Could there ever be an end to knowledge?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Could there ever be an end to knowledge? Not an end to our ability to reason, or to have opinions, or to use logic to figure things out on a daily basis. But knowledge itself, can there be an end to it? I would think it's not possible for any one of us, no matter how intelligent we are, to ''know everything'', or is it?
     
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  3. The God Valued Senior Member

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    What do you think "knowledge" is?
     
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  5. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Facts and information obtained by us through our experiences, education, understanding, logic, experiment, etc. Can any one person know everything there is to know about...everything? Is that at all possible, do you think?
     
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  7. The God Valued Senior Member

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    You have two questions, can there be an end to knowledge and can anyone know all that is possible to know.

    The straightforward answer to both the questions is 'no'..
     
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  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    short answer
    No.---no end to knowledge.
    And, knowing everything is most likely never going to happen for this species.

    Neural capacity is most likely finite. And that finite limit falls short of "everything".
    We do have tools, however------so..................................?
     
  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Do you think that there is a lot that we as a species still don't know, or are we remotely close to the end of knowing everything?

    The God, you're right, there are two questions there. And seemingly different. Could any one person know everything, you say no. Could there ever be an end to knowledge? And you say no.

    Maybe there could never be an end to knowledge, because everything that there is to ever possibly know will always be evolving? Does that sound right?
     
  10. The God Valued Senior Member

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    This one is good...
    This splits your question further. Is it possible to know everything existing or evolved or around till this instant ? And is it possible to know about the future states ?

    I think second part will miserably fail us.
     
  11. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Of course it is impossible for anyone to know everything.

    Think of what is in the Oxford English dictionary, a 24 volume set of encyclopedias, a book of chemical compounds & reactions, all the various mathematical disciplines, all the various engineering disciplines, all the available medical disciplines.

    The above is only a partial list of the knowledge available to humans.
    Why do you think there has been extreme specialization in various disciplines compared to the era circa 1900, when my father was an engineer which included mechanical, civil, & all other engineering disciplines?

    When I graduated from college in 1951, I became a member of a SAC Think Tank planning for WW3. In a year or so, I knew pretty much everything there was to know about computer hardware & software. By 1960, I had to become specialized in a few areas of computer technology because there was too much for one person to cope with.
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Godel's Incompleteness Theorems hint at some reasons why it is impossible to know everything.
     
  13. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    BTW: An interesting concept for thought: How does the overall knowledge of the human race plot versus time?

    Some would claim a plot similar to a parabola.

    Others would claim that it is more like a linear function after initially plotting some what like a parabola.

    I think it is becomes asymptotic to some upper bound if you exclude notions like the position & velocity of every particle in the solar system or the universe.
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    ? We used to have lots of knowledge?

    Oh, like the Greeks, then the Dark Ages.
     
  15. The God Valued Senior Member

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    What about a simpler one....the total amount of knowledge Vs time plot.

    As the time progresses does the total quantum of knowledge increase, decrease or remain stable? For example, human population is increasing but some other species are getting extinct, glaciers are melting but oceans are overflowing, stones are getting relocated for constructions, old are dying and new borns are growing.....so is the total amount of what is to be known time dependent?
     
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  16. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe we need to set parameters, then. lol
     
  17. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Every symbolically expressed system of reasoning will have gaps or holes, or else inconsistencies, as expressed best by Gödel's various expressions of his incompleteness theorems.

    So the answer to your question is yes, there are ALWAYS limits imposed on knowledge by the symbolic nature of knowledge itself, no matter how detailed that knowledge or how it may be represented or evaluated. Those limits will always appear in the form(s) of logical inconsistencies and/or incompleteness. A perfect knowledge of one kind negates perfect knowledge of the other. Either the inconsistencies or the incompleteness must be ignored in order for knowledge of any kind to be useful.

    An elementary example of this is that if an absolute can be defined (as in the case of a numerical equality or identity symbolized by an equation containing an equal symbol), a consequence is that the absolute thus defined is no longer an absolute. Two rotten apples does not equal two perfect ripe ones in any respect other than a limited numerical sense. The incompleteness of the knowledge has been ignored in order for the simple arithmetic to work. Is a numerical knowledge of the situation in any important respect a "complete" one? No. Is it consistent? Sure it is. Just don't take a bite out of a rotten one, and everything appears to be mathematically and logically fine.

    Even quantum identity taken as an absolute is no guarantee that any two fundamental particles in the universe are kinematically (or energetically) equivalent. For one thing, they are bound to be traveling in ever so slightly different relative directions with respect to anything other than themselves.
     
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  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Probably no to both.
    Most apparently at least in the cosmological, particle physics disciplines, the more we find out, the more there still seems to be to find out.
    If the Universe is infinite as appears evident, then I believe we can say with some certainty that we will never know everything.
    But who knows? In a million, or 10 million years or so, if we are still around, and whatever we have evolved into, things may possibly be different.

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  19. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    Is is also a question as to whether it is possible to know any one thing (whatever that may mean) in its entirety?

    In theory if we could know one thing then maybe all the other pieces of knowledge might fall into place like dominoes...

    Unfortunately that one thing might be "we cannot know anything"

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  20. The God Valued Senior Member

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    So we must define 'knowledge' and 'to know' in quantifiable manner..

    So one can start with Michael Phelps, let's see whether there is any end to our knowledge about him and for that matter if there is any end of so called knowing about him..
     
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  21. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    Which Michael Phelps?
     
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  22. The God Valued Senior Member

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    The guy with 23 Gold Medals at Olympics..
     
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  23. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    What he stole them from the athletes' lockers?
     
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