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Passions in Poetry

Are We Omniscient?

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Essorant
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75 posted 01-15-2009 10:06 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,


That is not true.  My use of the word omniscience is no different in principle from someone using the word "god" in a different context according to his/her own belief about the reality of "god".  Using "god" in one's own context doesn't enforce that context on the word, nor does using "omniscience" in one's own context enforce the specific context onto that word, its general meaning, or on you, Stephanos.

Stephanos
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76 posted 01-15-2009 10:43 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

The difference is, Essorant, with any usage of "god" you could cite other examples of the same.  And even then one could distinquish between metaphysical use, literal use, or metaphorical use.  But can you cite even one example of someone else using omniscience to mean "partial knowledge about everything"?

Stephen  
Ron
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77 posted 01-15-2009 10:52 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

In this instance, it doesn’t really matter, guys. "Partial knowledge of everything" is just as impossible for a human as full knowledge of everything. Half of infinity is still infinity. No matter how you want to mangle the meaning of the word, the answer is still going to be a resounding no.


Essorant
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78 posted 01-15-2009 11:01 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

I don't understand your reasoning.  Why do someone else's belief and context in which the word is used need to be the same as mine?  

By the way, I am not saying "partial knowledge of everything" is the definition of the word, but that "knowledge of everything" doesn't exclude "perfect knowledge of everything" or "imperfect knowledge of everything".  I am defending the broadness of the word to be able to be used in both contexts, not trying to enforce a connotation of "imperfect knowledge of everything" on the definition.


Essorant
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79 posted 01-16-2009 01:25 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

In order for us not to know anything about something, something we know about would need to exclude everything that something else has, and therefore that something else would then be "something we know nothing about".  Where does that ever happen?  What doesn't include anything that we already know about?   But even if it were so, if we didn't know anything about something,  then we would also know nothing about it to be able to prove we know nothing about it.  If you are arguing that there is something we don't at least know something about, then nor do you know anything about it to prove it.   Knowing we know nothing about it, would be knowing something about it, which would contradict not knowing anything about it.          
 
Ron
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80 posted 01-16-2009 02:57 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
But even if it were so, if we didn't know anything about something,  then we would also know nothing about it to be able to prove we know nothing about it.

Why are you using "we" as your preferred pronoun, Essorant?  

If I know anything about something you didn't even know existed, then even by your mangled definition, you can't be omniscient.

There is no we.

Carried to its logical next step, if any human (or other sentient being) knows something about which you are ignorant, again, it can be shown there is no omniscience, imperfect other otherwise.

And finally, if there is anything about which all of humanity is ignorant, omniscience is clearly not achieved -- even if we can't "prove" it, i.e., even if we don't know we don't know.


Essorant
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81 posted 01-16-2009 07:19 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
Why are you using "we" as your preferred pronoun, Essorant?          


To show that I mean all of us.  And it doesn't matter whether you take "we" individually, one at a time, or as if personified as one, for the same principle covers everyone individually or as a group, despite knowing more or less.  For every degree of knowledge bears at least something that everything has, especially the most basic thing being existance.  Everyone knows at least something about existance and in knowing something, knows something about everything, for existance is also part of everything, and the same principles in one thing are extended into every other thing through variation and change, which we always know at least something about the principles of all things and we would do so even if we were limited only to the smallest thing.  If I am on one side of a wall all my life and am never on the other side, I always yet know something about the other side, for the other side always partially has what is on my side, it is also connected to my side, and therefore my side is already part of the other side, therefore knowing my part is already knowing part of the other side.  All of this adds up too much knowledge for me to believe that we ever not know at least something about everything and in knowing everything to some extent are omniscient.


quote:
If I know anything about something you didn't even know existed, then even by your mangled definition, you can't be omniscient.



Everything anyone else knows about, which is a variable manner of partially knowing everything, inevitably includes at least something I (and you) already know even from the most basic thing as simply something about existance.  We all know at least something about everything you know about.  And likewise you know at least something about everything everyone else know about.   Just as our knowledge of everything is partial, our ignorance of everything is partial as well.  Neither get to be perfect.  The same thing we partialy know about, we also partialy don't know about, but we always know at least something about everything.

Stephanos
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82 posted 01-16-2009 07:55 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Sisyphus Relay.  Go Ron.

Stephanos
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83 posted 01-16-2009 08:12 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I don't understand your reasoning.  Why do someone else's belief and context in which the word is used need to be the same as mine?


Essorant, to me, the word "mine" means exclusively Ron's.  Why do you accuse me of saying that the context of the word needs to be the same as Ron's?  

quote:
By the way, I am not saying "partial knowledge of everything" is the definition of the word, but that "knowledge of everything" doesn't exclude "perfect knowledge of everything" or "imperfect knowledge of everything".


You mean in the same way the definition of "all" doesn't exclude "some", "a little bit", or "scant"?  And yet I would be thought strange (at best) if I tried to conflate these definitions simply because the greater includes the lesser.


Look, I was not stating that a word's usage for you needs to be dictated by who you're speaking to.  As a matter of fact, if you're speaking, then you provide the context.  My criticism is, frankly, bolder than that.  I'm stating that if no one else uses the word in that way, or anything even close to that way, then you are more likely simply mistaken, than the herald of a nuanced definition.


The challenge still stands.  Can you cite me anyone in the history of writing who has used "omniscience" to mean partial knowledge (even of everything)?


Stephen  
Bob K
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84 posted 01-16-2009 08:29 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Essorant,

          If you wished an idiosyncratic definition of the terms of the discussion, it is customary to inform others first, and at the beginning.  They may or may not wish to participate, depending on their understanding of the terms of the discussion at that point.

     The use of the word "Omniscient" was certainly the hook that brought in responses.  

     Stephanos has a point.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven

    
Essorant
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85 posted 01-16-2009 09:42 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
You mean in the same way the definition of "all" doesn't exclude "some", "a little bit", or "scant"?  And yet I would be thought strange (at best) if I tried to conflate these definitions simply because the greater includes the lesser.


Stephanos, perhaps you should remember your own words about the "all" of omnipotence, from Grinch's thread:

quote:

Essorant said:

If he (God) and his will are able to be and do everything then he and his will are also able to be fallible and make mistakes.


Stephanos said:

Essorant, isn't that like saying in order for God to be omnipotent, he must be able to be not God, or to be wicked?  You have to draw the line somewhere, or you end up in absurdity.


If a line can be drawn for omnipotence, why can't a line be drawn for omniscience too?

 
Essorant
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86 posted 01-16-2009 11:01 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Bob,

I don't think my definition of the word omniscient itself is idiosyncratic, for I literally mean "all" + "knowing" as most do.  And I made that clear in the question itself when I said "know everything", the only difference is that I expressed an unfamiliar context "know everything, but just not perfectly" which was the whole point of philosophical consideration/debate.  It had nothing to do with changing the definition, but arguing the context I brought forth.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (01-16-2009 11:45 PM).]

Stephanos
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87 posted 01-16-2009 11:59 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
If a line can be drawn for omnipotence, why can't a line be drawn for omniscience too?

But you didn't draw the line at absurdity, you drew the line at common knowledge of humanity.  There's no one in the history of literature who uses the word "omniscient" to describe limited human knowledge.  However, I can cite hundreds of uses of the word omnipotent, all of which take for granted that omnipotent doesn't mean something like the ability not to exist (an absurdity).  My use of omnipotent (with modified definition or not, and whether you agree with the content or not) can still claim a kind of general consensus about the word.


And finally, Ron is right about one thing.  It doesn't matter.  Even using your own description and forsaking the word "omniscient", I don't think you've established that we know something about everything ... not even imperfectly.


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (01-17-2009 12:02 AM).]

Essorant
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88 posted 01-17-2009 11:11 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
But you didn't draw the line at absurdity, you drew the line at common knowledge of humanity.


"Common" has nothing to do with my belief.  The point is that I believe it is a knowledge of all, but not a knowledge of all in everyway that there may be a knowledge of all.  For example, if somehow I never met any other human but myself, I would still know all humans, for all humans are what I am, just not in the same way.  What I know about myself is also in other humans, just varied in shape and manner.  Other humans don't exclude the same I may know about myself, they just vary it in their own "edition" of being a human too.   This same principle is present from human to other things too, for human isn't just human, but a part of the universe, and therefore even if I were just limited to that part, through the same principle by which I know all humans in a limited way, I also know all parts of the universe in a limited way.  No matter how limited knowledge is it still finds a way to know about everything, but indeed, in a much more limited way.  The limitation is common in that it is limited by the human body for humans, but within that it is very variable and uncommon from one group to another, or one individual to another, for everyone changes it everyday by learning (or, alas, forgetting) more things about things he/she already knew in a more or less limited manner.  

quote:
I don't think you've established that we know something about everything ... not even imperfectly.


I agree with you.  But I think I came much closer to proving a limited omniscience than you will ever come to proving an unlimited omniscience for anyone (including a "god"), in like wise as you failed to establish or even accept an unlimited omnipotence.  

Bob K
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89 posted 01-17-2009 04:21 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Essorant,

          
quote:


the only difference is that I expressed an unfamiliar context "know everything, but just not perfectly"




     QED.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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90 posted 01-17-2009 08:18 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob, good point.

Essorant:
quote:
No matter how limited knowledge is it still finds a way to know about everything, but indeed, in a much more limited way.


If all you're saying is that all knowledge has some degree of commonality (however small), I've never disagreed.  But this is a mere truism since all knowledge is knowledge (despite the vast differences in content).  It still presents me with you calling the most meager knowledge imaginable "omniscient" ... the very opposite of the consensus definition.  And a definition not in the least practical since everyone is equalized on the procrustean bed of "knowing all".  


Stephen.
Essorant
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91 posted 01-18-2009 02:59 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

No what I am saying is that everything is the content of everything, but in a different "copy" and "edition" of that content.  Therefore, whatever "copy" we have, we still find the content of everything, but just varied in the different edition.  Just like there are many different translations of Homer's Iliad, but every edition is still a translation of Homer's Iliad, likewise everything is a "translation" of everything, the whole universe, just translated differently in every given thing.  The limitation is not that we don't know the "content", but that we are not able to "read" it through every possible "translation" that is available, for the "translations" are too many and our time in life far too short for that much reading.  
 
Stephanos
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92 posted 01-18-2009 07:29 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

The analogy that would be closer (by implication) is to say that one letter of the alphabet contains Homer's Iliad.  But that is wrong.  One letter in the alphabet, in principle, comprises the alphabetic format that the Iliad is written in.  But to know the letter "A" as a toddler is to know next to nothing about Homer's story.  It is only a scant beginning, and a means to an end largely unknown ... and completely antithetical to the concept of omniscience.

What pragmatic value is there then, in a theory that equates the most ignorant with the most knowledgable?

It seems to me, this is simply another attempt to express philosophical monism / pantheism, not really saying much about epistemology.  


Anyway Ess, I guess we've reached an impasse in our discussion for now.  


Stephen
Essorant
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93 posted 01-18-2009 11:57 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

Your analogy isn't mine, Stephanos, and I agree that it doesn't work for the exact reason you expressed.  Knowing everything limitedly in variable ways (as I am arguing) is not knowing  about everything in one given way, as you are talking about knowing everything about Iliad.  Your mind automatically expects Iliad to be known in only a particular way, as "Iliad", rather than knowing about everything that is in the Iliad but varied into different things, different things/events, etc that would include the same things, but wouldn't be anywhere exactly the same as "Iliad", nor even called "Iliad".  For example, other things that involve all the same things, but varied in a different way and therefore known in a different way.  The difference with my belief about the universe though is that I believe everything does still translate everything, but not always in the same way or as the same thing, and therefore not even under the same name.  Instead of being known in one way it is variable and known through many different ways.   You are as much a variable "copy" of it as I am.  Everything embodies the whole universe, and therefore in whatever embodiment(s) we are limited, we still we know the whole universe, but through the limitation and perspective of the different embodiments that we are limited to.
 
  
Bob K
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94 posted 01-18-2009 05:37 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Essorant,

     My reading of the OED suggests that "omniscient" is a word applicable to humans only hyperbolically.  Other uses seem reserved for the literal all-knowingness of God, should you go for that sort of thing.  The OED gives one example from Boswell of an "omniscient" mountain which I thought was quite striking and lovely.  Overall, however, Essorant needs to find another word for his concept.  "Omniscient" appears already to be well spoken for.

     From what I remember of Anthony Burgess's attempt to get "dystopian" into the OED, he had to be able to list a hundred examples of its use in print before the word crossed the finish line.
    
     Is this true?  

     I couldn't say; but the principle sounds about right.

     A few published examples of your usage would be a great help.  Otherwise, it appears you are using a mere neologism disguised as a good English word.  The point of this is unclear to me.  You could be using "xorp" as well.  Actually, it would be an improvement, because no confusion would apply.

      "Limited omniscience," as a concept, may  have its place; but it strikes me more as an oxymoron than as a flash of illumination.

Sincerely,  Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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95 posted 01-19-2009 06:06 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob,  

I like the word "blark".  I find that I can stuff it with any meaning I wish.  



Stephen
Earl Robertson
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96 posted 01-19-2009 07:24 PM       View Profile for Earl Robertson   Email Earl Robertson   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Earl Robertson

How's this? Grinch, we have free will but we're predictable. God has free will but he has allready chosen what he is going to do, and therefore being able to predict our actions, he can control circumstance.
Voe la Omniscience, with Omnipotence, and freedom of choice. (He could change his mind, but he's had a LONG time to think about this)

My melancholy is purely my own

Bob K
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97 posted 01-19-2009 08:26 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     "Blark" is good.

      Also "Dwight."
 
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