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The Profound Limitations of Knowledge

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Fred Leavitt

The Profound Limitations of Knowledge explores the limitations of knowledge and argues that neither reasoning nor direct or indirect observations can be trusted. We cannot even assign probabilities to claims of what we can know. Furthermore, for any set of data, there are an infinite number of possible interpretations. Evidence suggests that we live in a participatory universe—that is, our observations shape reality.
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17. Epilogue

Extract

← 204 | 205 →

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Epilogue

 

Readers who have reached this point are probably willing to accept that the world is far more mysterious and unknowable than they had previously realized. They may not be card carrying radical skeptics but are convinced that histories and current events are often distorted to suit the chronicler’s agenda, religions are for-profit (of a few) enterprises, science is far from infallible, there are no universally accepted standards for proper reasoning, and even if there were, pure reason does not inform about the world. Although the state of affairs may depress glass half-emptyers, half-fullers can view things differently. They live in a world of infinite possibility.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.—Arthur Schopenhauer1

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.—Oscar Wilde2

Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.—Mark Twain3

There is no certainty; there is only adventure.—Roberto Assagioli4

My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.—J. B. S. Haldane5 ← 205 | 206 →

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