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Only because nobody has found a counterexample, it does not mean yet for a long time that a regularity must be fundamentally correct and generally valid.

Either because one does not know the true regularities of the world, (1) because there are none, (2) because they are possibly changeable, or (3) because one does not understand the nature of an entity to which this regularity should actually apply in detail, and this regularity does not apply, or only partially. So one can predict with no perfect security the result of a process, how something certain is built, actually nothing at all.

Everybody and everything alive has his own perception of the world which must be limited in some way, alone by this it is not possible to know something with absolute certainty, because in his own consciousness an image of the world is projected which the senses can perceive limitedly, which does not agree with the image of other beings, or because one lacks information which others have. Theoretically, I can not even safely assume that the readers here can understand my text, because his thinking apparatus works differently and can not understand human language.

Thus one can know nevertheless nothing with security, since the validity of this knowledge would depend on being able to be always applicable in this area, which it hardly ever does, always there are minimum deviations or exceptions, of which one does not know however often. Wouldn't one then have to know absolutely everything to be able to know anything at all with 100 percent certainty?

Observations depend also always on the observer and on the situation in which he was just, and also after thousands of observations and patterns which one can recognize, there could still be deviations from this pattern which would question everything before.

Can you not rely on anything 100 percent, not even logic (ok this one probably to a certain degree for sure), can you only hope that the highest probability is the safest possibility for, well, anything? And why do we still act as if all regularities were perfect without exception and we could know everything with certainty?

If not, then this would cause a fundamental problem, at first seemingly not that big of a deal if someone can be in best case 99.999...% sure of something, but if we look at the so called "human needs". For example, pick a person from the crowd of humanity and unfortunately of all things picked someone who is very different in nature than others, but we don't know yet; let’s ts say he hates to get hugged and let's say he hates being hugged or receiving other kinds of affection in general, not only that but gets physical damage from that (maybe he'll get a skin rash or something), good and healthy for most people but not for him. Most would argue one of those would be just mentally ill or has an unknown disease but when he doesn’t suffer otherwise I wouldn’t consider it a disease just because he is very different from the majority in this area. I mean there are a lot of psychological things the average person would literally die from, directly or indirectly, but are not called diseases, like not getting affection from your parents for example. But it poses the question if a century-long researched subject like human needs is flawed because not every human works the same way, maybe not completely wrong but not universally true either.

Another example: Let's say you're writing an essay claiming that "Every reader here is a male", raging women incoming complaining about how stupid this statement is, and sexist as well, and of course the statement is completly wrong. But what about you write instead, "every reader here has a brain in the head", then nobody would complain about this statement, because everybody thinks it would be a plain fact, until this one strange person arrives that can prove the author of the essay he has not a brain, rather a wide bodyspreading neurological network whose center is in the stomach, then the whole statement would be wrong as well, or at least not completly true, because there is an exception, this one of the let’s say one hundred thousand readers has got no brain in the head, but was it dumb to assume its a universal fact?

Thats the main problem, aside from as said earlier that no being can percieve the real world in its entirety in the first place, so no one can perceive the full objective reality and no one can really comprehend and understand it, if there is even one...

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    What kind of "fundamental problem"? Oct 24, 2021 at 15:22
  • That everyone cant be completly sure about anything, so they potentially cant shape their lifes as how they imagined, no matter how hard they try, or make assumptions that seem true for most but are not even close to the truth, so they get end up dying in worst case, or creat harm or get insane and dont know what to do and disbelieving everything if they realize this issue. Its not fundamental in the scale of the universe, or better said the cosmos, but for every being that lives in it, not only humans.
    – ruxxx
    Oct 24, 2021 at 17:13
  • Yes, we are fallible and what we believe may turn out to be false, in part or completely. We are lucky to surmise something that works at least most of the time, and would be wise to act on that. That's one problem we have to live with. What is the question beyond that?
    – Conifold
    Oct 24, 2021 at 20:44
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    Of course this is a problem and you know it from deep inside otherwise your knowledge would be wonderfully complete and never come here for any question... Jan 29, 2023 at 17:28

5 Answers 5

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Not for anyone that wants to know the truth.. the problem manifests upon trying to protect a theory outside of logic, reason and Common Sense.

If the exceptions are wrong or fake then of course. But if not how could anyone be mad I gaining new knowledge.

What's your speaking of is the process of Improvement or perfecting.

So until a new system is in place incorporating such exceptions then it is acceptable to use the old systems.

To be clear ignoring such exceptions to maintain the status quo would result in stagnation and reversion of mankind as a whole and on a personal level.

Such things only become problems in politics and not necessarily of the governing type though it can't be seen everyday

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  • "The largest room in the world is the Room For Improvement."
    – Scott Rowe
    Sep 27, 2023 at 11:07
  • "So until a new system is in place incorporating such exceptions then it is acceptable to use the old systems." It seems like what you are suggesting here is that when reason alone fails to provide a concrete solution, then one should fall back to beliefs held by other avenues, such as emotion, intuition, habit, common sense (usually some combination of the others), etc.? Reason and logic do not themselves solve the Problem of Induction.
    – DKing
    Sep 27, 2023 at 14:07
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Depends on your relation to these rules. Like did you assume that they are the end all be all of knowledge concerning that domain? Well yes in that case a single counter example can prove that this is wrong.

The important point to notice however is WHAT actually is wrong. And primarily it's the certainty that is wrong not necessarily the usefulness of the rule in general. What happened is that you've moved from "works all the time" to "works most of the time". Which is still significantly more useful than "works some of the time" or "is most often wrong". However it hints at the fact that some of your assumptions might be wrong or don't work as you'd expected them to. Meaning you're again on your quest for knowledge to find a better rule that also incorporates that exception.

But it also has another consequence and that is that you should think of your theory as fallible. So if an exception comes up it might be due to the fact that you were wrong with your theory/rule. Whereas if you assume your rule to be the truth and how it should be, then it would be the exception that is wrong/impossible.

This is part of the reason why for example science thinks of it's theories as work-in-progress and most-likely-wrong rather than considering them to be "truth". That doesn't mean that things can't be useful, on the contrary science has, despite being always wrong, made significant progress in understanding and knowledge to an extend where it's suitable in application. However fundamentally it's just a good guess and not a truth.

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So I think if you look at skeptism you'll gain some insight here. In a nutshell, if we follow Cicero, we conclude that, e.g. it is probable that all readers of this sentence are human, and that it is probable that any human who can read has a brain in their heads. We can be open to counterexample and acknowledge that our positions are contingent on the acquisition of new information without being forced into inaction.

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What you describe is the Problem of induction. In an open system (where we don't know all of the variables involved), no amount of examples of one sort of thing can rule out the possibility that there are counter examples. What is worse is that in most situations, you can't even say that there are not more counter examples than examples. So, by reason and experience alone, we cannot expect any belief about real things to be reliable. All that you can do is build models and assume that if your understanding of the universe, natural laws, and your memory are accurate, then those models may have proven useful in the past to give you some hope that they may be useful in the future, but never actually reliable.

This is where some may argue that faith comes into the picture. We all have some set of things that we believe about the world in which we live which are not based upon induction and not subject to external proof. This may be the belief that nature is uniform, that the scientific community's statements are generally reliable, that our senses are reliable, that our reason is mostly reliable, and so forth. If we start with certain assumptions, then, assuming those assumptions are true, we may be able to form some degree of certainty about certain facts. We accomplish that by limiting the scope.

For instance, if you assume that any behavior that is generally acceptable by all people on Earth (or perhaps a specific culture) (also, that your senses and memory are accurate, your data collection method is reliable, etc.) is itself an acceptable behavior, you could know this because given those constraints, you could theoretically know what people generally hold to be acceptable. There could be a few odd people, or people on other planets, or your senses could be way off, but you've removed them from your scope. If you say that all people capable of reading have brains in their heads and limit your group of "readers" to people (which is the assumption that most people would make), then you can say that all the readers have brains in their head.

Essentially, while you cannot use induction to tell you what things actually are or are not, you can say that some things are reasonably more likely and other things are reasonably less likely according to a specifically defined scope.

no one can perceive the full objective reality

Well, no mortal person with the limited cognitive capacity that we expect them to have. If you cannot use induction or say that you can perceive all of reality, then you must admit that there could be some "one" out there who could perceive the full objective reality. It might be interesting to consider how the case would be different if such a one existed and related that information to us in a reliable way.

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Newtonian gravity cannot predict some of the movements of the planets as observed from Earth (I forget which), but special relativity can. So yes, I would argue that in fact exceptions do pose a fundamental problem.

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  • We didn't learn and get to know it better, the rule we came up with is completely different from the rule we had found before. Special relativity isn't a refinement of newtonian gravity, it is something else entirely: Newtonian gravity is a force whereas in special relativity gravity is the curvature of space-time.
    – Gabriel
    Sep 28, 2023 at 17:30
  • Of course learning exists, what do you do when you study for an exam? :) What do you call it when you understand your mistakes and avoid making them in the future? Anyway, you cannot really prove the conclusion wasn't arrived at through "learning" because you (and I) don't know what was going on in Einstein's head. I can imagine him having long hard thoughts about the topic and coming to the realisation that gravity looked more like the curvature of space time than a force.
    – Gabriel
    Oct 2, 2023 at 14:28
  • What is learning then? To me it seems that learning is tied to understanding, they are almost the same thing. By understanding I mean really understanding something and not parroting it.
    – Gabriel
    Oct 3, 2023 at 0:11
  • You didn't even define learning or give an example. I did...
    – Gabriel
    Oct 10, 2023 at 3:05

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