Rishabh R

How to improve one's epistemology ?

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@Leo Gura and people after contemplating a little I recognised that my epistemology is very poor. I absorb information from all sources and fear to question the information and the source too. So is the questioning a key for me even though I am recieving diverse perspectives ?

 

 

 

Edited by Rishabh R
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Realize every relative truth is a perspective

Realize every knowledge except knowledge I am is a belief

Realize every perspective is limited and self biased

Realize everyone is self deceived to some degree

I think thats good enough for start

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Start by reading a book or two about logical fallacies. I don't have any suggestions in English, but I don't think finding a high quality book will be hard.

 

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Apologies if this is comes across as a bit basic, but here is how I would frame how to understand epistemology for a beginner:

As a ground for epistemology, it's hugely helpful to have at least some basic grounding in a few of the more important paradigms within philosophy. These would include:

  • Empericism & Rationalism
  • Physicalism & Idealism
  • Dualism & Monism

An intro to philosophy book or video series on YouTube worth it's salt should touch upon all of these 

In addition, it's also helpful to be able to have a working understanding of some basic concepts:

  • Epistemology is an investigation of how we can come to know things
  • Ontology is an investigation of what actually exists
  • Metaphysics is an investigation of the underlying Being of Reality.

(As to the last point, it's worth making a clear distinction between metaphysics and science, as the two tend to get confused. The distinction is this: Science asks how Reality behaves, metaphysics asks what Reality is.)

The reason why it's helpful to know these things is that they're going to be useful for understanding paradigms. A paradigm is a structured, cohesive schema for looking at particular aspects of the world.

The reason that paradigms are important to epistemology is that what is and isn't considered true, valid, and relevant is in almost all cases going to be filtered through the specific set of paradigms that one is viewing the world through.

And the reason that this matters is that an understanding of how paradigms function is going to be interlinked with your ability to View the world through different perspectives, and to be able to compare and contrast different perspectives.

For a solid specific demonstration of how paradigms work, something like Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a really good resource.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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@DocWatts How would you pin these different paradigms along the categories you mentioned: the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm of science and the humanistic paradigm of psychology? I have trouble gauging the exact overlap between especially ontology and science when it comes to specific examples of models/disciplines/paradigms (but I know the theoretical distinction).


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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@Carl-Richard

I'd pin it down this way; how science proceeds under normal conditions is that the scientific enterprise is grounded in ontological assumptions that must exist prior to any science taking place. What those ontological assumptions are is going to be governed by a paradigm, which lays the ground rules for how the scientific investigation is going to take place.

Where ontology ends and science begins can perhaps be better clarified by looking at Newtonian mechanics as an example. Newtonian mechanics tells us that nature behaves as if there's a Universal Law of Gravitation which influences the motion of objects at a distance. But science can't in principle tell us what degree of 'realness' we should afford to theoretical constructs like Force, Gravitation, and Time; which is where ontology comes in. If you want to go a level deeper, time and space are themselves ontological dimensions that had to be conceived of and articulated before the scientific enterprise could get off the ground.

To the degree that different metaphysical schemas ground thier knowledge claims in differing epistemological methods, they're going to come up with different answers to whether the physical forces we observe are ontologically 'primary' or whether they're 'second order' phenomena.

For example, while a physicalist will claim that the fundamental physical forces are ontologically necessary to make Reality as we experience it possible, an Idealist would be more likely to claim that the fundamental forces are second order phenomena that appear on the 'screen' of perception (which is ontologically prior to any physical forces).

For science to proceed in the normal way, it has to be grounded in an ontology that provides a framework for investigation, by providing ground rules for what's considered valid and relevant. 

To return to Newtonian mechanics, prior to the paradigm Newton helped create action at a distance by invisible forces was seen as ontologically invalid, and thus 'unscientific'. In those days it was conceived that motion had to occur through theoretical abstract enteties called 'corpusuls' bumping in to things, transferring thier momentum (think of pool balls on a billiards table). When Newton's revolution proved itself able to explain phenomena that the 'corpusal' paradigm was unable to account for, the predominant ontology guiding physical science eventually came to be supplanted. Corpuscles came to lose thier ontological validity, replaced by an ontology of ineffible invisible forces acting at a distance.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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You begin merely affirming things that it would make you insane to deny.

You then find kinds of things in some naive opposition to other kinds of things, you are sure to discover that these kinds already have labels associated with them throughout history free of charge so to say.

You ask if it is possible to know what separates such kinds, if you conclude with yes then you have done so aware of your reasoning faculties as they alone could triangulate such results. (others would say they were always there to be discovered, ex. Kantian idealism)

Some people would at this point take leaps of faith and conclude that a brain predates such kinds and are the true reason they unfold, other people would make rigorous scientific analysis of the brain and make statements on its connection to the mind trough an inductive method from empirical information to believe what causes what in so far as they after the analysis score good in their predictions.

Most of the latter class would be Epistemic Rationalists, that is they believe in abduction from induction, they believe in knowledge as objects of reason. Some of those believe that their objects of reason says something about an independent existence, these are ontological rationalists.

Others would be skeptical about knowledge from induction, they would often altogether make a complete distinction between relation between things (a priory) and Impressions (a posteriory). Epistemic Empiricism as such holds knowledge to be the impressions in themselves.

Impressions as defined as cold, warmth, heartbeat, visuals, etc.

 

Epistemology is the heart of science, good epistemology has the potential to revolutionize it.


"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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@DocWatts All of that seems to make sense. I believe I have an underlying intuitive understanding of it, but I'm kinda new to academic philosophy, so I just have to acclimate to that language. Two things:

1. How exactly does ontology and metaphysics differ? Or rather, in which cases does the distinction matter?

2. There are two other concepts that I've been a bit confused about recently but that I believe I have figured out (or rather one of them): "ontological reductionism" vs. "methodological reductionism."

Ontological reductionism is the least problematic one for me: you explain something by reducing it to an ontological primitive. For example, if you're an idealist, then you can say that cars, dogs and humans are fundamentally just consciousness, while a materialist would say it's all just matter. In other words, you explain something by stating what it is.

However, what exactly is methodological reductionism? Is it simply when you reduce things to some scientific model? Tell me if this is correct:

Scientific models always have to rely on some ontology (like you said), but also like you said, only in so far as it can serve as a vessel for empirical investigation ("Newtonian mechanics tells us that nature behaves as if there's a Universal Law of Gravitation"). So it's not that ontology and science are dichotomies, but it's more like a 90%/10% respective split (i.e. "science" is really just "90% science" and "10% ontology" and vice versa). (I also got this impression while listening to Bernardo Kastrup; "ontology informs but doesnt settle science, and science informs but doesn't settle ontology"; so if you agree, then that's additional confirmation.)

Anyways, so to call this process of explaining something using scientific models "methodological reductionism" simply refers to the fact that the "essence" of the scientific process is methodological/empirical (the 90%), or in your words, how it "behaves", and that the ontological aspect is just implied or taken for granted. For example, you can use the humanistic paradigm in psychology and say that self-actualized humans experience heightened levels of positive emotion, and because it's a scientific paradigm, it's an explanation primarily based on empirical observation (90%), and thus it primarily tells you something about how humans behave, not what humans are.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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@Carl-Richard I believe in the study of ideas trough their minimal coherence within ones own mind, from the mind itself. Such that instead of asking what the difference between ontological and methodological reductionism is you venture out into problematic world so to find in it precisely the place and reason where the ideas bifurcate.

In this way you posses not only the subjective defining power of words, but have alone the complete authority over every single word you use.

Such that it would be impossible to be wrong on your applications of the ideas (if you are good at it), because the words becomes mere illusions that you but onto bigger conceptual illusions or truths. (oh boy this can be misinterpreted)

 

To make it concrete, I were unaware that there were formal labels that differentiated between the method and ontology of reductionism until right now, yet upon reading about the difference it were as though I had studied them already, and of course in essence I have.

The latter is a rationalism which is naive to the limits of its mind so to believe its conclusions can speak of independence.

The former sees new things unfolding every day in science, it knows not what to make of it but it will not deny empirical reality, it does so trough whatever ontology 'works' so to say. It can do so without any belief of independence.

Independence is whatever object is owed its existence from reason alone, sometimes these objects of reason unfolds into the paradigm of the physical and other times the Theological. (i will elaborate on this if you want)

 

Reductionsim itself varies, sometimes it begins with the premise that all things must at their smallest part be the same. At other times it simply reduces all higher order explanations to the sum of the smallest parts they find, without explicit claims beyond that at all.

Edited by Reciprocality

"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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1 hour ago, Reciprocality said:

Independence is whatever object is owed its existence from reason alone, sometimes these objects of reason unfolds into the paradigm of the physical and other times the Theological. (i will elaborate on this if you want)

Please elaborate. I generally have a hard time reading your words.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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@Carl-Richard

I'll focus on (1), since I'll admit to not having enough familiarity with the concept of methodological vs ontological reductionism to articulate the distinction. I've read and studied quite a bit of philosophy, and I don't recall that distinction being emphasized much. If I had to venture a guess about methodological reductionism, I might emphasize the differences between logical positivism which tries to separate its methodology from ontological questions, and something like the Vedic system where ontological claims are used to frame and contextualize its  methodology. This is just a guess, I could be missing the mark here.

As to (1), ontology can be understood as an aspect of metaphysics. Ontology is concerned with what does and does not exist. For example, whether or not karma and reincarnation actually exist is an ontological question. 

Metaphysics on the other hand, deals more broadly with the overall structure, function, and meaning of Reality. Returning to the examples of karma and reincarnation, Metaphysics would try to articulate why those processes are a necessary part of the overall structure of Reality.

As the example of karma should hopefully illustrate, there is of course plenty of overlap between ontology and metaphysics. For broad existential questions (such as whether the being Reality is mental or physical), an exploration will likely involve both metaphysics and ontology. So the boundaries between the two can get a bit fuzzy, and in practice I've seen the two terms used interchangeably at times.

 

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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@DocWatts Most metaphysics does not even regard existence as a problem to be solved, or they don't regard themselves as a relation in it's solution, and for that reason I have a hard time classing their speculations as existential questioning at all. 

Ontology is about the nature of being whether or not the one studying it have the capacity to comprehend how that reflects of off himself existentially, not a mere confirmation of what does and does not exist.

Outside the ontology branch of metaphysics there is made classes of things that for the purposes of Actualized gets deconstructed, for example the idea of identity typically unfolds outside ontology but for someone who is sufficiently conscious that becomes complete delusion.

At the same time you have to group things together in some way, I believe this is a very subjective matter and is radically outside the reach of academic philosophy and science. Unless you are taking a degree then be smart and steer away from it's drivel, except the very classes of things that speak to you from within yourself.

It can be said that it is just as easy to be confused about the insanity of SD orange rationalism from a yellow perspective as it is to comprehend how it all unfolds together in the yellow side of things from the orange perspective.

Edited by Reciprocality

"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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@Reciprocality Interesting that you bring up those points, since I happen to be reading Being and Time right now, and part of Heidegger's point in that work is that questions of being have largely gone ignored throughout the history of (western) philosophy, treating it as somehow 'self evident' and largely a settled question when it's been anything but. Which is why Heidegger calls the examination of Being the fundamental ontology.

You're correct of course that ontology is more encompassing than merely positing what does and doesn't exist. Yet at the same time Being is a more nebulous concept that's far harder to define than the concept of existence (which is far more intuitive). Hell, Heidegger had to deconstruct 2000 years of western philosophy to clearly define it. 

Describing ontology as what does and doesn't exist is useful for painting a picture of what makes it distinct from other other aspects of metaphysics, even if it's not strictly speaking all there is to ontology. Not the least of which because questions of Existence and questions of Being are intertwined.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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4 hours ago, DocWatts said:

I'll focus on (1), since I'll admit to not having enough familiarity with the concept of methodological vs ontological reductionism to articulate the distinction. I've read and studied quite a bit of philosophy, and I don't recall that distinction being emphasized much. If I had to venture a guess about methodological reductionism, I might emphasize the differences between logical positivism which tries to separate its methodology from ontological questions, and something like the Vedic system where ontological claims are used to frame and contextualize its  methodology. This is just a guess, I could be missing the mark here.

For some reason, the book in my psychology of religion course opens up by presenting that distinction, and it's so badly explained. The teacher's explanation was not better. Maybe I'll ask him more about it.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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15 minutes ago, DocWatts said:

@Reciprocality Yet at the same time Being is a more nebulous concept that's far harder to define than the concept of existence (which is far more intuitive).

What I believe you mean here, or to put it in my terms rather would be the difference of affirming that something occurs at all, prior to all definitions which would merely follow from that fact (as in the Sartrean 'Existence precedes Essence'), and the many things that could unfold on the account of a given predicate trough that occurrence.

To try to define the former would be to reduce what unfolds beyond a given concept into a given concept, it is insensible. Altogether meaningless, yet so very instructive.

"Describing ontology as what does and doesn't exist is useful for painting a picture of what makes it distinct from other other aspects of metaphysics"

Well i get you, and I believe many would do the same and so far as someone can understand something from it I guess it is fine. 

The reason being and existence are words with different meaning is because different people have tried to define what is as mentioned above 'beyond definitions', in the endeavour of which some have been less naive then others.


"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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The idea of a non-existence is a rationalism which means negation, is is an intellectual necessity for thought as such.

To claim belief in its independence beyond reason is equal to claiming a belief in probability beyond Bayesian reasoning, that is claiming that something can unfold in nature by chance without a projection of our own knowledge of the given thing within it.


"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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@Carl-Richard When I see a bird taking a shit I know only that this bird took this shit this once, or indeed only when i see that it does it and not afterwards. 

It is an object of reason that this bird takes shits in general. Even more so if i deduce from this that birds in general takes a shit.

It is an object of reason that this bird is there in the world also when i close my eyes. And so it goes trough radical complexity.

 

These objects of reason (pardon my examples) are both pointing you towards the idea of a physical world by themselves, as well as unfolding in the intuition of space.

But the idea that there is anything independent of you which comes along with these intuitions or with culture, and that this independent dimension has the same kind of existence as you have yourself is to stretch the authority of reason to sillyland.

 

Edit: Materialists projects their own existence into the assumption that the objects of reason has an independent existence beyond themselves. This is very understandable, precisely because nothing can be beyond existence, the problem is again the authority they assign to mere reason.

edit2: Hume defeated the rationalists by mere imagination of birds that 'perhaps' does not shit after all, I claim imagination needs take no such part and actually is often a delusion used as such. Because speculation and knowledge is different, the claims that are good for 'but what if..' are mere entertainment of ideas, while knowledge speaks to logic and the senses alone. Entertainment of ideas are both in motion, the objects of this motion are irreducible to either.

As soon as you want to have a knowledge of the motion beyond the being of their mere unfolding you are insane. Science can never be a knowledge precisely thereto.

Edited by Reciprocality

"We do not need to be shoemakers to know if our shoes fit, and just as little have we any need to be professionals to acquire knowledge of matters of universal interest."  -Hegel

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7 hours ago, DocWatts said:

So the boundaries between the two can get a bit fuzzy, and in practice I've seen the two terms used interchangeably at times.

That is essentially my perception of it.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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11 hours ago, Carl-Richard said:

That is essentially my perception of it.

Yeah, where Ontology ends and Metaphysics begins can be tricky to pin down. 

Thinking of Ontology as a study of 'what does and doesn't exist' is a decent rule of thumb, but in practice it can get fuzzy because ontology also deals with the existential character of what things are ( or thier being, to put it another way).

In my mind I link Metaphysics to the overall schema of Reality, though even this can get a bit tricky because Reality itself can be treated ontologically (ie what does it mean for something to be a Reality). 

Unfortunately the field of philosophy hasn't done itself any favors in this regard from spending so much of its history behind the walls of institutions, and not doing more to make itself understandable and relevant to non-specialists.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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@Reciprocality

20 hours ago, Reciprocality said:

@Carl-Richard When I see a bird taking a shit I know only that this bird took this shit this once, or indeed only when i see that it does it and not afterwards. 

It is an object of reason that this bird takes shits in general. Even more so if i deduce from this that birds in general takes a shit.

It is an object of reason that this bird is there in the world also when i close my eyes. And so it goes trough radical complexity.

These objects of reason (pardon my examples) are both pointing you towards the idea of a physical world by themselves, as well as unfolding in the intuition of space.

But the idea that there is anything independent of you which comes along with these intuitions or with culture, and that this independent dimension has the same kind of existence as you have yourself is to stretch the authority of reason to sillyland.

This is a really interesting point. I've been thinking a lot about the beliefs and assumptions I operate on the basis of and how although they seem to be justified, I don't know they are in some direct and immediate sense. I've been struggling with that because I've been thinking that if I just operated on the things I know in some direct and immediate sense then I'd have nothing to go off and some of them are a lot more justified than others.

The concept "objects of reason" though is really useful because it means I'm not negating the utility of justified beliefs, I'm just not mixing them up with actual knowledge. I think I've been looking at it as though by distinguishing beliefs from the knowledge I'm going to abandon completely all the justified beliefs.

It's interesting how just learning a concept can completely change your view of a situation or what you think is possible. Thanks for sharing.

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