Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
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 > experience.
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.
Yet this seems understandable. The psychotic person is believing things
because of some physical malfunction in his brain. So it is easy to see how it
might be incorrigble. The normal persons is believing things because of
perception, hearsay, and logic. But he knows that all of those can be
deceptive; and so he is never certain.
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
I'd say that certainty excludes objectivity.
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