading. As I said in the other thread, if you're talking about a type of knowledge which you freely admit that nobody has, then "false knowledge" - or "imaginary knowledge" if you prefer - is a much better term for it than "true knowledge".

"ianrons" wrote:
but rather that this sort of “knowledge” is nothing more than a convenient fiction,

The "true knowledge" of which you speak is the fiction. What I'm talking about is a concept which derives from observation of the real world.

"ianrons" wrote:
and a self-contradictory one.

Presuming that you now finally are able to identify the actual type of "knowledge" that I am talking about, you should be able to either resolve any contradictions you saw, or demonstrate why you think it is "self-contradictory".

I trust my response addresses the central points in your penultimate paragraph to your satisfaction.


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 12:34 am  
"alrah" wrote:
I would also appreciate a reply from you both. I think you both understood what I said in my first post to this thread.

I'm not sure your first post to this thread was either coherent or substantial enough as to make a sensible "reply" even possible. It's certainly not coherent or substantial enough for me to take the time to write one. If you have a specific question you'd like me to address then restate it in a simple and concise manner.


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 1:45 am  

Erwin

2. If "this approach" refers to advising anyone who doesn't know that 2 + 2 = 4 may want to quit reading my essays, then I'm mystified how anyone could characterise that as "anti-intellectual". Quite the opposite, in fact.

It’s anti-intellectual because it does not analyze or question the system on which your assumptions are based. By assumptions I refer to the underlined below:

What I do object to is the application of reason to a conception of "knowledge" which is demonstrably at odds with real-world knowledge

then "false knowledge" - or "imaginary knowledge" if you prefer - is a much better term for it than "true knowledge"

What your response demonstrates is that human beings certainly have an innate ability to reason in a way that sounds “rational” and “logical”, but reason itself is merely a tool for, and pretext to justify, power/will. I’ll happily subscribe to the biological/nature hypothesis of the reasoning faculty in humans as long as you acknowledge this ability to assess, calculate and extrapolate from facts – i.e. the reasoning faculty - operates on a similar principle as mimicry or deception in nature; in other words, we don’t reason because we are inherently rational creatures or particularly motivated by rational conclusions, but rather, our reasoning masks irrational motivations – i.e. power.

Let's take a look at 2 + 2 = 4.

We understand how math works and how to arrive at “right” answers for different equations. If by “real-world knowledge” you mean the system by which we claim to know these things and never questioning the assumptions underlying the system, then, yes, your position is anti-intellectual and your reasoning masks other all-too human facts. 2 + 2 = 4. According to you this equation represents real-world knowledge. 2 = 1 + 1. What is 1? 1 represents an unknown value in relation to 0. So let’s just call this unknown value x. If so x + x = 2. So 2 + 2 = 4, really means x+x+x+x = x+x+x+x. Where you started off with one unknown, now you have four unknowns. The same can be applied to Language. Now let’s say that original x = consciousness which, as we all know, science has no clue about, and you start to understand why Crowley says “there is no such thing as Knowledge”.


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sonofthestar
(@sonofthestar)
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Posts: 375
19/03/2010 2:24 am  

93!

Just some thoughts I’ve got about the subject of this thread.

The problem as I see it, has to do with going to “Extremes” either way.

As one example, which I might call “a Dictatorial position”….
would deny---as absolute falsehoods----“the realities” of “all” things Spiritual;
whether those things spiritual be labeled Religious/Magickal/ Occult.
Their “reasoning” does not allow for such “fantasies” so to say.

The other example, which I might call “a Dictatorial position”….
would deny as absolutely false…
the necessity for that functionality of mind generally known as “Reasoning” ….
so far as it applies to the experiencing of …. “The Spiritual”.
Doubt being a tool, of the devil, and such stuff as “science” being enemy to God.

All subjects that fit into either of the two camps of Extreme, are in grievous error!
Both while sometimes possibly achieving much---
according to the dictates their systems allow for,
will miss the “Real” or “Whole” picture in its totality.

Anyone who truly has it in mind, to explore “what its all about”….
rejects not, the realms pertinent to “Reason” (if the word is really applicable)….
nor do they reject….
those realms pertinent to “The Spiritual”----:
Such realms being …
the avenues comprising the study, and testing…
as well the exploration, and experiencing thereof.
It is an aspect of “the curse of duality“---to have as a mental construct,
the notion that one has to reject either one, to experience the validity of the other!
Nor do the two, have to be “balanced”….
as though they were diametrically opposed to each other.

Let us also consider the concepts of “understanding” ….
as well as “knowing” ….
how things work, or do not work; what things are, or---are not.

One really important thing to contemplate….
is that there are correct ways, and wrong ways, to go about it.
“IT” being “THE METHOD OF SCIENCE----THE AIM OF RELIGION”.

Such contemplating unto an eventual persistent action,
may just lead to the knowledge and attainment of,
that which transcends any form of fanatically sterile, dogmatic outlook….
thrust forth in the name of Science, or Religion.

93! 93! 93!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 2:36 am  
"tai" wrote:
Let's take a look at 2 + 2 = 4.

Yes, let's.

"tai" wrote:
We understand how math works and how to arrive at “right” answers for different equations. If by “real-world knowledge” you mean the system by which we claim to know these things and never questioning the assumptions underlying the system, then, yes, your position is anti-intellectual and your reasoning masks other all-too human facts. 2 + 2 = 4. According to you this equation represents real-world knowledge. 2 = 1 + 1. What is 1? 1 represents an unknown value in relation to 0. So let’s just call this unknown value x. If so x + x = 2. So 2 + 2 = 4, really means x+x+x+x = x+x+x+x. Where you started off with one unknown, now you have four unknowns. The same can be applied to Language. Now let’s say that original x = consciousness which, as we all know, science has no clue about, and you start to understand why Crowley says “there is no such thing as Knowledge”.

Yet for all your rambling gibberish, we still know that 2 + 2 = 4, and therefore there is. Q.E.D.

You might be able to look at a simple two operand sum that a three year old could do and find yourself with nothing but "four unknowns", but the whole point of my criticism is that occultists have managed to confuse themselves into just this kind of abject and contemptible idiotic stupor, so you're just demonstrating my point.

If you're seriously going to come out in public and argue that 1 is an "unknown value" and that 2 + 2 = 4 is some kind of cosmic mystery, then there's something very wrong with you. Certainly you have no business trying to lecture others about knowledge. It should be unbelievable, but sadly, it's not.


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Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
19/03/2010 6:24 am  

Hecate:

In the case of the rabbit being pulled out of a hat:
You experience this fact –your eyes watch the magician actually pulling the rabbit from its ears out of the hat- and, at the same time, you remember another experience of yours, where you watched the actual way of doing this trick. Then you can say you know. [...] In this context, would one be wrong to say that knowledge is based on experience? And further than that, would one be wrong to suppose that knowledge is the result of the apperception of our sensory organs?

It would be wrong to say that my experience -- all by itself -- reveals the knowledge to me. Experience, all by itself, can only tell you that you've had an experience. Any conclusions you reach on the basis of experiences are arrived at by applying reason to the evidence -- and in this case, your experiences are the main evidence.

In the example that you've given, it is my rational examination of my experiences that results in my conclusion that I am observing an illusion. The more evidence that I have to operate on -- for instance, information about magic tricks, experience seeing them, experience doing them -- the more likely it is that my rational operations on the evidence will result in true conclusions.

Now, if I were the type who pretends that I have "transcended" reason, I might allow my reason to make a crucial error and mistakenly think that "my experiences prove that this guy can cause a rabbit to appear in his hat."

Ian:
Since you seem to think that your "main argument" is in your penultimate paragraph, I will attempt to address it -- though I will note that Erwin has already addressed these points. At best, I will probably be repeating his points in different words.

You write:

But that’s if you use reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is. Erwin forbids it, apparently seeking refuge from his intellect. However, there is a problem. In his “demonstration” that we can know what a cat is, even this process of fitting the photograph of a cat into a general idea of “cat” is a process of the intellect. Sometimes it is imperceptible, but there can also be occasions when one struggles to identify a face, showing us that something is taking place in the mind to allow us to make that identification. Is this some type of reason, of the type used in philosophy (he describes it as “loosely rational”)? I would argue that both are functions of the mind, even if differing slightly in what regions of the brain are used. Perhaps he regards the faculty that identifies photos as superior to other types of (presumably “stricter”) reason; but on what grounds? He doesn’t seem to offer any, and in fact in one of his essays he asks the reader who doesn’t simply accept his “demonstration” to stop reading. I find this approach highly anti-intellectual (certainly anti-philosophical), and I would say not that “[‘true knowledge’ is] an entirely imaginary concept which philosophers have invented”, but rather that this sort of “knowledge” is nothing more than a convenient fiction, and a self-contradictory one.

We identify things by means of a rational process. Our minds are capable of abstracting from experience and conceiving ideas that we can recognize when we see things possessing the attributes that we abstract from our experience.

To know what a cat is, you simply don't have to define all the parts of it -- you just have to recognize the characteristics when you see them. As Erwin's been trying to point out, knowledge in the sense that he and I are talking about -- being able to know one thing -- is unrelated to metaphysical assumptions about the "nature of reality."

Even if the "true nature of reality" is a total illusion, it is possible to know something about a part of that illusion quite reliably -- reliably enough that we can consistently demonstrate that knowledge in a way that is useful (for example, petting a cat instead of trying to eat it).

As Erwin and I have been saying -- and the two of us must have repeated it an absurd number of times now -- whatever you're calling knowledge bears absolutely no resemblance to anything like knowledge as it is actually used by real living, breathing people. To repeat: it's utterly irrelevant that you can define something in terms of others words that you can define in terms of other words that you can define in terms of other words ad infinitum. It doesn't change the fact that we do indeed know things.

And none of this would even be an issue, except for the fact that some people seem to want to reduce actual knowledge about the world to the level of random belief and suggest that the two are somehow on equal footing. They're not.

Actual knowledge -- for example, knowledge of the evolutionary process, which is based on actual evidence -- is not the equivalent of a random belief, such as believing in souls and reincarnations on the basis of some pathworking daydream you had once.

I thought of an analogy before that will maybe make the point a little clearer: take Zeno's paradox, the one regarding motion. In order to cross a room, one needs to travel half the distance of the room; but in order to travel half the distance of the room, one must travel *half* of half the distance of the room; but in order to travel *half* of half of the distance of the room, one must first travel *half* of *half* of half the distance of the room, and so on and so forth.

Imagine that someone actually used that paradox to argue that motion is impossible. That person could then argue that since movement is impossible, sitting still is just as much movement as traveling, and since everything is just as much movement as everything else, then we might as well drive our cars across the ocean because it feels right.

Do you see the problem? The argument criticizes not "motion," but an an imaginary conception of "motion" that is unrelated to motion as it actually exists.

One more point:

Lastly, I am not saying that there's no such thing as knowledge, merely that it seems impossible to pin it down. It seems Erwin and yourself wish to pin it down somehow, but I don't think that's possible.

Depends on what you mean by "pin it down." I conclude that it exists, and I reach that conclusion on the basis of evidence -- that is, the fact that my knowledge of certain things allows me to utilize it in ways that are consistently useful tells me that there is something to it.
For example, I know the bus comes every day at 9:30. It's totally irrelevant that I could, if I wanted to, define "bus" and "9:30" in terms of other words that I can define in terms of other words and so on for an infinite amount of time. It doesn't change the fact that my possession of that knowledge allows me to do useful things -- like, for example, catch the bus. The very fact that knowing the statement yields results demonstrates that knowledge is something that is real and useful.

Furthermore, I reach the conclusion that conclusions not based on evidence --and based instead on fantasy -- are almost certainly not useful and are not "knowledge" in the sense of conclusions based on evidence.

tai:

we don’t reason because we are inherently rational creatures or particularly motivated by rational conclusions, but rather, our reasoning masks irrational motivations – i.e. power.

I don't think anyone has claimed that all human motivations are rational. In fact, the true will isn't itself rational and cannot be discovered directly by the reason.

The problem is when reason substitutes for will in deciding action or when reason is misapplied to questions of learning about the world -- which it easily can be when one ignores it on the grounds that it must be "transcended."

1 represents an unknown value in relation to 0.

I don't follow. We label a single individual thing as "1." When we have two individual things together, we can note that one individual thing and one other individual thing gives us two individual things.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 9:55 am  
"Erwin" wrote:
"alrah" wrote:
I would also appreciate a reply from you both. I think you both understood what I said in my first post to this thread.

I'm not sure your first post to this thread was either coherent or substantial enough as to make a sensible "reply" even possible. It's certainly not coherent or substantial enough for me to take the time to write one. If you have a specific question you'd like me to address then restate it in a simple and concise manner.

I'm addressing the thread using a conceptual broad brush. Bringing it down to the lowest common denominator so that you can easily pull it apart with logic would defeat the point I'm making about the relationship of the two truths to knowledge and reason.


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the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1836
19/03/2010 10:00 am  
"Los" wrote:
As Erwin and I have been saying -- and the two of us must have repeated it an absurd number of times now -- whatever you're calling knowledge bears absolutely no resemblance to anything like knowledge as it is actually used by real living, breathing people.

93!

You should really go out and check what "real living, breathing people" actually know, instead of asserting that your definition of knowledge bears any more resemblance. Although on the surface most people might think that "your" definition of knowledge sounds correct, most people do not know things that way at all. You should acknowledge the fact that there are different definitions and you are simply sticking to the one you find most convenient. Since you believe "your" theory supports your crusade against occultists of all sorts best, you declare it true. (Here is by the way the main reason for your "absurd number" of repetetions of arguments: your crusade against occultism while your biggest "hero" is one of the most prominent occultists himself, regardless of how many times you announce it otherwise) But Crowley knew better. He knew that it is impossible to know anything, since every event is a unique and irreproducable impression on our mind only, and all we can hope for is to symbolically describe it as best as we can to others in the most convenient manner for all sorts of purposes, that they might gain from our knowledge, which will never be anybody other's knowledge. We always choose the theory that is most convenient for us, but to say one is universally more true than another, is wrong. You should never forget that the thing we have the least knowledge of all kinds about, is our mind.

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 10:30 am  

from

THE PARADOXES OF THE HIGHEST SCIENCE

by Éliphas Lévi

PARADOX V.--REASON IS GOD

THIS should be placed first. It is before everything: it is self-existent, it exists even for those who do not know it, as the Sun for the Blind, but to see it, feel it, understand it, this is the triumph of the understanding in man; it is the definite result of all the travail of thought and all the aspirations of Faith.
In the principle is Reason, and Reason is in God, and God is Reason. All is made by it, and without it is nothing made. It is the true light that enlightens us from our birth: it shines even in the darkness, but the darkness does not close it in.

These words are the oracle of Reason itself, and they occur, as all know, at the commencement of the Gospel of St. John.

Without this Reason nothing exists; everything has its reason for existing, even unreason, 1 which serves as a background to reason as the shadow does to the light.
The reasonable believer is he who believes in a reason greater than knowledge; for the reason, or to speak more correctly the reasoning of each one, is not absolute wisdom.
When I reason ill, I become unreasonable 1; it is not then reason that I should distrust, but my own judgment.
I should turn then willingly to those who know more than I do, but even then I must have reason to believe in their superiority.

To conjecture, at random, what one does not know, and then believe blindly in one's own conjectures, or in those of others, who know no more than ourselves, is to behave like madmen. When we are told that God demands the sacrifice of our reason, this is to make God, the ideal or despotic idol, of folly.
Reason gives conviction, but rash belief produces only infatuation.
It is quite reasonable to believe in things that one neither sees, touches, nor measures, because manifestly the infinite exists, and one can say not only I believe, but I know that an infinity of things exist which are beyond my reach.

Knowledge being indefinitely progressive, I can believe that I shall one day know that of which I am now ignorant. I have no doubts in regard to what I know thoroughly; I may doubt my knowledge if I know imperfectly, but I cannot have doubts as to a thing of which I know nothing, since it is impossible for me to formulate them.

He who says there is no God, without having defined God in a complete and absolute manner, simply talks nonsense. I wait for his definition, and when he has set this forth after his own fashion, I am certain, beforehand, of being able to say to him, "I agree with you, there is no such God"; but that God is certainly not my God. If he says to me: "Define your God," I should reply, "I will take good care to do nothing of the kind, for a God defined is a God dethroned." Every positive definition is deniable, the Infinite is the undefined. "I believe only in matter,"another will tell me, but what is matter? In surgery they give that name to excretions, and one might say in philosophy, somewhat paradoxically, that matter is the excretion of thought. The materialists fully deserve to be paid off with this somewhat coarse and Carnivallic definition, they who declare thought the excretion of the material brain, without realising that this admirable and passive instrument of the workings of the human soul is the masterpiece of a thought, which is not ours.

If I could define God, in a certain and positive manner, I should cease to believe in God, I should know what he is, but not being able to know this, I simply believe that he exists, because it is impossible for me not to conceive a directive thought, in this eternally living substance that peoples infinite space.
If believers in exclusive Religions tell me that God has revealed himself and that he has spoken, I reply I do not believe it, I know it. I know that God reveals himself to the human heart in the beauties of Nature; I know that he has spoken by the voices of all the wise and in the hearts of all the just. I read his words, in the hymns of Cleanthus and Orpheus, as in the Psalms of David; I admire the grand pages of the Vedas and of the Koran, and find the legend of Krishna as touching as a gospel, but I wax wroth against Jupiter torturing Prometheus and serving as a pretext for the death of Socrates. I shudder when I hear the Christ reproaching, in his last dying sobs, Jehovah for having abandoned him, and I veil my face when Alexander VI professes to represent Jesus Christ. The executioners and tormentors of the human conscience are as odious to me under the priestly reign of Pius VI as under that of Nero. The true Christian Religion is humanity, superhuman in the strength of forgiveness, and the sacrifice of self for others.

The Gods to whom are sacrificed men are Demons. Reason should for ever thrust away the worship of these Demons, and the idol of the Devil, which has become ridiculous by it, is monstrosity. Those who believe in the Devil, worship the Devil, for they worship his Creator and . . . accomplice. We have already said, The God of the Devil, who reproves the Devil and yet still allows hint to work on for our destruction is a horrible fiction of human wickedness and cowardice; a God of the Devil turned round would become a Devil of a God. Thus speaks reason, but superstition would still impose silence, and that is why many people, excusably enough, leave, while pitying them, to the superstitious their God and their Devil, and themselves believe thenceforth in nothing.

But even superstition has its raison d'être in the infinities of the human intellect. The Priesthood has succeeded in converting it into a force, by subjecting it to blind obedience. Take away superstition from souls, narrow but ardent, and you convert them into fanatics of impiety. One must e'en restrain fools through their folly, since they are not willing to be wise.

We teach morality to children by telling them stories, and the nurses take good care not to disabuse their minds when they are frightened at Bogy. It is true that certain realistic mothers threaten their children with the wolf or the policeman, but neither wolf nor policeman can be everywhere, and the child, convinced of their absence, will laugh at the threat, whereas Bogy, who is never seen anywhere, is believed, like the Devil, to be present everywhere, and. the child is all the more impelled to believe in it because it is a fiction, a poetic delusion, a story-in one word something that takes hold on the imagination, and the imagination, powerful in men, is supreme in children.

Bogy is the children's Devil, just as the Devil of the Middle Ages was the Bogy of men.
Moreover there is no fiction which does not serve as a veil or mask for some reality. Bogy exists, and the poor child will soon know him in the guise of a frowning pedant with harsh voice and more or less justly applied cane.
Then they will tell him about God and the Devil in such terms that he might easily mistake one for the other. Will he then continue satisfied with the conclusion of the drama of Punch? Punch made him laugh, the Devil wanted to make him cry; would he not wish that in the end, Punch, so often carried off by the Devil, should in his turn carry off the Devil? This would be a question of temperament and audacity.

Ancient Hierophants have always held that it would be the greatest crime to admit the multitude to the initiations because it would be to let loose the wolves, open the paddock of the fallow deer, and plunge all men in war one with the other under the pretext of equality.

Jesus Christ enjoined upon his disciples not to cast their pearls before swine. The Freemasons to this day swear to preserve to the death the secrets which they no longer possess. Equality amongst men can only exist by Hierarchical grades; it can never be absolute, because Nature disallows it. There must be great and little, so that men may mutually assist, and have need of, each other.

Nothing is more difficult for the common run of men than to live according to reason, and do good for the sake of good. Their motive is almost always desire or fear, and they are to be led by hope or dread. They require, moreover, restraint to prevent their falling into inertia or disorder. They march better when in regiments and loaded; the monk and the soldier rejoice under an iron discipline; it is by austerities and silence that the inconstancy of woman disappears. One man lives courageously the life of a Trappist who would be a robber, did he not long for Heaven and fear Hell. Is he the better for this? Perhaps not, but certainly it is less dangerous for Society.

It is all very fine to tell the truth to men, but they will not understand it unless they have already themselves sought for and almost found it. The world of Tiberius wanted expiations and austerities. The age of the Platonists and Stoics, of Seneca and Epictetus, was bound to embrace the Christian Morality. Virgil seems to sing near to the manger of the Man-God, and the Sibylline books promised the Christ to earth!
Luther was not carried by his own impulse against Rome; he was lifted and pushed forward by a current that swept over all Europe. Voltaire did not make the eighteenth century, it was the eighteenth century which made Voltaire. The reign of Madame de Maintenon and the scandals of Jansenism had disgusted and wearied France to the last degree; the funereal orisons of Bossuet seemed to have interred the Christian Monarchy, and there followed Cardinals like Bernel and like Dubois. Voltaire scoffed at everything and made people laugh. Rousseau, however, professed that there was something in it, and people admired while persecuting him, because in their hearts the world was somewhat of his way of thinking. The revolutionists out-Rousseau'd Rousseau, and the good sense of the country sided with Chateaubriand, though all the while applauding the Voltairian rogueries of Béranger: it is progress that brings great men to the front, and the world wrongly credits them with the movement which has made them conspicuous.

The French Revolution presented a strange and ridiculous spectacle to the world, when it inaugurated the worship of Reason, personified by an opera dancer. One might have fancied that the nation was making fun of itself, and desired to avow to other nations that the reason of the French is almost always folly.
Then it was that Robespierre, to dethrone this indecent Reason, invented his Supreme Being, but public opinion would not ratify the change; it remembered God and realised that the Revolution was shifting its ground. Bonaparte, who followed, understood that Religion was not dead, but Religion for him could only be Catholic, in other words, authoritative; he re-opened the Churches, and tried to lay his hand on the Pope, but the Pope slipped from him with the world.

It is that the reason of Religion is superior to the reason of Politics, because it is only in Religion that right takes the lead of might. For a right to be inviolable it must be proclaimed as Divine. Right and Duty are above man, God preserves the one, in imposing the other on him; God is the Supreme Reason.
A body cannot live without a head, and the head of the social body is God. A body changes but does not die, if its head be immortal. God is the Truth and justice that never change; it is for this cause that the state should give way to religious reasons. The Church is the prototype of the Fatherland; it is the Universal Fatherland, and the unity of the Christian world is something greater than the unity of Germany or Italy.

Moral force is superior to physical force, and spiritual power gets the upper hand of temporal power. If St. Peter had never drawn his sword, Jesus would never have said to him, "When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." The King of Italy has taken Rome from the Holy Father, because St. Peter took by force the ear of Malchus. Malchus or Male signifies, in Hebrew, the king. Be it as it may, the capital of the Christian world ought not to belong exclusively to Italy. The supreme representative of Divine Humanity ought to be a priest to bless and a king to pardon. That is what reason tells us, and if the Pope believes that a father of a family ought to be infallible for his children, that the head of religion ought to have no dealings with irreligion; that liberty of conscience ought not to be permitted; if he believes himself obliged to turn society upside down; if he protests, in a word, against each and everything that appears to him contrary to dogma, why, setting aside the justice of the question, the Pope is a thousand times right!

Next to the passions, the greatest enemies of human reason are the prejudices. We do not examine how things are; we simply will that they should be in such and such a way. We refuse to change our opinion, because this humiliates our pride, as if man was born infallible, and should not day by day instruct and perfect himself. "When I was a child," said St. Paul, "I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." The apostle here proclaims the law of progress and even applies it to the Church, but this is what the theologians obstinately refuse to understand.

We must distrust devout prejudices as much as impious prejudices. True piety is essentially independent, but she submits herself reasonably to customs and laws, when she cannot hope, and even often when she does hope, to change them.

Jesus would not that they should pluck up the tares which were mixed with the wheat, for fear lest at the same time they should uproot the good grain; but that they should wait for the harvest, and then separate the wheat from the evil weeds. There are epochs of summing up and synthesis, in which criticism ought to distinguish the true from the false. We are at one of such epochs in which prejudices ought no longer to be tenderly handled. Nevertheless, we must not be harsh with the people who hold them. Let us show, softly and patiently, the truth, and the falsehoods will fall of their own accord.

Prejudices are the bad habits of the mind; they spring from education, from ignorance or intellectual sloth, from interests of position, reputation or fortune. We readily believe in the truth of what pleases us and still more readily in what flatters us; the best feelings, even when exaggerated, become sources of prejudice; the love of family produces pride and the intolerance of caste; the love of country gives place to national arrogance; people think that they should be French, or English, rather than that they should be men: religious enthusiasm leads on to many other excesses. Succeeding ages despise, condemn and execrate each other; the Christians are dogs for the followers of Muhammad, the Jews are obscene beings for the Christian, the Protestants are Heretics, the Catholics are Papists . . . where are the reasonable men?

Reason is like Truth; she shocks when seen naked.

To be too much in the right is to be in the wrong. Reason should persuade and not impose herself. She has little power over children, and almost always displeases women.

She is a power, but it is an occult power; she should govern without showing her hand.

It requires a very powerful and firm mind to devote oneself without danger to the occult sciences, and above all to the experiences which confirm their theories; magnetism, divination and spiritualism still people the madhouses, and the Hermetic Philosophy may add further victims. The most celebrated proficients in these sciences have had their moments of aberration. Pythagoras remembered to have been Euphorbius. Apollonius of Tyana caused an old beggar to be stoned to stay the Plague. Paracelsus believed that he had a familiar spirit hidden in the pommel of his long sword. 2 Cardan allowed himself to die of hunger to justify astrology.

Duchenteau, who reconstructed and completed the magic calendar of Tycho-Brahe, also died miserably in attempting an extravagant experiment. Cagliostro compromised himself with a set of rogues, in the matter of the Queen's necklace, and went away to die in the dungeons of Rome. The interior of the ark is not to be looked at with impunity, and those who will touch it run the risk of being struck like Moza by lightning.

I do not speak of the fear, the envy, the hate of the vulgar which everywhere pursue the Initiate, who does not know how to conceal his knowledge. True sages escape from this danger. 1 The Abbé Trithemus lived and died peacefully while Agrippa, his imprudent disciple, closed prematurely in a hospital a life of disquietude and torment. Agrippa, before his death, blasphemed against the Science, as Brutus at Philippi had blasphemed against Virtue, but despite the despair of Brutus, Virtue is more than an empty name, and despite the discouragement of Agrippa, Science is a Truth.

At the present day, occult sciences are scarcely studied except by presumptuous ignoramuses or eccentric savants; women furnish their necessary ground, in hysterical crisps and doubtful somnambulism. People want above all things prodigies; to cog the dice of Fortune, to shuffle the cards of Fate, to have philtres and amulets, to bewitch their enemies, to put jealous husbands to sleep, to discover the universal panacea of all the vices, not to reform them, but to preserve them from the two great diseases that kill them--deception and lassitude--countenance such schemes, and one is sure to travel quickly on the high road of folly. If the hasty Achilles of Homer had been wholly invulnerable, he would only have been a cowardly assassin, and the man who was sure of always gaining at play would soon ruin every one, and ought to be branded as a swindler. He who by a single act of his Will could entail on others sickness or death, would be a public Pest, of whom Society ought to rid itself; to win love, save by natural means, is to commit a sort of violation; to evoke shades is to call down upon oneself the Eternal Shadows. 1 To deal with demons one must be a demon. The Devil is the spirit of Evil, the fatal current of misdirected and evil wills. To enter this current is to plunge into the abyss. Moreover the Spirit of Evil only replies to rash and unhealthy curiosity. Visions are the phenomena of drunkenness or delirium. To see spirits? What a chimera! It is as though one professed to touch music and bottle thought. If the spirits of the dead have gone out from amongst us, it is because they could no longer live here. How do you suppose they are to come back? 2

But then it will be said, what can be the use of magic? It enables men to understand better the Truth, and desire Good in a healthier and more effective manner. It helps to heal souls and comfort bodies. It does not confer the means of doing evil with impunity, but it raises man above animal lusts. It renders man inaccessible to the agonies of desire and fear. It constitutes a divinely radiating centre, chasing away before it phantoms and darkness, for it knows, it wills, it CAN, and it holds its peace. This is the true magic, not that of the Necromancers and Enchanters, but that of the initiated and the Magi.

True magic is a scientific force placed at the service of Reason. False magic is a blind force added to the blunders and disorders of Folly.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 10:38 am  

I think in the 93 thread the OP was addressing the fact that knowledge - aka 'conventional truth' has to be clearly seen for what it is - (empty) in order to understand ultimate truth. To start talking about the distinction between cats and apples bears no relationship to the context of his assertion, as ultimate truth is not something you can 'know' or deduce. This isn't to depreciate knowledge or conventional truth'. This is simply to (rightly) assert that it is limited, and in terms of ultimate truth - empty.

Instead of framing it from the perspective of ancient Egyptian and their cosmic principle of Ma'at - here it is again from the Buddhist perspective:

Nagarjuna commented:
"The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha's profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved." - [Mūlamadhyamakakārika 24:8-10]

[Extract from - http://www.paganspace.net/profiles/blogs/why-both-the-yogachara-and-the ]


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 11:15 am  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
You should really go out and check what "real living, breathing people" actually know, instead of asserting that your definition of knowledge bears any more resemblance.

This is really rather vexing to hear at this stage. Doing precisely this is the whole substance of the point here. It has been demonstrated - not merely asserted - here many, many times which definition of "knowledge" corresponds to "what 'real living, breathing people' actually know". At the very minimum, the definition of knowledge which results in the conclusion that it is "impossible to know anything" self-evidently bears no resemblance to "what 'real living, breathing people' actually know" because everybody who is is talking about that definition admits freely that nobody has that type of knowledge, and since this argument is essentially a debunking of that definition rather than an attempt to define knowledge per se then that's essentially as far as anyone needs to go to make the case. Please try to understand this very simple point.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
But Crowley knew better. He knew that it is impossible to know anything,

Please read these two sentences again and try to detect what's seriously wrong with them.


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the_real_simon_iff
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19/03/2010 11:47 am  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
But Crowley knew better. He knew that it is impossible to know anything,
"Erwin" wrote:
Please read these two sentences again and try to detect what's seriously wrong with them.

Funny, isn't it? Just fill in the convenient meaning of knowing and all should be clear. This should also clear up what I said earlier about "real people". What they do most of the time is believing, and as soon as they would start questioning their beliefs, they would end up in the discussion we have here. So your demonstration of what knowledge correspondends to what people know is not very convincing, that's why I took the liberty to call it an assertion. It is convenient to believe, but it is hardly the kind of knowledge you describe. And I cannot imagine you want to tell me that there are good beliefs and bad beliefs.

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 12:03 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Just fill in the convenient meaning of knowing and all should be clear.

Then by all means do so.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
This should also clear up what I said earlier about "real people". What they do most of the time is believing,

Then you're talking about beliefs, and not knowledge at all. Knowledge is based on evidence; belief is not. You can't argue that people don't have knowledge by pointing out that some people have false beliefs. Just like I said to Ian, reasoning only works if you apply it to the same object that you wish to draw conclusions over.

As has been repeatedly pointed out, you can evaluate your conclusions with reference to actual evidence.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
What they do most of the time is believing, and as soon as they would start questioning their beliefs, they would end up in the discussion we have here.

Actually, they don't. When most people start questioning their beliefs, they end up either replacing them with knowledge, or just discarding them. It's takes a particularly suggestible and rather foolish type of mind to end up at the conclusions you are promoting here by doing that.

If you actually did truly question your beliefs in the way that you suggest, then you'd end up pretty quickly concluding that your belief that "knowledge is impossible" does not match up with the evidence, and you'd discard it. But that's not what you do.

People are coming to the conclusion that "knowledge is impossible" because they aren't questioning their beliefs enough, not because they're doing too much of it.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
And I cannot imagine you want to tell me that there are good beliefs and bad beliefs.

As has been repeatedly said, to make this argument stick you'd have to demonstrate that a belief such as "all elephants are really tiny purple aliens from Venus" and the knowledge that "the sun is approximately 93 million miles from the earth" are equivalent in the degree to which their information content corresponds to the real world, and you're not going to be able to successfully do this.


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the_real_simon_iff
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19/03/2010 1:01 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Just fill in the convenient meaning of knowing and all should be clear.
"Erwin" wrote:
Then by all means do so.

I can't. There might be deeper meaning why all are labeled knowledge.

"Erwin" wrote:
Knowledge is based on evidence; belief is not. You can't argue that people don't have knowledge by pointing out that some people have false beliefs.

I did not. Knowledge is also based on belief in the knowledge and evidence of others. And please: I wrote also!

"Erwin" wrote:
Actually, they don't. When most people start questioning their beliefs, they end up either replacing them with knowledge, or just discarding them.

I should have written "questioning their belief (which they thought was knowledge)"

"Erwin" wrote:
you'd end up pretty quickly concluding that your belief that "knowledge is impossible" does not match up with the evidence, and you'd discard it. But that's not what you do.

Many people did.

"Erwin" wrote:
People are coming to the conclusion that "knowledge is impossible" because they aren't questioning their beliefs enough, not because they're doing too much of it.

With "people" you mean "occultists", I gather?

"Erwin" wrote:
As has been repeatedly said, to make this argument stick you'd have to demonstrate that a belief such as "all elephants are really tiny purple aliens from Venus" and the knowledge that "the sun is approximately 93 million miles from the earth" are equivalent in the degree to which their information content corresponds to the real world, and you're not going to be able to successfully do this.

No, it is just you who would need such a demonstration for that argument to stick. This is not about the degree of information content, this is about the process of belief. And in both cases you believe, because you personally cannot prove that the distance sun/earth is correct. Nobody is denying that there are different definitions of knowledge, but don't pretend that your definition is nearer to "The Truth"... and that is what we are after, aren't we?

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 1:28 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I can't. There might be deeper meaning why all are labeled knowledge.

Then for goodness' sake, don't attempt to use this in support of your position, if even you admit you can't figure out what it means.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I did not. Knowledge is also based on belief in the knowledge and evidence of others.

No, it's based on a reasoned and justified assumption that the knowledge and evidence of others - at least in certain cases - is likely to be reliable. What you're suggesting here is that I have absolutely no grounds at all for "believing" a research paper about an experiment on, say, evolution, and "believing" an evangelist preacher who tells me I'm going to hell if I don't accept Jesus as my personal saviour.

There is a vast gulf of difference between these two things, which you are deliberately attempting to conceal - i.e. to "occult" - by insisting on using the word "belief" to refer to them both and attempting to mask this vast gulf of difference thereby. It's a disingenuous and anti-intellectual device - a mere word-game - which is a hallmark of the occultist.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I should have written "questioning their belief (which they thought was knowledge)"

It wouldn't have made any difference. I'm not disputing that people can think they have knowledge but be wrong about it. Christians think that they know their god exists, and some Christians think that species did not arise through a process of evolution, but they're wrong. Some occultists think that it's impossible to know anything, and they're wrong, too. All these people have not done a sufficiently thorough job of "questioning their belief (which they thought was knowledge)", and that's why they're still left with mere beliefs, instead of actual knowledge.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Many people did.

And hence they're not "questioning their beliefs" properly.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
With "people" you mean "occultists", I gather?

No, I mean "people [who] are coming to the conclusion that "knowledge is impossible'", as I clearly said. A lot of occultists do indeed come to this conclusion, but that's incidental.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
No, it is just you who would need such a demonstration for that argument to stick.

What? I'm not arguing that those two "beliefs" are equivalent. Why on earth would I provide a demonstration for that argument to stick? I've just in my very last response to you told you that that argument does not "stick".

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
This is not about the degree of information content, this is about the process of belief.

No, it isn't. I'm not talking about "belief" at all - you are.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
And in both cases you believe, because you personally cannot prove that the distance sun/earth is correct.

Now here you are talking about "personal proof". Really, you're all over the place. Whether I can "personally prove" anything is entirely besides the point. The important issue is whether I have reasonable evidence to support a factual claim. What you are again attempting to assert is that evidence derived from science and fantasies derived from lunatics who believe we need to have sex with spiders are equivalent, simply because you haven't "personally proven" either of them. This is exactly the type of "obnoxious and contemptible attitude" I criticised in my first post to this thread, and it's a good job the people who build airplanes, computers and skyscrapers don't share your attitude or we'd all be in the shit.

The issue at hand here is knowledge. It's not "belief", and it's not "personal proof", so please stop pretending that you're commenting on the idea of "knowledge" by attacking the latter two completely different ideas.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Nobody is denying that there are different definitions of knowledge, but don't pretend that your definition is nearer to "The Truth"...

I'm not "pretending" - I'm demonstrating, and if you want to argue against that then you're going to have to actually address the demonstrations that I've given, not merely sit there and loudly assert that I haven't given them.

For the umpteenth time, even you agree that the type of knowledge which is "impossible" is the type of knowledge that nobody has, by very virtue of the fact that it's "impossible". Given that you accept that it's impossible, and given that you accept the fact that nobody has it, how much more demonstration can you possibly require that this type of "knowledge" is nowhere near "The Truth" of what knowledge is at all? Even you accept that it doesn't exist. You simply cannot simultaneously argue that this type of knowledge doesn't exist, but that it also might be the type of knowledge which is "nearer to 'The Truth'" of what knowledge actually is.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
and that is what we are after, aren't we?

I really don't think "we" are, no.


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the_real_simon_iff
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19/03/2010 3:33 pm  
"Erwin" wrote:
if even you admit you can't figure out what it means.

Can't remember admitting anything like that. Why should I do you the favor of writing "universal knowledge" or "everyday knowledge" or "Erwin's knowledge"? They are all called knowledge, I didn't name them.

"Erwin" wrote:
word-game - which is a hallmark of the occultist.

Of course only if it's not a word-game on your own rules.

"Erwin" wrote:
No, I mean "people [who] are coming to the conclusion that "knowledge is impossible'", as I clearly said.

Like Mr. Crowley.

"Erwin" wrote:
it's a good job the people who build airplanes, computers and skyscrapers don't share your attitude or we'd all be in the shit.

Uh-oh, did I tell you what I am doing?

"Erwin" wrote:
For the umpteenth time, even you agree that the type of knowledge which is "impossible" is the type of knowledge ...blahblahblah....

And for the umpteenth time, I quoted Crowley who said that knowledge is impossible, and therefore we have constructed another type of knowledge. It should not be forgotten that it is exactly that, not more and not less: a construct of our mind, made for convenience, so that we can sensibly communicate and live in our environment, a memory of space-time events that can not be reproduced by anyone else, the belief (based on observations and conclusions, but a belief nonetheless) that nature will repeat itself. You can go on thinking that occultists and philosophers have invented the idea of knowledge to have something to argue about, if you like, and that you have the only true definition of knowledge. But that's just in the mind, incidentally the thing man has the least knowledge (of whatever kind) about.

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 3:59 pm  

Greetings Los

"Los" wrote:
It would be wrong to say that my experience -- all by itself -- reveals the knowledge to me. Experience, all by itself, can only tell you that you've had an experience. Any conclusions you reach on the basis of experiences are arrived at by applying reason to the evidence -- and in this case, your experiences are the main evidence.
In the example that you've given, it is my rational examination of my experiences that results in my conclusion that I am observing an illusion. The more evidence that I have to operate on -- for instance, information about magic tricks, experience seeing them, experience doing them -- the more likely it is that my rational operations on the evidence will result in true conclusions.
Now, if I were the type who pretends that I have "transcended" reason, I might allow my reason to make a crucial error and mistakenly think that "my experiences prove that this guy can cause a rabbit to appear in his hat."

And, would you identify knowledge with “awareness”?

Regards
Hecate


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 4:14 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Can't remember admitting anything like that.

Then let me refresh your memory:

Erwin: "Please read these two sentences again and try to detect what's seriously wrong with them."

the_real_simon_iff: "Just fill in the convenient meaning of knowing and all should be clear."

Erwin: "Then by all means do so."

the_real_simon_iff: "I can't."

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Why should I do you the favor of writing "universal knowledge" or "everyday knowledge" or "Erwin's knowledge"?

Well, if you're not interested in communication, there's no reason for you to. If you're merely interested in being a malignant and obfuscatory influence, that's your prerogative. However, if that's what you are indeed interested in, then please let me know, and I won't bother attempting to communicate with you in the future.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
They are all called knowledge, I didn't name them.

When "knowledge" is discussed in the real world, it's being used in the sense in which I am using it. I am using the generally accepted definition in the English language. If you want to mean something else by that word, then the onus is on you to make it clear by appropriately qualifying it, or you'll be deliberately obfuscating communication.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Of course only if it's not a word-game on your own rules.

I'm not engaging in a word game at all. You are merely trying to reduce all discussion whatsoever to a question of "word games", and you are in error to do that.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Like Mr. Crowley....And for the umpteenth time, I quoted Crowley who said that knowledge is impossible,

So what? What does Crowley have to do with this? I hope your argument isn't that since Crowley said it, it must be true. The very first post in this thread from Los paraphrased Crowley saying just that, so I'm not sure what you think is being gained by repeating it. I also quoted Crowley saying "science is true and faith is foolish". Again, so what? Focus on the points at hand.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
and therefore we have constructed another type of knowledge.

Yes, you have constructed another type of knowledge, a type which is imaginary and does not coincide with the type of knowledge which exists in the real world. I've been saying this right from the beginning. Honestly, it feels like I'm just talking to myself here sometimes. Why are you quoting my own statements at me as if they represent a rebuttal of themselves? This is not how sensible debate proceeds.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
It should not be forgotten that it is exactly that, not more and not less: a construct of our mind, made for convenience,

No, this is complete nonsense. Knowledge is something real that exists. The label may be a "construct of our mind", but the thing it refers to is not. Hence why I state you are engaging in "word games", and I am not. You are attempting to reduce this discussion to a question of labels, whereas I am focusing on the real things that those labels represent. You are arguing that if we use the same label to refer to two different things, then those two different things must necessarily equally reflect reality, and this is just wrong.

You keep on evading the fact that you yourself admit the kind of knowledge that you are talking about doesn't exist. Why do you keep evading this?

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
But that's just in the mind, incidentally the thing man has the least knowledge (of whatever kind) about.

So, this the essence of your argument? You are trying to imply that since we don't have a great understanding of the mind, discussion - which involves the mind - is therefore meaningless? Because if this is the essence of your argument, it explains a lot about your approach to this discussion.

Anyway, I don't think you are engaging sensibly with this subject, merely repeating the same old tired platitudes I've been criticising from the beginning. If you want to deal with the actual points at hand then I'll be happy to continue the discussion with you, but I'm pretty much done going round the same old circles with you on this matter.


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Los
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19/03/2010 4:30 pm  

Hecate:

And, would you identify knowledge with “awareness”?

No. I can be aware of a guy pulling a rabbit out of a hat but know otherwise.

Is there a particular point that you're trying to make or position you're trying to advance?

Lutz:

Knowledge is also based on belief in the knowledge and evidence of others.

No. The knowledge we have is based on evidence, not random belief. As Erwin pointed out, the suggestion that evolution -- backed by mountains and mountains of evidence -- is on the same level as the belief that unicorns rule the galaxy from a secret base on the moon -- backed by imaginative fantasy -- is ludicrous. They do not equally convey accurate information about the universe. One is knowledge, and the other is belief (and crazy belief at that).

And in both cases you believe, because you personally cannot prove that the distance sun/earth is correct.

No. The fact that a single person cannot *personally* prove every single conclusion mankind has ever reached does not mean that we take all knowledge on faith.

What mankind has done is set up bodies of experts who peer-review each other's work. It's this peer review process that weeds out potential errors and makes the experts' conclusions likely to be the best conclusions possible.

The conclusions that have come out of this process have actually been proven to be reliable and useful -- take, for instance, technological developments like the computer that you're reading this post on.

These developments are evidence that we have a good basis for accepting these conclusions.

[knowledge is] a construct of our mind, made for convenience, so that we can sensibly communicate and live in our environment, a memory of space-time events that can not be reproduced by anyone else, the belief (based on observations and conclusions, but a belief nonetheless) that nature will repeat itself.

You're doing something similar to what Autotelos did earlier in the thread. He declared knowledge to be a "fiction" -- because it's not something absolutely certain -- and then went on to equate it with a totally different thing that shares the label "fiction" (i.e. made up fantasies).

You say yourself that knowledge is a belief "based on observations and conclusions." Wouldn't you agree that a belief based on observations (evidence) is more reliable than a belief based on nothing? In fact, wouldn't you agree that a belief based on observations can prove to be so reliable -- like the belief that gravity will continue to work when I step outside -- that we should really designate it by a different word so that we don't confuse it with a belief based on nothing?

I do, and I designate conclusions based on evidence with the word "knowledge." The better the evidence, the more secure we are in the knowledge, though we must always adjust our conclusions as new evidence arises.

And I guess I have to point out that it's not just me who thinks this, but everyone who uses the word "knowledge" to communicate.


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Los
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19/03/2010 4:34 pm  
"alrah" wrote:
ultimate truth is not something you can 'know' or deduce.

So then how do you know it, and how do you know that it's true?


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 4:38 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"alrah" wrote:
ultimate truth is not something you can 'know' or deduce.

So then how do you know it, and how do you know that it's true?

When there's no 'you' it's true.

Otherwise it's all Maya.


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 Anonymous
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19/03/2010 4:50 pm  

Greetings

"Los" wrote:
Hecate:

And, would you identify knowledge with “awareness”?

No. I can be aware of a guy pulling a rabbit out of a hat but know otherwise.
Is there a particular point that you're trying to make or position you're trying to advance?

Los, yes, I’ll probably have a position, but I decided to start this reasoning from its root, assuming I don’t have any previous knowledge about the subject myself. So I need to have a clear view of your position on the basics first, and then I need to spend much time (which I don’t have right now) to write the whole thing down (English is not my mother language, remember?) 😉

Thank you for your time
Hecate


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ianrons
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19/03/2010 5:14 pm  

Erwin and Los,

I have read your four replies to my original post, which seem to re-state your case without addressing my central point head-on, and which don't offer any rebuttal to it. Therefore, I would like to get straight back to that central point, which is strengthened following Erwin's clarification of his own argument. The other issues you've touched on are of secondary importance, but for form's sake I would of course be willing to answer them all in a very long-winded post, if pressed.

OK. When you associate the impression of a cat with the idea of a cat, this process is just one part of the reasoning process that identifies it as a mammal, an animal, a lifeform, and so on till we run into difficulties – and it is not even the first step in that process, since obviously you don't immediately and magically think "cat": earlier stages are perhaps "furry thing" and "quadruped". So you are already involved in this process when you make the identification of a cat, and it is a rational process as now admitted; but at what point, do you think, does this process become invalid? Or, to be more precise, in what way is the rational process that made the identification "furry thing, quadruped, cat" superior to the rational process that leads on from there, and shows us (perhaps by some subtly different form of reasoning) that we can't ever know anything absolutely? How is one valid, and the other not?

To this, Erwin has merely referred to the apparent strength of an "inbuilt evolved faculty for drawing associations", suggesting it develops into "some kind of reason [...] based on consistent extrapolation from evidence", and declining to respond to the question of why this rational process is consistent and valid, and the other – which goes on from the evidence of "cat" to reach the conclusion that knowledge is bunk – is different in an important, and invalidating, way. It is this question which needs answering, and which is at the heart of the matter.

And just to clarify my own position, since there have been some false assumptions made here: the realisation that things are ultimately unknowable obviously does not force us to lose the earlier identification of the cat, or any other concepts we may have about the world; nor does it lead us to make demonstrably false assertions, such as that the world is flat. In fact, it brings an important form of self-realisation about our limited understanding of the world, though perhaps it's of less general utility than empirical science; and this is why I find any objection to it – or indeed to any of the many astonishing conclusions we may reach using the intellect – to be a form of anti-intellectual pedagogy.

Ian

P.S. Meow, Turing, meow!


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the_real_simon_iff
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19/03/2010 5:24 pm  

Los, Erwin, 93!

Maybe it is the language barrier, but I really can't imagine a reason why you are constantly thinking of unicorns or spiders when someone is not agreeing about "your" theories. It's probably easier to ridicule me than to at least try to hear what I say. The thread is "Crowley and Knowledge". Crowley and numerous other people have found out that ultimate knowledge is impossible. You say so yourself, 100% knowledge does not exist. It is clear, and nobody (including me) denies it, that we don't need ultimate knowledge to function in this world. "Your" everyday knowledge is sufficient to know a cat from a stick, as you say, I agree (I have some objections on how much belief is necessary for "your" knowledge, but since this word seems to translate to unicorns and spiders to you, I will shut up on that). I never said it (or a discussion about it) is meaningless, but when it comes to Crowley one will also think of "Knowledge of the HGA", of the "True Will" and other uncommon-knowledge stuff. So, I wonder, is there a possibility that it is helpful, even essential to go beyond that materialistic view of knowledge? How would everyday knowledge help one identify a "True Will" or an "HGA", when they cannot be identified by that common knowledge? And wouldn't it be helpful for discussion if you consider the possibility that not everyone who is thinking about "ultimate" knowledge is a complete nutcase or agrees with the guy who said he is not interested in knowledge? So far I have not heard much more from "your side" than that common knowledge enables one to identify cats, and that occultists fight with demons in the streets and oh, of course, that you despise the former. Crowley says that "trances are destroyers of knowledge", meaning common, everyday, sound knowledge. But what kind of knowledge is then left?

Love=Law
Lutz


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