Achieving Epistemic Certainty

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Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:36 am

Is there a type of knowledge that can be attained whereby one knows with absolute certainty that something is true?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:53 am

You mean like a "psychic" or "mental" all puprose lie detector?

I think you'll find it is called omniscience and is something that is achieved at Buddhahood.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:01 am

I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:05 am

charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:17 am

charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?
By achieving that state, until then it is a matter of faith or belief which may be fortified with some personal glimpses of this reality.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby ground » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:40 am

charles wrote:Is there a type of knowledge that can be attained whereby one knows with absolute certainty that something is true?

No. Either there is knowledge or not. :sage:
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:57 am

ground wrote:
charles wrote:Is there a type of knowledge that can be attained whereby one knows with absolute certainty that something is true?

No. Either there is knowledge or not. :sage:

I'm not sure what you mean here, can you elaborate?
charles wrote:Is there a type of knowledge that can be attained whereby one knows with absolute certainty that something is true?

Maybe I can rephrase this: Can I know?
Last edited by charles on Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:39 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:59 am

alpha wrote:
charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.

Do you mean "vision"? Inaccurate in what sense?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby Nikolay » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:29 am

charles wrote:
alpha wrote:
charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.

Do you mean "vision"? Inaccurate in what sense?

As I understand it is inaccurate because what we usually call "happiness" is not the same thing as Nirvana. If we imagine Nirvana to be like very-very strong worldly happiness, we are making an error. Nirvana is supposed to be infinitely better, but also entirely different. Or so I heard.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:38 am

charles wrote:
alpha wrote:
charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.

Do you mean "vision"? Inaccurate in what sense?


No.I meant happiness.
How can you possibly describe it if is beyond human vision?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby jeeprs » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:44 am

charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


The point about this issue is that it is not 'knowledge' in the detached objective sense. It is not knowledge of some proposition in the abstract, nor of a formula. in yogic terminology, it is a form of knowledge within which the knower and the object of knowledge are no longer separate. So you can't actually tell in advance whether or not you can be certain in that regard. I think, to put it colloquially, you have to die trying. This is expressed in such sayings as 'dying to the known'.
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:48 am

alpha wrote: No.I meant happiness.
How can you possibly describe it if is beyond human vision?

I'm confused. When I wrote:
charles wrote: Do you mean "vision"?
I meant if here:
alpha wrote: human vission.
did you mean "vision" instead of "vission"?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:54 am

alpha wrote: I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.

alpha wrote: How can you possibly describe it if is beyond human vision?
Are you suggesting that it is somewhat inaccurate to describe Nirvana with the word "happiness"?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:56 am

charles wrote:
alpha wrote: No.I meant happiness.
How can you possibly describe it if is beyond human vision?

I'm confused. When I wrote:
charles wrote: Do you mean "vision"?
I meant if here:
alpha wrote: human vission.
did you mean "vision" instead of "vission"?


That's correct.
I've misspelled vision :smile:
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:58 am

charles wrote:
alpha wrote: I think "happiness" is somewhat inaccurate since it is related to human vission.

alpha wrote: How can you possibly describe it if is beyond human vision?
Are you suggesting that it is somewhat inaccurate to describe Nirvana with the word "happiness"?


Yes .
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby oushi » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:12 pm

charles wrote:Is there a type of knowledge that can be attained whereby one knows with absolute certainty that something is true?

I may be nitpicking here, but it would be good to precisely define what knowledge, attainment, certainty, truth, or meaning is, before trying to answer such question. Now, after thoroughly investigating those, we can see them as empty ideas, imagined balls. This imagination creates entire world of joy and sorrow, truth and falsehood, certainty end doubt, attainment and failure. Every question and answer is a part of it. We can conclude that is such knowledge exists, it is just another imagined ball
:juggling:
Is it worth striving for? Maybe it is, all depends on how we define "worth". Is "worth" worth striving for?
Last edited by oushi on Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:14 pm

jeeprs wrote:
charles wrote:I'm not sure if you would necessarily need to be omniscient to know something with absolute certainty. For example how can I attain a knowledge (that is impossible to doubt), whereby I know that Nirvana is a permanent state of the highest happiness?


The point about this issue is that it is not 'knowledge' in the detached objective sense. It is not knowledge of some proposition in the abstract, nor of a formula. in yogic terminology, it is a form of knowledge within which the knower and the object of knowledge are no longer separate.

What is your use of "it" referring to here?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby jeeprs » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:19 pm

//I think you edited the post I was replying to, whilst I was in the act of replying. So the 'well, yes', refers to a question which is no longer posted.//

Well, yes, but it is important to 'situate' your question. You're asking, 'can I be certain', is there some 'knowledge which is absolute', and so on. As it happens, I do believe that - I believe that the Buddha realizes that state of supreme knowledge. But the point is, for us sentient beings, this is really not that meaningful as a belief or even as a proposition. Say you assert that 'The Buddha has some knowledge of the absolute.' What does that actually mean? It is something beyond verbal discourse, isn't it? So simply to assert that it is so, or to deny it, for that matter, is not that meaningful.

So what I'm getting at is this: if you're looking for some way to know upfront whether or not knowledge of that type is possible, I don't think you're going to get an answer. You have to actually try and find out yourself. That is what a great deal of the Buddhist path consist of - coming to understand or know something. But you have to know it by trying it out.

That is the meaning of 'Ehipassiko' - come and see.

What has happened a lot in philosophy is that we have taken verbal formulae and propositions as being real in their own right. But they're no more real than the menu description of a meal. You can't argue about what is the best meal on the basis of reading a menu. You have to eat.

Hope I'm intepreting your question correctly.
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby charles » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:38 pm

jeeprs wrote:So what I'm getting at is this: if you're looking for some way to know upfront whether or not knowledge of that type is possible, I don't think you're going to get an answer. You have to actually try and find out yourself. That is what a great deal of the Buddhist path consist of - coming to understand or know something. But you have to know it by trying it out.

I'm asking a question on whether or not this type of knowledge is possible; if it is possible, I'm curious as to the path one must walk to achieve this. What is(are) the path(s) suggested by Buddhism to achieve this? Can anyone here give references to Buddhist texts or Buddhists that discuss this?
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Re: Achieving Epistemic Certainty

Postby randomseb » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:50 pm

The kind of knowledge that arises from direct knowing, that arises, emerges, from the Dharma, as circumstance dictates, as opposed to that kind of book knowledge that is programmed into your brain, into what we could call your brain's memory databank, through careful study and training?

I recall some patriarchal zen texts touching on this, but not specifically which one.. Perhaps the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, which you can conveniently find in book form with the wonderful Diamond Sutra, or not, as you see fit!
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