The problem of the knowability of the world and philosophical skepticism
The human mind, rising on a spiral of knowledge, on each new turn again and again tries to answer the question: how is knowledge possible, do we know the world in principle? This is not an easy question. In fact, the universe is infinite, and man is finite, and within the limits of his final experience, it is impossible to know what is infinite. This question pursued philosophical thought in many different forms. In an attempt to answer it, we can identify three main lines: optimism, skepticism and agnosticism. Optimists affirm the basic cognizability of the world, agnostics, on the contrary, it is denied. An example of an optimistic view of knowledge is the position of G. Hegel, expressed in words: "The hidden and closed in the beginning essence of the universe does not have a force that could resist the daring of knowledge; she must open up before him, show him her wealth and her depths and let him enjoy them. " Skeptics do not deny the fundamental knowledge of the world, but they doubt the reliability of knowledge, whereas agnostics deny the cognizability of the world.
The selection of these three lines is a serious simplification. Everything is much more complicated: if agnostics deny the cognizability of the world, then this is not a naked, unreasonable denial. Many questions, pointed out by them, are still really impossible to answer. The main problem that leads to agnosticism is this: the subject in the process of his cognition is inevitably refracted through the prism of our sense organs and thinking. We receive information about him only in the form that they acquired as a result of such a refraction. What are the objects in fact, we do not know and can not know. The world stretches before us, beginningless and infinite, and we approach it with our formulas, schemes, models, concepts and categories, trying to catch its eternity and infinity in the "net" our ideas. And no matter how clever we are tied up nodules concepts, categories and theories, is it presumptuous to pretend to comprehend the essence of the universe in this way? It turns out that we are closed by the world of our methods of cognition and are not able to say something certain about the world as it exists by itself - here is the conclusion to which the logic of this reasoning inevitably leads under certain epistemological assumptions.
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However, the practical conclusion of agnosticism at every step is refuted by the development of science, cognition. So, the founder of positivism, O. Kopt once said that humanity is not destined to know the chemical composition of the Sun. But the ink did not have time to dry, with which these skeptical words were inscribed, how the composition of the Sun was determined by means of spectral analysis. Some representatives of the science of the XIX century. confidently considered atoms to be no more than a mental function, although convenient for theoretical constructions, but not a real entity. But the hour struck, and Erntz Rutherford, entering the laboratory, could exclaim: "Now I know what the atom looks like!", And half a century later, a firmly established spatial chemical structure of the genes was revealed. "A great miracle in the progress of science," writes L. de Broglie, "is that we are confronted with a correspondence between our thought and reality, a certain opportunity to feel through the resources of our mind and the rules of our mind the deep connections existing between the phenomena" . But today the range of philosophical doctrines that are not alien to agnostic conclusions is quite broad - from neo-positivism to phenomenology, existentialism, pragmatism, etc. Their agnosticism is due not only to epistemological reasons, internal logic, but to a certain extent, a tradition that goes back to D. Hume's philosophy , I. Kant.
The essence of Canton agnosticism, as it is commonly believed, is this: what a thing is for us (a phenomenon), and what it represents by itself (noumenon) are fundamentally different. And no matter how much we penetrate into the depths of phenomena, our knowledge will still differ from things, what they are in themselves. This division of the world into accessible knowledge "phenomena" and unknowable things by themselves excludes the possibility of understanding the essence of things. What objects actually are, we do not know and can not know: we can not compare what is in consciousness, with what lies beyond it, transcendent to it. After all, a person can only compare what he knows, with what he somehow knows. It turns out that we are endlessly like a squirrel in a wheel, revolving in the world of our knowledge and nowhere are we ever in touch with the very objects of the world in their form free from the introduction of our subjectivity form: they are never given to us and in principle can not be given in their " bare self. Hence the conclusion: it is impossible to find out what is not contained in thought and feelings, and there everything with an "admixture" subjectivity. The external world, according to this idea, like a wanderer, knocks on the temple of reason, excites it to activity, while remaining under the cover of the unknown, because he can not really enter this temple without being subjected to deformation. And the mind, forced only to guess what kind of wanderer, comes up with his image, which turns out to be something of a centaur-like kind: something from the wanderer himself, and something from our human nature. From this consideration it is evident that the source of agnosticism is inevitably the hypothesis of the transcendence of knowledge. The source of agnosticism is the gap in being, the recognition of the "impenetrability of being for truth", in the words of PA Florensky.
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Kant himself would hardly consider himself an agnostic. By placing nature (nature as a phenomenon) inside the circle of cognition, he believed in the boundless progress of her cognition. After all, observation and analysis of phenomena, according to Kant, penetrate into nature, and it is not known how far in time mankind will advance in this. The boundaries of our experience are continually expanding, and no matter how much knowledge grows, its boundaries can not disappear, however, as the heavenly horizon can not disappear. Thus, in fact, Kant's situation is much more complicated than it is usually said, speaking of his agnosticism. "This remarkable husband," wrote Goethe to Kant, "acted with the picaresque irony, when he seemed to be trying to limit the cognitive ability in the closest possible way, he seemed to hint at going beyond the boundaries that he himself had spent." . What is the difficulty? The fate of man's mind, says Kant, has a strange fate: he is beset with questions from which he can not escape, because they are imposed on him by his own nature; but at the same time he can not answer them, because they exceed his capabilities. In this difficulty, the mind does not fall through its own fault. He begins with the fundamentals derived from experience, but, rising to the heights of knowledge, he notes that before him there are more and more new questions, the answer to which he can not give. So, first, Kant posed here the question of the fundamental limitations of human experience, and secondly, he recognized that reality always transcends any knowledge: in this sense it is more cunning " all theories and infinitely richer than them. In addition, he stated that the world is always known only in the forms of its givenness to man. It was the latter circumstance that enabled him to assert that a thing is known in a phenomenon, and not as it exists in itself. But this statement, being absolute, tears the impassable gulf between consciousness and the world and leads to agnosticism, lowering, according to N. Lossky, the value of consciousness. We see that the root of agnosticism lies in the rupture of a certain coordinating connection between the subject and the object. Whatever gnoseological hypotheses about the nature of this connection, without its inclusion in the theory of knowledge, an agnostic conclusion is inevitable.
One of the sources of agnosticism is epistemological relativism - the absolutization of variability, fluidity of phenomena, events of being and cognition. Supporters of relativism proceed from the skeptical principle: everything in the world is transient, the truth is on everyday, and even on scientific level - expresses our knowledge of the phenomena of the world only at a given moment, and what was considered to be true yesterday is now recognized as a delusion: the truth, like a medicine, has a shelf life. Even greater fluctuations are subject to value judgments. This is especially acute in social life, in moral norms and aesthetic tastes. What has recently been acknowledged as indisputable is now being cast down as the descent of hell and the nightmare of the once experienced suffering. Estimates vary as color spots in a kaleidoscope. This draws a general conclusion that the process of cognition is a doomed to failure "chase" for eternally elusive truth. All our knowledge seems to float in a sea of uncertainty and unreliability, it is only - and only! - relatively, conventionally, i.e. conditionally, and thus subjectively.
This oppressively skeptical view arose in the depths of Antiquity. An example of extreme relativism is the teaching of Kratil (the second half of the 5th century - the beginning of the 4th century BC), who believed that everything in the world is changing so rapidly that there is absolutely nothing stable in it. Therefore, one can not even name this or that object, animal or person, for while we utter a word, they will already change and will not be what we accept them for. Cratil advised to remain silent to avoid confusion, and only in case of extreme need to point a finger: there's nothing wrong with anything!
To consider all our knowledge to be only relative, not containing a particle of the absolute, is, in effect, to recognize complete arbitrariness in cognition. In this case, knowledge becomes a continuous stream, where there is nothing relatively stable, reliable, where the boundaries between truth and error are blurred, and it turns out that no provisions can be trusted, and therefore, one can not be guided in life by anything. Full relativism in the theory of knowledge is one of the forms of manifestation of "satiety" thinking. For pego, the following reasoning is typical: if truth is, then it must necessarily be absolute, and if the truth is not absolute, then it is not true at all. In the subtext, in fact - unbelief in absolute (not even in relative) truth. Proponents of relativism usually refer to the fact that the history of science knows a lot of cases when the positions considered true were later disproved as false and, on the contrary, the positions considered false in the course of the development of science acted as true. The path of the movement of scientific cognition is really not a straight line, but a bizarre curve, on the segments of which errors are possible. But this does not prove that all our knowledge is nonsense. The relativist replaces the right position. "Knowledge contains the moment of the relative" erroneous "Knowledge is always only relative to", and therefore, it does not need knowledge, down with knowledge! "This is the most horrible reasoning: if I can not do everything, then I will not do anything." (L. N. Tolstoy).
Skeptical thought goes back partly to the arguments of the ancient philosophers Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, Antiphont, Frazymach, who were the forerunners and contemporaries of the ancient thinkers of antiquity - Socrates and Plato (in Plato's Dialogs one can find arguments with the Sophists). Xeiophane said:
Even if somebody would have said the truth: How could he know, Truth or lie, he said? Only ghosts are available to people.
Po and the great Aristotle remarked: "Who clearly wants to know, he must first thoroughly doubt". Own name skeptics it is customary to associate with the philosophical school founded by Pyrrho, according to legend, a participant in the transition of Alexander to India, who took some ideals of Indian wisdom. In Pyrrho, the skeptics of all times have seen their patron and almost a saint, therefore skepticism is allegorically called also pyrrism, and philosophers who stand in the position of skepticism are pyrrons. Statement Pyrrho's views were given by his follower Sextus Empiricus, from where he derives most of the information on ancient skepticism. Skeptics include the so-called academicians - Arkesilaya, Karpeada. In the Renaissance and at the beginning of the New Age, skeptical teachings were developed by such famous men as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Agrippa of Nettesheim (the last belongs to the work "On the Unreliability and Futility of All Science", 1531), J. Pico della Mirandola. The author of the famous "Experiences" Michelle Montaigne: "Of what people came up with, there is nothing more plausible and more useful than pyrrónism. Thanks to him, man is naked and devastated; recognizing his inherent weakness and ready to recognize some higher power ... this is a clean sheet of paper on which the finger of God can trace everything that is pleasing to him. " The transition expressed here from skepticism to fideism (from the Latin fides - faith, ie the desire to establish knowledge on religious faith) is not accidental and is characteristic of many pyrrons.
The ancient philosophers, as you know, tried to live in accordance with their teaching. The epicological attitude of skeptics - to the epoch (ie, abstinence from judgment) corresponds to the ideal ataraxia, ie, in the behavior. deep calm and equanimity. But is the spiritual state of ataraxia really a gnoseological epoch? According to PA Florensky, the epoch "reduces to the following two-component thesis:" I do not say anything "; I do not claim that I do not approve anything. " [Here], as it turns out, we are clearly violating the law of identity, expressing about the same subject ... contradictory predicates ... Not being able to actively combine these two parts of one position, we are forced passively to surrender to contradictions torn apart by consciousness. Claiming one, we at the same moment need to assert the opposite; asserting the latter - we immediately turn to the first ... Now doubt is already far, - in the sense of uncertainty: absolute doubt has begun, as a full possibility to assert anything, even your non-confirmation. Skepticism comes to free negation, but can not jump over the last, so that it turns into an endlessly painful yearning, in attempts, in the agony of the spirit ... Mad crashing and squirming, frantic treading in place, throwing from side to side - then an inarticulate philosophical cry ... Of course, this is not ataraxia. No, this is the most urgent of tortures, pulling at the innermost threads of the whole being; pirronic, truly fiery ... tormenting ".
If we return to purely epistemological analysis, we will also get the inevitable self-destruction of skepticism here. If everything in the world is relative, then relative and this statement of relativity and, consequently, "absolutism" is not at all defeated by relativism. The relative makes sense in connection with some absolute, and outside this connection loses its meaning. "The skepticism of Hume," writes N. Lossky, "stopped halfway, [and] Hume's teachings, consistently developed to the end, lead to an even more radical but self-destructive skepticism." Hume thought all the "general terms" a kind of beliefs, making an exception only for mathematical truths, purely analytical, in his opinion. But this is not true, because mathematical axioms at least represent synthetic judgments (not tautologies). According to Hume, even descriptions of external impressions can not be considered strictly scientific: they inevitably contain an element of "beliefs", ie, if you follow Hume, strictly speaking, even history and geography as a science are impossible. Thus, self-destructive skepticism is obtained, which considers everything to be a belief, except for a momentary single perception. Obviously, such skepticism must be treated with doubt and toward oneself, that is, to his theory of knowledge, which has a claim to consist of general provisions, and in this sense it destroys itself. "
Agnosticism, as already mentioned, contradicts the very practice of knowledge, i.e. his position is in conflict with the fact that, for example, scientists manage to build more or less successful theories, which are confirmed by experience. On the basis of these theories, engineers build mechanisms, machines, etc., which really achieve the goals set in the project. If a theory is eventually rejected, then it is not completely rejected, some "bricks" are inevitably transferred to a new theoretical building (this process is, of course, complex, and it will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter). Moreover (which is quite amazing), the theories, often developed quite independently in different areas, suddenly reveal a parallelism, kinship and even a deep connection. All this suggests that there is something behind the theories. This something formulate very difficult. Its existence is the mystery of knowledge. As A. Einstein said, "the most incomprehensible thing in this world is that he is comprehending." The practice of knowledge is the sum of a vast number of indirect refutations of agnosticism. Moreover, in agnosticism, in addition to the above, there is an additional internal contradiction. Agnostics, as a rule, appeal to empiricism, pure experience. But agnosticism inevitably falls into an unforgivable contradiction with facts, namely: with the fact that "all people have an unshakable confidence in the existence of the external world, and it relies on the immediate experience of trans-subjectivity," 5 coloring certain elements of consciousness, as opposed to feeling subjectivity, coloring others elements of consciousness & quot ;. Similarly, if there were no active, real causal connection (and there would be only a habitual connection in time), then there would be no material for the emergence of the concept of causality, which exists in any theorizing consciousness; the same applies to substantiality, etc. If reality really contradicted reason, then everything in the life of the world would be absurd, impractical! (It can be noted that these arguments against agnosticism are parallel to one of the classical proofs of the existence of God, this connection is certainly not accidental, because arguments against the being of God and against the knowability or the very existence of the natural world are also of the same type.)
Agnosticism is a hypertrophied form of skepticism. Recognizing the fundamental possibility of cognition, skepticism expresses doubt in the reliability of knowledge. As a rule, skepticism flourishes in violent color in the period (or on the eve of) the breaking of paradigms, the change of values, social systems, etc., when something that was considered to be true in the light of new data of science and practice turns out to be false, untenable. The psychology of skepticism is such that he immediately begins to trample not only the obsolete itself, but at the same time everything new that is nascent. At the heart of this psychology is not the exploratory thirst for innovation and faith in the power of the human mind, but the habit of the "cozy" once accepted faith principles. Bitterly regretting that some psychologists really have this kind of psychology, Tsiolkovsky said: they laugh and deny a lot, and it's easy and pleasant. But what a shame lies on humanity, which strangles the great, beats and destroys what is then benevolent for itself. When will humanity finally get rid of this disastrous vice ...
As the doctrine of skepticism, it is certainly harmful, as it belittles the person's practically-cognitive abilities. A person driven by the desire for knowledge, says: "I do not know what it is, I hope to learn"; The agnostic asserts: "I do not know what it is, and I never will know." Cheap Skepticism, as well as blind fanaticism, is equally common in people who are limited. According to F. Laroshfuko, people of the short-sighted usually condemn everything that goes beyond their horizons. However, to a reasonable extent, skepticism is useful and even necessary. As a cognitive method skepticism appears in the form of doubt, and this is a step to the truth. Doubt is a worm that undermines and destroys obsolete dogmas, a necessary component of developing science. There is no knowledge without a problem, but there is no problem without a doubt. Ignorance asserts and denies; knowledge - doubts. Once Werner Heisenberg in a personal conversation said that in some philosophers he was most surprised by astonishing conceit and arrogance: they all seem clear and understandable. But to him, Heisenberg, it seems that in the world most of all is still unclear and incomprehensible and only a negligible fraction seems to be understandable. According to DI Mendeleyev, calm modesty of judgments is usually accompanied by a truly scientific one, and where bitingly, with judicial methods try to clamp the mouth to any contradiction - there is no true spider.
In a genuinely deep thinker, philosophical doubt takes on a form of humility before infinity and inaccessibility of being. Mankind has learned a lot. But knowledge reveals before us and the abyss of our ignorance. Reality goes beyond any knowledge. A bad tone of philosophical thinking is the tendency to categorical and final judgments. There is so much mystery in the world that it obliges us to be modest and within reasonable limits cautious in our judgments. A real scientist knows too much to share exorbitant optimism, he looks at the "over-optimists" with a touch of sadness, with which adults look at the games of children. We reliably know only comparatively simple things. With a full consciousness of modesty, proper to deep minds, I.Newton said well: "I do not know what I can seem to the world, but to myself I seem only a boy playing on the seashore, amused that from time to time I find a pebble more flowery , than usual, or the red shell, while the great ocean of truth unfolds before me unexplored. "
Knowledge multiplies grief, says the Ecclesiastes. The human mind, according to Rabindranath Tagore, is like a lamp: the brighter the light, the thicker the shadow of doubt. According to legend, once Zeno, in response to a question why he doubts everything, drawing two unequal circles, said: "This large circle is my knowledge, that small is yours." Everything outside the circle is a region of the unknown. You see that the boundary between my knowledge and the unknown is much greater. That's why I doubt my knowledge more than you ".
Reasonable philosophical doubt, healthy skepticism, ie, in the etymological sense, the desire to carefully consider everything in essence, does not contradict the optimistic view of knowledge. Answering the question "is it possible to know?", We can say that our position coincides with the position of IV Goethe, expressed in his "Friendly Appeal": "... I can not help but share the repeatedly seized by me these days of joy. I feel myself in happy unanimity with close and distant, serious, active researchers. They recognize and argue that it is necessary to accept as an assumption and assumption something unexplained, but that then the researcher himself can not be placed any boundary. And do not I have to accept, as an assumption and premise, myself, although I never know how I, in fact, are arranged? Do not I study myself, as well as others, and yet cheerfully moving farther and farther? So it is with the world: let it lie before us without beginning and endless, let there be boundless distance, impenetrable near; all this is true, and yet - the path never determines and does not limit how far and how deeply the human mind can penetrate into its secrets and the secrets of the world! "
In essence, the question stands as follows: the mind constantly penetrates deeper and deeper into the secrets of being, and one can not know how far it will go with time.
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