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It has always been important to be able to accurately discern which claims are true and which are false. We humans need knowledge of reality in order to know how to act, so we can lead successful lives. This means we need to have a means of validating the ideas we hold to be true. We need to be able to check the information we hear and verify that it is true before we act on it – otherwise we inevitably suffer. Epistemology is the science of ‘knowledge’ and how we know things. With a correct epistemology you can reach for the stars. With a faulty one, all that results is confusion, anxiety and suffering.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge. Epistemology asks the questions; What is knowledge? How does man validate his conclusions? What are the proper methods of thinking? The correct answers to these questions inform the method that the truth seeker must adopt if he is to achieve certainty as a result of his investigations.
The base of philosophy can be summed up by three questions; What exists? How do I know? and, So what? Metaphysics is the study of reality and asks, ‘What exists?’ Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and asks the question ‘How do I know?’. And Ethics is the study of how should man act, and address the question, So What?
Metaphysics is the first question in philosophy because it affects all the other areas including politics and aesthetics. You cannot ask how you know something until you have addressed the question of the nature of reality. The answer to this question determines the epistemology that logically follows. The conclusions formed after asking this most fundamental question determine even if knowledge can be acquired at all!
In Podcast 162, Dr Andrew Kaufman joins me to discuss epistemology. Specifically, the consequences of the basic metaphysical question – is reality an objective absolute, independent of any consciousness, or is it a projection or creation of consciousness? These two positions on the issue exhaust the logical possibilities. The first may be called the Primacy of Existence, the second, the Primacy of Consciousness.
This first question of metaphysics is of paramount importance, because one answer (the Primacy of Existence) leads to truth, knowledge, successful action, life. The other one (the Primacy of Consciousness) leads to confusion, conflict, destruction and suffering! Of course, a suitable time lag disguises the issue sufficiently for most men not to be able to see the problem.
Unfortunately Dr Kaufman fails to recognise this crucial distinction. In stead of engaging in a crucial intellectual issue, he remained defensive and concerned that I was trying to get him to be an atheist. And the whole point is that one cannot be a truth seeker and believe in a supernatural deity at the same time. It is a contradiction. How can you demand proof of the existence of a virus and not for the existence of God?
Dr Kaufman declined to post this interview on his own social media channels. I am left wondering why anyone would find it offensive to be concerned that truth seekers be consistent. But perhaps more importantly, the concept of rights is central to the goal of freedom, but must be argued for on a rational basis, and they can be. Anyone setting themselves up as a leader of a freedom movement, which Dr Kaufman very obviously is, will not succeed if they argue that rights are a gift from God. In other words, if they use the wrong epistemology, one of faith and feelings, they have no rational argument for freedom.
Dr Andrew Kaufman’s website is www.andrewkaufmanmd.com
Dr Kaufman’s True Medicine Library can be found here www.truemedicinelibrary.com
You seem reject the supernatural a priori. Here’s 2p worth of comments:
You’re using your finite fallible mind to say there’s no infinite infallible mind. But doesn’t a fallible mind presupposes an infallible one? Stolen fallacy??
To say there’s no God (as a universal claim) you must know everything, everywhere, in all ways, at all times i.e. omniscient. But if you are omniscient then you are God. Therefore, God exists and it’s you.
There are many arguments for a beginning of our reality. Here’s a couple:
(1) A beginningless series is impossible. Full explanation can be complex but it’s to do with impossibility of traversing infinity if we went back and back into the past. To get to today we’d have to traverse infinity which is impossible. Therefore, there was a beginning.
(2) Thermodynamics: All energy transactions result in a loss (of energy) & if they started beyond a certain point in the past there’d no energy left today. But we still have energy so there was a beginning.
If nature began to exist then something other than nature must have caused it to exist. The word for “other than nature” is Supernatural.
Nigel Howitt says
Thank you for your comment Lee.
Yes I reject the supernatural. I deal with what exists, what is real, what is natural. The supernatural is said to be beyond the laws of nature. in other words, impossible, and not real.
A fallible mind does not presuppose an infallible mind. If you think it can, explain yourself. Offer reasons.
All of the arguments for a “beginning of time” are logical fallacies. Cause and effect applies to all existent things, but not to the whole concept of existence. For something to be a cause (of anything) it has to exist. If it doesn’t exist it cannot be a cause. Nothing cannot be the cause of something. Existence has logically always existed. It cannot have been caused into existence by something that didn’t exist.
A series without beginning is not equivalent or in anyway comparable to the universe being without a beginning. The concept of a series is irrelevant to the concept of existence. A series is a concept that exists in human thinking within a tiny subset of the totality of existence.
Energy is transformed not destroyed or lost. The claim that there would be no energy left if existence had no beginning, is logically baseless.
Time exists in the Universe (all that exists), the universe doesn’t exist in time. Similarly, mathematics exists in the universe, the universe does not exist in mathematics. The totality of existence has always existed. How could it be otherwise? If God created it, who or what created God? And if it can be accepted that God has existed eternally, then why not the universe?
Why wonder “if nature began to exist?” It is literally a nonsensical question. Existence cant start or end. You cant get under it, or behind it, or outside of it! Existence exists, and only existence exists. You can’t step outside of existence in order to try and explain existence.
Lee, the whole point of all these arguments that you try and make for something mystical, is that all you achieve is the goal of emptying the concept of truth of meaning! If you want to argue for God, or any other mystical unproven idea that has to be taken on faith, then you are implicitly arguing against reality being an objective absolute. And thus you are arguing to undermine and destroy truth. Truth can have no meaning if reality is not an objective absolute!
Either you want truth, or you want the ability to believe in ‘make believe’ whenever you want to. You cant have both. Truth and mysticism are not compatible because mysticism is believing in ideas without reasons. Mysticism is the con!