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Has Rationalism Failed? Do we need to rediscover the idea of Truth?

- Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:34:22 EST Nwy2IF3I No.209138
File: 1524303262008.jpg -(20998B / 20.51KB, 494x604) Thumbnail displayed, click image for full size. Has Rationalism Failed? Do we need to rediscover the idea of Truth?
I want to talk about the concept of knowledge and truth and how we approach its understanding. I am not convinced that logic and reason can serve as the only tools for understanding truth. Here is an example using atoms I have provided to make my point more clear.
>500 BCE Leucippis develops a theory on atomism. It is the idea that everything is composed of indivisible elements called atoms.
>Early 1800s Dalton develops his own atomic theory, where he specifically says “Atoms cannot be subdivided, created or destroyed”
>1879 – 1918 Many scientists such as William Crookes discover “subatomic particles” such as protons and electrons, which are smaller than atoms.
>1964 Gell-Mann and Zweig both develop the Quark model showing that hadrons (such as protons) are made of quarks, which are smaller than subatomic particles.
We run into a bit of a problem here. Either we conclude that Leucippis and Dalton are wrong because things are made of smaller things than atoms and atoms can be subdivided. Or we can conclude that Gell-mann and Zweig actually discovered atoms, to be consistent with Dalton’s definition, and we need to rename what atoms used to be called, since Daltons atom was something that could be subdivided. But maybe we might discover something smaller than quarks and where does this end? Then we need to either rename what an atom is yet again or call it the sub-sub-sub-atomic particle.
All of this means that truth is constantly unfolding and reshaping itself. Even now, if we define anything we might end up realizing it wasn’t what it seemed to be at the time and there is a whole new deeper area on the topic to explore. Maybe rationalism has failed to grasp the nature of truth reshaping itself, so all arguments rationalism creates become undone every time a new phenomenon is discovered.
Alice Greenshaw - Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:39:01 EST DVMFurmR No.209139 Reply
While I agree with the general sentiment that there is more to truth than rationality alone, I think the particular problem you bring up (that the meaning of scientific terms gets constantly redefined) isn't a serious blow against rationality. It's just an admission of the fallibility of human language.

'Atom' is from the Greek 'A' meaning non or anti, and 'Temos' meaning cut. 'Atom' just means 'uncuttable.' So does that mean the things we call atoms aren't really atoms since they are clearly cuttable? No, not at all. 'Atom' is merely a symbol for a human concept, and the fact that the same symbol has been used to describe completely different ideas is unremarkable (especially considering Dalton's use of the term was an intentional callback to Leucippus' idea.)

When Leucippus posited the atom, he was right in one sense -- reality is made of indivisible elements. He was just wrong about their exact nature (they are strings, apparently, not what we call 'atoms.')
When Dalton posited his atom, he was right in some slightly more specific sense -- the world is composed of the atomic elements. He was just wrong about the fact that they were properly described as 'atoms' since they were indeed divisible.
And so on. With each generations the meaning of a scientific terms may expand or contract, but this is precisely because it is just a symbol humans use as a short hand to communicate ideas about an underlying reality.

There may be more fundamental limits to our ability to use rationality to understand the world, but I don't think the fact that humans are pretty careless with their use of symbols is one of them.
Phoebe Turveyhall - Sat, 28 Apr 2018 11:08:20 EST SGCbMw+u No.209143 Reply
This is why you always need to accept change and accept that science continually changes and pretty much always will.
Betsy Mannershit - Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:00:06 EST DyLRrmZc No.210030 Reply

How do subatomic particles hurt atomism by the definition. The universe is still composed of atoms and those atoms are composed of even smaller atoms called quarks. Quarks still = indivisible elements and if we got to a an even smaller level, whatever neologism we give it will = indivisible elements.
Fanny Buzzfield - Thu, 09 Apr 2020 02:17:54 EST fGHDtkRk No.210038 Reply
I think at the subatomic level, the closer you look at things, the less it makes sense to call the constituent parts "indivisible elements" though. They have a lot of strange and paradoxical qualities that don't make any sense with-in the framework of classical mechanics. Only recently have we even begun to explore the quantum realm, so it would be unreasonable at this point (and possibly ever) to make arguments for or against atomism. There has yet to be a theory proposed that decisively links classical and quantum mechanics and until then (if it ever happens) it's a question that doesn't make much sense to ask in the first place.
Caroline Blunnersot - Sat, 11 Apr 2020 12:29:03 EST yhtu+z4u No.210042 Reply

I don't think anybody today is calling subatomic particles indivisible. That was in the past, when we didn't know better.
Clara Faddleway - Thu, 07 May 2020 23:07:43 EST AOuUNGAb No.210074 Reply
All of reality is already here.
The main limitation is man's perspective.
As we devise configurations of matter to expand and amplify our senses, for example a magnifying glass, we will "discover" more of what has always been there.
Doris Ninnerpot - Fri, 24 Jul 2020 07:58:33 EST I8Z3gBUH No.210252 Reply

Not trying to be an ass, but why would be the presupposition of indivisibility if they apparently can keep being divided? I know your example was theoretical but would it be important for science or something to have an absolutely indivisible element?
William Pickspear - Fri, 24 Jul 2020 08:56:57 EST wkablpIZ No.210253 Reply
I think rationalism does have its own problems and limitations, but I think it's also important to point out that you're critiqing a very specific kind of reason it looks like: empiricism, or more pejoratively positivism (i.e. the science only concerned with appearances). I think that there are ways of knowing outside of merely sensory experience, and this is hardly a new debate.

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