"[various sounds of exasperation]...The game doesn't explain anything... ANYTHING." -- TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit This YouTube video
(If you watch the whole video, the thing is even uglier, but hilarious. This video is NOT SAFE FOR WORK however, and keep small children away from it as well.)
The Point to be Made
While the article has some controversies attached, it seems to address some of the fundamental problems of how beliefs must be justified by other beliefs, and how this can lead to either a circular argument, or an infinite regress.
Later in my own article here, I wish to propose that we pursue knowledge, epistemology, and intellectual rigor for the sake of our individual, shared, and collective goals and values. It is this pursuit of goals, values, excellence, etc. which animates our efforts, and causes us to record, analyze, argue, explore, debate, experiment, etc. That is, these fundamentals of epistemology are ends, the moral and ethical justifications of our performances, and knowledge and epistemology are the means to these ends; they inform our performances so as to conserve other values, such as time and effort, and guard against irreversible failure, the loss of these same valuable ends.
Epistemological Skepticism, then, would amount to not only holding no values as absolute, but holding that there are no values, at any time, which might justify a belief or set of beliefs, even for the sake of a temporary situation or context! "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." would only apply to a person who had no problems to resolve or values to be protected, whether for a lifetime, or just that moment, but in that case, it would indeed apply! We all have (rarely) enjoyed such a moment or two, but an extended period of such would make for a boring, shallow, and empty life.
Similarly, this begins to explain the phenomena of boredom, frustration, and optimal experience, in that boredom allows for either the expenditure of effort, but without a discernable or desirable goal, or a goal is clear and desirable, but the means to that goal seem to be absent (including the "goal" of expending effort or exercising skill for its own sake P:D ). Frustration may arise as a function of the lack of the proper strategy toward a goal, or the lack of the proper tactics, which points to the value of knowledge and epistemology in a subjective rather than objective way. (Even if there is no damage done to "objective" values, the subjective states of the actor are perceived to be negative rather than positive. The results may be roughly unchanged, but the process is something that most people would avoid if the results were not valued exceptionally highly.)
Knowledge Arises Strictly from Experience
All of the things we actually KNOW are those cognitive concepts that are confirmed either by our prior perceptual experiences, or by experiments that we design to experientially confirm a theory, a proposed element of knowledge.
If an adult tells a child that it is (now) safe to cross the street, that is knowledge, (hopefully) arises from experience of this adult being trustworthy, and can be acted upon immediately, but for the limited time that the conditions remain the same. When the child comes back to the same intersection an hour later, does the child have sufficient knowledge to cross the street without further guidance? HELLS TO THE EXPONENT OF NO!!! They do not have the necessary knowledge, and it is because they lack the strategic experience and knowledge to decide the more tactical question. They must wait until they are again told when it is safe to cross, and then they again "know".
Bounded Regions of Knowledge
If we make an analogy between the Mandelbrot set, and the various levels of knowledge that we can address in this analogy, then this gives us at least three regions:
1. The Kennen an Sich consists of the things that we know, the things we presume to be true. Unfortunately, this is the smallest bounded region, though we can hope that it is continuously expanding. P:D
2. The (as yet unnamed) region which contains the things about which we may ask questions, but for which we do not yet have confirmed answers, establishing either their truth or falsity.
3. The Ding an Sich, the region which forms the outermost boundary in any such system, in that we can never know all of the complex ways that a thing relates to the Universe around it. (Our relating to it in order to experience it in various ways makes the completeness of our knowledge a problem worthy of a great deal of further study. P:D )
The analogy to the Mandelbrot set allows us to make some fairly serious inquiries into the nature of our knowledge, as there is little to lose. Most of the previous inquiries fail to address knowledge as a geometric or mathematical entity, and where they do, the applications of such analogies are rather weak, "sparse", or both.
Are the regions truly nested within each other? Is each continuous in the way that the MS is continuous? If we find that the MS is finite or infinite, does that have any implications for Epistemology?
Open-World and Closed-World Dilemma
The Open World Assumption and Closed World Assumption dichotomy arises from the failure to distinguish between:
1. The things we absolutely CANNOT KNOW (the Ding an Sich)
2. The things we will eventually learn are not true (these cannot be confirmed by experience, as neither we nor anyone in the future will ever experience them, though evidence that a mutually exclusive fact is true is available)
3. The things for which we have not yet ourselves produced any evidence of their truth or falsity, but which we may eventually prove true
4. Those things which we provisionally hold as true, and yet we may later learn to be false, or that our knowledge requires a great deal of revision or added detail
5. Those things which, if they are not true, point to problems larger or more fundamental than problems of knowledge and epistemology ("I am not a flying pig... or am I?")