Could there ever be an end to knowledge?

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

  1. Beaconator Registered Senior Member

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    I thought I wouldn't see you for a while...

    Yawn... Till belief expires knowledge is still a powerful term. When they intersect both are valid.


    Skeptics... They just can't believe the definitions set by Oxford. Basically you believe in nothing, have all the facts set in front of you, and make the best judgement. Good wording isn't it?

    I'm going to ignore the initial meaning of this and head straight for the implications it has on the op.

    Personally knowledge is finite. There is a finite amount of tangible materials therefore knowledge is finite.
     
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  3. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry to interject...so you believe that there is a tangible end to knowledge? (at some point)
     
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  5. Beaconator Registered Senior Member

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    Why is that hard to believe? There is a finite amount of tangibles.

    Your going to have to be more specific before I give up any enigma.

    I could add up all tangibles and end up with only spherical light. Two infinitesimals making a finite.

    I'm more interested in two finites making an an infinite belief that we can say is objective.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    It's not hard to believe, but how can you be sure of this?
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Given that the universe may be infinite in extent then it's obvious: he may be sure, but he's not necessarily (or logically) correct.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
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  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    He sounds, sure lol so that is why I asked.
     
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    If the universe, finite or otherwise, is indeterministic (as it seems to be) then forecasting the future with 100% accuracy is problematic. Thus knowledge can never come to an end, as the future is yet to be written.
    One can certainly guess at the future, but since it is not certain then the guess can not be deemed to be true until it occurs, thus envy moment new knowledge emerges for someone to discover.

    Ultimately, however, there might well come a time when there is no one left to discover new things, and it could be said that at that time knowledge comes to an end, if one considers sentience necessary for knowledge to be a meaningful concept.
     
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  11. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Your last sentence is so poignant, and sad in a way.

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/physics-co...entific-knowledge-scientists-think-so-1538220

    This article brings up a curious point in stating that "We may be entering a new era in physics," said Cliff. "An era where there are weird features in the universe that we cannot explain. An era where we have hints that we live in a multiverse that lies frustratingly beyond our reach. An era where we will never be able to answer the question why is there something rather than nothing."

    In other words...are all the ''great'' discoveries of science behind us? That can't be. (Can it?) Just because we ''can't know'' or we are not capable of knowing further about our universe (right now), why would scientists be so pessimistic, throwing up their hands basically declaring ''this is as good as it gets?''

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    Or are they simply being realistic?
     
  12. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    The guy is probably a bit of a prawn: "and Cliff believes if the questions remain unanswered at that point, we may have reached a point in physics where we cannot go any further".
    Er, what?
    Doesn't physics (and the rest of science) essentially depend on unanswered questions?
    If there's no more answers available it ain't science it's stamp collecting.
     
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    IMO, knowledge (of universal functions) is near infinite. The question should be "can there be sufficient knowledge?"

    According to Tegmark, while there are a near infinite number of values, a mathematical universe functions by only a relatively few *numbers and equations* (constants).
     
  14. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    What is the difference between "facts" and "knowledge"? (does "knowledge" =facts + context ? )

    Suppose we learned that our universe was finite and its end was predictable** could we launch a machine capable of learning (hovering up) all the "facts" by the time the universe ended?

    Could there be a scintilla of sentience built into the machine so that its final thought could be "ah so ,now I know it all"?


    **is this actually a possibility ?
     
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Facts (change) happens regardless of the observer. Knowledge is facts that have been observed and explained.
    Sometimes the explanation, such as the *hand of God* is the wrong explanation and is not *knowledge*, but *myth*.
     
  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This strikes me as interesting, actually. Given the provisional nature of the models of reality we make in science, we have to accept, I think, that "knowledge" includes, not only incontrovertible facts, but ideas about the world that may not be definitively true.
     
  17. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    Everything happens regardless of the observer . Even "knowledge" happens regardless of the observer . We are knowledge machines (or aren't we?)`
     
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I agree, but in such cases science usually adds a qualifier "to the best of our knowledge".
    Even the term *theory* itself is a provisional term, allowing for the addition of new knowledge
    I am a little confused by the way you posited that.

    IMO, the term *knowledge* is only used in connection with sentience, the ability to process information. Else it becomes a mathematical function. Does a planet know that it is in orbit or that it is a planet?

    However, the slime mold has no brain, yet, as a living organism, it can memorize recurring events. An experiment was performed where the slime mold was exposed to short periods of cold air at regularly timed intervals, which caused it to slow down to conserve energy. After exposure to a timed series of cold blasts, it was observed that the slime mold would voluntarily slow down at the same regular interval, even when not exposed to the cold air. One could make an argument that the slime mold retained knowledge of the regularity of the event and was actually anticipating the change. However, this physical memory would fade quickly when the mold was no longer exposed to the cold blasts.

    question: was this *knowledge* or a *mathematical auto-physical response* to external influences?
    1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knowledge
    and this may be tangently related:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_nervous_system
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  19. geordief Registered Senior Member

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    A good question. I myself am confused by the "way I posited that". I think confusion is natural and inevitable since this borderline between what is "mechanical" and "sentient" is perhaps impossible to define .(if we were to go off at an unjustifiable tangent it might even be possible to wonder absurdly if this borderline -which is metaphysical probably -could even be subject to something on the lines of quantum tunneling)

    So no I see my "posit" as entirely speculative with no earthly hope of showing it to be correct or incorrect and my only hope would be that it (or something similar) might have something approaching coherence as an idea.

    Basically , to my mind the division between the mechanical and the sentient does seem very hard to pin down. That is an idea that is going the round with the rise of AI (it does seem that AI has one hell of a task ahead of it to match what we would call regular intelligence but that is incidental ; we can get an outline now perhaps of the possible connection between the two types of intelligence)
     
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Quite so. Does a wasp have "knowledge"? Probably - it remembers where a food source is. But really it is not much more than a little robot.
     
  21. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Knowledge as a nature is in a state of permanence fluctuation.
     
  22. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Unanswered or unanswerable?
     
  23. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Per the quote the guy actually said "unanswered".
    If we came across something we knew to be unanswerable that in and of itself would constitute knowledge, neh?
     

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