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"They are ill discoverers that think there is no land
when they see nothing but sea."
- Francis Bacon

The Issue of Certainty
Updated: 06/30/2021

Rationales for denying certainty

In the current age of relativism[1], subjectivism[2], and pluralism[3] it is fashionable to avoid or eschew–deny the legitimacy of–certainty in our intellectual activity, philosophy or thinking. Which begs the question of whether we can be certain of this rationale for denying certainty! Can we be certain that "reality" cannot sometimes deliver to us illusion like a capable magician, and there is nothing we can do about it?

What gives further support for these systems of thinking is that in this state of existence, we can be delusional, usually induced by drugs, fever, or an excessively agitated emotional state. People that have partial complex seizure syndrome, usually undergirded by a brain injury, can have visions or experiences that are indistinguishable from those in the "real" world.

Elsewhere on this site in the article about the paradigm of solipsism, it is argued that solipsism cannot ever be logically refuted by the individual, and that it's dismissal has to be at least a minor act of volition. This raises the issue as to whether we can or need to ever in our intellectual activity completely eliminate this powerful dimension of being human. One of the differences between knowledge and belief is the level of volition involved, but that is not the only difference. See: Solipsism Paradigm of Reality

Questions Concerning Certainty

Can we be MORE certain of our knowledge than for our belief? Can we, in any domain, ever only approach certainty but never really get there? Isn't part of what we take away from every experience or scientific experiment an interpretation? And ever and always done with only partial information and limited perspective? Can we actually be MORE certain of things in the spiritual realm than in the physical realm?

Meanwhile, probably everyday we stake our life upon the relative certainty that the steering wheel isn't going to disconnect–this actually happened to me but while I was pulling into the garage–at high speed, or that other drivers won't cross the line and crash into us head on, ad nauseam. See: Bet your life certainty

However, we wish to focus on epistemological and metaphysical certitude. Can we ever have certainty in mathematics, which is a branch of logic? How about certitude in the very essence of logic? Can we be certain that whether a statement, information, or a course of thinking is valid depends upon whether it is more reasonable to accept than not to accept?

If I "boldly go where few men have gone before" and take the inward journey to know myself without reservation, cannot I then be certain of what I find or see? Certain of what I want and what I need? Can I be certain of my own characteristics, such as maleness, sexual orientation and preferences, such as in music, food, art, style, personality, etc. ad nauseam? Or could I be lying to myself, or would I perforce or NECESSARILY be lying to myself? How do I know the answer to this last question?

IF I can be certain of the inner spiritual aspects, wouldn't that be the place to start in determining whether the universe is suited to me or I to it?


[1] Relativism denies there is any absolute authoritative  framework of ultimate assessment, and therefore it's the theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments, or that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing, or that there's no absolute truth, only the truths that a particular individual or culture happen to believe. In other words, truth is relative; you have yours and I have mine, and mine is just as good as yours, thank you very much.

[2] The doctrine that all knowledge is limited to experiences by the self, and that our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience, instead of shared or communal, and that there is no transcendental to the self type of knowledge.

[3] A condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist. While pluralism is a good thing in many domains, it is NOT a good thing when it comes to philosophical–epistemological and metaphysical–pluralism.

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