>Can we know it all?

>This has been one of the biggest implicit questions since the time of Aristotle. The Judeo-Christian view is that our powers of knowledge are limited, and that there will always be some things we can neither know, nor understand. The scientific view is that we can learn everything. Aristotle thought we could learn everything through pure reason. After the Scientific revolution scientists now tend to think we need evidence too.

What do you think? Can we know it all? And if so what does this mean?


  • >In theory We could perhaps 'know it all' (visiting the whole past, present and future universe etc) but in practice it would be completely impossible. I think the more important question is, after knowing it all, will we know what the right path to take is (e.g. should it be to maximise happiness, or are other people not really important after all etc), and I don't believe that knowing it all would really help, if there is no completely objective 'right path to take'.Can you find the flaws to this logic as to how I should live my life – This is what I do with my time – i have to, even if it's made my half crazed. It has taken me a long, long time.1.If we go around helping others (which we think is a good thing) then we cant know the consequences, what if they cause more suffering in later years.2. my alter ego says "but you can't be responsible for other people, only yourself".3. Yes but knowing that I dont know whether or not this person could cause great future suffering means that I am responsible for taking this into account.4.There is therefore know point in helping others if you know your acting could well be self defeating – you are not all powerful so there is know way to tell either way.5. (my alter ego says) "but you must apply this to yourself and say 'there is no point in helping myself as it may cause future suffering. You should just kill yourself6. (ME AGAIN) yes but I must be the exeption, because I know I am afraid of death, even if I dont really want to live, and as no one else is prepared to take my life, so…7. I must live under the rule 'help myself, f**ck everyone else'.

  • >So far we have only ever had evidence to say that we can find out answers to the problems we're presented with. However it will never be possible for us to learn everything all at once because even if existence is finite, it is close enough to infinity to exceed our limits in collecting knowledge. To liken it to the human memory, we're able to remember any one of a hundred things if asked to remember all, but we can only remember around 7 or 8 in total. If this is true something like God could always remain hidden to us. We could work out how everything works without God and then still have people saying God exists somewhere else but does nothing.As for the implications, we have tried to extrapolate lessons about how we should live from basic truths about existence since the beginning of human civilisation in 10,000BC. But why should we presume there is one reason, one lesson, one truth? People tell me again and again that a belief in one truth gives them hope when if this were not the case they would lose it.I ask why? Why do you need one parent when you can have two, and an extended network of family and friends? Why have one King/Queen when you can have a greater role in democratic society alongside many others? Why should there be one way to live your life when a choice of many seems so much more exciting and meaningful? So the 'right path to take' is subjective. However it is limited.There are essentially three paths you can take:1) Act as Hobbes said all people act: pursue that which makes you feel good, and withdraw from that which makes you feel bad i.e. act selfishly. This doesn't imply all people are bad, for many derive pleasure from helping others.2) Act using a synthesis of your conscious and unconscious mind. Hobbes was right to say that people are selfish. But Marx was also right to say that societies change, and different generations can think differently. The chief key to this approach is an idea. One can selfishly pursue an idea of selflessness, and even get pleasure out of it.3) Drift between the two.I support number 2, hence why I would argue against your view of being out only for oneself. We have the ability to reach rational and logical opinions that are at odds with what we want. We do not have the ability to follow these opinions without subjecting them to our emotions. But we can still follow them nonetheless. I really need to explain this in more detail (let me know if you don't get what I'm on about), but basically I think we should put ourselves first among equals. We have a greater ability to help ourselves than we do others and we must take those opportunities. However we also have the ability to reason that we are no more important than those around us and should therefore help them too. Though of course if you like helping this is better for you.P.S. Not knowing the full consequences doesn't stop you doing anything else. Why should it stop you helping others? Oh, and number 6 should read, although your life could cause others pain, your suicide definitely would, hence why suicide is ultimately selfish.

  • >We cant ever know everything, to know everything is to know past present and future events, and as much as i liked the cheesiness of the films, Back to the Future wont happen. Even if it does there are Millions of different futures that depend of the actions of those here today. I like the river analogy for time, yes you can alter the course of a river, and yes you can alter it back, but no matter what the surrounding land will be affected by this action.

  • >Yes, I agree. But scientists who say we can know everything don't mean we can know everything at once. They mean that there is no single question humanity is unable to answer given enough time and effort. What do you think about that?

  • >I agree that given enough time we can answer anything. There are questions that will of course take far longer to answer than others, but im confident that someone somewhere is determined enough to answer them.

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