The Hall of Philosophy » The Be-All, End-All of Epistemology

  • Weird Buffalo
    Weird Buffalo
    Cancel that, reverse it. This is the start of epistemology IMO. There's plenty of nuance and depth to get into (I still need to dive into Karl Popper at some point), but I think this video gives a very good layman's version of Hume's two axioms. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3NdzLCNI-E&ab_channel=MattDillahunty 1. The wise person proportions their confidence to the evidence. 2. Reject the greater miracle. I think with just these two concepts we can already start weeding out a lot of false ideas. I think religion already falls apart with just these two, and we don't need to study Popper's concepts of falsifiability at all. Popper is for debates on things like spacetime within the context of Einstein's general relativity.

    Cancel that, reverse it. This is the start of epistemology IMO. There's plenty of nuance and depth to get into (I still need to dive into Karl Popper at some point), but I think this video gives a very good layman's version of Hume's two axioms.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3NdzLCNI-E&ab_channel=MattDillahunty

    1. The wise person proportions their confidence to the evidence.
    2. Reject the greater miracle.

    I think with just these two concepts we can already start weeding out a lot of false ideas. I think religion already falls apart with just these two, and we don't need to study Popper's concepts of falsifiability at all. Popper is for debates on things like spacetime within the context of Einstein's general relativity.

  • Bruce Burleson
    Bruce Burleson
    Hume's axioms should, in fact, cause one to reject (or at least not believe) any testimony that alleges a miracle, because it is always more likely that a person is lying, deceived, or just mistaken than it is for the laws of nature to seemingly be reversed. However, his axioms do not preclude a person from believing his/her own personal experience of a matter. If a person finds an animal long thought to be extinct, but has no means to photograph it or otherwise preserve evidence of the find, that person may rightfully feel that he/she is justified in trusting his/her own experience. However, without greater evidence, there is no reason for anyone else to believe that person's testimony. This is why Hume's axioms do not put a dagger in the heart of religious faith. Individuals continue to have personal experiences in which they are convinced that they have encountered God, in some form or fashion. There is no reason for you to believe those accounts, but the strength of the experience can lead the individual to have some level of confidence.

    Hume's axioms should, in fact, cause one to reject (or at least not believe) any testimony that alleges a miracle, because it is always more likely that a person is lying, deceived, or just mistaken than it is for the laws of nature to seemingly be reversed. However, his axioms do not preclude a person from believing his/her own personal experience of a matter. If a person finds an animal long thought to be extinct, but has no means to photograph it or otherwise preserve evidence of the find, that person may rightfully feel that he/she is justified in trusting his/her own experience. However, without greater evidence, there is no reason for anyone else to believe that person's testimony.

    This is why Hume's axioms do not put a dagger in the heart of religious faith. Individuals continue to have personal experiences in which they are convinced that they have encountered God, in some form or fashion. There is no reason for you to believe those accounts, but the strength of the experience can lead the individual to have some level of confidence.

  • Unsmoked
    Unsmoked
    People encounter God in dreams and visions or while riding a horse on the road to Damascus. If you read about 1000 of those encounters, especially stories from other cultures, it's bound to affect your level of confidence in your own experience. Ten thousand Nez Perce are wrong about what Coyote said to them on their vision quest?

    People encounter God in dreams and visions or while riding a horse on the road to Damascus. If you read about 1000 of those encounters, especially stories from other cultures, it's bound to affect your level of confidence in your own experience.

    Ten thousand Nez Perce are wrong about what Coyote said to them on their vision quest?

  • Lady Jane
    Lady Jane
    The word miracle carries too much supernatural baggage to be used in any other way but satirically. There’s a difference between someone saying they spotted an animal that has been declared extinct and someone claiming they personally encountered God. Evidence that there was such an animal, at some point in time, that actually existed in reality earns itself a larger window of possibility than the presence of an invisible guy in the sky there’s never been any evidence for in the history of everything. Faith is meant to follow old roads. Logic paves the way to the truth. And some animals are more easily rejected than others.

    The word miracle carries too much supernatural baggage to be used in any other way but satirically. There’s a difference between someone saying they spotted an animal that has been declared extinct and someone claiming they personally encountered God. Evidence that there was such an animal, at some point in time, that actually existed in reality earns itself a larger window of possibility than the presence of an invisible guy in the sky there’s never been any evidence for in the history of everything. Faith is meant to follow old roads. Logic paves the way to the truth. And some animals are more easily rejected than others.

  • Bruce Burleson
    Bruce Burleson
    The subject of this thread, as I understand it, is whether Hume's axioms are the be-all/end-all of epistemology. While his axioms are a helpful beginning on evaluating the claims of others for one's self, they do not settle the issue of an individual's experience. Again, for the person seeing the extinct animal, he has reason to believe his own experience. Hume would say that no one else should believe him, however, because it is more likely that he is mistaken than it is for an extinct animal to appear. That says nothing to the individual's experience. He will be responsible for his own experience, of course, and he may have been mistaken about the identity of the animal he saw. But Hume does not end the discussion as far as the experiencer is concerned.

    The subject of this thread, as I understand it, is whether Hume's axioms are the be-all/end-all of epistemology. While his axioms are a helpful beginning on evaluating the claims of others for one's self, they do not settle the issue of an individual's experience. Again, for the person seeing the extinct animal, he has reason to believe his own experience. Hume would say that no one else should believe him, however, because it is more likely that he is mistaken than it is for an extinct animal to appear. That says nothing to the individual's experience. He will be responsible for his own experience, of course, and he may have been mistaken about the identity of the animal he saw. But Hume does not end the discussion as far as the experiencer is concerned.

  • Bruce Burleson
    Bruce Burleson
    As far as another person's experience is concerned, I can't judge it, as I do not have access to it. I only have my own. So I am responsible for what is in me, and they are responsible for what is in them. It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of the same reality.

    As far as another person's experience is concerned, I can't judge it, as I do not have access to it. I only have my own. So I am responsible for what is in me, and they are responsible for what is in them. It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of the same reality.

  • Weird Buffalo
    Weird Buffalo
    The title is tongue-in-cheek, as you'll note I immediately backtrack with the first couple of sentences. I agree with you that personal revelation is potentially sufficient evidence to believe something to be true. I think the first axiom though immediately puts it in a suspect category. Personal revelation would be sufficient to consider something as potentially true, but then it has to be compared to all of the other evidence available. If we are apportioning our confidence, a single piece of evidence (personal revelation) has to stack up against all the external evidence, and if it is not corroborated, then our confidence should be extremely low. In addition, a careful examination of all claims of personal revelation does indicate that personal revelation is an extremely unreliable method. Every religion has claims of personal revelation. Since many religions are mutually exclusive, it means that at a minimum that these personal revelations are also mutually exclusive. A form of evidence that cannot be verified AND produces contradictory claims should therefore be considered a very poor form of evidence. Since it is a poor form of evidence, it therefore results in a very poor confidence level. As such, I think the "wise person" would not arrive at a conclusion of something being true based on personal revelation. In addition, any person claiming to the contrary would have to demonstrate that personal revelation is a good form of evidence, but that would necessarily require them to use corroborating evidence at which point we can just use the corroborating evidence to establish the claim. So, I agree that it isn't a dagger to the heart of religion, but not because it's poor or incomplete epistemology and instead a result of user error.

    The title is tongue-in-cheek, as you'll note I immediately backtrack with the first couple of sentences.

    I agree with you that personal revelation is potentially sufficient evidence to believe something to be true. I think the first axiom though immediately puts it in a suspect category. Personal revelation would be sufficient to consider something as potentially true, but then it has to be compared to all of the other evidence available. If we are apportioning our confidence, a single piece of evidence (personal revelation) has to stack up against all the external evidence, and if it is not corroborated, then our confidence should be extremely low.

    In addition, a careful examination of all claims of personal revelation does indicate that personal revelation is an extremely unreliable method. Every religion has claims of personal revelation. Since many religions are mutually exclusive, it means that at a minimum that these personal revelations are also mutually exclusive. A form of evidence that cannot be verified AND produces contradictory claims should therefore be considered a very poor form of evidence. Since it is a poor form of evidence, it therefore results in a very poor confidence level.

    As such, I think the "wise person" would not arrive at a conclusion of something being true based on personal revelation. In addition, any person claiming to the contrary would have to demonstrate that personal revelation is a good form of evidence, but that would necessarily require them to use corroborating evidence at which point we can just use the corroborating evidence to establish the claim.

    So, I agree that it isn't a dagger to the heart of religion, but not because it's poor or incomplete epistemology and instead a result of user error.

  • Unsmoked
    Unsmoked
    Bruce, as we've both noticed before, people who have religious experiences usually have them in the context of their childhood religious stories . You say, "It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of the same reality." Would you be will to say, "It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of an adult psychological response to one's childhood literature?" psychological - adjective - of, affecting, or arising in the mind; related to the mental and emotional state of a person. literature - noun - written [or spoken] works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.

    Bruce, as we've both noticed before, people who have religious experiences usually have them in the context of their childhood religious stories . You say, "It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of the same reality." Would you be will to say, "It may be that we are all experiencing different aspects of an adult psychological response to one's childhood literature?"

    psychological - adjective - of, affecting, or arising in the mind; related to the mental and emotional state of a person.

    literature - noun - written [or spoken] works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.

  • Bruce Burleson
    Bruce Burleson
    It is certainly possible that such personal experiences are cultural and psychological phenomena, Unsmoked, and don't represent any objective reality. That is why I have consistently placed those experiences in the realm of faith, not evidence or knowledge. They are for the benefit of the person experiencing them, and for no other person. And, it is up to that person to evaluate his/her own experience and come to such conclusions as may be warranted. Weird, I don't really disagree with anything you have said. I would point out, however, that all personal revelation does not produce contradictory claims. It may seem to be opposed to someone else's experience, but that is difficult to evaluate, since we really can't get into each other's heads to compare notes. One person's experience may be completely consistent with his/her world view, and so at least be internally consistent. With respect to a personal revelation about some reality beyond that which science can verify, as long as the revelation is kept in the realm of faith, and no claim of absolute knowledge is made, I consider it to be valid, at least for the individual involved. Then, it just becomes a matter of evaluating any actions that arise from holding any such belief.

    It is certainly possible that such personal experiences are cultural and psychological phenomena, Unsmoked, and don't represent any objective reality. That is why I have consistently placed those experiences in the realm of faith, not evidence or knowledge. They are for the benefit of the person experiencing them, and for no other person. And, it is up to that person to evaluate his/her own experience and come to such conclusions as may be warranted.

    Weird, I don't really disagree with anything you have said. I would point out, however, that all personal revelation does not produce contradictory claims. It may seem to be opposed to someone else's experience, but that is difficult to evaluate, since we really can't get into each other's heads to compare notes. One person's experience may be completely consistent with his/her world view, and so at least be internally consistent. With respect to a personal revelation about some reality beyond that which science can verify, as long as the revelation is kept in the realm of faith, and no claim of absolute knowledge is made, I consider it to be valid, at least for the individual involved. Then, it just becomes a matter of evaluating any actions that arise from holding any such belief.

  • Lady Jane
    Lady Jane
    An individual’s pursuit of knowledge is highly impacted by faithfulness and reasoning. And their readiness to place fact over fantasy.

    An individual’s pursuit of knowledge is highly impacted by faithfulness and reasoning. And their readiness to place fact over fantasy.

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