|Ed, you're welcome!|
I wrote, "Do you know for a fact that it is impossible for something to exist that we cannot in principle acquire knowledge of? What is your evidence for that? As I indicated in a previous post, we know that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light. How do you know that this and other (as yet undiscovered) natural boundaries don't place an upper limit on how much we can know about the universe?"
How do we know it's impossible to travel faster than the speed of light? How do we even KNOW the damned speed of light? Because we are able to know reality -- if it exists, then we can, in principle, know it.
This doesn't follow. We can know the speed of light, because we are able to know CERTAIN aspects of reality, not because we're able to know EVERY aspect of reality.
Now, we can't know everything (we're not omniscient), but Marnee's point has merit -- there's absolutely no evidence that we can't know any thing.
Of course, there's no evidence that we can't know any thing, because the evidence would contradict the assertion. To say that we can't know any thing is to say that there is nothing we can know. But you meant to say that there is no evidence that there is any thing that we cannot know. But this contradicts your concession that we are not omniscient--that we cannot know everything, for if we can know ANY thing, then it follows that we can know EVERY thing. So what you're really saying is that we can become omniscient, because as soon as you deny this, you're saying that there are some things that we cannot in principle know.
In fact, it's arbitrary speculation to postulate that it's possible that we can't become aware of an existent in this universe.
It's no more arbitrary speculation than to say it's possible that no one could run a marathon under 2 hours. If you claim that someone could, then the burden is on you to prove it.
My answer remains the same, all existENTS must -- in some way -- relate to existENCE; and existence is something of which we are (geometrically!) increasing our awareness. There is no end in sight. For instance, knowledge in the biological sciences DOUBLES EVERY 5 YEARS, or so! My god, man! This is evidence of the actualization of pure potentiality (e.g. human minds). The weight of evidence on this matter, tips the scale toward my position on this matter.
To say that there is no end in sight is not the same as saying that we can know anything and everything. Our knowledge could continue to increase without ever getting to the point of absolute omniscience. The universe is changing and evolving so rapidly that our advances in knowledge may continue unabated, yet be unable to keep up with these evolutionary changes.
Individual humans must have limitations (ie. identity), but the species, across time and space, does not have to have limitations. In Newton's time, all that was known to science -- could be known by a single human mind. Now, as I peruse PubMed (the largest online medical database in the world) and note the ~12 million primary publications available at my fingertips, I understand that what is known now, cannot be known by a single human mind. I'm not talking about single human minds, Bill. I'm talking about our whole species, throughout all time.
Does that seem more coherent & plausible?
I do understand the distinction that you're making between individual limitations (we only live a certain number of years) and the limitations for mankind as a whole, whose existence can continue indefinitely. That is indeed a relevant distinction and one that should be kept firmly in mind. Nevertheless, I don't see that this is sufficient to establish your conclusion.
There is, in fact, one insuperable obstacle which I pointed out in my reply to Marnee, and that is that the only information we can gain about other galaxies that are light years away is information about the past. We cannot know what is going on in the rest of the universe at present, and we never will, because the information takes time to reach us. By the time it reaches us, these other galaxies will have changed dramatically, so that we can never know exactly what is happening in other parts of the universe at this very moment. It is true that we may be able to make certain predictions, but since we're not omnisicient, we'll never be able to know all the constellation of factors that could influence the future development of galaxies, solar systems and planets. In fact, even on earth none of us will ever be able to know what everyone else is thinking at any particular moment, or what he or she is doing or is planning to do. Nor could this information ever be made available to anyone who wanted it, thankfully. It's just not possible in the nature of things to acquire that kind of knowledge.
As Hayek pointed out, one of the major problems with socialism is that the socialist planners thought they could in principle acquire enough knowledge to plan everyone's economic activities. What they failed to consider was the fact that everyone has unique, separate pieces of knowledge that others cannot possibly know, and that this knowledge can only be transmitted by individual choices and decisions in a market of voluntary exchange. No elite group of experts or scientists can ever come close to acquiring it.
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 12/17, 8:24pm)