1. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    a circular argument

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by princess K, Jun 19, 2008.

    *the only thing we can be sure of in life is that we know nothing, but we must know something to know nothing. Because we know we know nothing*

    think about it :eek:
     
  2. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    only humans to could come up with the idea of creating something which will bug them for ages because they can't solve it, even though it's their nature to want to!
     
  3. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    :L I know right ... when my philosophy teacher told me this I was like,
    oh no, this is all im going to think about for like months to come
     
  4. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    Thanks, I'm going to lose sleep over this one... :p
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my version of that is more accurate and less open to confusion:

    the only thing we can really be sure of is that we can't be sure of anything...
     
  6. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Try thinking about what happened before the universe blew into existance/ was created. Surely even if there was a God, something must have come before her/him? (apologies if I offend any religious people).

    The one that bugs me is this.. If someone travelled back in time to say hi to themselves, would there be one original time where they went through that time period without seeing themselves saying hi to them, if you get me, because surely there must have been one time where time went straight past that point, before the person created the loop?
     
  7. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    but the argument to that, that makes it circular is that you are sure of something, because you are sure you can't be sure of anything. so its the same argument :p x
     
  8. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Who came up with that concept? Who decided, 'I know! I know! Lets create a problem that has no solution! People will thank me for that....'
     
  9. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    1) the only thing we can be sure of in life is that we know nothing,

    2) but we must know something to know nothing. Because we know we know nothing



    I have 2 views on this;

    We would not know that we know nothing, we would think that we know nothing (if we follow this arguments first point). This renders the argument null as we don't 'know that we know nothing', we only 'think that we know nothing'.

    &

    Point 1 tells us that we can never know anything (which i assume means that we can never 'test' statements; either synthetically or analytically). However, point 2 then analytically proves that we know something (because the point must be analytically true). This second argument therefore conflicts with the first argument and so the argument can not be held as valid.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The escape clause from this conundrum is that time began along with the universe, so the term "before the Universe blew into existence" is meaningless.

    However, if you believe in a God, He need not be bound by the laws of the physical universe, so could possibly have an existence beyond that which defines the bounds of the physical universe.

    Religion has in the last few centuries retreated into that safe haven (no offense to theists, it could also be treated as an inherent quality of omnipotence). If the existence of God is not provable by any possible test, then the existence of God can likewise not be disproven.

    Science has also found similar realms of thought. Because time began at the Big Bang, there is no possibility of observing events that occurred outside of the spacetime universe created by the Big Bang event. Other universe could exist outside of the one we know (whatever "outside" means, but we cannot know anything about them.

    The perpetual goal of science is to find new questions. They always come more often than answers.
     
  11. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    René Descartes came up with that concept, he is a famous philosopher.
    and Cpn. Thats why its a circular argument :p .... its confusing isn't it
     
  12. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    To your first point;

    This idea comes from the fact that we witness a contingent universe; we see that every effect has a cause. However, a God, would not be subject to this cause and effect, he created the universe and therefore exists outside of it. God would exist outside of time (as god created time), and outside of time, God would not be subject to causality. God would simply be, and always have been.

    Granted, it still is impossible to understand how something could always be. Because we don't have the structures in our minds to understand something of that magnitude, we can only understand it as an abstract concept.



    On your second point;

    There are 2 ways to look at it.
    The first is the 'Donnie Darko'-esque idea of time traveling; where traveling in time creates another dimension, which runs parallel to your original dimension. Here, the first you (from the past; the one that you talk to) would be in a different dimension to the "past you" that you say hi to, so the 'loop' and 'original' time are separate.
    The second is 'Back to the Future' styled time traveling; and the 'current' you would cease to exist.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's actually related to quantum theory.
     
  14. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    It's not confusing, it's wrong.

    His second point is not circular, it does not lead on from the first. He states that 'we must not know, and therefore must know'; however, under the idea issued in the first point, we can only 'think we know that we don't know'.
    This corrected logic does not lead back to the first statement (and we still know nothing for certain, we only think that we know this one mentioned 'fact'), therefore there is no circular argument.
    Therefore, Descartes = Wrong.

    Also, his first point indicates that we can not test our statements either analytically or synthetically, however, his second point is an analytically "factual" statement. But, according to his first point, we can't test things to see if they are valid; therefore, his statement goes no further, as it is wrong and not built on logic or consistency.



    Descartes just plays on the meanings of words and uses half baked logic to an illogical end. His ontological argument for the existence of god is weak as well.

    I dislike Descartes.
     
  15. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    Descartes went into a cafe and ordered a coffee. When he finished, the waitress came back and asked him if he'd like another coffee.

    "I think not!" he said....and disappeared.
     
  16. greggb
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    greggb New Member

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    I'm not sure how serious this post is, or if most of the people here already know the answer to this riddle and are just playing along. In case they're not, the answer is that this is a matter of semantics.

    "We know nothing"="We know no thing"="We don't know anything"

    Knowing nothing is not knowing anything. Put a space after the 'o' in "nothing" and "no thing" is no longer something that can be known, because it no longer exists. It never existed, even as one word, and therefore was not something that could be known.

    It's easier to understand that "nothing" doesn't exist when you place a space after the 'o', because you see that the word "no" disqualifies the following word from existing. And when the word "thing" stops existing, the word "no" stops existing too, because its sole purpose was to describe the state of something that, well, doesn't exist.

    You can't make a word make another word not exist, because after making the other word not exist, you've deprived the word you used to make the other word not exist of any meaning. Not only does it not have any meaning, but it refers to nothing--it has no relation to any other words.

    If computers were to read the English language the way we do, the word "nothing" would definitely trigger a syntax error, because it's just not a logical word. Nothing should be banned from the English language to avoid any further confusion.
     
  17. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    "René Descartes = wrong"

    Im sorry but you are questioning the work of a v.famous philosopher here.... it is a circular argument, that is the whole point...the fact that we know we know nothing leads back to the first point in that we can only be sure of nothing.
    You clearly think of this in a scientific way... therefore blinkering the logic that descartes has.

    I love Descartes.
    His work is extremely interesting.
     
  18. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    My answer to the question WILL be the question in first person with added clauses:

    I know I know nothing, because the somethings I knew I learnt from nothing. i also know somthing, because I know the word nothing which does account to something. I've learnt that by knowing that I know nothing I BECOME something, so in the end my thesis all lies in the word nothing, which is all about knowing, but not doing. It is totally acceptable if I KNOW nothing, but that I DO nothing is not a fact appreciated. So I know that:
    my KNOWING nothing (will be)= my DOING something (which will make it) = my BEING everything.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I can agree that nothing, not one thing, should be banned from the English language.

    Ambiguity is a natural consequence of complexity, and attempts to prevent that by restricting language is folly of the highest order.
     
  20. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    I'm looking at it in a logical way. This is an a priori argument, logic is a necessity in this argument, therefore if you show that the logic is contradictory you prove that the argument is false. I did that.

    If I want to question the works of a famous philosopher I will.
    It's counterproductive to the spirit of philosophy to disallow debate on the notion that a famous philosopher must be right.
    Take Marquis De Sade for example. He's a famous philosopher, does that mean that he is correct? No (and i expect that many people would disagree with his views).

    Also, i'm not the only one who disagrees with Descartes. He has been heavily criticised by many other philosophers; Kant for example.



    Oh, Gone Wishing, that made me laugh and i'm not sure why.
     
  21. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    I read the question yesterday and went away to think about it.
    Well I thought about it and decided to stop thinking about it because it gave me a headache.
    I will leave the thinking to others and just go on my merry no stress way.
    thank you for deciding me on that.
     
  22. princess K
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    princess K Member

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    haha lessa that made me lol
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I thinked, therefore I ache? ;)
     
  24. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first thing that comes to mind is...You can't know you are in darkness until you turn on a light...but, I guess it could be argued that...You didn't know it was light until you blew the bulb...hmmmm.
     
  25. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The only sweeping generality that is ever completely true is that no sweeping generality is ever completely true.


    Yeah, that's my favorite one. :D
     

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