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  1. #1
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Default The nature of certainty...

    Today, I was having a discussion with a professor about the nature of certainty. We were discussing how having too much certainty limits our capacity to respect and learn from the views of others. However, having too much doubt leads to insanity because the world then holds no meaning. It is then arguable that the perfect amount of certainty lies in between, and so we conceived that it would always be wise to question certainty. Not question as in doubt certainty, but as in to "know why you know what you know." After all, isn't that the fundamental idea behind science? Science is the testing and retesting of established beliefs in an attempt to disprove them for the sake of increasing our confidence of certainty. And of course, science is the means by which humans have made progress.

    It then occurred to me that much of what we place certainty in, limits our perception of the world. Some people place certainty in the idea that there is a God. Some people place certainty in the idea that humans can truly understand the world around them through reason. Some people place certainty in the idea that humans are limited in their understanding of anything. Yet all of these are assumptions based entirely on the evidence of their inception. Religion, Rationalism, and Skepticism.

    A religious person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of a God as sinners, people too proud to accept the word of God, or ignorant. A rational person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of being able to understand the entirety of the universe as being incapable of reasoning, dogmatic, or ignorant. And of course, a skeptic will see those who accept certainty too easily as closed minded, set in their ways, and...you guessed it...ignorant. All of these views have merit, and yet because they are certain about their belief in their particular view, all other views become inherently inferior. Their ability to percieve the world through the eyes of their fellow humans is sharply diminished.

    So what things do people inevitably accept as certain? I believe that our values, the ideas which we have accepted from experience, are our fundamental limitations. People's values are the beliefs they are emotionally invested in, and with which they obtain the greatest security in understanding the world. So in order to understand a person, the limitations of their perceptions, and the strengths of their particular beliefs, one must understand a person's values.

    Thoughts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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  2. #2
    Senior Member INTJMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Today, I was having a discussion with a professor about the nature of certainty. We were discussing how having too much certainty limits our capacity to respect and learn from the views of others. However, having too much doubt leads to insanity because the world then holds no meaning. It is then arguable that the perfect amount of certainty lies in between, and so we conceived that it would always be wise to question certainty. Not question as in doubt certainty, but as in to "know why you know what you know." After all, isn't that the fundamental idea behind science? Science is the testing and retesting of established beliefs in an attempt to disprove them for the sake of increasing our confidence of certainty. And of course, science is the means by which humans have made progress.

    It then occurred to me that much of what we place certainty in, limits our perception of the world. Some people place certainty in the idea that there is a God. Some people place certainty in the idea that humans can truly understand the world around them through reason. Some people place certainty in the idea that humans are limited in their understanding of anything. Yet all of these are assumptions based entirely on the evidence of their inception. Religion, Rationalism, and Skepticism.

    A religious person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of a God as sinners, people too proud to accept the word of God, or ignorant. A rational person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of being able to understand the entirety of the universe as being incapable of reasoning, dogmatic, or ignorant. And of course, a skeptic will see those who accept certainty too easily as closed minded, set in their ways, and...you guessed it...ignorant. All of these views have merit, and yet because they are certain about their belief in their particular view, all other views become inherently inferior. Their ability to percieve the world through the eyes of their fellow humans is sharply diminished.
    Very astute observations.

    So what things do people inevitably accept as certain? I believe that our values, the ideas which we have accepted from experience, are our fundamental limitations. People's values are the beliefs they are emotionally invested in, and with which they obtain the greatest security in understanding the world. So in order to understand a person, the limitations of their perceptions, and the strengths of their particular beliefs, one must understand a person's values.

    Thoughts?
    I agree with you. Of course, as we know (tee-hee) from MBTT, F types tend to set greater importance on values, where T types tend to set greater importance on logic or standards. Either way, like your teacher said, we all have to trust something, or else we'd go insane.

    I think that as we mature, we learn how right or wrong we are, and how well our values or standards are working for us. Hopefully, instead of being stubborn, we can be humble enough to allow someone else to at least share their point of view and at least give it consideration.

    I have seen for myself - that if someone tries to shift my paradigm too drastically, all at once, I can "lose it". So I guess I may seem stubborn to some, but going psychotic isn't really an attractive option.

  3. #3
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTJMom View Post
    Very astute observations.

    I agree with you. Of course, as we know (tee-hee) from MBTT, F types tend to set greater importance on values, where T types tend to set greater importance on logic or standards. Either way, like your teacher said, we all have to trust something, or else we'd go insane.

    I think that as we mature, we learn how right or wrong we are, and how well our values or standards are working for us. Hopefully, instead of being stubborn, we can be humble enough to allow someone else to at least share their point of view and at least give it consideration.

    I have seen for myself - that if someone tries to shift my paradigm too drastically, all at once, I can "lose it". So I guess I may seem stubborn to some, but going psychotic isn't really an attractive option.
    Well I believe that certainly is directly linked to our need for security. As my professor remarked, "There is safety in the known."

    Ts may actually invest more certainty in their values than Fs because they are not as aware of them. What many of them don't realize is that logic is, in and of itself, a personal value and a limitation on perception.
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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    now you're making me wonder if my senses could possibly be off and I've always placed certainty in what I can see, smell, taste, feel and hear I'll admit to putting more certainty in physical perceptions than in ideas any day- I don't feel that safe in beleiving absolutley in anything that I can't flat out sense
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  5. #5
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    now you're making me wonder if my senses could possibly be off and I've always placed certainty in what I can see, smell, taste, feel and hear I'll admit to putting more certainty in physical perceptions than in ideas any day- I don't feel that safe in beleiving absolutley in anything that I can't flat out sense
    You know that birds are capable of seeing colors we can't even imagine because they can percieve a higher wavelength of light. Dogs can taste flavors beyond human conception because they have a vastly superior sense of smell. And bats and dolphins can actually see their environment with sound. Can you imagine all the things that exist outside of human perception simply because our senses are limited?
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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    Senior Membrane spirilis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Ts may actually invest more certainty in their values than Fs because they are not as aware of them. What many of them don't realize is that logic is, in and of itself, a personal value and a limitation on perception.
    I've heard this many other places and every single time I get this gnawing feeling that there's something either naive, or flat-out wrong about this statement, but I can never put my finger on a good explanation. I can agree that logic can be representative of a particular system of personal values--a person who ascribes great value in the outcome (or likely outcome) of scenarios based on logical reasoning has, in effect, created a personal value system out of it.

    But basic logical systems, such as arithmetic, seem too fundamental to the universe around us to be considered "personal values," in such that they don't necessarily change from one person to another.

    Although you could pose a scenario: A believes that 1+1=2, while B thinks that 1+1=orange. From that standpoint, A's belief is a personal belief, while B's belief is a personal belief too. But A is right, and B is wrong, and that just makes sense. Outside of one's personal beliefs, there must be some way to explain principles that are identically observable from one person to the next.

    (Continue )

  7. #7
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    You know that birds are capable of seeing colors we can't even imagine because they can percieve a higher wavelength of light. Dogs can taste flavors beyond human conception because they have a vastly superior sense of smell. And bats and dolphins can actually see their environment with sound. Can you imagine all the things that exist outside of human perception simply because our senses are limited?
    is it bad that makes me rather jealous of them? (and it makes me wonder why dogs sniff and eat such nasty things ) I think I've heard that bloodhounds have a sense of smell something like 200x better than a humans do! What I sense is my truth to me though

    great- confuse me even more
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  8. #8
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    So what things do people inevitably accept as certain? I believe that our values, the ideas which we have accepted from experience, are our fundamental limitations. People's values are the beliefs they are emotionally invested in, and with which they obtain the greatest security in understanding the world. So in order to understand a person, the limitations of their perceptions, and the strengths of their particular beliefs, one must understand a person's values.

    Thoughts?
    I'm not certain about much at all. I never really have been. Instead I assign probabilities to the various ideas. This allows me to believe contradictory things at the same time although with differently weighted probabilities. For example I might believe A is true with a 60% probability and the contradictory idea B is true with a 40% probability. When more information is revealed I'm likely to change the probabilities until one view is favored highly enough that I tell people that is what I believe.

    In understanding another person what I try to determine is what their worldview looks like. It's half perception, and it's half the values and beliefs that they filter their perceptions through. Values are an important component though.

    Quote Originally Posted by spirilis
    I've heard this many other places and every single time I get this gnawing feeling that there's something either naive, or flat-out wrong about this statement, but I can never put my finger on a good explanation. I can agree that logic can be representative of a particular system of personal values--a person who ascribes great value in the outcome (or likely outcome) of scenarios based on logical reasoning has, in effect, created a personal value system out of it.

    But basic logical systems, such as arithmetic, seem too fundamental to the universe around us to be considered "personal values," in such that they don't necessarily change from one person to another.

    Although you could pose a scenario: A believes that 1+1=2, while B thinks that 1+1=orange. From that standpoint, A's belief is a personal belief, while B's belief is a personal belief too. But A is right, and B is wrong, and that just makes sense. Outside of one's personal beliefs, there must be some way to explain principles that are identically observable from one person to the next.

    (Continue )
    Logic is accepted on faith. You have to believe in it, and there is no concrete underlying reason why one should do so. However logic has proven to be very useful and that is reason enough not to discard it. Overall though I wouldn't say that a conclusion reached primarily through logic is superior or inferior to one reached primarily through perceptions. In one situation I would see reliance on logic as more appropriate and in another I would see reliance on perceptions as more appropriate.
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  9. #9
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spirilis View Post
    I've heard this many other places and every single time I get this gnawing feeling that there's something either naive, or flat-out wrong about this statement, but I can never put my finger on a good explanation. I can agree that logic can be representative of a particular system of personal values--a person who ascribes great value in the outcome (or likely outcome) of scenarios based on logical reasoning has, in effect, created a personal value system out of it.

    But basic logical systems, such as arithmetic, seem too fundamental to the universe around us to be considered "personal values," in such that they don't necessarily change from one person to another.

    Although you could pose a scenario: A believes that 1+1=2, while B thinks that 1+1=orange. From that standpoint, A's belief is a personal belief, while B's belief is a personal belief too. But A is right, and B is wrong, and that just makes sense. Outside of one's personal beliefs, there must be some way to explain principles that are identically observable from one person to the next.

    (Continue )
    Well let's first define some terms here bud.

    Values: deeply held and enduring beliefs, in which people may be emotionally invested

    Beliefs: any cognitive content held as true

    Logic: the concept of reasoning

    Reasoning: engaging in a process that leads to a conclusion using known facts or assumptions

    Now, the statement I made was,

    "Logic is, in and of itself, a personal value."

    So another way of saying that is...the concept of engaging in a process that leads to a conclusion using known facts or assumptions is, in and of itself, a deeply held, and enduring belief in which people may be emotionally invested.

    Is there anything false about that statement?

    And as LL pointed out, Logic is accepted on faith. If I were to make a religious argument against logic, I could simply say that God is not limited to human logic. If I were to make a Skeptic argument against logic, I could simply say that human perception is limited, and therefore all facts and assumptions are inherently flawed by human cognitive bias.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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  10. #10
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    But basic logical systems, such as arithmetic, seem too fundamental to the universe around us to be considered "personal values," in such that they don't necessarily change from one person to another.
    I do not think Kiddo was saying that the system itself is a value; arithmetic, theoretically, does not need anyone to believe in it in order to exist. Arithmetic doesn't belong to anyone. To exist, arithmetic does not need to be valued, but to be used, it must. The more one uses it, probably the more one values it. Each person values arithmetic and its uses to a different degree, just as each person values logic and values considering other people to different degrees.

    Not question as in doubt certainty, but as in to "know why you know what you know."
    I think a more important question to ask is, "Is my certainty in this belief adaptive or maladaptive?"

    I prefer to categorize behaviors in terms of how adaptive or maladaptive they are. If someone's certainty in something is leading her down a hard road and affecting others around her negatively, she would do better to decrease her certainty and look to others' perspectives.

    Is open-mindedness always a good thing? How much of one's very identity rests on things one is solidly certain of? How much of one's particular perspective of the world depends on foundational, solid, secure beliefs that are not easily moved? Can one build a skyscraper on moldable clay, and can a tree grow without some kind of seed, some kind of starting point?

    I do think your way is best. Absolute certainty probably leads to egocentrism, and it is quite possible to lead a fulfilling life while keeping one's options and beliefs fluid and moldable. I agree.

    A religious person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of a God as sinners, people too proud to accept the word of God, or ignorant. A rational person will see those who don't agree with their certainty of being able to understand the entirety of the universe as being incapable of reasoning, dogmatic, or ignorant. And of course, a skeptic will see those who accept certainty too easily as closed minded, set in their ways, and...you guessed it...ignorant.
    If we imagine that one's perspective is a circle, and to see others' perspectives one must look to the peripheral of that circle, what causes someone to stay in the middle of the circle?

    It is not a given that one who is certain of their beliefs, whatever they may be, sees everyone who disagrees with those beliefs in a negative light. Perhaps they merely ignore them and feel no particular way toward them. Perhaps they look on them with sympathy, confusion, amusement, or some other emotion.
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