Patty Durongwong. Week 8. Let’s All Be Epistemically Naive Then!

Today’s discussion about truth stirred up a rather heated debate throughout the classroom. To be completely honest, I felt a bit of frustration with many of the comments. I can understand how some would believe there is an absolute truth but what many seem to miss is the whole point – how do we know that the truth is true? We as a culture have decided that facts are “true” and we jump on the bandwagon and believe every word of it. One students’ comment made me especially intrigued. She said something along the lines that an apple is green. We, as society have assigned the word “green” to this apple yet what if our perception can be completely skewed and the so called “green” apple is not really “green”. This brings us back into the idea of the cultural meme in which we live in. Our cultural meme has decided that the apple is the color green. I felt like many of the comments made in class today were the epitome of being epistemically naive. What is being epistemically naive? Its hard to describe but it falls along the lines of believing something as true without questioning anything. For example, most of us believe everything we read in a history book; but if you question these facts in the history book, question arise such as “who said this actually happened?” and “who told them that it happened if it happened in history and the writers were not actually there?” Well, researchers most likely authored the history book and they probably got the facts from primary sources. However, this raises yet another concern – “How do we know what these primary sources say are true?” It could just be their perception of the entire event. Being epistemically aware is just this – questioning the truth.I do not believe in an absolute truth becuase how do we know the absolute truth is true!?I agree with Professor Vesna when she says that if you believe it then it is true for you. (“For you”, being the key words) It is interesting how often we never question what we accept as the truth. Yes, there is a difference between what we believe in and what is actually true but it can be true in your mind. What was really interesting to me is how the discussion paved way into religion. What is unexplainable is, what i got from the comments, God’s doing. Again, this ties into our cultural meme and how each individual person was raised. If i was raised in India and followed Hinduism, what is true for me will most definetely not be true if I was raised in America and were Christian. Think about how different your life would be if you grew up in a completely different country, went to a different school, and had different parents. What you believe as true would be completely different from what you believe as true now; but many will argue their beliefs as true because that is all they know. What we see as so called “absolute truths” is all we know. In the end, though, we must question how we know the truth is true. Through science perhaps? However, many fundamentals of science are simply theories or ad hoc assumptions – so how do we know those are true? What is important to remember is that even though we may never know if the truth is actually true, we are aware by the fact that it may not be true – that we question why we believe in the things we believe in and not be so damn epistemically naive. side story: A philosophy professor put a chair on top of a desk and told his class to write an essay proving that the chair does not exist using all their knowledge they’ve acquired in the class. Some wrote over 30 pages of explanation refuting the existence of the chair sitting right in front of them. One student finished in five minutes and was the only student to earn an A.Her response to the prompt: “What chair?” …afterall, if you believe it – it is true FOR YOU.  

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