A question that has been on my mind (as I am sure as is for many others throughout history) is how far can we be sure about anything? How much do we have to be sure of something before we can call it knowledge and how would define knowledge? (At least, your own interpretation of such.)

Epistemology’s not really my field. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions!

It seems to me that the only thing we can truly, 100%, capital-K Know is our own phenomenological experience. So even if I doubted whether or not I was truly sitting in a chair right now—say if I suspected that Leonardo DiCaprio had constructed a dream in which I merely thought I was sleeping in a chair—it would be incoherent for me to doubt that I was having the experience I associate with sitting in a chair.

Beyond that phenomenological experience, sure, there’s always room to introduce some measure of doubt. But most of the time I think it’s prudent to roll with your phenomenological experiences unless some evidence to the contrary presents itself. I feel that I am sitting in a chair right now; my perception has been pretty consistent about this since I initially sat in the chair, and I have noticed no evidence to the contrary. If I invited my roommate in here and asked, he would probably give me an odd look and confirm my suspicion that I am in a chair. What possible reason could I have to behave as if I’m not in a chair?

As for claims about virtual reality, five-minute-old worlds with false memories, dreams, evil demons, and so on: those are positive claims, and the fact that they don’t know for sure they’re not happening isn’t any reason to suspect that they are. At least until we see some positive evidence.


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