Jef Allbright writes:
> I said "might" because there is one case where I am certain
> of the truth, which is that I am having the present
Although we all share the illusion of a direct and immediate sense of
consciousness, on what basis can you claim that it actually is real?
Further, how can you claim certainty of the "truth" of subjective
experience when there is so much experimental and clinical evidence that
self-reported experience consists largely of distortions, gaps, time
delays and time out of sequence, fabrications and confabulations?
I realize that people can acknowledge all that I've just said, but still
claim the validity of their internal experience to be privileged on the
basis that only they can judge, but then how can they legitimately
contradict themselves a moment later about factual matters, e.g. when
the drugs wear off, the probe is removed from their brain, the brain
tumor is removed, the mob has dispersed, the hypnotist is finished, the
fight is over, the adrenaline rush has subsided, the pain has stopped,
the oxytocin flush has declined... What kind of "truth" could this be?
Of course the subjective self is the only one able to report on
subjective experience, but how can it *justifiably* claim to be
I can't be certain that my present subjective state has anything to do with
reality. I can't even be certain that having a thought necessitates a thinker
(as Bertrand Russell pointed out in considering Descarte's cogito). However,
I can be certain that I am having a thought.
To be certain of the truth of something implies being able to see it
objectively, right? Or does it equally imply no questions asked?
It's a strange quality of delusions that psychotic people are even more certain
of their truth than non-deluded people are certain of things which have reasonable
empirical evidence in their favour. This is also the case with religious beliefs, which
the formal psychiatric definition excludes from being called delusions because they
are consistent with a particular culture, i.e. the believer did not come up with them
on his own. So it would seem that certainty does not always have much to do with
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