What Is Knowledge?

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If every answer spawns 3 new questions, then our ignorance expands faster than our knowledge. Welcome to the The Technium: The Expansion of Ignorance .


There seems to be a circular problem when one asks the question, "What Is Knowledge". The question seems to arrive at a circular argument, in which theory and proof support each other. In order to arrive at the answer to the question I have to possess and use what is in question. How do I get off the merry-go-round?


Perhaps it is ignorance that supports the notion of knowledge. Clearly we do not enter into life with very much knowledge, if any. Nevertheless, we come with a set of instructions, which is in and of itself information, that enables us to gather information about ourselves and the environment we are born into. Thus, I feel safe to say that knowledge, at the very least, involves a process that "communicates" information to information. In which case, ignorance would be the result of a communication breakdown.


Depending upon which theory one uses, information cannot travel faster than the speed of light (relativity). However, when two particles are entangled communication of information seems instantaneous (quantum). I cannot know what is on the other side of the universe until the information reaches me. However, some things are, or seem, universally true, and therefore, I may claim I know that gravity likely works the same on the other side of the universe as on my side of the universe. Yes, I am indeed making an assumption that gravity is universal, but there is equally no information that can disprove the assumption I make concerning gravity is false.


With all the above put on the table, it is one thing to have information in hand, but if one does not "know" what the information means, then we are back to ignorance. So, perhaps knowledge cannot be assigned to information by itself, or at all. Perhaps knowledge is all about meaning. Meaning, to me, is grounded in certainty, because uncertainty offers only chaos, confusion, paradox and vanity.


Certainty is a concept that shares the virtues of truth, reality, validity, absoluteness, and many other goodies that we as human beings love and seek out 24/7. Our minds are obsessed with trying to sort out all the information it receives and collapse it all into some meaning or valid conclusion.


I hold certainty in the highest of most high positions. Over time I have adjusted my thought process to hold that certainty is an omni present, omni potent principle that cannot be confused or attached to any condition that involves change or form. Simply, certainty is truth/reality, and truth/reality is unconditional. Rather, certainty is a ghost like agency that shares none of the virtues of the material aspects of the universe and cannot be described in terms that are related to space and time. I will also say that I believe that the soul of every conscious being and the material universe is this timeless and formless certainty. For it is in this agency of certainty that all meaning, validity, truth and reality resides. For all intents and purposes reality is God and the first and last necessity (i.e. the alpha and omega). 


Certainty seems to present the same circular conundrum as knowledge, in that certainty confirms itself and it leaves no room for doubt. Certainty can't be questioned or denied. Much the same I cannot question my own reality or ask how do I know I know? "I think therefor I am".  At the very least I know that I do not know.







Ryan Messano Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:19am
The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.
Ronald Reagan
WB liberals demonstrate this daily.
Spartacus Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:20am
If every answer spawns 3 new questions, then our ignorance expands faster than our knowledge.
First, I think that is incorrect.  What knowledge does is, with every answer, removes a very important disease and human affliction -- fear.
Gerrilea Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:21am
Now since I had to follow your link to see in what context you were searching for the answer.  I'd say that "knowledge" is the expansion and raising of consciousnesses. The thesis for your "technium" is invalid. 
We exist in an infinite universe, we cannot know all, so the measurement/comparison of "knowledge" over "ignorance" is apples to infinity. 
Either zero or one, since there are an infinite number of "1"'s, and only a single "zero".  The comparison fails at its premise. 
How much information does an infinite universe contain? 
How much of said can we comprehend or "know"?
If we represented each particle, quark and quantum exchange everything in a computer with just zero's and ones the computer would reach it's own Schwarzschild radius and collapse into a black hole before we could get even 1/2 of the observable universe represented. Our bubble, of what we can see is: 93 billion light years across, that's 14x longer than the existence of said infinite universe.
Maybe the best answer is this: Knowledge is understanding that we cannot "know" it all?
Okay, that's my final answer, Bob...err...Regis.
Ken Added Dec 4, 2018 - 2:09am
you posted this 6 times, you should hide the others to draft.  You only need to click once to post.  It is a bug on the website that doesn't show it has posted, but everytime you click it posts
Ken Added Dec 4, 2018 - 2:20am
Knowledge doubled from 100 B.C. to 1700 (1800 years).
It doubled from 1700-1900 (200 years).
It doubled from 1900-1950 (50 years).
It doubled from 1950-1970 (20 years).
It doubled from 1970-1980 (10 years).
It doubled from 1980-1988 (8 years).
It now doubles every 12 months.
Soon it will double every 12 hours.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 2:48am

"with every answer, removes a very important disease and human affliction -- fear. "
Interesting conclusion, but suppose I discover I have cancer and will die a painful death? I may not have any valid reason to fear death but what about the pain?
"How much information does an infinite universe contain? 
How much of said can we comprehend or "know"?"
How can one know the universe is infinite? Seems there are a few people who have concluded that the universe has a beginning. Therefore, such a conclusion would suggest that one end of the timeline has a starting point, while the other end may not. Moreover, what is the difference between infinity and eternity?
Thanks Ken for the heads up. I noticed that the post landed 6 times, but I could not delete the extras and gave up. Sorry for the redundancy, but what's a poor fella to do when all options given fail to work? I'll try again, but in the end, it is really out my hands if the site has problems.
Yes, it is amazing how our ability to discover information doubles. The one thing that always intrigued me was that it supposedly took us millions of years to learn how to walk on 2 feet, and only 50,000 years to walk on the moon. What happened 50,000 years ago?
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 3:12am
@Mogg Tsur
I think the error in your reasoning is that you are trying to make a calculation of something that is by its very nature impossible to calculate. Infinity does not offer a first or last number, or any number, because that which is by nature immeasurable cannot be measured. Make sense?
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 3:21am
"Wait a minute, FEC. What makes you think that when you learn you are going to die you no longer fear death? It is the uncertainty of what comes after that causes us to fear death."
How does one fear what they do not know? Rather, I am very familiar with pain via the experience. I may imagine there is something on the other side, but my imagination does not make any fear that arise out of my supposition a "VALID REASON".
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 4:25am
Here is an interesting fellow who is talking about the orienting reflex. He seems to be asserting that it is through fear we attain knowledge and meaning. His theory is via the orienting reflex (i.e. initiated by a sudden surprise or anomaly) we find meaning/knowledge. His approach is via psychology and suggests that "if something startled you, you may spend a year thinking about it".
Nevertheless, I do not fully agree with his conclusions concerning meaning.  We may indeed spend sleepless nights trying to figure out ways to overcome the things we fear, like learning a job so we don't live in poverty, but discovering meaning is a whole different animal.
Knowledge and meaning are not necessary the same and I do believe meaning is impossible in the absence of certainty.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 4:25am
Jordan Peterson | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union
Autumn Cote Added Dec 4, 2018 - 5:31am
There are several things I need to inform you of:
1) We have two nasty bugs affecting the site, both I hope to have fixed soon.  The first is that the publish icon appears to be not working but it actually works.   So please click the submit button only once and then sort the articles by submission date and you'll see your article.  The second is that I can't delete articles.  You can put articles on draft, this serves nearly same purpose as deleting them. 
2) This article is against the rules.  The content of your article can't be entirely about sending people to some other link.  Besides, I think it would be an interesting read if you summarized the link or explained why it's important in the body of your Writer Beat article.
3) As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat!  My email address is: AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com
FacePalm Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:14am
It's possible that Autumn forgot to put the link to "the rules" in her post.  Fixed it.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:52am
What is knowledge ? The ability to judge things....
Gerrilea Added Dec 4, 2018 - 9:58am
Mogg T--- I am a woman do not refer to me in the male gender.
FEC--- Moreover, what is the difference between infinity and eternity?  
You misunderstand and then conflate two separate concepts. 
Infinity is a measure of length, width depth.
Eternity is a measure of the passage of time (or change).
Making the "beginning" as we describe it the same as the "end".  Just a measure of change. A zero or a one.
One does not have to be "eternal" to be infinite. If you can attain an "eternal" understanding or existence, time would be irrelevant.
Infinity does not offer a first or last number, or any number, because that which is by nature immeasurable cannot be measured.
Infinity begins with 1. If you do not have a beginning, you cannot calculate or claim "infinity" even exists.
Seems there are a few people who have concluded that the universe has a beginning.
What if the universe just exists? Without a beginning or end.
Stone-E--- The ability to judge things....
Not sure if I can comprehend your position.  The term "judge" means you already have the "knowledge" that two things are not the same (or are different). How do you measure/define "difference"?  What process did one put into place to do so? Why did you "know" or how did you 'know" it was necessary to differentiate in the first place?
goldminor Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:41pm
@ Gerrilea ...nice comment.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:56pm
"You misunderstand and then conflate two separate concepts... "
My understanding of physics seems to suggest space and time are heads and tails of the same coin.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of discussion, concerning the topic of endlessness/infinity, I'd like to make a few points.
First we must agree that a infinite line has no beginning or end. Thus it would logically be impossible to find said points of reference. However, the absence of a beginning and end should not stop me from seeking the middle of the line I use to represent the abstract concept of infinity. The problem is I could point anywhere on the infinite line and declare it to be the center of infinity, and for all intents and purposes be correct. This creates several problems that will most assuredly lead to a paradox by virtue of all the possible contradictions that will logically arise, whereas, all points/numbers on the line can serve to stand as the middle of infinity. This creates a truth problem, in that there is no absolute certainty, and in the absence of certainty there is no meaning, which then ends in pure vanity. A perfect environment for a liar.
For what reason would one take a foot ruler/numbers and attempt to measure the immeasurable? Hence, IMO the "abstract" concept of infinity is symbolically a representation of vanity, meaninglessness, and all of the associated virtues that follow. Chief among them being uncertainty.
If the cat is both dead and alive at the same time, then what is it? What term would you assign to such a state? Science has assigned the term uncertainty, and said cat will remain in said state of meaninglessness uncertainty until one measures it and collapses the wave function. Well, isn't that interesting. Everything is meaningless until or unless you can measure it with a consciousness. Without a consciousness the whole affair is pure immeasurable vanity.
Strangely, I feel as though there is some profound revelation in all the above, however I can't quite put it into words at the moment. So I'll end this here and contemplate what it may be while I wait for your response.
Jeff Jackson Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:01pm
"I think therefore I am." Getting a little Cartesian are we?
Stone-Eater Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:15pm
I you DELETE my comment, announce it, ok ? We don't like cowards here.
Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:20pm
This is all predicated on the idea that the more you know, the more realize how much you don't know. 
Doug Plumb Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:40pm
re "Er, no! OK, If I ask a question it comes from the universe of all the things I do not know (presuming I am not being duplicitous or rhetorical) and that is a fixed infinity. How do I know what I do not know unless my knowledge is tested? Then, if my knowledge is increased by 1 answer that only subtracts 1 from the infinity of things I do not know.
              Solve for X :  ♾ - 1 = X
                         Is X > ♾ ?"
Math is entirely a creation of the mind. It does not connect to any kind of physical reality. Its a creation that is a science that is only used to explain reality and it has no contradictions (other than those we believe somehow will eventually be resolved - or not (Godel))
Doug Plumb Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:41pm
Kant said two philosophers searching for truth is like one milking a he-goat while the other holds the sieve.
Tubularsock Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:19pm
Well, knowledge is simply agreement.
And then that agreement is stacked up in ancient stone tablets, or marks on animal hides or in hand written and printed in books and written in computer code.
The louder the crap the more solid is the knowledge until we are overwhelmed with knowledge but underwhelmed in intelligence.
An thus is the loss of mankind ............
Stone-Eater Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:47pm
This is all predicated on the idea that the more you know, the more realize how much you don't know. 
Question is : Are we happier when we don't know ? I think....
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:49pm
I would never intentionally delete a comment. I'd rather have fun addressing it, regardless of its tone. Sorry to hear it disappeared and I completely understand your frustration.
Jeff Jackson
"I think therefore I am." Getting a little Cartesian are we?
 I was also going to add a little of the "I am that I am" and "all souls belong to god/reality", but I didn't want anyone to feel as though I was going to brake out into a full blown sermon on the mount. I use thinks from every corner possible to reach as many as possible. The fact is I probably have read a total of 2 pages from anyone of the philosophers in my life time. I couldn't even tell you the fellas name who's quote I used without looking it up. What I talk about or write happens on the spot via my own logic and thought process. Indeed, I heard some of the things that famous dead people once said, and if it resonates with my ideas I use them to make my point.
@Cullen Kehoe
"This is all predicated on the idea that the more you know, the more realize how much you don't know. "
Yes. That was the initial thrust and reason for posting this article. I had initially posted the link with a few words, but was later enlightened about the rules here and was asked to add more of my own ideas. Well, when that happens there is no telling where I'll end up, as I poke at some of the terms involved. It was the title I selected "what is knowledge" that likely jumped the track and veered away from idea of ignorance expanding faster than knowledge. But then, a topic, such as knowledge, offers too much opportunity to avoid taking advantage of. Especially when one is trying to fill some space to satisfy the rules.
@Doug Plumb
A thought is entirely a creation of the mind. Yet, without thoughts what does one have left? Thoughts have built skyscrapers, as well as knocked them down. As such, abstract thoughts stand upon their own merit and deserve their due. That said, our ideas should never be placed before reality, or perhaps said differently...
Thou shall not place any idol/idea/ideology before God/reality.
Which ever way suits you, it all generally means the same thing-just different term.
Gerrilea Added Dec 5, 2018 - 1:49am
FEC--- I understand your quandary, I was once there.  I'd have to reject your offer that we must agree on the abstract concepts we commonly refer to as "time" & "space" or even worse that there is an abstract "line" that is infinite.  How do we know the line exists, if it's only an "abstract idea"?  It can't.
:)   (as I laugh heartily)
Now, on to the subject:
Are you sure you want "the answer"?  If I give it to you, it will rob you of the experience of finding/discovering it yourself.
Please note, I've chosen my words very carefully here. 
Stop now, move on to the next reply.
Okay, I see you decided to read the last page of the book.
What if you are standing on your proverbial line and if you go in any direction (up or down, left or right, backwards or forwards etc) and "infinity" is before you, behind you and all around you. 
Are you not, at that moment...the center of the universe? 
But what if I decide to jump on the same line?  I see all around me "infinity", does this not mean that I'm the center of the universe?
How is this possible? Can there be two infinite universes co-existing simultaneously and occupying the same "space & time"?  It's an impossible paradox UNLESS...
The answer is:  Reality is relative to the observer.  There is no need for Schrödinger's cat to be there and not there (or alive & dead) at the same time.
Does it matter that the line is infinite?  Only you can decide that.
And the addendum to the answer is: The experience we gather on the journey, NOT the destination or how far and wide or short and narrow one goes is the epitome of life itself.
Our "modern" understandings of quantum mechanics and quantum physics has yet to explain "quantum entanglement".  Two particles, no matter how far apart in "space & time" they are, will react instantaneously and simultaneously.  As if the particle is in two places at the same time.  Einstein referred to this as "spooky action at a distance", I kid you not. UHhhhhhh....so much for "that" genius!
Which, by the way, destroys their "space & time" theory.  They just haven't come around to admit it yet.
Hey, now that you've been given the answer...maybe you have some more questions.
That's the key to it all, never stop wondering or questioning.  You'll never find any answers if you don't ask the question first.
Dino Manalis Added Dec 5, 2018 - 9:06am
 Knowledge is everything you've ever learned.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 5, 2018 - 9:56am
Wrong. Knowledge is what you MADE OUT OF what you learned ;)
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:57am

"Are you sure you want "the answer"?  If I give it to you, it will rob you of the experience of finding/discovering it yourself."
Give it until it hurts.
Well, among many other things, I find it interesting that you would dismiss the abstract infinite line I offered in the absence of an objective example of infinity. If you cannot arrive at a last number on your abstract number line, does it mean..
1 There is no last number?
2 You didn't have enough time to discover it?
3 Abstract concepts do not always follow the objective facts?
The problem with the "egocentric" offering you made (i.e. Reality is relative to the observer),  is that it is a subjective result. Two people "THINKING" they are the center of the universe is quite different than the object facts. We can sit in a room facing each other for infinity and argue which side of the room is left and which one is the right side, but in the absence of an egocentric human the question of left and right is mute. The same would be true for anyone who thinks they are the center of the universe. I will grant you this. You, and everyone else, are the center of their experience of the universe, and that is as far as I can go.
I can settle the question of infinity very easy with objective facts. Logically, I should be able to divide a real object in half, and then take the remainder and divide it in half, and then take the remainder again and divide it in half-ad infinity.  This works on a calculator or piece of paper just fine, but in objective reality it is not so. Max Planck has settled the question, as he has proven there is such a thing as the smallest unit of energy/info. See Planck's constant.
I also think that the law of energy conservation hints that there is a limited amount of mc=Albert in the universe. Indeed, no new energy can be created, and what we have can't be destroyed=limited.  I'm just pointing out the physics.
Infinity is a wonderful idea, but there is no object example one can put forth. Hence, I have to use a abstract line. Seems like Schrödinger's cat you rejected and accepted the use of the abstract line at the same time. :)
"But what if I decide to jump on the same line?  I see all around me "infinity", does this not mean that I'm the center of the universe?"
Only if you ignore me standing there arguing for the same position. If there is an infinite amount of people claiming the center of the universe, then the whole idea of a center is rather meaningless, and I suppose people would eventually start killing one another for the rights to claim the position-much the same as they do here on earth, concerning those imaginary abstract lines on a map that have to be enforce with atomic weapons. It seems all too often people would rather cut their nose off to spite their face, when they get into an argument with reality. There is no respect for any personal claim not backed by the threat of violence (i.e. en-forced).
"That's the key to it all, never stop wondering or questioning.  You'll never find any answers if you don't ask the question first."
Many years ago I invented the following statement...
"There is more truth in the question than there is in the answer"
Sounds profoundly true, but it probably isn't.
I don't question the soul within me, because the soul is pure certainty, pure reality. Moreover, the soul within me does not belong to me. It belongs to reality. The part I call me is just a condition that is always changing, hence it is not part of the unchangeable truth within me. All my questions are about the conditions surrounding me. I have no questions about the reality within me-the soul.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 11:55am

@Mogg Tsur

"FEC, What we do not know is an infinite quantity or is there a finite number that describes what we do not know?"
Well, I do not really know how a finite being could find the time and energy to give it a good test. Let me ask the hypothetical question... If I were an infinite being would I view infinity the same as a finite being? I guess we really can't answer such a question, but it does raise an interesting point.
A child can ask why/how repeatedly to any answer you give them. Does this mean there is more questions than answers or does it mean the child cannot find a satisfactory answer that explains it all? Furthermore, does every question have and answer? How do we know we are asking the right question?
I personally do not think we can logically stop asking questions about the things we are experiencing until the things we are experiencing come to some conclusion. Until then, all the facts are not in and a complete picture of the puzzle is not available. Until then, the target keeps moving and changing. Questions can only develop in the absence of certainty.
"I have two paper bags. In each bag is a dime. In one bag is black widow spider. I want you to close your eyes, choose a bag and reach in to get the dime. Are you afraid?"
Actually, fear has nothing to do with it. Rather, it is an issue of common sense, knowledge, and perhaps desire. What if I'm suicidal and have reached a point that fear of death is no longer the greater issue? Maybe a dime is not enough for me to take the risk? Put a million dollars into the bag and my greed or lust for wealth may overcome my fear. People who climb mountains put their lives at risk all the time. Do they do it because they are afraid or is there something else going on?
As far as me, I do not fear the idea of not existing. There is no pain in it, however getting there is another matter. That's the part I fear-the pain. Before I was born I did not exist. There was no pain or pleasure or etc... What's to fear?
Gerrilea Added Dec 5, 2018 - 12:42pm
FEC--- You missed a fundamental point that our "physicists" cannot yet answer.
The act of observation changes that which is observed.
When I jumped onto your proverbial line, I did not observe you there, you were, in effect, non-existent.
From my objective position you were not there. Making the universe an "egocentric" one.
But does this mean you, in reality, weren't there?  From my "relative" position and opinion, no you could not.
As for the "soul" thingy.  NO objective evidence (through repeated testing) has been presented to me to verify said as being "in reality".  I can resoundingly state, that when I was dead on March 17th, 1984 for 8 minutes there was nothing.  It was "non-existence".
That said, just because I did not objectively experience anything doesn't mean it is not there, reference links above with not seeing the gorilla in our mist.
This all leads up to the question of what is "consciousness"? Where does it reside? What is the cause for "thoughts", any thought?
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 12:50pm
Is this the Rumsfeld doctrine? As the known knowns expands we encounter more  unknowns that were previously unknown unknowns?
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:13pm

opher goodwin
"Is this the Rumsfeld doctrine?"
Ha! Will have to look up who said what first. Nevertheless, the "Rumsfeld doctrine" fits the bill perfectly and ad's a little more irony to the idea.
Good one opher! I wish I had remembered it and used it as the title to this article.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 4:29pm
"You missed a fundamental point that our "physicists" cannot yet answer."
Oh yeah. I did see that point and wanted to address it, but in the passion of tapping the keys about the other things, it slipped my mind.
When I unpack the point, it comes down to the question of consciousness (i.e. observer). Before I go further with this I have to make sure you understand the simple rules I follow in my thought process. I look for things that have the qualities and virtues of change and place them into the category of uncertainty. I also look for the things that arise and do not change, and then I place them into their unique category of certainty. It's very simple and logical. Certainty is where I find my answers and meaning. Uncertainty is where I find my questions and confusion.
Now, with all that on the table. Consciousness is a very personal experience.  Consciousness is part of the process of awareness, but said awareness is limited. I can be bright eyed and bushy tailed and will miss 99.999999% of what is happening. I'm not directly aware of what is behind me. So, there are considerable limitations. But here is another important thing. Consciousness is not a constant and its levels can change. We are awake and then we sleep, and more profoundly we are born and we die. There is a lot of things about consciousness that fall into the category of uncertainty.  Hence, "The Question Of Consciousness".
So where is the lasting certainty in this experience of awareness called consciousness? There is none, except for the fact that its real in terms of the logical impossibility of an argument to argue against itself. Simply, if I do not exist, then how can I argue I don't exist?
So, there is a certainty that is involved  in the process of consciousness, but there is much of the process of consciousness that categorically demonstrates no virtue of certainty beyond the fact that something uncertain is happening. By happening I mean Certain, Real, True, Valid, Absolute.
Do to the impossibility of explaining how 2 opposite concepts (Certainty and Uncertainty) are the same thing, I have no logical choice but to suggest that there are 2 different things going on, and they are operating on different plains.
As your NDE seems to suggest, when a person dies, so too their consciousness. To be fair, I have heard stories of the opposite. Seems to be a stalemate situation, and I have not had a NDE to break the tie.
Nevertheless, I'll consider the following...
Unconscious Certainty = Thesis.
Conscious Uncertainty = Antithesis.
The synthesis = all there is and will every be.
The above suggests I am a product of 2 different ingredients  There is a part of me made out of the faceless timeless stuff that is what it is and cannot change. And there is a part of me that is made of the stuff that has a face that won't stop changing, thus suggesting it isn't what it is.
The part of me that is what it is has no face or thought. That is what I call the soul. The soul is the reality, validity, certainty, truth, part of this experience I call me. It's the part I cannot logically deny, as explained above.
There is also a part of me that has a changing face and changing thoughts. At some point the 2 will seemingly part ways. One will evolve (the uncertainty) and the other will not (the certainty)-according to their virtues. Part of me will evolve back into dust, and the other part will continue to universally validate it. Part of me is universal, and part of is not.
So my answer to your assertion ...
"The act of observation changes that which is observed."
... is the act of observation changes the part of the observer that is changeable. Everything else is set in stone and absolutely certain.
Max Planck made the following statement when he accepted the  peace prize for his work.
Quote Max Planck "There is no matter as such"
"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ---"QUOTE BY MAX P
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 4:35pm
Max seems to think there is a mind behind all the weirdness. I agree. It's the mind of the observer and the subjective constructs it produces.
As far as a God consciousness, or some universal awareness, I can only say that if it exists, it is nothing like what we are experiencing.
Now there is one last thing to consider. What we are experiencing is in fact happening, and as impossible the odds may seem, here we are. Moreover, we are a creation and not self created. It doesn't matter what process created us. Whatever it is it accomplished it. Now we may die tomorrow and may never live again. However, I see no reason to assume there is not more potential for this experience to get even weirder. Because, for the life of me I cannot come to terms with how I am here. The odds are beyond astronomical.  So I'll leave it at that for now.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 6:43pm

@Mogg Tsur

"since an infinite being has no limits isn’t every possibility likely for him including viewing the universe as a finite being?"
Your question reminds me of the old argument, "Can God create a rock so big it's impossible for him to lift?
Try to imagine a table that as no edges, because it is an infinite table. In every direction one looks one will never find an edge.  Now tables are made to put stuff on.  Explain how one can put something new on an infinite table. Contrarily, explain how to take something off the infinite table.
When people say that infinity has no limitation they fail to realize the basic premise that infinity cannot produce a last number. That's a big no can do, because if infinity can produce a last number the whole concept goes down in flames. So, Infinity, as a concept of being unlimited, is intrinsically flawed by the one claim that created it. That, in the world of logic fallacies, is called a self defeating argument. It falls on its own sword and commits logical suicide. :)
" A child asks why? repeatedly to wear down our resolve"
Indeed. But nevertheless, there is this...
" In epistemology, the Münchhausen trilemma is a thought experiment used to demonstrate the impossibility of proving any truth, even in the fields of logic and mathematics. If it is asked how any knowledge is known to be true, proof may be provided. Yet that same question can be asked of the proof, and any subsequent proof. The Münchhausen trilemma is that there are only three options when providing proof in this situation:

The circular argument, in which theory and proof support each other
The regressive argument, in which each proof requires a further proof, ad infinitum
The axiomatic argument, which rests on accepted precepts

The trilemma, then, is the decision among the three equally unsatisfying options.
Proof is hard to find. So much so, a child can legitimately demand proof of any answer you give them and seriously test your facts. That's why we love children so much, They are so eloquently simplistic and to the point. It pisses us off that we can't do the same. :)
I have heard people suggest that fear is the opposite of love. I always thought it was hate, but I can't hate what I do not know. Likewise, cant fear the unknown, because I don't know what the unknown is until it communicates with me, at which point it is no longer unknown, by virtue of said communication.  Now, uncertainty is the air that one's imagination breaths, and when one adds anticipation to that mix one could arrive at fear, or glee. It all depends on how ones imagination works and the type of uncertain circumstance one is thinking about.
"Does the fear you may be wrong never enter into your thoughts on death, not even a little?"  
Of course I do. I don't think I'm so smart that I can dismiss all of my flaws and weakness. No. I don't have that kind of option of myself. What I try to do is not let my cart get before my horse. I keep it simple. I believe in the truth. If that truth is a god, an afterlife, or {fill in the blank}, then that is what I believe in. Whatever created me did not give me the tools to know everything. Therefore, my creator likely doesn't care if I come up short, otherwise things would be much different.
I remember reading that Moses asked to see the face of God, and God told him that if any man looked upon the face of God they would die. So I can only conclude that either God is really ugly, or that there are certain things that can't be known in this life under these circumstance So, if the Bible narrative is true I will not see the face of God until I die. Therefore, I cannot know the entire truth of the matter.
For now, all I have that I can place my foot fir
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 6:43pm
For now, all I have that I can place my foot firmly on are the things in my experience here in life that do not change. They are the principles that I can rely upon without fear and uncertainty that when I call upon them they will not deny me their unchangeable virtues. Some religious people often say that God is their unmovable rock. Well, in the real world of my experiences I call that truth.  I have experienced it and I can point it out. It's reliability is so great no faith is required. It speaks for itself and to anyone who respects it. I certainly do not know all the truth, or seen the face of God, but I believe the truth exists everywhere.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:29pm
@Mogg Tsur
" if those who think that everything is an illusion, that life is a mental construct the easy test is, stop now everything you do in your life. Stop eating, stop drinking, stop sheltering from the elements and see if it is all a fiction. Even if you begin to suffer, why should you care? It's just illusion."
Why go to such extremes. Ask a colored blind person if color is a mind thingy or not. The true form, shape, and appearance of the information ones mind is processing does not match the end result. The information has little to no form at all.  What one is seeing is a mock up derived from the minds best guess written with cognitive crayon on the pallet of your consciousness.
For simplistic sake, an illusion is something that appears, but does not actually exist in form. Do your thoughts have form?
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:33pm
...."Do your thoughts have form?" They do when you write/copy them down on paper, but do the writings resemble the formless thought? Not at all.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:57pm
@Mogg Tsur
"So you want me to imagine something we know cannot be and that is impossible."
There you go. You found out your self. Infinity is impossible. A self defeating proposition right out of the gate. Be it a table or a line, the infinity proposition demands one create a concept that requires them to employ their imagination to fulfill the task. One cannot drawl and infinite line. One has to place little arrows at each end to signal at which point the readers imagination is required to take over to finish the task.

If we live in an infinite universe, then where is all the endless possibilities? Why can't I sprout wings and fly, walk through walls, etc. ? Why can't I even drawl an infinite line or point to an infinite object? Likely because they wouldn't be real objects any more, just like the table and the line.

"Ah, now you want to discuss what satisfies us. "
No. That part was about proof and the Münchhausen trilemma.
Again, in short, the Münchhausen trilemma is a target="_blank">thought experiment used to demonstrate the impossibility of target="_blank">proving any truth, even in the fields of logic and mathematics.

Rather than satisfaction, it shows that we are always left with 3 UNSATISFACTORY options that end in not really being able to conclusively prove anything in the field of logic and mathematics.
"The problem is that truth does not make our needs go away or prevent us from encountering challenges and trials."
That's not so. Knowing the truth will stop you from putting your hand into a bag containing a black widow. :)

Gerrilea Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:16pm
I'm currently in the middle of something but I had to point this out.
The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.
I'll respond later to the other thoughts prsented.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:50pm
@Mogg Tsur
"I am 10 old and you are 99 years old. You will die before I do. Have you proved I could not draw an infinite line?"
I always feel the burden of proof is in the hands of the one who makes the claim. I can't prove your claim, even if It was my life long ambition from birth. I seriously can't. I'm not trying to defeat your ideas. I'm trying to get you to think even deeper about what you are talking about. It's not about victory. It's about the adventure.
I'm thinking about everything I have to support your idea of infinity and the best example that is perhaps close to a real example of infinity is a quantum wave of potential. Whereby the wave is a lineal line of infinite potential, and when one measures it, it collapse into a definite 3 delusional object. To picture what I'm saying lets go 2 dimensional and back to the imaginary of a infinite line.
In 2 dimensions, when I measure a quantum wave of infinite potential the infinite line symbology we are using to represent infinity turns into the symbology of Zero. The symbol "Zero" (i.e. "0") is sometimes used to express infinity, as its line is joined leaving  no beginning or end as well.
Mathematically, any whole number can do as a symbol for a collapsed wave of infinite potential, for inside of every whole number are all the infinite irrational numbers.
A quantum wave of potential is very irrational. It is everywhere at the same time, and it is not until the wave is measured that it collapse into a rational number.
Is a quantum wave of potential infinite? It doesn't look so. Planck said that energy, space, time comes in little packages and there is a minimum size that can no longer be reduced or halved. Matter has a limited size. At the bottom of matter are quarks. They come in packages of 3. When one attempts to separate them they disappear. Apparently they turn into something else, as the law of conservation states clearly energy cannot be created or destroyed. Which is another way of saying you can't put anything on the table and you can't take anything off.
Hope that helps you in your quest to unravel infinity.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 5, 2018 - 11:34pm
Oh. One more thing. That which is rational is most assuredly related to the certainty that I talk about. Only the things that are certain make sense to me and are quantifiable as being rational. When a quantum wave is measured and collapses, it is at that point it becomes a rational reality. Symbolically, it becomes a whole number.
I also talk about uncertainty. The uncertainty I talk about is indeed associated with the irrational. I find infinity an irrational concept. There is no certainty in it because anything is supposedly possible. An infinite amount of people can claim they are the center of infinity, rendering the whole affair meaningless. Nevertheless, I can say that by virtue of the fact that uncertainty happens and can be demonstrated via quantum mechanics, I would extend the possibility that it is possible that a quantum wave of potential is the closes physical expression of infinity one will likely be able to point at and and say there it is. However, when you attempt to measure or observe it, poof, its gone. So, one will never see a quantum wave of infinite potential and like wise infinity.
Gerrilea Added Dec 6, 2018 - 1:37am
FEC--- Hmmm, why are you two "fighting again"?
Infinity doesn't or does exist?
Infinity cannot be proven or "dis-proven"?
And the "logic" behind each position perhaps?
Can we prove that an atom exists with a proton, neutron and an electron cloud?  I'm not aware that anyone has seen it, it is assumed to be in that configuration. A magnetic field cannot be seen but I'm pretty sure I can establish that there is one with 1 magnet, iron filings and plexiglass.
You seem to be attempting to combine all things into one, pulling from various fields.  Wasn't the original question, What is knowledge? And how our lack of knowledge has exponentially increased, as we learn more.
I'm finding it hard to follow your rationalizations here.  On one hand you say your soul/consciousness survives the end of your physical body YET you say you base your understandings on logic. 
Rational vs irrational numbers is another quandary.  Rational represents whole, irrational represents derivatives of said. The number one can be divided into infinity. There are an infinite number of points between zero and one. This is where you make a mistake.  You then assume/claim that number 1 exists in reality and therefore can only be reduced to a Planck length.  Since no one has ever witnessed something so small, or cut something up to a Planck length, it cannot exist....only in theory, in the abstract.
Theories are nice until you hit reality.  Of which, you never discussed "quantum entanglement" or as Einstein so poorly described as, "Spooky action at a distance".
How can two particle separated by thousands or millions of miles instantaneously & simultaneously act in unison?  Unless the particles aren't 2 but, in fact, are one?  What we perceive as 2 separate particles may only be one.
I'm telling you it crushes the "space/time" theories.
Ward Tipton Added Dec 6, 2018 - 11:56am
My grandfather once explained to me as I was earning the right to enter his library, that knowledge is a mixed curse at best. When I asked him to explain, he clarified that the more you learn, the more you realize you will never be able to learn. 
That being said, you can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think! 
Knowledge is knowing that tomatoes are a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put them in your fruit salad. 
Gerrilea Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:47pm
Ward T--- Spoken like a true gentleman.
Thank you.
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:23pm
"Can we prove that an atom exists with a proton, neutron and an electron cloud?"
Well, as I understand the term "atom", one would need all 3. Can we prove the atom exist?  Again, I suggest one read the Münchhausen trilemma thought experiment and decide for yourself which of the 3 unsatisfactory  results  put forth is the most satisfactory for you.

The circular argument, in which theory and proof support each other
The regressive argument, in which each proof requires a further proof, ad infinitum
The axiomatic argument, which rests on accepted precepts

I think I personal lean towards the axiomatic argument, because merry go rounds make me dizzy and I don't have enough time to answer a child's continual questioning of every answer I can find. This is not to say that the axiomatic argument is sufficiently better or worse. Rather, it fits my schedule, and offers insight into which direction the consensus opinion leans.
More people will agree that if you throw a ball up into the air it will come back down. Will it do it every time? We don't have enough time to try to prove it, so I, as a finite human being with limited time, accept the axiomatic argument and its shortcomings for the sake of moving forward conclusively upon everyone's best experiments and conclusion, rather than in an infinite circle, or down an infinite line, of endless or repeating conjecture.
But directly to your question. No. We cannot prove it conclusively. I even offered Max Planck statement that" there is no matter as such".
" You seem to be attempting to combine all things into one, pulling from various fields.  Wasn't the original question, What is knowledge?"  
You are correct. I am all over the board, trying to find universal support for any concept being discussed. In the rational world, where our minds seem to prefer to operate, one cannot have any contradictions. Unlike infinity, contradictions are not a problem. Hence, infinity is irrational from the rational frame of reference our minds are geared for. This is why, I suspect, the quantum wave collapses every time it is measured or observed. A quantum wave cannot be observed with a rational mind, and neither can infinity.
If something is not rational, then it is assigned to the category of things we deem not to exist or observable. Does it mean they do not exist? Well, I'm interested in getting to the bottom of that question and I'm forced to do it from my rational frame of reference. Otherwise, it is objectively impossible for me to come to any conclusions, and conclusions and certainty are necessary for rational minds. The best reason I can offer, as to why our minds are geared to only accept that which is rational, is survival. If I interpret my environment irrationally, I may walk off a bridge, thinking I can fly. For the irrational anything is possible. Make sense so far?
Now, when a quantum wave is not observed, the energy contained therein has no location, and consequentially no time constraints either. The energy is in a irrational state or uncertainty. The next step for me is to ask is, is the lineal energy in a quantum wave infinite (i.e. the hypothetical infinite line with no ends-no time/space).
This is where I employ my preferred choice of the 3 unsatisfactory options of the Münchhausen trilemma- the axiomatic argument. Max Planck's findings suggest that there is a "Size Limit" with respects to energy and all of its forms...
" The smallest unit of time (time quanta) is the time it takes for light to travel Planck's length. (Planck's time.) Since distance/relativity stop and quantum mechanics take over at Planck's length, actions across lengths less than this boundary are meaningless. The fastest speed attainable is the speed of light (apparently). So, if we take the smallest length and divide it by the fastest speed, we get the time it takes for the fastest thing to travel the shortest distance. Times shorter than this amount simply do not make sense. SO: Planck's length is about 1 x 10-34 m
Speed of light is about 3 x 108 m/sec Planck's time is about 3.3 x 10-44 sec
Answered by: Christopher INgram, B.A., Independent Thinker, Mobile AL"
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:23pm
So, with the above axiomatic argument on the table, I am informed that the rational worldview has concluded/collapsed the question/uncertainty of energy and its limits into a rational number/scale that is comprehensibly small, but nonetheless, "COMPREHENCABLE".
Again, playing the devil's advocate, this does not necessarily prove the scale is the final word or true measure. It just offers the rational interpretation of what is at hand, and it helps us navigate the world we face. Again, irrational conclusions can be deadly, so we natural select the rational choices to that end.
The other axiomatic argument is energy conservation. Now this argument is a little more promising, because it states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. This statement, and its implication, is a double edged sword that can lean either way in terms of rational (limits/certainty) and irrational (unlimited/uncertainty).
By virtue of the claim that energy cannot be created or destroyed, energy is perpetual, which is to say it has an enduring quality. However it is also saying that it has limits as well, because no new energy can be created to increase the amount, and let's not ignore the fact that it cannot be destroyed, rendering another form of  restriction/limit as well. It is sort of like the glass can be said half empty or half full. So in one respect energy is limited (perhaps spatially) and not without restrictions, and in another respect it is perpetual (perhaps in terms of time).
With such a axiom in hand, a logical/rational question to ask is, if energy cannot be created, it should not exist at all. In order to satisfy the question, I have to propose that energy is not bound by time/space, and thus, rational questions that beg for time related cause and effect  sequences are not applicable. Of course, our rational minds operate in time and space, so such a proposal has all the makings of an irrational proposition from a rational frame of reference. We, as rational human beings, cannot process irrational environments, such as 0 space/time. Even our language won't allow it. We need action words and nouns to communicate our concepts and ideas. Action words are useless in a 0 time environment, because there is no time to act and no space to move.
Here is where I see the opposing concepts, rational and irrational, merging and sharing virtues with each other.
Infinity is not 100% unlimited. The simple argument is infinity may be able to produce endless numbers, but it cannot produce a final number. That would be self defeating. Nevertheless, it is an impossibility, which restricts me from concluding that infinity is absolutely boundless and irrational. I will also propose that infinity may be real, but it cannot express itself in terms of space or time, because of its irrational nature does not abide by cause and effect laws-no beginning or end. So for all intent and purpose, infinity is a rather impotent state of affairs, as it has no time/space to do anything, but present itself as a ?. And this is true, because the only thing that can be conclusively arrived at concerning infinity is does not exist in terms of space and time, which is essentially our only rules to measure what is and what isn't within our rational boundaries of cognitive activity and real world experiences.
Now, I also hold that certainty is the first and last necessity, because it is impossible the make any meaningful assertion in a environment that has absolutely no reality whatsoever. If there is no reality whatsoever, then we not only left Kansas to see the wizard of Oz, we walk right of the edge of the world into a realm utter impossibility. That is to say, there wouldn't exist any possibility, not even for infinity, to express anything. No time, space, energy, infinity-absolute bankruptcy.  The complete and absolute absence of certainty will render a state of complete and utter nothingness, which is a state of affairs I have to naturally reject on the grounds that if I assert or am able to point to such a condition of absolute nothingness, then said state of nothingness would in fact be REAL absolute nothingness.
So I find that infinity(the inconclusive uncertainty of all questions) cannot be 100% boundless, and I find that finite (conclusive certainty of all answers) cannot be 100% extinguished. I also find that infinity (the inconclusive uncertainty of all questions) cannot act in space/time environment, and the finite (conclusive certainty of all answers) is must operate in both space/time and zero space/time environments. Again, it is absolutely certain that infinity cannot produce a last number. Therefore, certainty has jurisdiction over infinity to prevent it from
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:27pm
. Therefore, certainty has jurisdiction over infinity to prevent it from happening, which it to say, certainty prevents or supports that a last number on an infinite line shall never manifest and become a reality. It is certain.
Gerrilea Added Dec 6, 2018 - 11:31pm
FEC --- God Bless ya, that was a tad long to follow.  I took time to read it a couple of times to ensure I understood your position.
First off, you've attempted to control the way we discuss these issues with your 3 options and then you fall back upon the logical fallacy of argument from authority because you do not have the time to test every theory, which in turn becomes a circular argument.
We don't need to test every theory to establish many of them are incorrect.  You never addressed the one glaring example that disproves "space/time".  Quantum entanglement.
I did present you with three links that reveals there is no consensus about a "Big Bang", repeat a lie long enough it becomes the truth.
I understand one issue, as finite beings, we can only comprehend two extremes, a beginning and an end.  Finite points/coordinates. What is beyond infinity? What is "nothingness"?  Our language represents our ideas as a common reference for interaction and exchange and as you've admitted, it is limited and bulky and unworkable, most of the time.
We can, as limited beings, understand cause & effect and can attempt to mitigate the bad "effects" by modifying our actions (the cause).  Jumping off a cliff and learning how not to hit the bottom as you fall helplessly to your death/end/non-existence is nearly impossible. Does this mean I'm gonna try it?  Most likely I will not.
I postulate that "nothingness" is impossible but "infinity" is the only thing that can be real.
On to your "matter can neither be created or destroyed" theory.  I occasionally find myself agreeing with said axiom, once in a while.  How does one measure nothingness? How do you represent it?  With a zero, perhaps? Even then, that representation is something where there is nothing.
Reason then leads me to conclude, "nothing" does not exist, even in the abstract representations we create. This is the first mistake I believe we've collectively made.  Nothing does have a value, zero.
It truly is much more simple than it sounds and why scientists./mathematicians have begun work on "vacuum energy" theories.  The universe is in a state of perpetual motion, the cause for said is yet unknown.  Vibrating "strings" of energy is the most recent idea. What they are vibrating in or why may be understood, at some point. They even arrogantly claim that is their "fundamental" state of being/existence.
It brings me full circle, I find the thesis for your article as misdirection, you've already concluded that infinity can not exist in a rational world.  Everything has a limit, including knowledge, which negates the idea of the exponential separation of "unknowing vs knowing", both MUST have limits in a "rational world".
Who said our universe was rational or must be analyzed from a rational position?  I've never believed that. I sometimes think the universe is a bad joke.  Life existing in said is the evil punchline.  There is not one living creature that exists without consuming something else.  If must consume or it will cease to exist.  Life, therefore, is death. Depending on your relative perspective.
Maybe knowledge is the ultimate paradox?  As life has revealed.
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 1:46am
Funny, as I just noted this in another comment, though it seems relevant here as well. Nothing, by the very fact that it can be quantified, becomes something, which in turn, makes it the only word that is in and of itself, an oxymoron. 
Gerrilea Added Dec 7, 2018 - 5:46am
Ward T--- Now it sounds like you're getting a religiousy with us.
"And first there was the word", perhaps?
FreeEarCandy Added Dec 10, 2018 - 7:44pm
"First off, you've attempted to control the way we discuss these issues with your 3 options and then you fall back upon the logical fallacy of argument from authority because you do not have the time to test every theory, which in turn becomes a circular argument."
Perhaps you misunderstand the premise of the Münchhausen trilemma and what it is pointing out. Your work around idea (i.e. no need for proof-"happy go lucky") is not easy for some people to accept, especially if the stakes are high. If I want to build a car, house, bridge, hospital, etc., I have to deal in proof. You understand.
So, for whatever reason, if one is choosing to deal in proof the Münchhausen trilemma are ones 3 options. I have nothing to do with it.
Happy go lucky does not apply to the trilemma, but at some point in time, one who deals in proof is going to accept the time constraints the trilemma is essentially pointing out  and give up asking for or providing proof. The choice is yours as to which of the 3 dances you're going to dance before you surrender and adopt the happy go lucky model.
So, I'll summarize this. There are the "happy go luckies" and the "happy at some inevitable point go luckies". Lastly, having proof is necessary to build  GOOD stuff, especially theories.
You never addressed the one glaring example that disproves "space/time".  Quantum entanglement.
I'm afraid I disagree and it will take a very long comment to tell you why. The short of it is Space/Time = Energy. See law of conservation.
Reason then leads me to conclude, "nothing" does not exist,
If one cannot destroy energy, then the state of absolute nothing is impossible. One could have 2 equal opposing forces that could create an equilibrium and pretend its nothing. There is also information theory. If one could destroy all the energy there would still be the information. Absence of information is still information.
I'm afraid there is "nothing" to all of this nothingness.
As far as infinity, I have no problem saying it doesn't exist because the question asking if infinity is real is a rational question that needs a rational response. Infinity is irrational and it does not exist in this rational world. If it exists in some irrational state it still doesn't mean it exist in this rational world.
If one cannot see, hear, smell, taste, feel, or find any trace of something, well, what good is it beyond a conversation?
Now I did say that infinity is not real, but I also offered the closest thing I can think of that would support the idea-Law of energy conservation.