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The study of knowledge and its conditions

Origenes on the self-defeating incoherence of the [hyper-]skeptic

Origenes is on fire these days, so let’s headline: [Origenes, emergence play thread, 57:] The skeptic wants to criticize, but he doesn’t want to be criticized himself. We all make statements of belief, skeptics included. But the skeptic posits a closed circle in which no beliefs are justified. Yet at the same time, he arrogates to himself a position outside of this circle by which he can judge the beliefs of others, a move he denies to his opponents. Since the raison d’être of his thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, he does not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so his belief about the unjustifiability of beliefs or reasoning Read More ›

L&FP, 62a: Science can rightly — and usefully — be viewed as “reverse engineering of the natural world”

Here, it is helpful to headline an update to L&FP, 62, as we need to return to a rich vein of thought that allows us to approach science in light of systems engineering perspectives: [[We may add a chart on a key subset of SE, reverse engineering, RE: One of the most significant Reverse Engineering-Forward Engineering exercises was the clean room duplication of the IBM PC’s operating framework that allowed lawsuit-proof clones to be built that then led to the explosion of PC-compatible machines. By the time this was over, IBM sold out to Lenovo and went back to its core competency, Mainframes. Where, now, a mainframe today is in effect a high end packaged server farm; the microprocessor now Read More ›

L&FP, 61: Learning about Agit Prop from the H G Wells, War of the Worlds broadcast (and from the modified JoHari Window)

Notoriously, on the evening of October 30, 1938, many people missed the opening remarks for Orson Welles’ radio dramatisation of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds. As History dot com recounts: Millions of Americans, as they were every night, huddled around their radios, but relatively few of them were listening to CBS when it was announced that Welles and his fellow cast members were presenting an original dramatization of the 1898 H.G. Wells science-fiction novel “The War of the Worlds.” Instead, most of the country was tuned in to NBC’s popular “Chase and Sanborn Hour,” which featured ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy . . . . disoriented listeners who stumbled onto the “Mercury Theatre on the Read More ›

L&FP, 59: Building a body of knowledge in a hyperskeptical, ideologically polarised era that often dismisses truth and objectivity

It’s not hard to recognise that we are in a hyperskeptical, ideologically polarised warped thinking age at war with objective truth and knowledge. Fundamentally, our academics have betrayed us, starting with putting the inferior substitute, skepticism, in the place of prudence. Once that was done, there is no firewal on skepticism so it spiralled into selective hyperskepticism that promotes favoured narratives while finding any excuse to dismiss the despised other. Inevitably, knowledge has fractured. So, let us again turn to the JoHari window to see how it can help us build a responsible, and often counter-narrative body of knowledge: Now, steps of thought (adapted from an earlier comment): 1: We must properly understand what knowledge is, including its subtleties, limitations Read More ›

L&FP, 58b: The JoHari Window and recognising limits of our knowledge

The JoHari Window provides a useful context to control speculation or accusation or assumption posing as knowledge: Here, we see a personal focus. This can readily be extended to institutions, movements, interest groups and the public. We can even see, through faction dynamics, how a minority may see while the community at large is innocently or even willfully blind, stuck in an ill advised business as usual. For example: Therefore, we are well advised to heed an adjusted form of Dallas Willard’s observation on knowledge and how it confers legitimate authority: To have knowledge in the dispositional sense—where you know things you are not necessarily thinking about at the time—is to be able to represent something as it is on Read More ›

L&FP, 58a: Dallas Willard, on knowledge and its significance: “knowledge authorizes one to act, to direct action, to develop and supervise policy, and to teach”

In his posthumous book (completed by colleagues), Willard makes a key observation on knowledge, one that challenges a power-obsessed, agenda driven era that is dismissive of objectivity rooted in good warrant: To have knowledge . . . is to be able to represent something as it is on an adequate basis of thought or experience, not to exclude communications from qualified sources (“authority”) . . . . knowledge authorizes one to act, to direct action, to develop and supervise policy, and to teach. It does so because, as everyone assumes, it enables us to deal more successfully with reality: with what we can count on, have to deal with, or are apt to have bruising encounters with. Knowledge involves assured Read More ›

L&FP 58: Knowledge (including scientific knowledge) is not a simple concept

. . . as a result of which, once there is an issue, complex questions and limitations of the philosophy of knowledge — Epistemology — emerge. Where, in particular, no scientific theory can be even morally certain. (Yes, as Newtonian Dynamics illustrates, they can be highly empirically reliable in a given gamut of circumstances . . . but as Newtonian Dynamics [vs. Modern Physics] also illustrates, so can models and frameworks known to be strictly inaccurate to reality. Empirical reliability is something we can know to responsible certainty.) So, it is important for us to understand the subtleties and limitations of knowledge and of knowledge claims. As we have discussed previously, on balance, a good definition of knowledge (beyond merely Read More ›

L&FP, 55: Defining/Clarifying Intelligent Design as Inference, as Theory, as a Movement

It seems, despite UD’s resources tab, some still struggle to understand ID in the three distinct senses: inference, theory/research programme, movement. Accordingly, let us headline a clarifying note from the current thread on people who doubt, for the record: [KF, 269:] >>. . . first we must mark out a matter of inductive reasoning and epistemology. Observed tested, reliable signs such as FSCO/I [= functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information, “fun-skee”] beyond 500 – 1,000 bits point to design as cause for cases we have not observed. This is the design INFERENCE. Note, inference, not movement, not theory. Following the UD Weak Argument Correctives under the Resources tab, we can identify ID Theory as a [small] research programme that Read More ›

L&FP, 52: Fallaciously “settled” (=begged) questions and the marginalisation of legitimate alternatives

Nowadays, we are often told “The Science is SETTLED,” as though Science is ever finalised or certain. To go with it, those who have concerns or alternative views and arguments are marginalised and too often smeared, scapegoated or even outright slandered. Sometimes — as Dallas Willard warned regarding moral knowledge — in this rush to judgement, legitimate knowledge is derided, denigrated and dismissed, leading to manipulation and indoctrination. Then, of course, wide swathes of the media and many educators will often jump on the bandwagon. As a result, policy and government become increasingly divorced from due prudence, leading to ruinous marches of folly. How can we rebalance the situation? First, as the media are the main conduit of indoctrination and Read More ›

L&FP, 50: The error(s) of telling ‘truth’ by the clock

In a given time and culture, characteristic fashionable fallacies too often gain persuasive power by mutual reinforcement, and/or by swinging from one extreme to another; bypassing the point of responsible balance. So, too, we end up in a thorny thicket of errors, a hard-to-escape problematique. And yes, that often includes the [neo-]marxist version of the Hegelian triad, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, repeat. Where, too, babylonian captivity to the spirit of the age or the community . . . nowadays, strongly shaped by relativism . . . is of the very essence of ill advised worldly, destructive false “conventional wisdom.” We must ask, then, what are the crooked yardsticks that we have substituted for what is truly straight, accurate, upright? (Have we Read More ›

L&FP, 49: Debating the validity (and objectivity) of infinity

Steve Patterson, among many points of objection, is doubtful on the modern concept of infinity (or more strictly the transfinite): The foundations of modern mathematics are flawed. A logical contradiction is nestled at the very core, and it’s been there for a century. Of all the controversial ideas I hold, this is the most radical. I disagree with nearly all professional mathematicians, and I think they’ve made an elementary error that most children would discover. It’s about infinity. I’ve written about infinity here, here, and here, and each article points to the same conclusion: There are no infinite sets. Not only do infinite sets not exist, but the very concept is logically contradictory – no different than “square circles”. Infinite Read More ›

L&FP, 48m: The legitimate authority of knowable moral truth in service to justice, thriving and prudence

In the current thread on an unfortunate event with a newborn, there is an exchange of comments: BA, 45: Suppose the overwhelming majority regarded dumping newborns in dumpsters as good. Would it then be good? Sev, 56: Presumably, it would be good in the minds of the majority who approved of it. It would not be a good thing from my perspective. This, of course reflects the core relativist thesis that rejects objective, warranted, generally knowable moral truth, and so I commented, 57: “thereby hangs the fatal error of relativising and undermining knowable, warranted, objective moral truth reducing it to clash of opinions backed by power. Justice evaporates.” Such brings us back to a core issue, legitimate, morally anchored authority Read More ›

L&FP, 48L: Can we restore confident knowledge of moral truth?

Yes. But it will be contested. As Dallas Willard highlighted: Human life has an inescapable moral dimension. That is, it essentially involves choices with reference to what is good and evil, right and wrong, duty and failure to do what ought to be done . . . . What characterizes life in so-called Western societies today, however, is the absence, or presumed absence, of knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice: knowledge that might serve as a rational basis for moral decisions, for policy enactments, and for rational critique of established patterns of response to moral issues. In short, we are up against a culture-dominating, institutionally entrenched narrative that even though lacking warrant, is backed by Read More ›

L&FP, 48k: Dallas Willard on the key self-referentiality in the Relativist thesis that there are no generally knowable, objective moral truths

In the preface to his posthumous The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge (2018), Dallas Willard begins: Human life has an inescapable moral dimension. That is, it essentially involves choices with reference to what is good and evil, right and wrong, duty and failure to do what ought to be done. Any human community, whatever its scope, will exhibit patterns of such choices, more or less recognized as such by its fully formed members. Those patterns usually guide first responses to any question concerning what is to be done, and they provide a framework for further reflection on the appropriateness of actions, character traits, and social arrangements. He soon adds: Throughout history it has been knowledge—real or presumed—that was invoked to provide Read More ›

L&FP, 48j: Dallas Willard’s (partial) list of reasons for the unwarranted disappearance of moral knowledge

As we continue to explore the issue of the marginalisation of moral knowledge, let us highlight from 48b, Willard’s (incomplete) list of key causes: (2). How did this disappearance [of moral knowledge] come to be the case? Not through a discovery of some kind: e.g. that there was no such knowledge. But through a lengthy historical process of idea change. Some components: (A). The dismissal of theology from the domain of knowledge [i.e. the study and systematic knowledge of God, cf Rom 1:28 – 32], and the failure to find a secular basis for ethics [–> how can evolutionary materialism found ethics?].(B). Disappearance of the human self and knowledge of the self from “respectable” knowledge. (The “soul” from Plato on.) Read More ›