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vester

What do we know with absolute certainty?

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vester

What I'm describing below is not my full point of view. I have deliberately left things out. And I have left it open for coming up with your own answer to this fundamental question. I want to see if this type of philosophy also leads you to the same conclusion I once made. If that is the case, then I will try to challenge it. If it's not the case, I'm curious about what other possibilities look like. So here it comes:

What do you know for certain one hundred percent? What can you say you know without a doubt? What are you absolutely sure of? I have asked this question many times to a lot of people and it surprised me how few of them had ever given it a thought, while in my opinion it is a very crucial question in life. What would you say?

The most given answer was: death. Ironic, is it not? The only thing you would know about life it that you are going to die, which is in itself a very logical answer that many will agree on. 'But how do you know that for certain?' I would ask them. 'Because everyone dies, everything that lives on this world dies some time'. 'Alright, but how do you know you will die too?' 'Well, I am a human being, a living creature, so there is no other fate for me than that of all other living creatures'. Until now it still sounds as common sense which is not open for any discussion.

Is it not true you can only tell something with certainty once you have experienced it? Is it not true that only then you can tell something with certainty about your experience knowing it happened, how you acted in it and what you thought?

Someone who has never experienced war will never be able to tell something with certainty - he would not even be credible to others - what it is like to experience war at first hand. Someone who has never driven a car, can not tell you what it is like to drive one. He does not know, because he has not experienced it.

One of the beautiful attributes of man is that he has the ability to empathize with others. Thus we are able to laugh and cry when we watch a movie. We are not the person who is experiencing the same, but still emotions of others seem to envoke emotions in ourselves that more or less resemble the other's who is actually in a certain situation. On the basis of what others tell us, we can have an idea about what a war is like, we can imagine what it would be like to experience it.

Still we have not experienced it and therefore it is impossible to say anything with absolute certainty. Having a child is another example. People who do not (yet) have a child, can - if they want - imagine what it would be like to have one. Only when they really experience it, are they able to say someting about it with certainty. Let us not even talk about child-birth itself and the delivery process. How can males ever even imagine what it is like to experience this?

No one has ever experienced death, simply because we have never 'lived' it. Others have, but they are unable to tell us anything about it. So you have not experienced it and you can not imagine what it is like, you can not empathize with the dead. Why then are you so sure death is the only thing that is fixed in this world? It is plausible, more than plausible, but it is not an absolute certainty. An absolute certainty is something you must experience.

Next question: can we say anything with certainty about everything we have experienced in life? If an absolute certainty requires experience, can we say anything with certainty of those things we have experienced. Do we know our experiences? If yes, the list of answers to this question would be immense. We could tell things with certainty about wars, having children and driving a car. But an absolute certainty carries another important aspect apart from the condition it must be an experience. Every counter argument would have nothing on the absolute truth. Even if you did not believe in this certainty, it should still be there. One could not even imagine situations in which this so called truth suddenly became untrue. However you look at it, the truth is fixed and nothing or no one can change it, hence the word absolute.

Now, you may still think that you could tell things with certainty about your experiences, simply because you have experienced it: 'I am sure I went through that war and that I acted like this and that in it, have felt and thought such and such'.

However, an absolute certainty is only there when every possible scenario can not touch that truth, how crazy and unreal that scenario may sound. The most ridiculous philosophy on life still would not change anything when applied to that truth. It is not about what you think you know for certain right now, but about the definition of an absolute certainty or truth. If you agree with this definition, try to think again about what you know for sure. An absolute certainty has as conditions that it has to be experienced, by you, and that no other theory could go against it; it would not even leave room for another theory. The only reality is this absolute truth.

Are you certain other people exist? Are you absolutely sure that what you see is really there? Do you see the world as it is or is there a possibility that you live in an illusion? Could it be that you are the only one who exists in this universe and everything around you is but a dream, an illusion? Of course, you do not have to believe in this, but could it be? Can you ever be a stone in this life, an animal, a plant or another human being so that you know they too exist? Because only that what you experience can be seen as certainty. Did that war really happen? Is the world really how it is? Or do you live in some sort of Matrix and see only what you think you see? It is plausible the above is not the case. Fortunately, I would say. But indeed: it is not more than very plausible that the world, the universe and everything that is located in and on it, is really there and that you are not the only one existing as such. No one can ever say this with absolute certainty. Obviously, a theory exists that can make everything that we experience look like an illusion. Again, you do not have to believe in this, just to acknowledge that this theory makes it very hard to call an absolute truth. Or rather easy, depends how look at it. And it is connected to your own experience and the condition this creates to speak of an absolute truth. For you can not experience something for someone else, you can not look into someone else's mind or have the very same thoughts, you can not put yourself into another body. You can never experience what it is like to be someone else. So how do you know for certain the other exists?

What remains left, you may wonder. What else then can you call an absolute certainty? Perhaps you do not see the most obvious answer, the most logical one. So obvious, you might not even have thought about it. But is it not so that such a crucial question and the answer to it is very important and has enormous implications? Or is it just a theoretical question that does not carry any significant practical consequences? Is the definition of an absolute truth, as given above, the reason that many answers can not be given at all? Of course it is. And that is exactly the intention of the question itself. Which answer remains?

Looking at it from an even more extreme point of view, you could even drop the knowing part in the question. What is 'knowing' anyhow? Knowing we do with the mind. It would be inappropriate and even arrogant to think only sensible people can track down the things which are certain in life. Animals, plants and stones for example - assuming they exist - could never find out because they can not reason with any form of sense. Therefore, an absolute truth should not be dependent on the mind. An absolute truth must be there at all times and count for everything and everyone, even for lifeless things. And what does our mind rely on? That is easy to answer: our senses. So that would mean we can not trust our senses in deciding what is an absolute truth. It can not be known by our senses only. This is the fourth aspect of an absolute truth: it is independent of the senses.

Yet we can not just let go of our mind and we are forced to ask all our questions in this context and through this medium. Language is the intermedium.

What is left? The answer has to be in you and must always have been there. It is not dependent on your mind and senses, you have never learned it and still you must know it.

Edited by vester

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Elijah17

Absolutely nothing. Maybe.

Edited by Elijah17

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drakonwick

This falls under interpretation, as everyone will have a different perception of how they would come to a conclusion on such a broad question.

Personally for me though, there is absolutely no certainties.

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Habitat

Well, I know with absolute certainty that the statement " There is nothing we can know with absolute certainty " is an idea that contradicts itself, by disqualifying itself from being accepted necessarily as fact.

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alphafemale

I believe in Jesus, God, I am a Christian. Of this I am sure & would swear by death to be so.

But as far as "How do I know? Proof? Tangible?" I dont. It is the conundrum man debates every day of his (her) life.

Sort of like the older V show "The Truth Is out There.."

We just know it is. Inherently.

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Leonardo

I am only replying to the question in your thread title, vester, that being "What do we know with absolute certainty?"

The first thing you must do is qualify what level of certainty you are referring to. Is this certainty at the level of self-awareness, or of agreement?

If the former, then the only things you can know with certainty is that self exists, and therefore something exists within which self is expressed. So, you know with absolute certainty that you (self), and the universe (not self), exists. The universe, in this case, is not the agreed definition of "all space, time matter and energy", but simply that which is not self.

If the latter, then there are very many things that we know with absolute certainty, far too many things to list here. Whether we all refer to those things using the same terminology is another matter.

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vester

Absolutely nothing. Maybe.

Have you experienced 'nothing'? How do you know you know nothing?

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vester

Well, I know with absolute certainty that the statement " There is nothing we can know with absolute certainty " is an idea that contradicts itself, by disqualifying itself from being accepted necessarily as fact.

In other words: if you say you know nothing, then that in itself means you know something (that you know nothing). A contradiction indeed.

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vester

I am only replying to the question in your thread title, vester, that being "What do we know with absolute certainty?"

The first thing you must do is qualify what level of certainty you are referring to. Is this certainty at the level of self-awareness, or of agreement?

You could make that distinction, yes. But then: what is self-awareness and what is agreement?

To me, an absolute certainty is something which requires an experience which you must have had (not someone else), that it can /must not depend on knowing or perception, and that no other scenario could prove it wrong. Self-awareness and agreement are relative terms. The definition I use is also a relative one of course, but that's the thing with words...

If the former, then the only things you can know with certainty is that self exists, and therefore something exists within which self is expressed. So, you know with absolute certainty that you (self), and the universe (not self), exists. The universe, in this case, is not the agreed definition of "all space, time matter and energy", but simply that which is not self.

If the latter, then there are very many things that we know with absolute certainty, far too many things to list here. Whether we all refer to those things using the same terminology is another matter.

What is self? How do you know self exists? Does self need something else to express it in? Does it need a 'not-self'? Is there a difference between Universe (not-self) and self? Or are they one and the same? Are they opposites and/or do they imply each other? Are self and not-self 'out there' or have we invented those concepts?

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vester

I believe in Jesus, God, I am a Christian. Of this I am sure & would swear by death to be so.

Is to believe the same thing as to know? Or do you know for certain that you believe?

But as far as "How do I know? Proof? Tangible?" I dont. It is the conundrum man debates every day of his (her) life.

Sort of like the older V show "The Truth Is out There.."

We just know it is. Inherently.

Scientists will never understand what you've said here and they think you make a huge mistake in this reasoning. To say 'we just know it' is not done in science.

I think you touch the core of the question, while many will disagree.

One question: what is knowing for you?

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Leonardo

What is self?

You've answered that question by asking it, vester.

And, if you don't understand that, then nothing anyone can say can help you understand that. You are the only one who can understand your self.

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vester

This falls under interpretation, as everyone will have a different perception of how they would come to a conclusion on such a broad question.

Personally for me though, there is absolutely no certainties.

I already thought you were a relativist thinker. You can not trust anything, can you? Not even your thoughts, interpretations or perceptions. Everyone experiences in a different way and therefore there is no absolute truth.

Think about this:

If there are no absolute certainties, then that is an absolute certainty in itself. It sounds logical and an easy way out, but really: it is a contradiction in terms.

Plus, how do you know you know nothing? What makes you say that? Don't you refer to another's perceptions in comparison to your own? Is that no 'proof' of the other's existence?

Edited by vester

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vester

You've answered that question by asking it, vester.

And, if you don't understand that, then nothing anyone can say can help you understand that. You are the only one who can understand your self.

Can self be understood? Is it a matter of understanding? And what about the other questions I asked?

Edited by vester

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JGirl

i know with absolute certainty that i will never get the two minutes back that i used up reading this post.

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drakonwick

I already thought you were a relativist thinker. You can not trust anything, can you? Not even your thoughts, interpretations or perceptions. Everyone experiences in a different way and therefore there is no absolute truth.

Think about this:

If there are no absolute certainties, then that is an absolute certainty in itself. It sounds logical and an easy way out, but really: it is a contradiction in terms.

Plus, how do you know you know nothing? What makes you say that? Don't you refer to another's perceptions in comparison to your own? Is that no 'proof' of the other's existence?

I think the question is unanswerable by the logic you are using. What do you personally think about absolute certainties, do you have an answer?

Edited by Archaic

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Nadia B.

i know with absolute certainty that i will never get the two minutes back that i used up reading this post.

:lol: Poor J.

Everything is relative for a reason. Really, things/people are only proven to exist by their relation to each other. This exists because that exists, etc.

Here's a scenario I liked to put in front of my pothead friends when they would be sitting around getting high, about how do you KNOW anything at all.

So, you guys did this yesterday? Really? Stoner A, tell me what happened. Same question to Stoner B, C, D, and E. All answers showing different views of what actually happened, even down to not agreeing what color a shirt or something was. So, if they were all different, what EXACTLY did happen? Who's right? Any of them? Well no. They all agree they experienced the same thing in different ways, and agree that that being the case, it's probable NONE of them know the facts of what occured. Therefore, did it really even happen? You can't prove it happened, and your view has already been distorted by someone else's. This begins to possibly prove you wrong, so maybe... just maybe... you're totally wrong. :lol: It's all a matter of perception, and people are all the same in that they're unique. They see things differently than others do.

But yeah, everything we think we know, we know because we think we know something else. Vicious circle with no beginning or end. Trippy if you think about it. This is why I don't. :lol:

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xYlvax

I know that death is certain.

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vester

:lol: Poor J.

Everything is relative for a reason. Really, things/people are only proven to exist by their relation to each other. This exists because that exists, etc.

Here's a scenario I liked to put in front of my pothead friends when they would be sitting around getting high, about how do you KNOW anything at all.

So, you guys did this yesterday? Really? Stoner A, tell me what happened. Same question to Stoner B, C, D, and E. All answers showing different views of what actually happened, even down to not agreeing what color a shirt or something was. So, if they were all different, what EXACTLY did happen? Who's right? Any of them? Well no. They all agree they experienced the same thing in different ways, and agree that that being the case, it's probable NONE of them know the facts of what occured. Therefore, did it really even happen? You can't prove it happened, and your view has already been distorted by someone else's. This begins to possibly prove you wrong, so maybe... just maybe... you're totally wrong. :lol: It's all a matter of perception, and people are all the same in that they're unique. They see things differently than others do.

But yeah, everything we think we know, we know because we think we know something else. Vicious circle with no beginning or end. Trippy if you think about it. This is why I don't. :lol:

Lots of assumptions in your logic.

What is a 'difference'? Can you speak of a difference without having a concept of its opposite, a similarity? Do similarities therefore also exist?

When do we agree? What is agreement? Is it a relative term too? Or is it an objective measure which you can use to distinguish between truth and not-truth, difference and similarity?

You say 'it's all a matter of perception'. What is perception? Is it distorted so people see things 'differently'? Or does a central core in perception exist which we all share? Is perception not interpreted also? What does this interpretation mean?

You also assume the existence of time in you Stoner example. Memory seems to be essential. Is memory a good measure for knowing what is true? Or is it a measure for the amount of agreement?

Why is the circle you mention a vicious one?

I'm not trying to irritate, just trying to show that answers provoke questions and vice versa. Maybe there is no end to that process too...

Questions should be asked quickly, answers to be given carefully.

Edited by vester

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vester

I know that death is certain.

Did you read the first post? If so, what makes you say that death is still the only absolute certainty?

Edited by vester

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third_eye

I believe this is the classic sophist versus rhetoric match ups of ye olden days, i think ... IIRC

except this time the rules are that the problems are separated into neat piles and locked in their exclusive places

this makes all available proposals unworkable as "Human is the measure of all things"

agree or not, it's as absolute as it gets

the zen buddhist look see on this is "what is absolute is that nothing is absolute"

awareness brings illusions as well as reality,

if you cant see the illusions you can never see the reality and the other way around

separateness only makes the illusions greater and blinds awareness to reality

so what is absolute in the end ?

all things end as all things must begins

in all beginnings they are endings

and all ending comes from some beginnings

thus now what is absolute in the beginning ?

all things begins as all things must end

in all endings they are beginnings

and all beginnings comes from some ending

it is the same but it is not absolute

absolute must exist but cannot remain absolute

absolute is the changes and the changes is absolute

this is called absolute life,

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vester

I think the question is unanswerable by the logic you are using. What do you personally think about absolute certainties, do you have an answer?

How is my question, the way I framed it, unanswerable?

Do pure questions exist, questions without answers? Or is saying that it is unanswerable also an answer?

I believe every question is inextricably connected to the answer. There are no questions without answers, as there are no answers without questions. It is often stated that a question precedes the answer, but is this true? Isn't the answer already in the question?

The question is already the prelude, the condition of the answer. It is too much deciding and determining the answer. The linguistics and the thoughts behind the question betray the answer. The question determines in what terms the answer must be given. The question is part of the answer. The question is the answer.

So the need for answers is as much a need for questions. Any question decides the terms in which the answers to that question must be given. It does that to such an extent, that eventually you will come to the conclusion that the answer is within the question, that they imply each other, that they are each other.

It's another discussion whether an answer to a question is right or wrong. But this discussion does not adress the nature of the question and the answer. It adresses quality: what is right and what is wrong?

I will give my answer though, but not yet ;) .

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vester

I believe this is the classic sophist versus rhetoric match ups of ye olden days, i think ... IIRC

except this time the rules are that the problems are separated into neat piles and locked in their exclusive places

this makes all available proposals unworkable as "Human is the measure of all things"

agree or not, it's as absolute as it gets

the zen buddhist look see on this is "what is absolute is that nothing is absolute"

awareness brings illusions as well as reality,

if you cant see the illusions you can never see the reality and the other way around

separateness only makes the illusions greater and blinds awareness to reality

so what is absolute in the end ?

all things end as all things must begins

in all beginnings they are endings

and all ending comes from some beginnings

thus now what is absolute in the beginning ?

all things begins as all things must end

in all endings they are beginnings

and all beginnings comes from some ending

it is the same but it is not absolute

absolute must exist but cannot remain absolute

absolute is the changes and the changes is absolute

this is called absolute life,

Always interesting, the Zen approach.

Since I like asking questions when answers are given, I'll do the same to this quote.

Is awareness the source of everything, since it brings illusions and reality? What is this awareness? Is it also caused by something, or does it only create (illusions and reality)? Do illusions and reality both exist? If so, does awareness have a choice in seeing one or the other? Does the counterpart of awareness, un-awareness, also exist? If so, what is its relation to awareness?

If change is absolute, then what is non-change or stasis? If stasis does not exist, does that mean that change is continuous? If that is so, how can that be? Isn't change: something changes into something? Don't we need those 'somethings' to see the change? If those 'somethings' exist, then continuous change contradicts itself, for it needs fixed elements to change.

Curious about your response.

Edited by vester

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third_eye

Always interesting, the Zen approach.

Since I like asking questions when answers are given, I'll do the same to this quote.

Is awareness the source of everything, since it brings illusions and reality? What is this awareness? Is it also caused by something, or does it only create (illusions and reality)? Do illusions and reality both exist? If so, does awareness have a choice in seeing one or the other? Does the counterpart of awareness, un-awareness, also exist? If so, what is its relation to awareness?

If change is absolute, then what is non-change or stasis? If stasis does not exist, does that mean that change is continuous? If that is so, how can that be? Isn't change: something changes into something? Don't we need those 'somethings' to see the change? If those 'somethings' exist, then continuous change contradicts itself, for it needs fixed elements to change.

Curious about your response.

you see you hit a few bumps there just as I did in my previous post

as soon as you tried to keep it in its little circle it disappeared

the object changed its character as the subject missed the point

thus

If those 'somethings' exist, then continuous change contradicts itself, for it needs fixed elements to change.

I think you should reveal your key now :lol:

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Nadia B.

One.

That's the answer to it all. One thing. Or so I've heard. :lol:

Basically Vester I was agreeing with you. By your ideas and response though, you're saying even the questions you're asking of us are invalid. Therefore, this entire conversation is pointless.

Heck.. it's probably not even happening. :yes:

Edited by Nadia B.
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the1truebat

There are only two things I know for an absolute certainty.

Stay true to who I am, and leave this world in the same manner I came in(Kicking and screaming).

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