Crowley on Knowledg...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Crowley on Knowledge  

Page 2 / 5
  RSS

 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 6:14 pm  

Ian,

We can make this one quick.

"ianrons" wrote:
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.

Please consider yourself so pressed. If you ask me to address what you claim to be your "central point" in order to permit you to make a "comprehensive response", and I take the time to do so, thoroughly, then as you should know full well the etiquette of debate requires you to respond to that, not to ignore it and to blithely dismiss it as being "of secondary importance".

Not least because, as it turns out, your latest response reveals that you have still not grasped the fundamental distinction which I very clearly pointed out to you in the response to your "central point" which you specifically asked me to give to you. Until you address that response, further discussion on the matter is going to be futile, because my entire position is based on the idea conveyed in that response and communication with you on the matter will be impossible until you have comprehended it, regardless of whether or not you agree with it. Until you understand that position, all the conclusions you are attempting to draw will be invalid.

All you have done in this latest post of yours is to reiterate the very same question that I responded to in detail in the reply that you specifically asked me to give, so you're going to need to start there.

"ianrons" wrote:
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?

And here's the demonstration. You are still under the impression that I am comparing two rational processes and saying that one is superior to the other. I am not, and I specifically explained to you precisely why I am not, in the detailed response that you specifically asked me to give. Your assertion that I am "declining to respond to the question of why this rational process is consistent and valid" is demonstrably false and dishonest, and greatly detrimental to your credibility.

So, I must insist that in order for this discussion to continue, you must address - point by point - the response you specifically requested.


ReplyQuote
ianrons
(@ianrons)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
19/03/2010 6:23 pm  
"Erwin" wrote:
You are still under the impression that I am comparing two rational processes and saying that one is superior to the other. I am not

So, to clarify, before I respond fully to this and your secondary points tomorrow, are you saying that we are talking about a single rational process?


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
19/03/2010 6:23 pm  

Ian:

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?

The one thing is a real thing, the process of recognition, of matching characteristics to the idea we've abstracted from reality. We have evidence that it exists and that it yields useful results.

The other thing is a word game that demonstrates only that language can be turned into a circular dance. It has nothing to do with knowing things in the sense that Erwin or I are talking about.

To go back to my analogy: how is your ability to move your arm "superior" to my argument that it's impossible to move?

One's real and based on observations of reality. The other is just a word game that has nothing to do with reality.

A question for you: do you know that "knowledge is bunk"? If yes, then you invalidate that conclusion. If no, then you don't know it at all and you don't have a claim to make.

Lutz:

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?

See, this is a big part of the problem. Once you start down the path of "gee, nobody knows anything!" then it becomes impossible to know anything about any subjects, even the central concepts of Thelema.

Once you deem it impossible to know anything about the central concepts of Thelema, then you reduce Thelema to meaningless nonsense.

For example, here's a statement: "To discover the true will, it is necessary to identify and remove restrictions of the mind that obstruct it."

Here's another: "To discover the true will, it is necessary to invoke a spirit and ask it questions."

Here's a third: "To discover the true will, it is necessary to bang rocks against each other for sixteen hours a day, every day, for a week."

Which of the above is true? If you're seriously going to assert that no one can know anything at all about the will -- nevermind asserting that no one can know whether spirits are real or not -- then Thelema is utterly and completely meaningless.

Some people, luckily, do think it's possible to know things about the central concepts of Thelema and that Thelema, therefore, comprises an actual philosophy that is useful.

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?

By means of extreme examples, Erwin and I are pointing out the implications of the position that knowledge is impossible.
If you think that knowledge is impossible, then on what grounds could you possibly say that the theory of gravity is more likely to be true than the theory that unicorns rule the galaxy? That's a serious question.

Saying that the theory of gravity is more likely to be true is no problem for someone who has knowledge. But for someone who doesn't think that knowledge is possible, the question becomes significantly harder.

Now, if your response is, "But that's not the kind of knowledge I'm talking about!" then you're on the right track. The "kind of knowledge you're talking about" doesn't exist; it's an imagination that you're trying to use in an invalid way.

alrah:

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

Otherwise it's all Maya.

No one is denying that you can get into states of mind where it feels like there's no self. But as soon as you start using those states of mind to make claims about the universe ("This is the ultimate truth!"), you're right back to using reason to draw conclusions from evidence.

On what grounds do you claim that one state of mind is the "ultimate truth" and another is not? Since you just said that we can't know ultimate truth, you're going to have a hell of a time justifying your claim.

I'll be back later -- probably much later.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 6:44 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
So, to clarify, before I respond fully to this and your secondary points tomorrow,

Central points, not secondary points.

"ianrons" wrote:
are you saying that we are talking about a single rational process?

The singularity or otherwise of the rational process or processes is completely ingermane to my argument. In order to respond to my argument, it makes no difference whether you talk in terms of one process, or of two processes, or of two different types of the same process. My argument quite simply has nothing to do with this issue whatsoever.

I am not questioning (nor am I confirming, for the avoidance of doubt) the rigour or correctness of the rational process by which you are coming to your "knowledge is impossible" conclusion. If it helps, then I am, for the purposes of argument, happy to assume that the chain of reasoning you have used to form that conclusion is perfectly sound.

As an illustration of the difference which we discussed back in the Go-go-Godel thread. "If all cats are mammals, and all mammals are birds, then all cats are birds" is an example of a perfectly sound chain of reasoning. The conclusion that "all cats are birds", however, is an utterly false one, because the premises feeding into that rational process are at odds with the observed facts of the world. It is not the rational process that I am taking issue with, but the correctness of the conclusion, and by implication, the appropriateness of the inputs - that is, the inputs to your argument, not the inputs to humanity's rational faculty in general.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 7:34 pm  
"Los" wrote:
alrah:

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

Otherwise it's all Maya.

No one is denying that you can get into states of mind where it feels like there's no self. But as soon as you start using those states of mind to make claims about the universe ("This is the ultimate truth!"), you're right back to using reason to draw conclusions from evidence.

That's exactly right Los (except for the state of mind bit, but let it go). Whatever is said or claimed of ultimate truth, enlightenment, initiation into Tiphareth - call it what you will - it's always going to be conventional or relative truth that's pointing to ultimate truth - at best. You could also call conventional truth of this kind a lie. Crowley certainly did.

On what grounds do you claim that one state of mind is the "ultimate truth" and another is not? Since you just said that we can't know ultimate truth, you're going to have a hell of a time justifying your claim.

I haven't made claims about 'states of mind', and I don't think it's possible to justify ultimate truth with relative and conventional truth - which is the only sort available to communicate with.

I don't try and do 10 impossible things before breakfast either. 🙂


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 7:40 pm  

If knowledge is but just a word
And Magick mere illusion
We might as well listen to the birds
And avoid undue confusion.
But if knowledge is our share of truth
Magick our share of power
We must hunt them from the dawn of youth
Til evening's final hour


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
19/03/2010 8:11 pm  
"alrah" wrote:
Whatever is said or claimed of ultimate truth [...] it's always going to be conventional or relative truth that's pointing to ultimate truth - at best.

Is this statement something you know? And if it is, how did you come to that knowledge? [If it's not something you know, we can discount it]

Remember, you said earlier that you can't know ultimate truth, but here you are making claims about it, so apparently you can know ultimate truth -- or at least enough about it to make claims.


ReplyQuote
the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1836
19/03/2010 8:47 pm  

Los,

to answer a question How would everyday knowledge help one identify a "True Will" or an "HGA", with See, this is a big part of the problem. Once you start down the path of "gee, nobody knows anything!" then it becomes impossible to know anything about any subjects is evidence for extreme ignorance and I really suggest you don't get too excited over your crusade against occultists.

So, can you please spare me your condescending blurb and answer one simple question: Is it possible with what you define as knowledge to know one's True Will? That common, everyday knowledge you talk about all the time, which can be verified and rests on evidence. If so, please elaborate the verfying process. If not, does that mean it is not knowable? Or not knowable by common, ordinary knowledge?

And please, do not put something in my words again that isn't there, like I deem it impossible to know anything about the central concepts of Thelema, please answer only the question: True Will, knowable or not? Yes or no is sufficient - and indeed preferable. (Although a yes will result in question about the evidence for the answer)

Thanks
Love=Law
Lutz


ReplyQuote
ZIN
 ZIN
(@zin)
Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 82
19/03/2010 9:05 pm  

All this is much to do about "Nothing".

Epistemology! (or is it episs-temology?) Unless you're in a university studying philosophy and pondering that which is beyond the limits of human "knowledge" : Who knows & who cares? It doesn't matter. But, you may get lucky in a moment of epiphany.

This sums it up for me :
"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."
~ Edgar Allan Poe


ReplyQuote
mika
 mika
(@mika)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 360
19/03/2010 9:45 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Is it possible with what you define as knowledge to know one's True Will? That common, everyday knowledge you talk about all the time, which can be verified and rests on evidence.

The simple answer is, yes.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
If so, please elaborate the verfying process.

As Los accurately stated in the last paragraph of his first post in this thread, "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 [directly (my addition)], but it *is* capable of allowing us to come to reliable conclusions about the world around us." Once you are capable of arriving at those reliable conclusions, "observ[ing] the flaws in [your] reasoning" and recognizing "false conclusions about the world", then you become capable of determining that which is not real. You then use this ability to strip away all motivations that are not grounded in reality, after which your will is what remains.

Most people think in terms of "discovering one's will", which is tricky because will is not a thing that you can point to and define for all eternity (as in "my will is X" or "it is my will to be or do X"). Rather, will is what you do, in any given moment. Since it is dependent on the present moment, it can vary, that is, how your will manifests today in one situation may be different from how it manifests tomorrow, even in that same situation. It is a "fixed path" in that it is your essential nature, which is what it is. It's not a "fixed path" in the sense of being a constant, defined "thing" that descibes "who you are" or "how you shall act in any and all circumstances".

It may be more helpful to think in terms of discovering what is not one's will, which is a fairly straightforward process. Your "true will" is a reflection of your "essential nature", which in other words is basically how your natural tendencies manifest in reality. When you remove all motivations that are founded in fantasy or illusions about the world, then by default, the remaining motivations are founded in reality, thus are reflections of your true will. So don't worry about defining what your true will "is", just concern yourself with distinguishing between fantasy and reality (which is where reason comes into play), strip away the fantasy, and will is what remains.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 10:00 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"alrah" wrote:
Whatever is said or claimed of ultimate truth [...] it's always going to be conventional or relative truth that's pointing to ultimate truth - at best.

Is this statement something you know? And if it is, how did you come to that knowledge? [If it's not something you know, we can discount it]

Remember, you said earlier that you can't know ultimate truth, but here you are making claims about it, so apparently you can know ultimate truth -- or at least enough about it to make claims.

I've already said that "I don't think it's possible to justify ultimate truth with relative and conventional truth - which is the only sort available to communicate with."

I also said that relative and 'conventional truth' can be called a lie. All knowledge is relative - relatively true or relatively false.

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao, so let's agree that I'm lying eh? I'm not going to do any better than the thousands of people who have lied about it for thousands of years. heh. 😀


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 11:22 pm  

Erwin

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

No, all it demonstrates is that humans are capable of learning to function, use and communicate with Knowledge whilst recognizing that map is not territory and Knowledge is provisional and subject to change upon input of new data. Thomas Kuhn demonstrated in his analysis of the history of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that scientific progress is characterized more by ruptures and emergence of new paradigms, first deemed heretical and then becoming the dominant paradigm, rather than a steady linear progress that builds on discoveries of previous systems.

Seriously, a monkey can be trained to know 2 + 2 = 4, but what does that prove? How do you distinguish between real-world knowledge and purely mimetic behavior? When is a robot displaying sentience or programmed behavior? When is a parrot truly speaking or just parroting learned phrases?

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.

Your criticism of occultists is a straw man. Anyone of average intelligence and university education recognizes what I’m saying about Knowledge. In fact this a popular argument stemming back to the post-structuralists of the 60s and 70s and, prior to that, going back to the turn of the century when people began to take consciousness itself as an object of study and analyze it in relation to Language. To deny this and insist this “abject and contemptible idiotic stupor” is the domain of confused occultists is to deny a large segment of the university educated population and displays an egregious ignorance of the scientific and philosophical trends in the last 50 years. Seriously, you need to get out of your apt and experience the real world. Stroll down to Barnes & Noble and browse through any of the titles you find under language, consciousness, philosophy, science, neuro science, artificial intelligence.

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.

Sorry, but I’ve had this conversation with many people over the years. They had no problem understanding what I meant. These are intelligent, sane, fully functioning human beings. The last person I had this conversation with was a man from London, who never went to university, and he immediately grasped Crowley’s comments on the nature of Knowledge. Further note that I never said 2 + 2 = 4 is a “cosmic mystery”, but merely pointed out the fundamental unknown value underpinning and permeating the entire system, which can never be grasped by knowing more "right" answers to more equations. A hamster can run as fast as it wants on a treadmill, it’s not going anywhere.

No, as far as I'm concerned, the only mystery here is why you remain interested in Crowley and have a forum devoted to his writings despite much of his life’s work contradicting your views on occultism. I can only presume you're being disingenuous with your comments and that somewhere along your research into Crowley and occultism you have an insight that frightened you and keeps drawing you back to the topic instead of moving on with your life and doing something productive – like, say, gardening. Whatever the case may be, your heavy insistence on real-world knowledge and trashing subjective speculations, even stating that to do so is wrong (“occultists have managed to confuse themselves into just this kind of abject and contemptible idiotic stupor”), speaks volumes about your attainment. I’m fairly certain you’ve never bothered to work with Liber O in any serious manner or discovered your True Will.

On a last note, there's a lot of distortion of information going on in this thread with regards to Crowley's comments in Little Essays. Crowley acknowledges the assertion that "Knowledge is a false idea" represents a form of knowledge, but in a negative form.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
19/03/2010 11:29 pm  

Edit:

...you had an insight...


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 12:09 am  
"tai" wrote:
Erwin

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

No,

See? There you are again, denying that we know 2 + 2 = 4. There's little more that needs to be said, except to observe that that...

"tai" wrote:
all it demonstrates is that humans are capable of learning to function,

...it turns out you can't even deny knowledge consistently, since now you're asserting that we know that humans are capable of learning to function. You're all over the place, as usual. You can't keep your story straight from one sentence to the next. Not even within the same sentence, in this case.

"tai" wrote:
Anyone of average intelligence and university education recognizes...

...that they can and do know things. If they didn't, they wouldn't have "average intelligence", and couldn't sensibly be said to have had an "education". See? There's no way out of this for you. Even you don't believe the gibberish you're coming out with.

It takes people of exceptional stupidity and gullibility with a highly developed ability to stubbornly ignore - i.e. to "occult" - facts to seriously convince themselves that they don't know anything.

"tai" wrote:
your heavy insistence on real-world knowledge...

Perish the thought anyone should strive for "real-world knowledge"! Then you might have to stop believing in all the silly shit that you believe in. As you occultists continually demonstrate, striving for "fantasy-world knowledge" is clearly more praiseworthy, right? Or is even fantasy-world knowledge off-limits to you people?

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

"tai" wrote:
...speaks volumes about your attainment.

Yes, it really does.

Now why don't you run along and babble your inane nonsense at someone who's interested in it?


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 12:11 am  

Greetings Los!

I think it would be interesting to play this game and try to take the story from the beginning…

I’ll pretend that I’ve just been born and I know nothing about the way humans think (I don’t need to try too hard about it actually 🙂 ), although Reason is probably an inherent element/quality of mine, since I am one of the billions of human DNA’s manifestations, so that I do reason even if I am not aware of that every moment.

I guess we don’t need to examine this moment if a new born infant’s mind is a tabula rasa or not –this would make things more complicated. The reason I use the new born analogy though, is only to help myself stay as open minded as possible.

The input

There are several portals in the apparatus of my body -my sensory organs - which allow me (as a core Intelligence) to feel the world around me while plenty of information rushes in through those sensory organs. The stimuli will end in my brain as a bio-chemical/electric signal, which starts a long series of interactions between the brain cells at first and later between the brain cells and the rest of the body.

Let’s call these stimuli “data” and/or “information”.

I read in wikipedia:

“In its most restricted technical meaning, information is an ordered sequence of symbols.
The English word was apparently derived from the Latin accusative form (informationem) of the nominative (informatio): this noun is in its turn derived from the verb "informare" (to inform) in the sense of "to give form to the mind".

Often information is viewed as a type of input to an organism or designed device. Inputs are of two kinds. Some inputs are important to the function of the organism (for example, food) or device (energy) by themselves. In his book Sensory Ecology, Dusenbery called these causal inputs. Other inputs (information) are important only because they are associated with causal inputs and can be used to predict the occurrence of a causal input at a later time (and perhaps another place). Some information is important because of association with other information but eventually there must be a connection to a causal input.”

And:

“The term data means groups of information that represent the qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables.”

Perhaps at this point I must decide if I wish to include other types of stimuli as well, which are not directly connected with the outer environment (at least not in such an obvious way that would make it possible to detect their source). I’d wish to include those stimuli so or else, given that a great part of them probably comes as a feedback both from the bio-chemical reactions that were caused from the outer stimuli and the process of reasoning itself.

At this point, I’d like to ask: do you think that the reasoning itself can be the counterpart of the biochemical interactions on the mental plane?

This is already a long post and I think I should stop here to listen to any ideas and/or objections you would like to share and integrate them in this body of thought before I move on to examine the process.

Regards
Hecate

PS:
I don’t have any particular line of thought in mind and I don’t wish to take the discussion to a specific end either. I’m just trying to take some clearly defined steps and integrate as many opinions as possible, in order to comprehend the subject myself. So your input would be much appreciated, suffice it is well defined and related to the specific steps (in this case, “the input”)


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 2:15 am  

See? There you are again, denying that we know 2 + 2 = 4. There's little more that needs to be said, except to observe that that...

tai wrote:
all it demonstrates is that humans are capable of learning to function,

...it turns out you can't even deny knowledge consistently, since now you're asserting that we know that humans are capable of learning to function. You're all over the place, as usual. You can't keep your story straight from one sentence to the next. Not even within the same sentence, in this case.

You are such a clown. The only person “all over the place” is yourself, who can’t even follow a train of thought. Reread my comments and scrutinize the parts you left out. A monkey “knows” 2+2=4. Until the goal post is moved. Whereupon it discovers that 2+2=1 produces the banana.

tai wrote:
Anyone of average intelligence and university education recognizes...

...that they can and do know things. If they didn't, they wouldn't have "average intelligence", and couldn't sensibly be said to have had an "education". See? There's no way out of this for you. Even you don't believe the gibberish you're coming out with.

That's because you're putting gibberish into my mouth. Your failure to understand my comments, your willful and distorted citation of them, and your fallacious conclusions, displays an inability to think straight and comment accordingly. You’re getting close to 2+2=1 territory.

It takes people of exceptional stupidity and gullibility with a highly developed ability to stubbornly ignore - i.e. to "occult" - facts to seriously convince themselves that they don't know anything.

Perhaps you’re referring to yourself? Let me cite my comments once again and try to comprehend the words on the page:

it demonstrates is that humans are capable of learning to function, use and communicate with Knowledge whilst recognizing that map is not territory and Knowledge is provisional and subject to change upon input of new data.

tai wrote:
your heavy insistence on real-world knowledge...

Perish the thought anyone should strive for "real-world knowledge"!

I said “heavy insistence”. There’s nothing wrong with real-world knowledge. But when you’re on the forum of the Aleister Crowley Society, centered on a man who spent his life devoted to the occult, exploration of inner planes and magick, it’s a rather bizarre sight that whenever anyone mentions anything occult, they are immediately assaulted by you trashing them. Some find it amusing. I find it ridiculous and displays your ignorance of what Thelema is about. I get annoyed as anyone else when people talk about their experiences on the inner planes, but there's a difference between sharing this kind of subjective information, and recognizing the simple fact that Crowley's legacy was built on the occult and magick - see your comment below.

Then you might have to stop believing in all the silly shit that you believe in. As you occultists continually demonstrate, striving for "fantasy-world knowledge" is clearly more praiseworthy, right? Or is even fantasy-world knowledge off-limits to you people?

Like I said, I don’t even know why you bother with Crowley. Magick obviously has no reality for you. Your comments attest to your mediocrity and pretensions to authority. At least you had the honesty to remove that 8=3 grade from your previous avatar. I used to think Crowley was a pretentious fraud until I actually carried out his instructions he left behind and witnessed the unbelievable results.

tai wrote:
...speaks volumes about your attainment.

Yes, it really does.

Yes, but not in the way you imagine.


ReplyQuote
Horemakhet
(@horemakhet)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 525
20/03/2010 2:40 am  

Unlike the 93 thread, wherein Ian lost all patience after defending a newbie from instant 'attack';- in this thread we see the newly constituted tagteam of E & L, showing the same acidic behaviour, while the rest of the membership shows patience, & fortitude. E & L continue to misrepresent the ideas of others; & continue to provoke through comments that some people here are insane, & deny "real world knowledge", which neither Ian, Iff, or Tai have done.I like the trick where E suddenly plays the defensive part, as he deals a few swift character stabs . .


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 2:49 am  
"tai" wrote:
Like I said, I don’t even know why you...

Like I said, take your silly babble to someone who cares about it.


ReplyQuote
Horemakhet
(@horemakhet)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 525
20/03/2010 3:00 am  

. . Yikes!- sorry about the multiple entries of the same post. Too late to change once I noticed~~~ I wanted to add how fitting I found it that Los would bring up the supposed foible of Einstein, as he was a great scientist who championed 'imagination'. Perhaps he was not "peer reviewed" with enough frequency?


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 3:02 am  
"Erwin" wrote:
Like I said, take your silly babble to someone who cares about it.

I suppose your HGA told you to say that eh? That was really inspired.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 5:36 am  

...From the above it will be understood how it comes that there are no Trances of Knowledge; and this bids us enquire into the tradition of the Grimoires that all knowledge is miraculously attainable. The answer is that, while all Trances are Destroyers of Knowledge -- since, for one thing, they all destroy the sense of Duality --they yet put into their Adept the means of knowledge. We may regard rational apprehension as a projection of Truth in dualistic form; so that he who possesses any given Truth has only to symbolise its image in the form of Knowledge.

This conception is difficult; an illustration may clear its view. an architect can indicate the general characteristics of a building on paper by means of two drawings -- a ground plan and an elevation. Neither but is false in nearly every respect; each is partial, each lacks depth, and so on. And yet, in combination, they do represent to the trained imagination what the building actually is; also, "illusions" as they are, no other illusions will serve the mind to discover the truth which they intend.

This is the reality hidden in all the illusions of the intellect; and this is the basis of the necessity for the Aspirant of having his knowledge accurate and adequate.

The common Mystic affects to despise Science as "illusion": this is the most fatal of all errors. For the instruments with which he works are all of this very order of "illusory things." We know that lenses distort images; but for all that, we can acquire information about distant objects which proves correct when the lens is constructed according to certain "illusory" principles and not by arbitrary caprice. The Mystic of this kind is generally recognized by men as a proud fool; he knows the fact, and is hardened in his presumption and arrogance. One finds him goaded by his subconscious shame to active attacks on Science; he gloats upon the apparent errors of calculation which constantly occur, not at all understanding the self-imposed limitations of validity of statement which are always implied; in short, he comes at last to abandon his own postulates, and takes refuge in the hermit-crab-carapace of the theologian.

But, on the other hand, to him who has firmly founded his rational thinking on sound principles, who has acquired deep comprehension of one fundamental science, and made proper paths between it and its germans which he understands only in general, who has, finally, secured the whole of this structure by penetrating through the appropriate Trances to the Neschamic Truths of which it is the rightly-ordered projection in the Ruach, to him the field of Knowledge, thus well-ploughed, well-sown, well fertilized, well left to ripen; is ready for him to reap. The man who truly understands the underlying formulae of one root-subject can easily extend his apprehension to the boughs, leaves, flowers, and fruit; and it is in this sense that the mediaeval masters of Magick were justified in claiming that by the evocation of a given Daimon the worthy Octinomos might acquire the perfect knowledge of all sciences, speak with all tongues, command the love of all, or otherwise deal with all Nature as from the standpoint of its Maker. Crude are those credulous or critical who thought of the Evocation as the work of an hour or a week!

And the gain thereof to the Adept? Not the pure gold, certes, nor the Stone of the Philosophers! But yet a very virtuous weapon of much use on the Way; also, a mighty comfort to the human side of him; for the sweet fruit that hangs upon the Tree that makes men Gods is just this sun-ripe and soft-bloom-veiled globe of Knowledge.

- AC on Knowledge
Little Essays Towards Truth

Knowledge as discourse plays the field of difference - where to compare or contrast presupposes opposition. What of Knowledge beyond duality?


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 5:58 am  

Greetings!

"Horemakhet" wrote:
Unlike the 93 thread, wherein Ian lost all patience after defending a newbie from instant 'attack';- in this thread we see the newly constituted tagteam of E & L, showing the same acidic behaviour, while the rest of the membership shows patience, & fortitude. E & L continue to misrepresent the ideas of others; & continue to provoke through comments that some people here are insane, & deny "real world knowledge", which neither Ian, Iff, or Tai have done.I like the trick where E suddenly plays the defensive part, as he deals a few swift character stabs . .

I'm sorry to say that, but since the last incident between I and E, I carefully skip their posts, and although it's not always easy to understand the answers of the rest ones quoting them, this saves me from much stress and dizziness. I plan to keep it for a while, until I don't hear people complaining about their behaviour -I only hope I won't have to do the same with any others too...

Regards
Hecate


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
20/03/2010 6:22 am  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Is it possible with what you define as knowledge to know one's True Will? That common, everyday knowledge you talk about all the time, which can be verified and rests on evidence. If so, please elaborate the verfying process.

Mika already addressed this quite well, but I'll give you my own version of the answer.

Yes, it's possible to know that the true will exists and to know ways to discover it -- if we couldn't know these things, we wouldn't be able to discuss true will or base a philosophy around it and Thelema would be completely pointless.

The true will (I'll call it "will" from now on, to save myself the extra typing) is the label we put on the dynamic aspect of the self -- i.e. the way the self naturally reacts to the environment. We have a lot of evidence that people can make decisions that they sometimes later discover are at odds with the way that their self reacts to the environment (observe the commonplace phenomenon of talking yourself into thinking that you want something and later realizing that you don't really want it at all). People can furthermore make decisions that create internal conflict (for example, denying some part of their self on "moral" grounds) and can realize that they have long misunderstood some aspect of themselves. Experiences of these sort are common, and testimonies of these sort are also common.

In other words, we have a lot of good evidence that people can restrict the dynamic aspect of themselves in ways that produce results that they do not like.

So we develop a model for explaining this process of restriction. In short, it's possible for a person to misunderstand his/her nature, the environment, or both. By identifying and removing restrictions, an individual discovers the will (the etymology of "discover" literally means "to uncover," to remove the covering from...remeber, the Khabs is in the Khu...the task is to uncover it).

So yes, we can and do have knowledge, in the real world, everyday sense, of what the will is and how we can discover it.

The position that you and some others are advocating implies that we cannot know anything about the will, and this position is not only self defeating (do you *know* that you don't know anything? if you do, then you know at least one thing, invalidating your claim), it reduces Thelema -- and all other serious subjects of study -- to meaningless nonsense.

I'm not trying to be "condescending" -- I'm just pointing out the implications of your position.


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
20/03/2010 6:31 am  
"alrah" wrote:
I've already said that "I don't think it's possible to justify ultimate truth with relative and conventional truth - which is the only sort available to communicate with."

And I'll ask again: is this something that you know? If it's not, then we're done with the conversation. If it is, then the question becomes *how* you know this. We're back to evidence and reason and all that good stuff.

Hecate:

do you think that the reasoning itself can be the counterpart of the biochemical interactions on the mental plane?

I think it's most likely that all actions of the mind are rooted in biochemistry. If someone wants to argue otherwise, that person had better have some pretty compelling evidence (and be ready to win a nobel prize for his/her discovery).

Horemakhet:

I wanted to add how fitting I found it that Los would bring up the supposed foible of Einstein, as he was a great scientist who championed 'imagination'. Perhaps he was not "peer reviewed" with enough frequency?

It was Erwin who cited Einstein. But anyway, the point here is that Einstein didn't use "imagination" as the basis for his conclusions about the universe. His conclusions -- which were based on evidence -- were peer-reviewed just fine.

Maybe it needs to be explicitly said: no one here is attacking imagination. All that anyone has said is that conclusions about the universe made on the basis of the imagination are not anywhere near as likely to be true as conclusions about the universe made on the basis of evidence.

That's why we have different words ("fantasy" and "knowlegde") to distinguish them.


ReplyQuote
HG
 HG
(@hg)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 96
20/03/2010 6:54 am  
"Horemakhet" wrote:
I wanted to add how fitting I found it that Los would bring up the supposed foible of Einstein, as he was a great scientist who championed 'imagination'. Perhaps he was not "peer reviewed" with enough frequency?

(A minor point: Erwin, not Los.)

Einstein never did submit his "He does not play dice with the universe" idea to peer review. He knew that "an inner voice told me" would never be accepted as verifiable evidence.

Einstein was a great thinker who accomplished great things. But that does not mean every single idea that came into his mind was true and golden, no matter how convincing it felt. And he knew it. That's why he worked hard to verify his theories before publishing them.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 11:13 am  

Greetings!

"Hecate" wrote:
I'm sorry to say that, but since the last incident between I and E, I carefully skip their posts, and although it's not always easy to understand the answers of the rest ones quoting them, this saves me from much stress and dizziness. I plan to keep it for a while, until I don't hear people complaining about their behaviour -I only hope I won't have to do the same with any others too…

Well, Ian and I just had an enlightening chat, so I’m happy to say that we’ll be playing together in the forums again! 😀

Regards
Hecate


ReplyQuote
the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1836
20/03/2010 12:19 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I'm not trying to be "condescending" -- I'm just pointing out the implications of your position.

I never stated any position, but was discussing the implications of your positions. You seem pretty confident to be totally correct with your position, I am not so sure. How a little scepticism is equivalent with ideas about spiders or whatever ruling the world, is simply beyond me (not really).

Anyway, thanks for your answer. Although you say simple common everyday knowledge is enough to know your true will (or better: to know what's not your true will), I would conclude from your answer, that it is some other form of knowledge, because it is a knowledge that can only be known by you alone and depends totally on your honesty or what you believe is hindering your true will. Anecdotes of how people realized they have found out that they always wanted something completely different from what they where after are indeed common, but you can deduct from that fact equally easily that they haven't followed some universal plan. There is absolutely no way for a neutral observer to find or check any evidence that will in any way confirm your knowledge and make it common everyday knowledge, aside from trusting what you say is true or observing that you seem to be happy or unhindered somehow or that some mysterious dislike for spinache is now finally cleared up. So I don't think this is the same knowledge that identifies cats and how to treat them. Any ideas from your side?

The knowledge of the HGA (from which your will is the dynamic aspect): everyday knowledge that could be supported by objective and mesurable data or private knowledge?

Love=Law
Lutz


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
20/03/2010 3:43 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I would conclude from your answer, that it is some other form of knowledge, because it is a knowledge that can only be known by you alone and depends totally on your honesty or what you believe is hindering your true will.

Well, I'm still drawing conclusions from evidence. The fact that only one person can ever observe the evidence (me) doesn't mean that I can believe absolutely anything about myself. For example, from the evidence I've gathered, observing myself in a number of situations, I can pretty confidently conclude that playing ice hockey is not part of my true will -- at least not now or in the forseeable future. I would feel comfortable labeling that knowledge, based on a rational extrapolation of observed evidence.

Just to note, I'm using "everyday knowledge" to mean "conclusions drawn from evidence."

Anecdotes of how people realized they have found out that they always wanted something completely different from what they where after are indeed common, but you can deduct from that fact equally easily that they haven't followed some universal plan.

You really can't. The conclusion that invovles constructing a model whereby the self is frustrated not only accounts for all the evidence, it only presumes things that we know exist (like, for example, an individual and the tendencies of the individual). A conclusion that presumes the existence of a universal plan makes an unnecessary and unprovable assumption.

And the idea of a cosmic plan is actually more than unprovable -- it's improbably, as we know (we have evidence) that complex things arise from simple things. To assert that there is some complex, disembodied intelligence that set a "cosmic plan" is to assert something in contradiction to all observed evidence, making the conclusion you suggest a particularly bad one.


ReplyQuote
the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1836
20/03/2010 4:23 pm  

Los, 93. Thanks for the answer.

"Los" wrote:
The fact that only one person can ever observe the evidence (me) doesn't mean that I can believe absolutely anything about myself.

Well, of course you can. It is just between your mind and you, so it depends on your preferences, honesty, intelligence and what not. You are interpreting consciously the influences of the outside world on your mind. (And you can easily be in error with that. I don't think that this is the same knowledge as "this is a cat") That's absolutely okay, but that does nearly everybody.

"Los" wrote:
Just to note, I'm using "everyday knowledge" to mean "conclusions drawn from evidence.""

And also just to note, you alone are drawing these conclusions based on evidence you alone experienced and interpreted, and there is no common ground of interpretation standards except your own. You might only be too clumsy to play icehockey (I'm not saying you are).

"Los" wrote:
A conclusion that presumes the existence of a universal plan makes an unnecessary and unprovable assumption.

In your worldview, yes. But there are many other conclusions to draw by those anecdotes. Maybe simple moodswings. It's not really evidential for the existence of the "True Will" you speak of. Anyhow, it's not a matter that I advocated a cosmic plan (which I didn't), I wanted merely to note that the conclusion "the true will exists" drawn from the mentioned anecdotes is not the only logical step, if logical at all.

Any ideas about the kind of knowledge of the HGA?

Love=LAw
Lutz


ReplyQuote
Palamedes
(@palamedes)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 450
20/03/2010 4:31 pm  

If I could interrupt the discussion for might be a slight digression: I've always considered that it is much more important - and difficult - to do one's Will, as opposed to find it. After all, the Good Book urges "Do what thou wilt," and not "Spend your life investigating with either rational or intuitive methods what your Will is and if you are still sane and healthy and not to old to bother anymore, consider the possibility of actually doing it." Of course, one cannot completely divorce knowledge and action, and acting in itself is a mode of knowing, as the knowing is an aspect of doing, but in simple terms, I think that the trick is to do it, not exactly to know it. I may be totally wrong, but I do consider - at least at the moment - all this search to discover who are what one is an instance of a wild goose chase.

(Let me also add that in order to do the thing, all methods of deriving knowledge are in my opinion valid, whether rational, mystical, or magical - if they yield result. A person has the right to do one's will and as such, he or she has the right to do even stupid things and to follow pipe's dream; after all, the 'true' will has no purpose so whether it coincides with the 'real' world or not is not an issue, right?. But you may persuade me against this last bit, if you press hard.)


ReplyQuote
Palamedes
(@palamedes)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 450
20/03/2010 4:35 pm  

P.S. An unspoken assumption in my above post is that we actually usually do know what is our will but not always have the courage or skill or some other means of doing it.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 5:04 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"alrah" wrote:
I've already said that "I don't think it's possible to justify ultimate truth with relative and conventional truth - which is the only sort available to communicate with."

And I'll ask again: is this something that you know? If it's not, then we're done with the conversation. If it is, then the question becomes *how* you know this. We're back to evidence and reason and all that good stuff.

Of course it's something I know! That's why it's useful information in terms of conventional truth, and also a lie.

So yes - we're back to evidence (no can do) and reason and logic and duality. And from the relative and conventional perspective it's all lies, so I can never 'prove' what I say to you in the same way I can prove to you that cat's are cats (there's a one!) or that pink unicorns don't exist. If you'd never seen a cat I couldn't prove they exist either.

I could say - "hey man - lot's of other people have seen cats", but if you only know what you experience and deny the shared experience of others because that implies 'believing' in something you've never seen - then I absolutely support your position. I don't think you should believe in anything you haven't experienced for yourself. To do so would be to disrepect your own experience of the world and your true will.

However - there's one thing. Keep an open mind? In your life you'll have dismissed the experiences of other because they don't correspond with your own life experiencs, but then later you 'get it'. Ride the road of the Pyrronic skeptic for all it's worth and I'll cheer you on, but don't lose your capacity for wonder and change mate.

Yeah - we're done. 🙂

Best Regard and Enjoy the Equinox!

Alrah.


ReplyQuote
ianrons
(@ianrons)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
20/03/2010 6:24 pm  

Erwin,

You have asked me to respond in detail to a number of points, and in doing so it has been impossible not to go over the same ground several times, but I think I have been able to make a number of useful observations. Please in your reply can you to try to be as concise as possible, since I simply do not have the time to provide anything more than brief replies after this. I have tried to be as generous in attempting to understand your position and represent it accurately as I hope you will be with mine.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I am certainly not appealing to “gut instinct”. In my first post I made a carefully reasoned argument against your position, which deals squarely with your contention that identifying a cat tells us about the “real world” whilst cognate philosophical conceptions do not, even though they involve apparently very similar (if not identical) rational processes.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I have not argued for the presence or absence of formal logic in the process which enables us to identify a cat. In fact, in my central argument I have merely described it as “a process of the intellect”, expressing a great deal of doubt about what this process is:

“Is this some type of reason, of the type used in philosophy ([Erwin] 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.”

I talk about this more later on, but my central argument is that the rational process which leads us to the paradoxes about knowledge proceeds from the same real-world observation, and uses possibly the same kind of rational process, and that it does provide us with useful information about the “real world” in that it shows us that knowledge cannot be absolute. We cannot draw too many conclusions from this, except that it opens the possibility that there may be other modes of apprehension (ones not based on logic or even “reason” in the Crowleyan sense) that are more absolute and therefore potentially more useful in the “real world”. My analogy between these modes of consciousness uses the “dream argument” as expressed in my first post. Therefore I think it highly arbitrary to assume that the knowledge paradox is not “real-worldly” or useful in the same way that being able to identify a cat is useful.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

This is a false dichotomy, and point (2) is simply a contradiction of the premise, which doesn’t logically follow, so really I only need to deal with (1).

As for point (1), this is based on semantics: you conflate my use of the term “knowledge” with your own. I make a distinction between knowledge as an absolute thing (there is no such beastie), and the ability of the mind to associate impressions with ideas (e.g., “that thing which I see is a cat”), which is what you mean here by the term “know”. I accept that we can associate impressions with ideas like “cat”, but this does not mean that I cannot go on from there to reach the conclusion that this act of mental association ultimately tells us nothing about reality absolutely, which does imply (in my use of the term) that you do not really “know” the cat, even if it can still scratch you.

I think perhaps you have misunderstood the thrust of my argument: where we disagree is principally on your basis for thinking this conclusion about knowledge is not sufficiently applicable to the “real world”, and as I later explain I think this has more to do with different interpretations of what conclusions we ought to allow from the knowledge paradox itself.

"Erwin" wrote:
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 are using the word “know” in two different senses, which confuses things and provides an apparent contradiction. You are using the term to refer both to the mental association process and absolute knowledge. For the purposes of clarity, it may be helpful to define our terms more precisely: when I say “knowledge”, I mean what is sometimes called absolute, or real or true knowledge, which I distinguish from mere mental associations of impressions with ideas (your “real world knowledge”). It does not follow that if we cannot have absolute knowledge, that we cannot (in the first place) form mental associations; this would be, as you clearly recognise, a contradiction. I think you have misunderstood my argument on this point: I accept both the ability to make mental associations and also the fundamental meaninglessness of that process in absolute terms.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I would put it more strongly than that, and say that one can only assert “I know the sky is blue” if one is not making any claims about the “ultimate nature” of sky, which would only be implied if they understood the word “know” in that ultimate sense (as I use the word), and not if they used the word in the sense you use it.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

This only depends on our understanding of the term “meaningful”. I completely agree that actual statements that people make do not have absolute support, nor can they ever. This is really an implication of my argument. However, yes of course people do make statements which they presume to be meaningful; but I would say that, ultimately, they are kidding themselves if they believe those statements tell us anything concrete about the universe absolutely, even if it helps people to interact with the universe. And again, I realise you do make this point yourself: you only insist that one shouldn’t worry about it, whereas I do worry about it and think it a great achievement of mankind to be able to recognise the limits of one’s own statements about the universe.

Whether this ought to affect our everyday life is really a matter of whether one thinks we are living in a dream-world and can wake up (and thus interact with the universe on a more fundamental level), which might make us want to do more pranayama; but this is a matter for each individual, since I do not think it possible to prove this rationally (nor have I asserted it), anymore than can one use dream-logic to prove the wake-world. The trouble, seemingly, is that the conclusion that all knowledge is non-absolute seems to lead us to a dead end, and does provide people (using the principle of explosion, or based on category errors) an excuse to make all sorts of silly statements with which we would both disagree.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

Indeed, I think people when they use the term in everyday life do not claim to have absolute knowledge. You say that a statement doesn’t have to go “arbitrarily deep [in a chain or map of associations]” in order to have meaning (in the non-absolute sense); and I think this is perfectly valid, but that the deeper and broader the mental ideas that can be stimulated when seeing a cat, the more meaningful that impression will be; but ultimately we realise (through a fairly simple and not-very-abstract train of thought) that we cannot reach the absolute this way, so therefore our statements can never have absolute meaning or represent absolute knowledge. But, as I say, I don’t think this is where we disagree at all.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

Well, this is largely semantics. If you were to say “we know absolutely what a cat is”, then yes you could attack that statement by trying to find out what that absolute knowledge was, and (not finding it) reach the conclusion that the statement is false. But again, I think there is no real disagreement here: where we disagree is whether the knowledge paradox is merely a fantastical notion, or whether it has validity in the “real world”.

"Erwin" wrote:
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

Indeed they are not, and in fact they cannot.

"Erwin" wrote:
so any inability to say "what the universe is" is irrelevant to the truth of that original statement.

Well this depends on what you mean by “truth”.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I think the argument that you could know or do anything if there weren’t a universe is a slightly bizarre one!

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

How does one generate the idea of “cat” when we see one, is it based on “a stack of assertions”, and is this process really any different to (or fundamentally superior to) the process that leads us to the knowledge paradox from the same observation of the world? I don’t think the idea “cat” appears magically, or that it is an a-rational process: in fact, we have been able to agree that some kind of rational process is involved. Certainly, it would seem that our idea of “cat” is dependent on some kind of map (i.e., a multidimensional chain) of associations that enable us to distinguish it from other mental ideas.

On some level in the brain, there must be a filtering process that operates and eventually lights up the part of the brain that contains the idea “cat”. This is actually observable, apparently, such that it’s possible to identify a part of the brain where, e.g., “Mickey Mouse” lives. And whilst logical processes may use a subtly different kind of “pattern matching”, how can we say that the filtering processes that enable us to stimulate the knowledge paradox idea in the brain, based on observation of the world, are any less valid than the ones that stimulate the idea “cat” from a similar observation? Or is the logical part of the brain so fundamentally abstract as to be able to tell us less about the world? But surely mathematical proofs – even highly abstract and apparently paradoxical ones – enable us to interact more effectively with the “real world”, and provide insights into it, just as does the ability to mentally distinguish between the ideas “cute kitten” and “ferocious tiger”.

Essentially, I don’t see any fundamental difference between what generates the two ideas – “cat” and the knowledge paradox – and have serious concerns about this apparently arbitrary attempt to apportion less real-world validity to some types of rational processes than others. And I don’t think it’s enough to say that one is apparently more abstract, because of the usefulness of maths. Perhaps an advanced species would immediately think of the knowledge paradox every time they looked at anything at all, so perhaps “bear in mind the knowledge paradox; furry animal; quadruped; cat” would be an example of their filtering process. And (going to town now) maybe the knowledge paradox could even be an expression of a more fundamental kind of awareness – such as a mystic might argue.

Note also that everything we think derives ultimtately from observation of the “real world”, so I don’t think there is much mileage in an argument based on the knowledge paradox being somehow not derived from the “real world”.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I don’t agree that my use of the term “knowledge” “does not coincide with real world usage” because of course I am in the real world too; but more cogently because I don’t see any case for thinking that the knowledge paradox is not a “real world” issue that has implications for us as human beings, certainly as a tool of self-realisation; just as “imaginary numbers” are necessary in the real world for calculating the properties of particles in physics.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

See my previous comment.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

You have misread my remark. I said “Erwin does state clearly his belief that reason is reliable, such as when commenting on his belief that Gödel ...” [Emphasis mine.] You have cited some of those comments yourself, showing that I interpreted you correctly. Perhaps it would have been better for me to quote your comments themselves, rather than refer to them obliquely; but this is a minor point, and certainly does not indicate an “egregious” misreading, or any kind of misreading, of what you said.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

I would say that your denial of the application of the knowledge paradox in the real world is rather woolly, but I think it’s because you disagree with the conclusions that some people draw from the knowledge paradox.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

What you are doing is (generally) admitting the logical consistency of the knowledge paradox argument per se, but denying it “real world” validity to it, whilst admitting “real world” validity to apparently similar mental processes which result in stimulating the mental idea “cat”. But I repeat myself.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

Well I’m sure it would be damning to my argument if you can demonstrate there is some kind of fantasy, or even fallacy, in there. The fact that we can stimulate a mental idea of “cat”, as well as stimulate the mental idea of the knowledge paradox, does not “demonstrate” in itself the validity or otherwise of either of them.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

See my previous comments.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

See my previous comments.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

I think you perhaps imagine that I am drawing invalid conclusions about your “real world knowledge” from the knowledge paradox. I am not saying that a cat won’t bite you if angry, simply that we don’t ultimately know a cat any more than we can know an ultimate god, and also that this indicates there may be other forms of apprehending the universe that are more absolute, just as in the dream argument. This is a real-world conclusion, relevant to “real world knowledge”, that I think has great importance.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

So what makes one form of reasoning more consistent (or more evidential) than another? Isn’t logic just as applicable to the “real world” as other forms of reasoning? Of course, if one link in the logical chain is invalid, that renders the whole thing invalid; but isn’t it also true that we can be wrong in other forms of reason, such as that which identifies “cat” when it should be “tiger” (suggesting there was a wrong link in the chain or map that led us there)? So both can be used badly; but essentially, I haven’t been able to find a good, cogent reason why the idea of the knowledge paradox is not a “real world” identification of an correct idea, just as the identification of the idea “cat” from an impression of one is correct in the “real world”.

"Erwin" wrote:
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.

We are arguing over semantics. I really do think that in the “real world” that "the mental power concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences" does not have absolute validity.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

In that we are in agreement.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

This is absolutely the central issue to this whole debate, and I ask once again for a response to this point that I have re-stated several times in this post. Just to clarify, so as to deal with your reason for not responding, when I say that you "forbid....using reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is" what I am saying (in context) is that although you do not deny that the knowledge paradox proof is sound in a philosophical or abstractly logical sense, you forbid it’s application to the “real world”, mainly deploring its use by people who make false associations. That is my understanding of your position.

Thinking about this a little more, it seems that the more fundamental disagreement between us is that you seem to deny the knowledge paradox any real-world validity because you conclude that, if allowed, it would imply a whole load of other stuff (like a flat earth) that would be false in the “real world”, and you hence infer that one or more of its premises must be wrong; whereas I am more cautious about what conclusions I would allow to be drawn from the knowledge paradox in the first place, and consequently don’t feel the need to argue that the premises of the knowledge paradox must be false. In this respect I would suggest that we are most likely to find agreement by considering the implications of the knowledge paradox (as I’ve done briefly in a couple of places above). If considered in this more limited way, and bearing in mind that I feel my investigations show there is not, as might have been supposed, a necessarily false premise lurking somewhere behind the knowledge paradox, then we may actually be able to find a good reconciliation which doesn’t admit the absurd inferences made by other people that I, too, find detestable.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

Your position in the essay was that the ability to count demonstrates that absolute knowledge is an irrelevant issue which has no bearing on the meaning of the statement “2 + 2 = 4”. I would argue that it does have bearing on it, even if we can still count. But see above.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

See above.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

Your position is that philosophy is, in this instance, irrelevant to the real world. I deny that, in that it gives us a very important insight into the nature of knowledge itself.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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".

Just because absolute knowledge is apparently not possible within our rational faculties of apprehension (though maybe it is in samadhi?), this doesn’t make the notion “strange” any more than the notion of a flawless blue diamond is “strange” or “misleading” because none have yet been found. In fact it is helpful, not misleading – if someone offers to sell you a flawless blue diamond, you know they’re lying; and similarly, if someone claims to rationally know something absolutely then you know they’re lying. This is a real-world implication of the knowledge paradox.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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.

Again, I don’t see how my concept of absolute knowledge derives any less from the real world, or is less applicable to the real world, than your concept of knowledge.

"Erwin" wrote:
"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".

See above.

"Erwin" wrote:
"ianrons" wrote:
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?

And here's the demonstration. You are still under the impression that I am comparing two rational processes and saying that one is superior to the other. I am not, and I specifically explained to you precisely why I am not, in the detailed response that you specifically asked me to give. Your assertion that I am "declining to respond to the question of why this rational process is consistent and valid" is demonstrably false and dishonest, and greatly detrimental to your credibility.

The singularity or otherwise of the rational process or processes is completely ingermane to my argument. In order to respond to my argument, it makes no difference whether you talk in terms of one process, or of two processes, or of two different types of the same process. My argument quite simply has nothing to do with this issue whatsoever.

See above. And I don’t know what makes you think I am “demonstrably false and dishonest”: I think I am being perfectly fair and reasonable, and I think the point I am making about whether we can adequately distinguish the “cat” process from the knowledge paradox process speaks directly to whether or not there is, indeed a false premise somewhere in the knowledge paradox. And again, I don’t think the knowledge paradox causes a necessary contradiction with the original “cat” identification; it simply puts clear limits on what that identification means in the “real world”.

"Erwin" wrote:
I am not questioning (nor am I confirming, for the avoidance of doubt) the rigour or correctness of the rational process by which you are coming to your "knowledge is impossible" conclusion. If it helps, then I am, for the purposes of argument, happy to assume that the chain of reasoning you have used to form that conclusion is perfectly sound.

If the identification of a cat is correct, and the philosophical argument that reasons from there by saying firstly “what is a cat?” is sound as a chain of reasoning from that point, and these two processes begin with the same input from the outside world (the cat), I doubt that there is a breach that renders one valid and the other not, or one less “real-worldly”. If there is a breach, then where is it, and where does the philosophical argument become a fantasy? If the chain of reasoning is internally sound, then surely you are suggesting that it must go wrong either at the beginning or at the end?

Additionally, as an aside: if the whole process that leads to the knowledge paradox is indeed flawed somewhere, then might this flaw not also exist in the process that leads to “cat”? It is not sufficient simply to say that because we can stimulate the idea of “cat” in a supposedly less complex or abstract way, that this is more “real-world” that the ability to stimulate the knowledge paradox idea.

"Erwin" wrote:
As an illustration of the difference which we discussed back in the Go-go-Godel thread. "If all cats are mammals, and all mammals are birds, then all cats are birds" is an example of a perfectly sound chain of reasoning. The conclusion that "all cats are birds", however, is an utterly false one, because the premises feeding into that rational process are at odds with the observed facts of the world. It is not the rational process that I am taking issue with, but the correctness of the conclusion, and by implication, the appropriateness of the inputs - that is, the inputs to your argument, not the inputs to humanity's rational faculty in general.

I am of course aware that it is possible to create thoughts (such as syllogisms) that are false in some sense, and which can be disproven by “observed facts”; but I am not aware of any “observed facts” that similarly disprove the knowledge paradox. Indeed, your rejection of the implications of it seems to be based not on “observed facts” but because of what you state the implications of it are.

Secondly, you talk about “inputs”. If there are inappropriate “inputs” into the knowledge paradox, what are they? And with this in mind, are you here implying (with reference to my previous comment) that the error comes somewhere before (not at the end) of the philosophical chain of reasoning, and presumably after the idea “cat” has been produced? I don’t believe I have found, in your arguments or in my investigations, a false premise, or any other way to falsify that rational process which leads to the knowledge paradox. At the same time, I am cautious about what conclusions can be drawn from the knowledge paradox, so I don’t think there need necessarily be a false premise to it.


ReplyQuote
ianrons
(@ianrons)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
20/03/2010 6:35 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"ianrons" wrote:
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?

The one thing is a real thing, the process of recognition, of matching characteristics to the idea we've abstracted from reality. We have evidence that it exists and that it yields useful results.

The other thing is a word game that demonstrates only that language can be turned into a circular dance. It has nothing to do with knowing things in the sense that Erwin or I are talking about.

I don't think "the process of recognition" of the idea "cat" is necessarily fundamentally different to the "process of recognition" that results in the knowledge paradox: both are, to a degree, abstract; and both involve words and concepts. Both are derived from "real world" observations. I invite you to find a crucial distinction between the two.

"Los" wrote:
To go back to my analogy: how is your ability to move your arm "superior" to my argument that it's impossible to move?

One's real and based on observations of reality. The other is just a word game that has nothing to do with reality.

The knowledge paradox is derived from observations of reality in just the same way as the idea "cat"; at least, there seems no cogent reason to think otherwise. Simply writing a false assertion does not disprove the knowledge paradox, any more than it can be used to disprove any concept in mathematics or other supposedly abstract forms of reasoning.

"Los" wrote:
A question for you: do you know that "knowledge is bunk"? If yes, then you invalidate that conclusion. If no, then you don't know it at all and you don't have a claim to make.

You are drawing a conclusion from the knowledge paradox that I would not support, and I think it's based on a failure to properly distinguish between terms. Let me rewrite that question: "Is absolute knowledge bunk?" To which I can answer yes, without invalidating any other kind of "knowledge" (e.g., making mental associations).


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 9:08 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Please in your reply can you to try to be as concise as possible,

I think we are finally now in a position to do this. Having clarified the terminology being used on both sides, I think we're down to one substantive area of difference, which I'll highlight in a moment. In order to do you the courtesy of responding to specific questions and points you raised, I'll be less brief than I otherwise could be, but if you end up sharing my conclusion that we're down to one point of disagreement then you needn't feel obliged to respond to any of the other points.

For convenience, the last paragraph of my response contains the essence of where I think we still disagree, although other parts of my response support it, so if you wanted to confine yourself to responding to something concise, that's what I'd suggest responding to.

"ianrons" wrote:
As for point (1), this is based on semantics: you conflate my use of the term “knowledge” with your own.

I observe that your use of the term "knowledge" is at odds with the accepted use of the term. I know that the kind of "knowledge" you are talking about is different to the kind of "knowledge" I am talking about, but I am asserting that the difference is extremely important, as is clear understanding of which sense we are employing the term.

I have no issue with a claim such as "ultimate knowledge is impossible", where "ultimate knowledge" is agreed as meaning the type of knowledge which "tells us...about reality absolutely" (at least insofar as "reality" refers to some deep physical truth; I can and have argued that perceptions are real, and that even if we can have no ultimate knowledge about what those perceptions represent or whether they are accurate perceptions of anything, we can indeed come into "direct contact with reality", even if we can only come into direct contact with a part of it, but that's wholly outside the scope of the present discussion). But, when people say things like "I know who the current prime minister of Great Britain is" they are not using the word "know" to imply the kind of "ultimate knowledge" of which you are speaking, which you acknowledge in your post. Thus, while we may be able to follow your chain of reasoning and legitimately conclude that "ultimate knowldege is impossible", we cannot conclude that "knowledge is impossible", because "knowledge", unqualified, in everyday language, does not mean "ultimate knowledge".

Now, you may want to portray this as "semantics", but there are cases where semantics is important, and if you do portray this as "semantics", then this is definitely one of those cases. At the heart of my objection, which you also note in your post, is that people - i.e. principally occultists - actually do draw the conclusion that "ultimate knowledge is impossible", and then go to falsely conflate that term with real-world knowledge and make the resulting and demonstrably false claim that "knowledge is impossible". Having discounted actual knowledge, they then go on to happily believe in goblins because they have convinced themselves, on the back of their skeptical inquiries, that such a belief is just as good as any other, which it's not, i.e. they "make all sorts of silly statements with which we would both disagree".

With the exception of the terminology, and with the exception of the one remaining substantive difference which I will describe below, my reading of your response is that you'd have no objection to any of the above.

"ianrons" wrote:
I think you have misunderstood my argument on this point: I accept both the ability to make mental associations and also the fundamental meaninglessness of that process in absolute terms....when I say “knowledge”, I mean what is sometimes called absolute, or real or true knowledge,

I have not misunderstood your argument - you have been clear on this point from the beginning. What I have been saying that what you describe as "ultimate knowledge" is not "knowledge" at all, and that therefore the claim "knowledge is impossible" is false, even if I can accept your claim that "ultimate knowledge", as you have defined it, is impossible.

It is worth pointing out, by the way, that plenty of philosophers don't accept the idea that "true knowledge" must tell us something about the "ultimate nature of the universe" either, or at least that it must be able to demonstrably tell us anything beyond doubt. Externalists such as Goldman are good examples, and particularly Dretske whose:

"If an animal inherits a perfectly reliable belief-generating mechanism, and it also inherits a disposition, everything being equal, to act on the basis of the belief so generated, what additional benefits are conferred by a justification that the beliefs are being produced in some reliable way? If there are no additional benefits, what good is this justification? Why should we insist that no one can have knowledge without it?"

from The Need to Know is not a million miles away from the kind of thing I've been saying here. Given that there are indeed even professional philosophers out there who do not require "knowledge" to tell us anything about the "nature of ultimate reality" I think you are not justified in insisting that the only kind of knowledge which warrants the terms "true" or "real" must be the kind of knowledge that tells us this (or doesn't, as it turns out). This fact is pertinent to the remaining difference which I shall shortly describe, so please keep it in mind for a few moments.

As I have pointed out I think it is very misleading to describe this type of "knowledge" - i.e. "absolute" knowledge or "ultimate" knowledge - as "real", or "true", when you acknowledge that it is the type of knowledge that nobody has. I am of the opinion that one should only apply terms such as "real" and "true" to things that actually exist, and if we apply them to things which we believe we have philosophically proven to not exist, then we are misusing language. Your "flawless blue diamond" example actually works in my favour: presumably you wouldn't attempt to speak of a "true flawless blue diamond" or a "real flawless blue diamond"?

"ianrons" wrote:
This only depends on our understanding of the term “meaningful”.

Well, that's a wholly separate argument which it is probably just as well to not get into at the current time.

"ianrons" wrote:
I completely agree that actual statements that people make do not have absolute support, nor can they ever. This is really an implication of my argument. However, yes of course people do make statements which they presume to be meaningful; but I would say that, ultimately, they are kidding themselves if they believe those statements tell us anything concrete about the universe absolutely, even if it helps people to interact with the universe. And again, I realise you do make this point yourself: you only insist that one shouldn’t worry about it, whereas I do worry about it and think it a great achievement of mankind to be able to recognise the limits of one’s own statements about the universe.

It's not so much that I insist one "shouldn't worry about it", as much as it is that I insist such inquiry has nothing to do with the kind of real-world knowledge which people "presume to be meaningful". I don't dispute that it might be a meaningful exercise in and of itself, but that it shouldn't cause people to have any difficulties with the real-world knowledge that they actually have. Again, this relates to what I consider to be our one remaining substantive difference, which I will describe below.

"ianrons" wrote:
that the deeper and broader the mental ideas that can be stimulated when seeing a cat, the more meaningful that impression will be

Again, relatively incidental to the argument at hand, but I would suggest that "stimulating....deeper and broader...mental ideas", of the kind that leads to complete skepticism, can - not that it necessarily always will - actually have the opposite effect, by distracting the observer away from the actual "impression" into a kind of dream world where only imagined ideas are processed, and not impressions at all. But the idea of what we mean by "meaning" is also important to this kind of notion.

"ianrons" wrote:
This is absolutely the central issue to this whole debate, and I ask once again for a response to this point that I have re-stated several times in this post. Just to clarify, so as to deal with your reason for not responding, when I say that you "forbid....using reason to analyse what knowledge-of-a-cat is" what I am saying (in context) is that although you do not deny that the knowledge paradox proof is sound in a philosophical or abstractly logical sense, you forbid it’s application to the “real world”, mainly deploring its use by people who make false associations. That is my understanding of your position.

It's not that I forbid its application to the "real world", but that I forbid its application to "real-world knowledge", since I assert that "real-world knowledge" does not entail any assertions as to the ultimate nature of reality, and hence cannot fall to any argument that it does not. In other words, the paradox in question simply applies to something else entirely than what I am calling "knowledge".

"ianrons" wrote:
Your position is that philosophy is, in this instance, irrelevant to the real world. I deny that, in that it gives us a very important insight into the nature of knowledge itself.

Again, it's not that philosophy is "irrelevant to the real world", but that this particular philosophical argument is not relevant to real-world knowledge, since it analyses a type of knowledge - i.e. what you call "ultimate knowledge" - which I assert is not the same type of knowledge that people actually have.

There is more on this below, but I think this is the one remaining substantive difference between us. I do not deny that the "knowledge paradox" is something that can be useful to think about, but I do continue to assert that it is meaningless to apply it to what I am calling "real-world knowledge", because that "real-world knowledge" does not contain the properties that the paradox addresses. You seem to be saying that it does, because "these two processes begin with the same input from the outside world (the cat), I doubt that there is a breach that renders one valid and the other not, or one less 'real-worldly'." I am asserting that they don't begin with the same input, or, at least, that input branches out in two directions, and the "two processes" begin at different branches.

I am saying that the "knowledge paradox" doesn't actually address the sensory input from the outside world; it addresses an idea of what knowledge is - i.e. the idea that knowledge, in order to be true, must address the "ultimate nature of reality" - and that it is the fact that it starts from that idea (even if that idea was itself preceded by the same sensory input) which makes it inapplicable to what I am calling "real-world knowledge", because "real-world knowledge" does not entail such an idea.

"ianrons" wrote:
Just because absolute knowledge is apparently not possible within our rational faculties of apprehension (though maybe it is in samadhi?),

Well, as an aside, since I assert that descriptive or propositional knowledge - and "truth", for that matter - is purely a creation of the rational faculty (however loosely defined), I assert that no such knowledge is possible when we temporarily shutdown that faculty in mystical states. The only type of knowledge possible in samadhi is "knowledge of", in the Biblical sense, and is hence entirely outside the scope of the present discussion.

"ianrons" wrote:
If there is a breach, then where is it, and where does the philosophical argument become a fantasy? If the chain of reasoning is internally sound, then surely you are suggesting that it must go wrong either at the beginning or at the end?

Yes, I am suggesting that it goes wrong at the beginning, i.e. that when you begin with the statement "what is a cat?" you are beginning with the assumption that it must, if it is to have meaning, contain some implication of the "ultimate reality of a cat", and that when you show that it does not, you declare it to be ultimately meaningless. I assert that it does not have to contain such an implication to have meaning, and that when people say such things they do not, in fact, make such an implication.

"ianrons" wrote:
Secondly, you talk about “inputs”. If there are inappropriate “inputs” into the knowledge paradox, what are they?

As per my previous response, the "input" in that example would be the statement "what is a cat?" That one statement may represent a variety of different inputs, even if we do not change the wording, i.e. one input could be the statement "what is a cat?" containing an implication of the "ultimate reality of a cat", and a second and entirely distinct input could be the statement "what is a cat?" which does not contain such an implication. Again, if you use the former input, and you come to the conclusion that "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible", this - despite perfect reasoning - is fundamentally incapable of telling you anything at all about whether "(real-world) knowledge is impossible", because you started with an input which was not an example of it.

Thus - "where does the philosophical argument become a fantasy?": by beginning with an idea of knowledge - as opposed to the physical stimulus of a cat, even if that physical stimulus precedes that idea of knowledge - which does not correspond with an idea of knowledge which reflects the actual knowledge people have. You seem to be saying that the knowledge paradox analyses "real world" input and so starts at the same place as any other type of analysis - I am saying that it analyses an idea, and that therefore it does not start at the same place as an analysis which begins at a different idea. That's probably about as clearly as I can describe what I see as our one remaining substantive difference, and it may well be one of those differences which philosophers argue about but seem destined to never agree on, so while I'm happy to continue to discuss it, I'm not going to insist on its resolution.


ReplyQuote
ianrons
(@ianrons)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
20/03/2010 9:38 pm  

Thanks for your reply -- I think I see where the problem lies, not so much to do with "impression-idea1-idea2" as "impression-idea1, impression-idea2"; and if you'd like to address this shorthand remark before I reply to your previous then you're welcome to do so; but we may be diverging from the biological in a way that is fundamentally alien to my empirical spirit, so it becomes rather tricky.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 9:44 pm  
"Erwin" wrote:
I am saying that the "knowledge paradox" doesn't actually address the sensory input from the outside world; it addresses an idea of what knowledge is - i.e. the idea that knowledge, in order to be true, must address the "ultimate nature of reality" - and that it is the fact that it starts from that idea (even if that idea was itself preceded by the same sensory input) which makes it inapplicable to what I am calling "real-world knowledge", because "real-world knowledge" does not entail such an idea.

On reflection, although it is clarified later in my response, this particular paragraph could have been clearer, and is important to the crux of our disagreement.

I am saying that any rational process of the type of which ends at the conclusion "knowledge (by whatever definition) is impossible" begins at an idea.

If you take a statement such as "I know a cat has four legs", I am saying that this statement can be transformed into (at least) two different ideas: one idea in which "know" implies "ultimately nature of reality" in some way, and one idea in which it does not. To simplify, "your" analysis begins with the former idea, and "my" analysis begins at the latter. Thus, even though they both ultimately begin with the statement "I know a cat has four legs", two distinct ideas are created from that statement, and the two analyses really begin at those ideas, and not at the original statement.

In this way, both analyses can follow perfect reasoning but come to different conclusions, because they don't really start at the same point, even if they ultimately start at the same point. I am saying that neither analysis can begin without an idea of knowledge being read into the original statement; i.e. that such an idea of knowledge in inseparable from that statement for the purposes of the analyses. In other words, before we can ask questions such as "what do we really know?" we must first have an idea of what we mean by "knowledge", and it is the fact that we can have different ideas of knowledge which causes me to assert the conclusion from an analysis which starts with one idea - that ends with "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" - cannot be legitimately applied or even contrasted with a conclusion from an analysis which starts with another, because they are not analysing the same thing.

As I understand your position, you are saying that they do analyse the same thing. The fact that I am saying that they don't is what I think is at the source of our remaining disagreement, and if we were looking for the type of "reconciliation" that you mentioned in your bolded paragraph, that's where I'd be inclined to start looking for it.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 9:46 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Thanks for your reply -- I think I see where the problem lies, not so much to do with "impression-idea1-idea2" as "impression-idea1, impression-idea2"

I composed my most recent clarification before seeing this.

I agree - I think you've identified exactly "where the problem lies". This is, in fewer words, exactly what I was trying to get across.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 9:51 pm  

So basically, gentlemen, you've went around the world and arrived at the same point as most other people do but in more words and with more divisions, additions, and multiplications! lol.

And they say I'm daft...;-)

Happy Equinox to you both.


ReplyQuote
ianrons
(@ianrons)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
20/03/2010 9:58 pm  

Cheers alrah, but you forgot to quote a philosopher to justify your blatantly arbitrary "Happy Equinox" remark. 😛

I shall get back to this thread tomorrow.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
20/03/2010 10:35 pm  

lol - justified...;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WRFJwGsbY


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 3:56 am  

Hi Yngwaz,

Knowledge as discourse plays the field of difference - where to compare or contrast presupposes opposition. What of Knowledge beyond duality?

Crowley’s description of knowledge beyond duality – i.e. “Neschamic conceptions” or intuitive perception - still contain aspects of subject/object. The reason for this is that intuition is located above intellect and Neschamic conceptions become filtered through the duality-conditioned intellect:

There is no final warrant that any two persons mean precisely the same thing by “sweet” or “high”; even such conceptions as those of number are perhaps only identical in relation to practical vulgar applications.

These and similar considerations lead to certain types of philosophical skepticism. Neschamic conceptions are nowise exempt from this criticism, for, even supposing them identical in any number of persons, their expression, being intellectual, will suffer the same stress as normal perceptions.

But none of this shakes, or even threatens, the Philosophy of Thelema. On the contrary, it may be called the Rock of its foundation. For the issue of all is evidently that all conceptions are necessarily unique because there can never be two identical points-of-view; and this corresponds with the facts; for there are points-of-view close kin, and thus there may be a superficial general agreement, as there is, which is found to be false on analysis, as has been shown.

(Little Essays, 61-62)

Hi Los,

I forgot to respond to your comment below.

tai wrote:
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.

The relation between a particular signifier [1] and its signified [an individual thing], though set by custom and habit, is in fact arbitrary. We don’t label a single individual thing as “1” because there is something inherent to “1” that signifies a “single individual thing”. That is, meaning does not arise from a self-evident signifier>signified correspondence, but rather from the structure or set of relationships in which a particular signifier is placed. 2=1+1, 3=2+1, 4=3+1, etc. But none of those numbers, in and of themselves, mean anything. It is in and through their structural relationship by which meaning is generated.

The arbitrariness of signifiers is seen in the following. Let’s assign the following values: @=1, $=2, %=3, U=4. If so, what is the answer to @ + $? You know the answer because you can follow the assigned values, which express a relationship, between the particular signifiers.

Now the value of all these numbers can be reduced down to 1, which expresses an unknown value in relation to 0. If you’ve been following my explanation so far, you should understand the signifier 1, in and of itself, is meaningless. That is, while 1 may be used to refer to “a single individual thing”, you cannot revert to “a single individual thing” to explain the value of 1 since signifiers are universals for signifying particulars in the real world. Now this unknown lying at the heart of the system is the structural center, which is the point both inside and outside the structure, and defined by Derrida as “a coherence in contradiction”. It’s another way of stating Crowley’s S=P formula.

More importantly, once you understand how 1 expresses an unknown value and how that unknown permeates the entire structure, you may start to understand why different people can discuss the same Tree of Life, but have very different conceptions of what any of it means.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 6:55 am  

Greetings!

"alrah" wrote:
So basically, gentlemen, you've went around the world and arrived at the same point as most other people do but in more words and with more divisions, additions, and multiplications! lol.

And they say I'm daft...;-)

Happy Equinox to you both.

Was it the Spirit of Equinox?

😛

Regards
Hecate


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 2:58 pm  

Ian,

I want to give some more consideration to a point you suggested several times in your detailed response. In doing so, I'm making it clear that I am departing from the scope of my original argument in this thread, which dealt purely with the notion that when we reason that "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" we are talking about a fundamentally different thing then we are when we reason that knowledge (in the sense that we know a dog has four legs) is possible. I acknowledge that you have not (yet, at least) agreed with that notion, but you have understood the basis upon which I am constructing it. That being the case, we can now extrapolate from that difference and take a look at what some some of the consequences might be, because I think they are relevant to an important point you make, and I think gets us closer to the type of "interesting discussion about epistemology" which I think you were alluding to in the other thread. I'll leave it up to you as to whether or not you wish to respond.

The point in question is this:

"ianrons" wrote:
We cannot draw too many conclusions from this, except that it opens the possibility that there may be other modes of apprehension (ones not based on logic or even “reason” in the Crowleyan sense) that are more absolute and therefore potentially more useful in the “real world”...And (going to town now) maybe the knowledge paradox could even be an expression of a more fundamental kind of awareness – such as a mystic might argue...I am not saying that a cat won’t bite you if angry, simply that we don’t ultimately know a cat any more than we can know an ultimate god, and also that this indicates there may be other forms of apprehending the universe that are more absolute, just as in the dream argument. This is a real-world conclusion, relevant to “real world knowledge”, that I think has great importance.

Let me summarise how I understand what you are saying, here:

1. We begin by examining the concept of "knowledge", without any qualification to that term.

2. We apply a chain of reasoning (which, for the purposes of argument, we assume to be sound) to that concept and come to the conclusion that "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible".

3. We apply another chain of reasoning (which, for the purposes of argument, we also assume to be sound) to that concept and come to the conclusion that "(everyday) knowledge is possible".

4. Therefore by applying two perfectly sound chains of reasoning to the same concept, we end up with an apparent contradiction, and an apparent paradox, where "knowledge" - unqualified - both is and is not possible at the same time.

5. This line of thought might give rise to the tentative conclusion that the existence of the paradox suggests that "knowledge" is something that "exists" or is "out there" somewhere (I'm purposely leaving this vague), at least in principle, and that reason can only imperfectly approximate it, and that our two opposing conclusions are identifying two points along what we might describe as a scale or continuum of "knowledge". This gives rise to the idea that perhaps there is another faculty out there, other than reason, which may be able to do a better job of apprehending that "knowledge". In particular, it gives rise to the idea that there may be a faculty which allows us to get to a point on the "continuum of knowledge" which lies somewhere between those two points which our two analyses have apparently identified.

Now, of course none of this actually demonstrates anything, as you acknowledge, but it does give you some sort of justification for asking this type of question. If two rational analyses of the same concept of "knowledge" identify two apparently distinct points - an "ultimate" knowledge which is unknowable, and an "everyday" knowledge which is - then even though the apprehension of a type of knowledge in between these points - i.e. closer to the "ultimate" end of the scale - is not demonstrated, you do give yourself some justification for speculating as to whether such a thing may exist, and may be apprehensible in some way. In other words, you have no evidence that an intermediate type of knowledge may exist (or alternatively that a completely different type of apprehension of "knowledge", which would reveal the apparent paradox to be reflective of merely a flawed way of looking it it, may exist), but you do have evidence that you are not asking a totally random and off-the-wall question by considering whether it may, and you give yourself some justification to engage in a search for it.

This is my understanding of the rationale behind your quoted point. What I am suggesting here is that this rationale breaks down if we accept that the two analyses are not beginning at the same point.

I have suggested that any "strictly" rational analysis - that is, where we consciously reason along the lines of "if this, then that" - always begins with an idea, as opposed to the "loosely rational" processes through which we might recognise a face which may begin with physical impressions. Given that we are capable of imagining all kinds of crazy things which do not exist in the real world, the validity of our "strictly rational" conclusions as far as understanding the world goes are clearly contingent on the degree to which our initial idea corresponds to something in that world.

Thus, if we accept based on observation, rather than pure reason, that we do indeed appear to know things - such as our own names, and the name of the current prime minister of Great Britain - then the analysis which leads to the conclusion "knowledge is impossible" can be viewed as a type of reductio ad absurdum. That is, since the conclusion "knowledge is impossible" contradicts our observation that it is, we can reason that the idea with which we began our analysis therefore does not correspond well with the actual knowledge we see in the real world, that what we have actually done is to analyse an idea of knowledge which we have imagined, and that that analysis therefore tells us nothing about the real world.

In this way, the entire subject of epistemology can be viewed not as an attempt to understand knowledge in the sense of investigating something on whose definition we have already agreed, but a simple attempt to define it. That is to say, we begin with a definition of knowledge, analyse it, and assess how well the conclusions of that analysis match up with what we actually see in the real world, with what we actually observe knowledge to be, to form a judgment on how good our definition is. The Gettier Problem is a good example of this happening in practice. We start off with Socrates' definition of "knowledge" as a "justified true belief". Gettier analysed this and came up with some examples of cases where beliefs are both true and justified, but which do not appear ("do not appear" appearing to mean little more than "seems intuitively incorrect based on our observation") to be genuine cases of knowledge, and so concluded that "justified true belief" is not a good definition of knowledge at all. As I said previously, we need to know what something is - at least in a sense - before we can define it, otherwise we have no way of determining whether or not our definition is a good one.

Thus, the analysis that ends "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" and the analysis that "(everyday) knowledge is impossible" do not create a "paradox" at all, since they are merely two analyses of two entirely different ideas of knowledge. It no more creates a "paradox" than my ability to imagine a horse with eight legs creates a paradox with my observation that a horse has four, or than the same ability creates a paradox with my ability to imagine a horse with 100 legs.

The essence of my original argument was simply to point this out, that when you conclude "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" you have not drawn any conclusions on some larger and absolute concept of "knowledge" on whose definition we all agree at all, but merely on one particular idea of knowledge which you have imagined for the purpose of that analysis, and an idea at that which everybody accepts bears very little resemblence to an idea of knowledge which better matches up with the kind of knowledge we seem to observe people to really have. Hence why I say that such an analysis tells you nothing about "real world knowledge" - only about a particular idea of knowledge which you have created for the purposes of analysis, and nothing about any other idea of knowledge. (For the avoidance of doubt, my original argument did not attempt to provide a "good" idea of knowledge - beyond tentatively indicating the types of properties such an idea might possess, such as Dretske's inherited "reliable belief-generating mechanism" - but merely to show that the "ultimate knowledge" type idea is not a good one.)

But, having established the essence of that argument, we can now go on to consider the implications it may have to your point which I quoted above. To review, your point seems to hinge on the fact that two analyses, when applied to the same concept of "knowledge" on whose definition we all agree, give different conclusions, and that may suggest that there is some larger concept of "knowledge" out there to which we can only approximate through reason, and to which we may be able to gain more familiarity with through some other process. But, if you accept that those two analyses are not both analysing a single large concept of "knowledge" at all, but are merely analysing two different ideas of knowledge - at least one of which may be purely imaginary - then you can no longer draw any conclusions, or even speculations, as to the possibilities of any "larger concept of 'knowledge'" in the real world by doing this.

That is to say, if I analyse an idea of a horse with four legs, and an idea of a horse with eight legs, I have no grounds for supposing that there may be a "larger concept of horse" out there somewhere that differs materially from both of them, and that I could get into deeper contact with, or that the reasonable possibility may exist that I may be able to find a horse with six legs somewhere. The results of my analyses only have any validity to the extent to which I am able to determine whether either of my original ideas match up to the real world, and the analyses by themselves cannot do this. I can look at the ideas themselves and consider whether they match up, or I can look at the conclusions and see whether they match up with the real world and thereby infer something about the original ideas to the extent that they do or do not. When I actually do this in this specific example, I conclude that my idea of a horse with eight legs is entirely imaginary, but that my idea of a horse with four legs appears to match up pretty well with the world. I therefore have no "paradox", and my solution is to simply discard the idea of a horse with eight legs as being entirely imaginary and wholly spurious.

In the same way, I take the idea of "ultimate knowledge" and observe that neither the idea itself, nor the conclusion that results from an analysis of it, appear to match up with anything observable in the world. Because it is a standalone idea, I do not then conclude that it is providing me with additional information on the other idea about knowledge that I do observe, e.g. that people know their own names. Therefore I do not conclude that there may be some other larger concept of knowledge out there that I may be able to contact, or that some other faculty may be better suited to apprehending this larger concept of knowledge. Instead, I merely discard the "ultimate knowledge" idea as being imaginary, and I'm left with the single idea of "real world knowledge" that I began with. And that idea may be an idea - and I assert that it is - to which the concept of "ultimate nature of reality" is entirely unconnected, and that therefore the very idea of there being some kind of "ultimate truth", regardless of whether or not we can ever hope to know it, may well be spurious. The analysis which concludes "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" almost begs the question by assuming from the outset that some kind of "ultimate truth" does exist, but that we just can't reach it with our regular knowledge faculties.

Of course, this doesn't demonstrate that there is not some "larger concept of knowledge" or "ultimate truth" out there any more than your argument demonstrates that there is. The critical difference is that your position gives you at least reasonable grounds to suppose that there may be, whereas my position does not. So, under my position, although there still may be such a concept of knowledge which is, say, apprehensible by a mystic, in the absence of any direct evidence (and I trust I don't need to point out that mystical experiences themselves do not provide such "direct evidence") it puts that possibility on an equal footing with the possibility that gravity is really caused by billions of troupes of invisible flying goblins darting about the universe pulling objects towards each other with little ropes. That is to say, it's possible that such a thing could exist, but we have absolutely no grounds whatsoever to give that possibility any credence, and we're justified in dismissing it without further consideration until we do.

Thus, to summarise:

1. You say that "well I’m sure it would be damning to my argument if you can demonstrate there is some kind of fantasy, or even fallacy, in there." I am suggesting that we have good grounds for supposing that the idea at which the "(ultimate) knowledge is impossible" analysis begins is an entirely imaginary one - i.e. that is where the "fantasy" is - that does not appear to have any correspondence with the world as we observe it, and that that, if accepted, is what would be "damning to [your] argument"; and

2. The very idea that we may be able to obtain (descriptive or propositional) knowledge which is "more absolute and therefore potentially more useful in the 'real world'" appears to be based upon the mistaken assumption that when we have all these discussions about "knowledge" we are talking about the same thing, and I am asserting that when you talk about the possibility of that type of knowledge you are doing so from the position of beginning with an analysis which is rooted in an entirely imaginary and arbitrary idea which has no observable correspondence with the real world, and that your argument does not "open the door", so to speak, to the possibility of the existence of this "more absolute" knowledge at all, but leaves such a possibility squarely in the realms of the fantastical.


ReplyQuote
sonofthestar
(@sonofthestar)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 375
21/03/2010 5:44 pm  

93!

Just some thoughts coming my way during the course of this thread.

Consider this---my second posting on this thread,
to be a sort of intermission of a kind, of a lightly spirited….
yet entertaining nature:
an admixture, of my usual “occult” absurdities,
with a touch of , but not to much of…an attempt at,
some “Real World” rationalities.

Real World Knowledge:
The bulk of such, (excluding the little mundane tit-bits)
being obtainable from “ Worldly Academic Info Facts”----
such knowledge being derived from, those vast informational realms of academia.
We might go so far as to say knowledge commonly accruing,
in everyday abundantly placed schools of learning,
as differing from----Hermetic Knowledge of Mystery schools, past and/or present.

Now the “facts” in a text book, cannot be truthfully said to be “real” knowledge.
Only if the student applies his/herself to study, and learning, those facts----is knowledge concerning the subject manifested. Such facts being merely the key exterior ingredients needed for the interior process (knowing) to take place--- that once accomplished,
the learner has knowledge of the “real ”world around him/her,
and various means to accomplish specific tasks---such as becoming an engineer, or a surgeon.
Such knowledge once being achieved by the learning functionality of mind,
can (but not necessarily) make life itself easier,
since you would be more “useful” to those lacking such skills as those you have amassed through your studious career.

Now, when the ancient Greeks behooved the would be initiate to “Know Thyself”


they certainly did not mean anything other than making use of some sort of “ingredient” necessary for such “knowing” of “the self” to occur---as an addition, to the “reality” of academic facts found in the academic schools/universities at the time.
These ingredients being various sacred text/rituals, meditations, task etc----having no purpose other than developing/unfolding---such “knowing” into birth----which makes an adept---or, an initiate.

The Dao De Ching---would inform its readers that they can know what needs to be known,
without leaving their house!
They have all the basic necessities from which to work. Where are these items?

Consider also Chapter Twenty, of that gem of Mysticism,
as being highly pertinent to this very thread in some way:

“ 1. To forget learning is to end trouble. The smallest difference in words,
such as “yes” and “yea”, can make endless controversy for the scholar. Fearful indeed is
Death, since all men fear it; but the abyss of questionings shoreless and bottomless, is worse!”

We who could be called Thelemites, have words analogous to,
or analogous to the meaning of “Know Thyself”….
those words being
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Perhaps, some of us truly “commence” to do our will,
once we each begin to ponder and act upon the question : who/what----am I ?
I personally fancy to know just who---and what---I am.

This in turn, a contemplation:
(if I dare be so seriously metaphorical, in the way of the usual Occultist)---
…proceeding to really realize/experience---the ‘real world” absurdity,
that eventually---rather than just being “intelligent”
we might indeed become/realize--ourselves as “an intelligence”
fully capable of maintaining that most sacred core of being….
in just such a way as to transcend the temporal structure of corporal forms.
Or that such a core of self-hood---is a self sustaining entity,
……sufficient enough unto all, as to be as Hadit
……transcending any and all need for knowledge,
……yet fully aware and partaking of the experience, of Nuit’s continuous love songs.

If such self expression is truly possible, how could it be proven so?
Would there even be a need to prove it----considering how far we would have come,
if coming/going so far, is indeed enough to be our willing…..
or has been from the get-go?

There will always be those who “believe” all this “Occult-ie Hermetic stuff” to be fantasy.
They will affirm, that if we affirm “The Reality“ of that which they believe is our fantasy--
then it becomes nonsense---since they already believe we cannot prove the reality of such claims.

It is their absolute Thelemic right to believe what they believe!
Why would/should---we believe it---should/would be otherwise,
or become upset over it---if we are doing our will?

93! 93! 93!


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 7:03 pm  
"sonofthestar" wrote:
It is their absolute Thelemic right to believe what they believe!

There is only one "Thelemic right", and the right to believe what you believe isn't it. Your right to do your will is predicated on you not believing your will to be something other than what it actually is, so this supposed "right to believe what [you] believe" of yours is absolutely and fundamentally opposed to Thelema in every way.

"sonofthestar" wrote:
Why would/should---we believe it---should/would be otherwise, or become upset over it---if we are doing our will?

Why indeed? Why be interested in knowledge and facts when you can simply proclaim that you're "doing your will" and dispense with the need for all that inconvenient effort - including dispensing with the need to find out what your will actually is, or to find out what will even is in the first place? It's obviously far easier to just make random shit up out of thin air and to simply declare it to be "Thelema".

It's people like you who pervert the concept of "will" into nothing more than a vague battlecry to justify absolutely anything they like, transforming "Thelema" into utterly vacuous nonsense. You are part of the problem.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 10:38 pm  

Thus, if we accept based on observation, rather than pure reason, that we do indeed appear to know things - such as our own names, and the name of the current prime minister of Great Britain - then the analysis which leads to the conclusion "knowledge is impossible" can be viewed as a type of reductio ad absurdum. That is, since the conclusion "knowledge is impossible" contradicts our observation that it is, we can reason that the idea with which we began our analysis therefore does not correspond well with the actual knowledge we see in the real world, that what we have actually done is to analyse an idea of knowledge which we have imagined, and that that analysis therefore tells us nothing about the real world.

Erwin

You keep returning to knowledge based on observation of the real world.

This is the center of your system of thinking and perception. But you’re ignoring the fact that between direct perception and communicating such perception to others, lies the actual object of the inquiry of this thread, Knowledge in this sense that Crowley meant, which is constituted by language, reason and intellect, and connecting our collective minds. To conflate knowledge with direct perception is to miss the actual object of inquiry. If things were as simple as that, everyone would be in agreement and fewer books would need to be published. Where everyone agrees is that we are all directly perceiving the world in one way or another. No one arguing otherwise would be taken seriously. The disagreement commences once perception becomes filtered through Knowledge.

Your arguments are sustained at the expense of ignoring what Crowley stated on Knowledge in Little Essays. He never said that “ultimate knowledge is impossible” or “direct perception of the real world is impossible”, but rather, that “Knowledge is a false idea.” He went on to clarify that this statement constitutes a form of knowledge so that the effect “leads immediately to a muddle in the mind”.

So, yes, direct perception exists, but as soon as you try to communicate it to others, the information becomes filtered through Knowledge, which is where the problem lies and constitutes the actual object of inquiry.

Now you’ve tried hard to rationalize away the paradox at the center of your thinking. Perhaps this is why you regard others as being confused and yourself as paradox-free. What you're forgetting is that none of us are standing outside of the object of inquiry. We are inside the question. The idea that we can freely reason and arrive at various conclusions completely ignores the machinery that enables thinking to occur in the first place. We are inescapably emeshed within Language, our minds are already conditioned by it and by its implicit mechanism and inherent paradox. The only real choice is between speech and silence. That means all of us have the S=P paradox somewhere at the center of our system of thinking.

This is where it gets very interesting.

The momentary negating of Knowledge constitutes a key technique for dissolving the paradox at the center of any system and can lead to an expansion of awareness, where things reintegrate at a higher level of awareness. There is a sense of “Aha!” Suddenly you understand what everybody has been talking about all along and you see where you stand in relation to others. Where previously you were constantly fighting a bunch of idiots, everything now makes sense in a new obvious way.

Meditation, magick and attaining of trance states all constitute specific techniques for breaking down knowledge paradoxes, which are really mental blinders marking the limits of one’s awareness. This is what the Tower card represents. If so, the statement “Knowledge is a false idea” needs to be placed in context of this ongoing process. It most certainly does not mean that direct perception, insight, intuition and understanding does not exist. That would be like suggesting consciousness does not exist.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 11:11 pm  

tai - you're talking about Crowley's chapter in Little Essays Toward Truth, "communicating...to others", "direct perception", "filtering through knowledge", and "awareness" as if they have something to do with what I'm discussing. I am once again forced to conclude that you don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about, here. This is why I stopped responding to you earlier in the thread.

You mention "mental blinders marking the limits of one’s awareness" in your post - I'd suggest actually trying that out, and then reading my posts to this thread again, to see if that helps. It may still not, since the purpose of all the back and forth between me and Ian was to bang our two positions together sufficiently tortuously until the similarities and differences in those positions finally surfaced through the initial differences in presentation and terminology. If you're starting from a position markedly different from either of us, then that exchange may well not be very helpful to you, but it should at least be enough to demonstrate that what you're talking about here is almost completely unrelated to what I've been talking about.


ReplyQuote
Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3951
21/03/2010 11:34 pm  

Erwin,

The title of this thread is 'Crowley on Knowledge'. At the outset of this thread you quoted Crowley elevating reason as supreme. Thus, irrespective of what accomodation you may have reached with Ian Rons in the meantime, tai's remarks are germane when he points out that Crowley's position was not as straightforward as you would have it.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
21/03/2010 11:52 pm  

Michael,

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
The title of this thread is 'Crowley on Knowledge'.

I'm well aware of that. However, what I have been discussing is determined by reference to what I have actually written in this thread, not by reference to its title.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
tai's remarks are germane when he points out that Crowley's position was not as straightforward as you would have it.

They may be germane to the thread in some way - or at least to what tai thinks the thread should have been about - but they are not germane to what I have been discussing, and that's what he explicitly purports to be responding to in his post.

And, incidentally, if you actually read where I quoted Crowley "at the outset of this thread" then you'll see that that quote was offered for the sole purpose of comparison with an apparently completely contradictory idea that Los quoted. This being the case, I'm not sure how you can conclude that I've portrayed, on this thread, Crowley's position on this matter as being "straightforward".


ReplyQuote
Page 2 / 5
Share: