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Thread: What do we know?

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    Default What do we know?

    If time is non-finite, 'In the beginning, God created ...' cannot be true, because there's no beginning if time is non-finite.
    If time is non-finite, the Big Bang (if there was one) cannot be the origin of everything, because if time is non-finite there must have been something before the Bing Bag.
    If, on the other hand, time is finite, there must have been an (uninvestigable?) 'non-time' before time came into being. Is that what we call 'God' (or 'Allah', if you like)? Is God / Allah non-time?
    Anyhow, there's a limit to what science can investigate, since if time is non-finite, science can never study the whole lot, and if time is finite, science can only study what's related to time, not what's related to non-time. (Non-time has no boundaries, I guess).
    This all boils down to my conviction that we know nothing. So we cannot be a theist. But we cannot be a non-theist either (like Dawkins).
    I think both theists ('believers') and atheists are too much convinced of a reality that cannot be grasped. (Mental concretizations of what you cannot know are just fairy tales).
    Just some thoughts before going to dream time (= sleep).
    Amen,
    Arie.

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    Is perception nothing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    Is perception nothing?
    I'm not going to answer that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    Is perception nothing?
    That's something, because their must be a perceiver.
    Quote Originally Posted by traq View Post
    I'm not going to answer that.
    Why not, Adrian?
    ---
    Both of you must be thinking of something I don't understand.
    Btw, had a good dream time.
    Arie.

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    My point was a little more complicated than that. If you ignore perception then these questions of nonfiniteness are relevant. If you do consider perception, then they are not. A simple case is like asking what was "before time" if there is indeed some starting point (not that it doesn't need to be unbounded at both ends to be infinite anyway). But if we only perceive within time, then asking a question is perhaps unfounded logically-- your reasoning, language (=question), answer and understanding are all within that bounded perception of the greater phenomenon.

    So perhaps you could prove that god does not exist (it seems logical to me, for example in that god apparently exists beyond time) but then that really proves nothing because your argument is within your perception and so forth.

    Let us imagine for a moment that we solve all of these things and, let's suppose, we find that time doesn't exist linearly, but rather simply as a dimension (as I've heard string theory explained for example). But then what is the point of saying that if we do perceive time in a linear way? Is it "true" that time is linear? Who knows. A lot of this ends up relating to the idea of truth, which is a lot more difficult to work out than you might think. It's something I've been looking into for questions of semantics and the philosophy of language.


    Anyway, I'm not sure what practical gain there is to asking the questions, at least without presupposing some context/purpose.

    Personally I find knowledge useful and important, perhaps circularly because I believe that to be the case. I also seem to run into the paradox of knowing more and realizing I know less. But that's how it works, I suppose.

    (As for traq, I don't blame him. I can't really answer these things myself. And as I said, I'm not sure what the productive result would be.)
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    I see what you mean, Daniel, but I don't think we need the notion of perception in order to make statements like the one I formulated. There's a difference between wanting to have answers to certain questions with the help of perception and 'stating' (with the help of some reasoning) that you will never (all) the answers.
    As for the usefulness of knowledge, I competely agree. We should try to know everything that is 'knowable'.
    Btw, could there be anything outside/beyond time if time were non-finite?
    Arie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by molendijk View Post
    God / Allah
    Allah is the Arabic word for God.
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    That's true, it's a literal translation, not a contrastive concept. (Religiously, sure, but "god" can be used for Zeus and so forth as well.)

    ---
    I see what you mean, Daniel, but I don't think we need the notion of perception in order to make statements like the one I formulated. There's a difference between wanting to have answers to certain questions with the help of perception and 'stating' (with the help of some reasoning) that you will never (all) the answers.
    As for the usefulness of knowledge, I competely agree. We should try to know everything that is 'knowable'.
    Btw, could there be anything outside/beyond time if time were non-finite?
    Arie.
    All of those concepts are defined within perception (or "consciousness" if you prefer). "Everything" and "knowable" are, I think. Even metaphysically, it's hard to know what you would mean beyond our awareness.
    In answer to your last question, sure, why not? What actually creates boundaries there? And isn't it conceivable, metaphysically, that there is always something beyond everything else, infinitely/recursively? Certainly if you allow things like "non-time" or "non-space".


    So if we focus on your idea of "knowable knowledge" then that seems completely compatible with what I said, no?
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    As for science, why not? I don't see it as limited by time/non-time. If experiments can be devised, a thing can be knowable. The Taoists I think believe that the 'time' and nothingness before time was the Tao and from it arose the the "ten thousand things". That's the closest theological parallel to the Big Bang I've ever come across.

    In science the telescope is a time machine. The farther away from us we can see, the farther back in time those events happened. We may one day even be able to see back to the Big Bang, we're already pretty close to that, but never before it. But there must be other means, theory and experiment, perhaps using colliders. I've often thought the Big Bang might be the other side of a black hole. I mean all that junk has to go somewhere, or not, it just accretes. But at some point everything would be there and time would stop. Then what happens? It's also widely held that the universe is expanding. At what point does that reverse or what happens when there's nothing close enough to anything else to matter? Time slows as you approach a black hole. Does that mean time is speeding up as the universe expands?

    As for the perceiver, you are it. You have your senses (the traditional ones) and your imagination, perhaps other means. You can perceive virtually anything and thereby know it.

    But I pretty much agree with Arie. We don't know, not yet, may never. We choose to believe based upon the evidence we're willing to accept, which is incomplete and/or an article of faith. So I suppose one could have faith while at the same time one is secure in the knowledge that one does not know. A sort of born again agnostic who has a personal relationship with God whom he doesn't fully know and cannot prove. They don't send folks round door to door, you can believe that, but perhaps they should.
    Last edited by jscheuer1; 11-12-2012 at 05:12 PM. Reason: English usage
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    It's also widely held that the universe is expanding. At what point does that reverse or what happens when there's nothing close enough to anything else to matter? Time slows as you approach a black hole. Does that mean time is speeding up as the universe expands?
    There's another possibility here. The big bang was faster than current change in the universe, but the direction of time and movement is constant. Thus there is no "beginning" of the big bang, but it has been happening forever, infinitely. However, the rate of change (perhaps as you said even affecting our perception of time itself) is not constant and therefore gives the impression that the big bang is in itself a beginning, but in reality it's just another part of the same continuum we're in now. (There may be another "end" that we could call something like the "slow fade" where matter and time cease to function normally and things like atomic bonds start to break down-- as the universe continues to expand. But that as well would not be actually finite in length (although it would be slower than the big bang). Whether there is then some cyclic nature to all of it is uncertain, but irrelevant to our perception of time and whether it's relatively "fast" or "slow" at any point.)

    There may be some effect of something vs. nothing -- that at some point early in (='at the beginning of') the big bang there was not enough space between matter for a relevant "something" to exist; and that after the subatomic bonds fail there will be "nothing" to talk about -- and thus within perception and relevance there will be a beginning and end. But that entirely depends on our definition (perceptual/cognitive) of "something" vs "nothing".


    If experiments can be devised, a thing can be knowable.
    Only to the extent that we know the result of such an experiment is such a result. The rest is inference. "Knowable" in any grander sense (for example, whether time "exists") doesn't fit within such a paradigm.


    (Note: I run experiments as part of my research and I support the idea of research/experimental methods. That doesn't change the limitations in terms of this kind of question, though.)
    Last edited by djr33; 11-12-2012 at 05:31 PM.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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