Ways of knowing

Question of Day June 26, 2012 ~ Logical Ways Of Knowing

Are limits imposed upon our knowledge real or imagined by our ‘logical ways of knowing’?

What is knowledge?
Is it reality?
Is it our mental map of reality?
Is it some function of the level of correspondence between our maps and reality?
No map is ever the thing itself, only the thing itself is that.
Maps are always different in some significant ways from the thing they map.

Then there is the way we learn stuff.
We always start out with simple distinctions (usually binaries), then move to more graduated spectra.
In the realm of knowledge that seems to involve us in moving from a simple True/False distinction (which ironically is a very poor approximation to reality) to a spectrum that much more closely approximates reality, but has a continuous spectrum of degrees of probability that some specific observation or abstraction or theory is either true or false.

I am not aware of any limits on our ways of knowing, depending on what definition one uses for knowing.
Ways that occur to me are:
Imitation
Observation
Reading
Experimentation
Logical analysis
Analogy
Contemplation
Intuition
Various levels of mistake due to various reasons (including faulty logic, invalid premises, neural malfunction, or any number of drug induced alterations to normal function).

So with all of these possible ways of knowing, and probably many others that are not in the list above, I see no limits on ways of “knowing” – using the term “knowing” in the broadest possible sense.

And it does seem prudent to me to test most of our knowledge well before putting it into large scale operation.

[followed by]

The question I ask Star, is why are you saying that our ways of knowing are logical?
Where is you evidence for such an assertion?

I don’t see any.

I have never claimed to be a logical thinker.
I am not.
I am an intuitive thinker, with a very strong grasp of logic, who can rationalise any conclusion I come to quicker than most people can ask me the reason – most of the time.

I don’t do linear sequential reasoning, never have!
I do, jump to conclusion, then figure out a logical series of justifications for how I got to that conclusion.

When you look at the biographies of all the great pioneers of science, then it is clear that at least in terms of their breakthroughs, that is how they did it.

I have even figured out logically how my brain does it, though the actually mechanism seems to be a logical, rather than a physical, homologue to holographic practice. Two recent books are adding really great insights to how it actually works – Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines—and How It Will Change Our Lives, by Miguel Nicolelis, MD, PhD, and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by Dr. David Eagleman (Episodes 75, 78 and 79 of the http://www.brainsciencepodcast.com).

My 2c worth for the morning.

[followed by]

I think you still miss my point Star

My point being, that every scientist, every person, is more mystic than linear logic.
There are linear flows that happen certainly (once a stored pattern triggers, it usually runs to completion), and the triggering contexts are often more “mystic” than linear.

This seems to be true for all human beings, and most seem to get it “trained out of them” at a fairly early age.
They get trained into linear sequences.

Logic is a great tool, and it is very poor at dealing with infinities.
The halting problem (how does a brain decide if the current problem it is working on is worth continuing with and could be solved, or is it one of those insoluble problems that needs to be gotten out of) is very real. Evolution seems to have given us several strategies for dealing with it.

The systems that allow us to recognise familiar patterns in complex contexts seem to be the same ones that give us intuitions – they seem to be responsible for our “mystic” abilities – not mystical at all really – just good solid science that most people don’t yet know.

[followed by]

It seems to me that all human beings make mistakes in interpreting what others are saying – often.

It often seems almost miraculous that any communication gets through at all.

It’s like the question posed originally.
To me, it resides in the same class of questions as “have you stopped beating your grandmother yet?”
It seems to me that is makes assumptions that are simply not true for most people most of the time.

And sure, there is a sense, in which localising to any single mode, necessarily precludes all other possibilities in that specific instant, and the next instant is open to new possibilities.

That sort of seems to be the nature of reality, it demands of possibility that it localise into reality, in the instant that it is real.

[followed by]

Hi Star

The “have you stopped beating your grandmother yet?” question wasn’t personal.
It is an example of a sort of question that I use frequently, and have done since university days.
I have used it three times in this forum already this year.

It is simply a question that makes it very obvious to most people that there is something not kosher about the assumptions behind the question.
Many questions have invalid assumptions behind them, but the assumptions are not nearly so clear as they are in the “grandmother” question.

That’s all it is – a simple linguistic tool – one I have used hundreds of times.

It’s not a complaint about the question.

It is simply what I do with all questions, dig into the assumptions, and question everything.
Use the tools available to me to make what I see as clear as possible to other people.

That is who I am.
That is who I choose to be.
Someone who questions everything!
Someone committed to integrity and communication.

No beliefs.
Nothing sacred or profane.

Just probability functions based upon best available evidence.

[followed by]

Hi OM

Sorry – at several levels.

And since you asked – it breaks down like this.

For there to be a limit imposed, then it would seem necessary to interpret the question as asserting that most people use “ways of knowing” that are logical.

The reason for saying this, is that if other ways of knowing are acknowledged, then whatever the limits of logic, they are not limits on “our knowledge” (taken as a whole) – though all methods of acquiring knowledge seem to have their own limits in some dimensions of knowledge (see Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem for one limiting case of this), as does the knowledge itself (in terms of probabilities).

Hence, the interpretation that the question assumed that the ways of knowing used by most people are based in logic.

I enumerated 9 classes of ways of knowing in my first post – and explicitly stated that there are probably more.

And I do spend up to 12 hours some days writing computer systems, all of which are based on boolean logic (and have done so for 40 years- probably averaged close to 3 hours a day). So I am well practised in the ways of logic. Very familiar with its uses and its limits.

Sometimes I just assume that others see things as instantly as I do, which maybe is not the case.

I am very intuitive in my use of logic – if that makes sense (does to me).

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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1 Response to Ways of knowing

  1. “And it does seem prudent to me to test most of our knowledge well before putting it into large scale operation.”

    Amen!

    Like

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