Against Certainty, Pt. 1: Knowledge and Experience | Who Shaves the Barber? #12

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sense data
Knowledge of perception?

How old are you? Are you sure? How sure? 100% sure?

I’m here to argue that there’s is nothing we can be fully, 100% sure of. Yes, that includes the fact that there is nothing we can be fully, 100% sure of. That doesn’t mean we can’t know anything – I think we can. But knowledge comes in degrees of certainty, and nothing meets the requirement of full certainty: knowledge that it is logically or metaphysically impossible to be wrong about.

To establish my case, I explain the difference between knowledge and certainty. I then discuss regress issues about certainty of certainty of certainty, followed by the Agrippan trilemma and Quine and Plantinga’s naturalized epistemology. Finally, I address claims to certainty of knowledge of immediate experience.

To address these, I argue that Descartes’s famous cogito is flawed, that there is no such thing as the present, and that raw perceptual experience must go through a translation process before it can be understood and therefore known.

Mentioned during the episode: the interview w/ Professor Jim Slagle about Plantinga’s naturalized epistemology, and the interview with Professor Graham Priest about the sorites paradox.

Audio

Video

Next week: Against Certainty, Pt. 2: Logic
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:19 – Taking all objections
1:04 – Skepticism, fallibilism, certainty, knowledge
5:47 – Non-certain knowledge (sorites)
8:07 – Certain of uncertainty?
10:44 – Cumulative case for doubt
11:55 – Regress problem: certainty of certainty
18:12 – Historical/inductive argument – Terry Kath
20:33 – Agrippan trilemma
24:18 – Naturalized epistemology
28:33 – Two types of self-justifying beliefs: logic and experience
30:07 – Cartesian doubt and the problem with cogito ergo sum
34:14 – The present doesn’t exist
38:42 – Understanding what we perceive
45:39 – Next week: logical certainty?

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