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(Forgive my lack of accurate wording, English is not my first language, in addition I'm not a philosophy expert.)

I cannot recall the word I have seen once, describing a theory where human understanding is based on experience, and therefore is limited by the horizon of what is conceivable based on this experience.

For instance, we are used to see objects always enclosed in something else, there is an inside and an outside. We have some difficulty to understand what is the meaning of the Universe where there is no "outside", a Universe having no limit or end. We (non experts) may have more difficulty with multi-verse concept (what is the meaning of something that exists but we cannot interact with and therefore cannot detect in any way). Etc.

Said otherwise: human being may be unable to get the concept of extreme otherness due to limitation of thinking process, because we are used to think and validate assumptions based on what we already know (logic).

Somehow related discussion.

What is the scientific word for this concept? Can you provide links to texts or definition?

  • There are several different possible philosophical standpoints in there.. – virmaior May 7 '14 at 11:14
  • Right! My mind is not very clear about the idea, because it was a discovery at the time I saw the concept, and the concept has now blurred. – mins May 8 '14 at 9:55
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i believe Empiricism to be that which you are speaking of.

i.e. the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense experience.

  • Thank you. See my comment on empiricism on Lucas answer. – mins May 8 '14 at 8:37
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How about the branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology?

  • Thank you. This seems to be a good suggestion, as I commented under Lucas answer. In the end it could be close to Plato's cavern. To go further: my idea was humans favor understanding of phenomenons as related to them. For example: ET are always "the others", we seldom think we are the "ET" of others). Or: normality for intelligent species is to have two feet, having four is less smart... ET have two feet in general and are able to sit on a chair. I may look at something like anthropo-something (not anthropomorphism nor anthropocentrism which seem not broad enough) – mins May 8 '14 at 10:13
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cannot recall the word I have seen once, describing a theory where human understanding is based on experience, and therefore is limited by the horizon of what is conceivable based on this experience.

Sounds like empiricism. Hume is most well known for this.

human being may be unable to get the concept of extreme otherness due to limitation of thinking process, because we are used to think and validate assumptions based on what we already know (logic).

This sounds a bit more like Kant to me. His transcendental idealism is usually considered a response to Hume.

The major difference is about whether there are certain concepts that are not learned from experience (a priori). Hume was skeptical about it but Kant thought that there are some things that structure all of our thoughts, without which thought would be impossible.

(In science there is Bayesian approaches to perception and cognition, which also sound similar to your suggestions.)

  • Thank you. Empiricism or tabula rasa seems not fit perfectly. However from your link to Kant, I found something promising about noumenon vs. phenomenon, also mentioned by Thuba. An idea that overlaps: "the real world was inaccessible to human reason (though the empirical world of nature can be known to human understanding) and therefore we can never know anything about the ultimate reality of the world" – mins May 8 '14 at 10:08

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