Tag Archives: certainty

G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 90-91

9 Jan

I understand it has been awhile since I have published anything here. I say this all the time when transitioning into new material to discuss, so I just experienced déjà vu. Or is it jamais vu? I think it’s déjà vu. I hope you all have had a great Christmas and New Years and got lots of kickass stuff from your loved ones, as well has you giving kickass stuff to them. I also hope you got at least a little schwasted (slang word, sorry, it is a combination of shitfaced and wasted). I also have more posts beyond this one. When I told u I would deliver another post before Christmas about Epicurean prudence my computer succumbed to viruses, key loggers, spyware, and malware and I had to wipe the hard drive and recover. I have been on a 3 week break from school and have had no internet as a result because I only have internet at school. That post will really, for sure, come now.

Moving on, I have acquired numerous books this break and have acquired G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. I have been reading each one and contemplating upon it. Starting with number 90 in the book, I would like to begin discussing each proposition of the book on this blog.

The test begins with A. Consciousness, 1. Sense Certainty: Beginning with 90, Hegel begins by saying that what we see at first is for sure true knowledge of reality and that we should not try to grasp what we see. Hegel is basically saying that the observed object seen is immediate knowledge of what is. What is phenomenologically observed is what is. This is true, in my opinion, because due to metaphysical modal realism what is seen is what is.  Modal realism being the metaphysical belief that all things observed at any time t is real in one way, world, or another, a dream for instance, is real if it can possibly appear to you. Modal realism (by David Lewis specifically) combats the epistemological objection that something seen is not metaphysically real in existence. Object= Immediate knowledge. Object seen= What is.

Hegel continues in the same proposition by saying that the object seen should be not grasped, altered, or comprehended: “Our approach to the object must be immediate and receptive” (Hegel). We should not add anything to the object as it appears to us. It is understood by Hegel that the object should only be taken in and registered without altering it or adding anything to it, but it can be argued whether or not grasping and comprehending the object actually alters the object or adds to it. I agree with Hegel that all objects should not be comprehended, grasped, altered, or added to. A person coming to the world not having seen anything before with no record of protocol statements will find any object (and note that the object is the word Hegel uses to refer to what we see) odd and in need of understanding of interpretation. This new person will jump to grasping or comprehending the newly seen objects because confusing things immediately call for grasping and comprehension. This grasping and comprehension of odd objects by a recordless subject can lead to distortion of the object seen, therefore I agree with Hegel that in any observation (specifically of phenomenological investigation) should not only  be without additions and alterations but without grasping or comprehension.  People having seen certain objects all their life may or may not look to grasping or comprehension in a later stage of life, but when they first saw these objects they did use grasping and comprehension and their life long perception is distorted and damaged. Therefore, due to all of this, no grasping or comprehension should ever be done to the object because at some point this will result in alterations and additions distorting the said object.

This knowledge of immediate sense certainty is described further in 91. Sense certainty is stated by Hegel as a ‘rich’ knowledge because of its ‘concrete content’. This sense certainty is rich in its expanses. Hegel also describes sense certainty to be knowledge  that is truest because it is pure when it is not grasped or comprehended and nothing is removed from the object as it is immediately presented to us. At the same time sense certainty is a poor, empty, and abstract truth. Hegel claims that it is poor and abstract because all it claims is that it is. It simply has an ontological claim to truth. Furthermore, Hegel describes consciousness, or one having consciousness, as representing one as another ‘I’ or ‘this’. The object is also simply another ‘this’. Sense certainty (or a subject ‘I’ being certain of an object ‘this’) occurs just because of how the object appears to us with immediate knowledge. Sense certainty does not come about, according to Hegel, by the ‘I’ or the ‘this’ having importance over one another. For example, it may be thought that the ‘this’ becomes known by the ‘I’ having control over the object field perceived.  A solipsist would believe that the ‘I’ has importance over the object and the object has a certain level of potentiality to be known or certain about. “ I, this particular I, am certain of this particular thing, not because I, qua consciousness, in knowing it have developed myself or thought about it in various ways; and also not because the thing of which I am certain, in virtue of a host of distinct qualities, would be in its owns elf a rich complex of connections, or related in various ways to other things. Neither of these has anything to do with the truth of sense certainty: here neither I nor the thing has the significance of a complex process of mediation; the ‘I’ does not have the significance  of a manifold imagining or thinking; nor does the ‘thing’ signify  something that has a host of qualities….” (Hegel). He continues to state that sense certainty is true because of how immediate knowledge in the object seen just simply is.  Consciousness of sense certainty just registers and does no work beyond that.

One thing I think can be argued in 91 is whether or not the ‘I’ of the subject and the ‘this’ of the object take importance over one another (is the ‘I’ equal to the ‘this’), and whether or not consciousness in sense certainty does any work beyond just recognizing ontological existence and truth in the object. Thinking that the ‘I’ is more significant than any ‘this’ would cause the belief that the certain ‘I’ grasps and comprehends the object perceived therefore distorting the object. An ‘I’ being superior to other subjects and objects puts reliance on the view of that ‘I’.  If one is attempting to observe things phenomenologically (I shall explain more about phenomenology soon) a polarization or bias cannot be put on the evaluation of observations. Hegel’s work here creates the idea that any observation should understand that all things are level with one another and that it all is equal in truth. It is all difficult to explain in this proposition,  as it is to a degree difficult to understand in the first place. Reading it gives you an idea how to phenomenologically investigate and evaluate observations.

Essentially 91 explains that all observations should be free of all bias, polarization, alterations, additions and all other distortion. It should simply be understood during phenomenological investigation and observation that this immediate knowledge of sense certainty just is. Another way to describe immediate knowledge of sense certainty is that it has no content, just the ontological statement of truth when it immediately appears to the subject.

I could continue discussing these matters of 90 and 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit because of how it is difficult to explain and even understand. I urge you (especially if you are a lover of philosophy and a philosopher yourself) to read this book. To really understand what Hegel is saying about consciousness and sense knowledge when understood phenomenologically.

I will talk more about this epistemological theory of perception called phenomenology including philosophers of the subject like Husserl, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

Thanks for the support as always. If I misconstrued something Hegel talked about in 90 or 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit please let me know by Twitter (cosmosZ), by commenting below, or by email at cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com

 

G.E. Moore’s Proof of an External World: If we cannot prove it, can we know it?

3 Nov

I have previously discussed Wittgenstein’s book On Certainty that he wrote towards the end of his life, where he gets his frustration out mostly by correcting Moore’s essay Proof of an External World (and A Defense of Common Sense).  I am looking at Moore’s essay and looking at beginning propositions of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty and thinking about their arguments.  What Moore’s essay ultimately boils down to is him saying that he can know things without proving them. He bases that upon his idea of rigorously proving things along with other things.

Moore begins by saying that he can prove the entire external world by saying “I have one hand here, and another here.” He says this and then says that what he said conforms to a rigorous proof. “I can prove now, for instance, that two human hands exist. How? By holding up my two hands, and saying, as I make a certain gesture with the right hand, “Here is one hand”, and adding, as I make certain gesture with the left, “and here is another”. And if, by doing this, I have proved ipso facto  the existence of external things, you will all see that I can also do it now in numbers of other ways: there  is no need to multiply examples” (Moore).  He then states that what he just said was a “rigorous proof” for the external existence of 2 hands. He proceeds even further to state what qualifications for a rigorous proof are: “Of, course it would not have been a proof unless three conditions were satisfied; namely (1) unless the premiss which I adduced as proof of the conclusion was different from the conclusion I adduced it to prove”, so in short, the conclusion is different from the discussed premise,”….; (2) unless the premiss with I adduced was something which I knew to be the case, and not merely something which I believed but which was by no means certain, or something which, though in fact true, I did not know to be so;” in short  you are certain about the premise, which certainty and knowing is the ultimate discussion about Moore’s paper, and I shall further discuss here later, “…and (3) unless the conclusion did really follow from the premiss” (Moore). So, to Moore, for a rigorous proof, the conclusion and premise must be different,  you are certain of the premise, and the conclusion follows from the premise. If, in ones argument, you can satisfy these three requirements, to Moore, you have proven what you have been trying to prove.

Going on in the essay Moore talks about why his proof is good, and how proving that something existed in the past external world helps him with his present proof. All of this leads up to the final paragraph of the essay where Wittgenstein and others get most of their food for argument. I will simply cite it and discuss it thereafter:

“But another reason why some people would feel dissatisfied with my proofs is, I think, not merely that they want a proof of something which I haven’t proved, but that they think that, if I cannot give such extra proofs, then the proofs that I have given are not conclusive proofs at all. And this, I think, is a definite mistake. They would say: ” If you cannot prove your premiss that here is one hand and here is another, then you do not know it. But you yourself have admitted that, if you did not know it, then your proof was not conclusive. Therefore, your proof was not, as you say it was, a conclusive proof.” This view that, if I cannot prove such things as these, I do not know them, is, I think, the view that Kant was expressing in the sentence which I quoted at the beginning of this lecture, when he implies that so long as we have no proof of the existence of external things, their existence must be accepted merely on faith. He means to say, I think, that if I cannot prove that there is a hand here, I must accept it merely as a matter of faith – I cannot know it. Such a view, thought it has been very common among philosophers, can, I think, be shown to be wrong – though shown only by the use of premisses which are not known to be true, unless we do know of the existence of external things. I can know things, which I cannot prove; and among things which I certainly did know, even if (as I think) I could not prove them, were the premises of my two proofs. I should say, therefore, that those, if any, who are dissatisfied with these proofs merely on the ground that I did not know their premisses, have no good reason for their dissatisfaction” (Moore).

The entirety of this ending section of the paper refers to what one says when saying “I know.” His opposition says that one only knows when it is proven, and when premises cannot be proven, the whole conclusion is proven. Responding to all of these oppositions to his proving qualifications and to how he gauges how he knows something, he ends up referring to Kant’s statement that when one cannot prove something, one does not know it, and must resort to having mere faith. Thinking back to Kant’s discussion of noumena, we cannot know of their existence and we must understand that there are ways of understanding things beyond empirical observation. Kant talks about faith when introducing noumena in that noumena cannot be really known. Moore talks about Kant when defending his argument (not necessarily the part in Kant’s work about noumena) by saying that if he has faith in his right hand being there, he can still know it.

Using again the phrase “what this boils down to”, what this boils down to is that what can be proven (proven rigorously beyond what Moore defines as rigorously proving in that the premises are proven in different ways to help prove even more the ending conclusion) is known, and what cannot be proven can be known in a way less strict sense (not with all the logical proofs) where we have faith in it, yet it is not really strictly Wittgensteinian defined ‘known’, yet Moore thinks with faith, one can ‘know’ in all forms of the word what cannot be rigorously logically proven.

Kant thought that faith did not lead to proving or knowing an external thing, Moore thought that faith led still to knowing external things, and Wittgenstein overwhelmingly trampled on Moore’s opinion here with his book On Certainty. I think that when looking at these few arguments about what it means to ‘know’ anything, the word ‘know’ should be thought of and use in the strictest sense especially when trying to understand the arguments and formulate individual opinions on them. Moore thinks of ‘knowing’ something as not having consistent proof (in my opinion) but having faith in things such as that there is a right hand here. Kant believes in faith being there for minimal understanding, but it doesn’t denote ‘knowing’. Finally, in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty he makes the word know, knowing, knowledge and any other words like it to be as strict as possible.

Here are only a few propositions in the book’s entire discussion about knowledge and certainty that stomps on Moore’s argument:

”  14.  That he does know takes some shewing.

15. It needs to be shewn that no mistake was possible. Giving the assurance “I know” doesn’t suffice. For it is after all only an assurance that I can’t be making a mistake, and it needs to be objectively established that I am not making a mistake about that.”

Wittgenstein goes on to cite Moore and say more things about his argument. One thing I want to make known about Wittgenstein’s argument is that he thinks that Moore’s use of know, knowing, and knowledge is redundant, repetitive, and does not help his overall argument. If you have a library near you, like a college library, it probably has a philosophy section and may have On Certainty by Wittgenstein, or if you have the means pick it up. To get Moore’s essay Proof of an External World go here:  http://faculty.uml.edu/enelson/g%20e%20moore,%20external%20world.pdf I say that because there are many arguments that Wittgenstein specifically picks on from Moore’s essay, and there are many other things to think about and discuss besides the single point I am going to make from here on out, so if you want a more wholly picture of Moore’s opinion and Wittgenstein’s opinion, read the essay and read some of the book (since I do not think reading all of On Certainty is necessary and if you want to read a whole book of Wittgenstein read Tractatus Logic0-Philosophicus).

First of all, my opinion is that Moore’s proof of an external world and his qualifications for a proof that he used are faulty in actually making knowledge of external things. It all comes down to that Moore does not feel the need to prove his premises, and then he says that having faith is proof of external things, and it is knowing external things. I am a large holder of faith in things I have not empirically observed and proven, the only reason being that I have not found a way to prove their external existences beyond faith. Faith is similar but not equal to knowledge, and I think that when one says that faith equals knowledge, it is merely a cop out in that that person will not take further efforts to come up with logical proofs for what one has faith in.

Its hard to say how much proof there is in faith, and how much knowledge there can be had in any faith at its face value. This is because faith varies from what faith is had in, how the faith is had, and a plethora of other factors that go into faith in one thing. If I have faith in God, which I do, I feel like I have total knowledge about Him yet I do not have logical rigorous proofs for it. I feel like I have full knowledge because of my intimate and loving faith in Him, but I want to create a logical process for further proof of things others might not see but I still have faith in. Moore just says that faith equals knowing things external, but that leads to ridicule from logically sensible philosophers and people like Wittgenstein. This tells me that faith feels sufficient for knowledge to those who have faith in something external, but if we want to show others about this thing and prove it to others for the entire benefit for everyone and ourselves, we need a logical process to create a rigorous proof for things’ existences like God.

In the end,  I hate to say this, but faith is not sufficient for true knowledge in its strictest sense. Moore is copping out philosophically when he says that faith is equal to knowledge.  Wittgenstein isn’t really getting there either when he tramples on Moore’s argument rather than just removing a few things, polishing it, and building upon it.

I do not know what that logical process towards a rigorous proof of external things not empirically observed would be, but I think it should be something philosophers and logicians should progress toward. It would be nice to have logically rigorous proofs for noumena and God, or even monads and forms. Then metaphysics would be generally more accepted rather than rejected. This is a difficult thing to just say should happen, but I think it should have efforts put toward it rather than just saying that faith is knowledge.

To actually figure out how  to prove external things that are phenomena or noumena, it is my opinion that our sensations should be analyzed more than they ever have been. I say this to mean that we should analyze sensations beyond just the six senses. I like to think of it in the way that we should look at our impressions  (using Hume’s term in the Origin of Our Ideas). Impressions being things entering our perception with most violence and force. Impressions are what I take to be emotions, passions, feelings, and sensations. For example, I find an impression to be the event that one has a direct or indirect conversation with God. I have not had a direct one, but others I know have. An indirect one I have had is where I ask Him for something in particular to really help my horrible situation out. After not getting it for awhile and asking Him again, soon after, it immediately occurs and I immediately realize why He waited until now and why he put me in the problem initially. Along with this understanding, I would have amazing emotional feeling because  I can feel the things that have happened before me, and I know from who they come. This is one example of an impression that I think should be examined further to get from faith in noumenal external things to actual knowledge in the Wittgensteinian sense.

I just think that faith does not denote knowledge even if it gives us real pure understanding.

Thanks for the support, and my apologies if this was too long.

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: The Specialized ‘I Know’

1 Sep

Wittgenstein’s proposition filled book On Certainty is a late work of his discussing many things, mostly discussing the many things about and against G.E. Moore’s Introduction of Sense Data/Proof of an External World. Moore discusses sense data among other things about the world ( I have 2 writings about Moore’s writings, in the G.E. Moore category to your right), and at the beginning of the book, as well as being the theme of the rest, Wittgenstein questions the claim to know something.

When Moore continuously began his statements with I know, Wittgenstein refutes not the exact propositions Moore has, but that he uses ‘I know’ with too much liberty. ” We just do not see how very specialized the use of ‘I know’ is” and “That [Moore] does know takes some [showing]” (Wittgenstein).  After reading this it is known that saying that one knows is quite a statement in that knowing something is a large feat to accomplish.

The feat of accomplishing the knowledge of any proposition is large and amazing because of how much doubt that one must go through to signify the knowledge of something. According to Descartes, one must take into consideration all possible doubts there are about something before declaring knowledge of truth or falsity about it. To go through the processes of coherence or correspondence about something to declare truth or falsity would be one thing that would eventually allow a person to use the specialized phrase I know. I think it must be established that if we claim to know something, and are asked to show how and why, that we should be able to produce evidence about why it is true. Wittgenstein states that if we know something, we should be able to maintain all evidence to show that it is evident. It is not my opinion, but according to Wittgenstein (and Descartes for that matter) and his solipsist values, one can know only one thing: that oneself exists.  With these solipsist values, Wittgenstein can easily be understood in the reason why he states that ‘i know’ should be reserved. With these solipsist values, the only thing he claims to know is that he exists and Moore throwing around I know for other propositions can only be leading to falsities unless it is for sure that something is true or false.

Wittgenstein in On Certainty goes further into further testing before saying ‘I know’ by stating that a hand outside him may or not be there based on sensory sight.  He goes on with the hand to discuss his feelings on the matter.For me, to know that my hand exists is to test how solid it is, find all its functions,  decide where it originates from, and where in the spatiotemporal continuum it exists.

So, it is my goal here to arrive at a conclusion as to whether this hand I have is true or false in its existence. I want to give evidence as to its existence, and then form a reductio to further prove the point. First, I want to note that this hand is a part of and not separate from me. Regardless as to whether the body, mind, self, and soul are existent in parts within me, the hand is something that is my own, and it is a part of me. One of the things that can be known in the universe to exist is oneself. I KNOW I exist (Wittgenstein and Descartes thought so too).  And if it is known that I exist, all parts of me exist too. My hand is a part of me, so given that I exist, and parts of me exist with I, including my hand, my hand has this evidence to exist. Secondly,  my hand performs functions that have little to some impact on the world around it. Right now, it types simultaneously with the other hand in a writing about philosophy that will be posted on a website for anyone to read at their leisure. Also, my hand does other functions like washing, eating, and performing a plethora of other functions. Regardless of the function that the hand performs, it puts an impact around the world around it and something changes to a degree. As I am about to say further down the road in this writing, things that do change and impact have hard evidence for existence. I could go further in looking for further evidence but these 2 things are enough for me to say I KNOW that my hand exists. Wittgenstein would not endorse my thought process and he would still think that my use of ‘i know’ would not be specialized enough and that it is to loose in use.

Another example of proving something to knowledgeable certainty is the proof of my friend Scott (he is imaginary, and may not even be a person if you humor me).  Scott is a part of the creatum, and was created by God (I have further things to know to exist later, including the creatum), and if this is so, he can be assured to exist almost to the point of I know. Also, Scott is a terrorist and  places bombs in buildings. Lets say Scott put a bomb in building Z in town X, and building Z explodes killing a quarter of the population of town X including those in large proximity to the exploding building. Scott affected the world with this bomb and killed a lot of people, and had an effect on the world. Between these two things, we can know that Scott exists.

The knowledge of existence of a thing is not what Wittgenstein limits full knowledge to. The justified and evident use of the specialized ‘I know’ can be applied to anything in question in progression to knowing it. I choose however to turn toward the somewhat knowledge and full knowledge of the existence of things because of how delicate the argument is.

After reading Wittgenstein’s thoughts on using ‘I know’ so limitlessly, I was sent into a storm of thought into the justification and evidence of the existence of the below 5 things. I apologize that this writing has gone from the proving with evidence on anything to just the existence of things. But this website is for unbounded thought about the cosmos regardless the setting.

1) Oneself We can know that oneself exists because we think, and we know we exist. We also can be aware of this because we are a thinking thing that are contemplating the issue in the first place. Second of all, oneself has an effect/affect on the world around it, and each person that defines oneself makes a difference. Third, God recognizes and embraces our existence.

2) God We can be sure that He exists because he causes 99.999% of the effects in the cosmos, and he has more impact than is conceivable. He created the cosmos, and each individual person. Because of His effects and creations, we can be sure that He exists.

3) Creatum God created the creatum with all of the living things and earth within it. All of the things inside the creatum cause things within the cosmos, and we can know it to exist. We are within it, so it exists.

4) Spiritual World God and His angels, nor Satan and his demons are here in full creatum form, therefore since we know of Satan’s deception and God’s love, they must exist somewhere.  These worlds have revealed themselves to us in other ways therefore these worlds can be known to exist.

5 Causing Things If something causes an effect, and creates a small to large domino effect, the causer can be known to exist. This overlaps upon all the other 4 things known to exist, and this is one of the justifications just as well as it is a fifth category.

Thanks for the support. The above 5 things were quickly justified and were not done in detail. My main aim was to discuss that saying that we know something is a bigger action than we think and we should not throw the phrase  around so much unless they overlap and reside within the 5 things known to exist, or unless you can come up with other justifications for existence.