I would like to know the general status of the current academic discussion on this result. Ask for a brief introduction.


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I don't know any mainstream recent discussions about limits of knowledge. Most scientists don't like the idea. Kant is the only philosopher I know for whom the question of limits of knowledge is at the center of its philosophy.

Science accepts space, time and causality as given and uses this categories to describe nature and get power over it. With fantastic success. Hume examined this concepts and showed that we cannot expect to explain them using experience. Kant showed that space, time and causality are the ways our mind organizes experience. Since we see the world through this lenses, we don't really have direct access to it. There is a limit in our experience.

The next generation of philosophers accept Kant ideas on the a priory nature of space, time and causality, but didn't resign to accept Kant's limits. Hegel claimed that we had direct access to our thinking, Schopenhauer that we had direct access to our emotions. This is still the most interesting discussion about the limits of knowledge I know. Why did we decide to forget it? Michael Steinberg's book on german idealism is a great eye opener.

The success of science made us forget about any possible limits. We want to believe that science will take care of all the epistemological problems and we do not really need philosophy. We don't even notice that we bumped into the wall of Quantum Mechanics and we are not able to really understand it. And this is going on for more than a century. When we speak about concepts like time, causality and conscience, our understanding of them using the experimental method was quite small over the last hundred years. Did we reach a limit to our knowledge or we just need to accept another type of experimental method? Husserl started saying that more than one hundred years ago. To progress on the study of the mind we have to use the mind. Using machines, we hit a wall.

Most people that take this atitude are not philosophers that envy the methods of science. Husserl was a mathematician. I pay my bills proving theorems. Bernardo Kastrup got a PhD is Artificial Inteligence, created a company, sold it for a couple of millions and got the money to dedicate all his time to Philosophy. I would say he is one of the most exciting philosophers alive. He explains in a very clear language that there are limits on what we can understand if we assume that the experimental method that succeed so well in physics is the only type of scientific method available.

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    I broadly agree but more with the general idea of a limit to knowledge than with your angle on it. Direct access to our thinking and emotions seems rather uncontroversial. I would say we know the contents of our own (conscious) mind, which seems self-evident. I also don't believe we could possibly know the world outside our mind, irrespective of the method we used. Can you even articulate what an alternative scientific method might look like? Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 18:19
  • @Speakpigeon "Direct access to our thinking and emotions seems rather uncontroversial." Sure! Kant certainly notice that. He just didn't believe that we could do much with that direct access. The way Hegel and Schopenhauer explored that direct access seems to be much more controversial. I would like to know more about Hegel's work. Schopenhauer ideas make a lot of sense to me. Kastrup does a great job at explaining them on its book.
    – Just me
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 11:46
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    @Speakpigeon "I also don't believe we could possibly know the world outside our mind, irrespective of the method we used." I am glad that we agree on that. I suppose we also agree that most people believe science can do that.
    – Just me
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 11:51
  • @Speakpigeon "Can you even articulate what an alternative scientific method might look like?" I will need several comments, taking several approaches. If we don't have direct access to the world outside our mind our starting point should be to explore the phenomena to which we have direct access. That is what Schopenhauer and Husserl do. Husserl claims that this is a scientific method. I agree with him. I will write some more comments soon.
    – Just me
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 12:08
  • Most people trust more machines them themselves. Machine measurements are "objective". Look at medicine. Its hard to disagree with them. With all the success of medical technology. People in the frontier of research are see things in a different way. Henry Stapp points out the naiveness of that point of view. He considers that the quantum wave only collapses when a consciousness is aware of the result.
    – Just me
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 19:35

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