"never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Discussion of the nature of Ultimate Reality and the path to Enlightenment.

"never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Postby Soundboard » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:44 pm

Hi All,

Was having a discussion with a friend of mine and thought I would gain some insight from the wise folks on this board. The discussion is below. Any comments?

So here's a question for you... if you can accept that all of our thoughts & ideas in our present state of consciousness/evolution/existence are limited to our current understanding of reality, and for all we know that understanding may not even be close to what reality really is, then isn’t it possible that any thoughts, ideas or perceptions that we have (even about the nature of infinity) may not even be using a valid foundation to formulate those thoughts in the first place??

We spent so much time the other night talking about infinity, but what if infinity doesn’t even exist? Or what if it exists and means one thing in our current state of understanding, but in the next realm of existence infinity (or what we perceive as infinity) is actually finite? Of course as you know I don’t claim to have one f*cking clue about any of this. I’m completely ignorant to these matters. But just like I question religion and any other spiritual/theoretical ideas that are presented to me as “knowledge” or “facts”, I have to of course question what you present as knowledge. Doesn’t mean I have the answer though lol!



Indeed! Which is part of the reason why I am so adamant about never knowing. As we discussed, there is always an "x factor"... something that could come into your reality at any point and completely "flip the script", so to speak. There is no way to know for sure whether your understanding will change or remain the same, or even if it is correct or incorrect for that matter.

Infinity exists only as a concept, really, but I think it's a convenient way of looking at reality when discussing whether or not the whole (or whatever you want to call it) can be conceived and quantified. I don't believe it can. At any given point, we perceive and experience only the subset of existence that is open to us. We filter things through our own perception/experience/understanding. Now, 40000 years in the future you may be wired into something that gives you all of the information in the universe at your disposal, but I'm open to the thought that there is always something that can come along and change that information i.e. the x-factor. At the very least, I'd imagine that I would interpret that information differently than you would, or an alien would, or an animal would. Just as you can never know the largest number (you can always add +1 no matter how large the number), you can never know the whole beyond what presents itself as the whole.


I would agree there is always an "x factor" as we perceive reality. I would agree you can always add 1 as we perceive reality. I guess what I'm saying is I'm completely open to the idea that both of those statements are fallacies in a way that we are unable to even comprehend in this state of consciousness. I'm not saying I think they're fallacies. I tend to believe both are probably true, but I could be 100% wrong.

To me it seems counterproductive to say on one hand "I am so adamant about never knowing" and then acknowledging at the same time that "there is no way to know for sure whether your understanding will change or remain the same". If I accept the latter then why would I be so adamant about the former???


They could very well be fallacies, which is why I believe what I do about never truly knowing. There is no way to prove that anything is as we think it is, or that it will remain the same. We make judgments and rationalizations based on appearances, and take these appearances as truth. When the appearance changes the "truth" changes. It doesn't mean that everything we believe isn't true, but knowing truths and knowing "all that is to be known" are completely different statements. We'll never know for certain whether or not we'll gain a new understanding about something that will render our former opinion invalid.

I agree with your observations about how we function in this reality as we understand the world around us. No arguments there.

Where we agree to disagree is the idea that we’ll never know for certain. I respect that you believe that. But I don’t believe you know that any better than I because I believe we’re both just making guesses about something for which we have no true knowledge… that which exists beyond this life.

For all I know there is a God who created the universe and could be infinite or finite in nature. I know what you’ll say… then who created that God and down the rabbit hole we go. I clearly don’t presume to have the answers but as a true agnostic I’m open to every possibility, including the possibility that there is one ultimate truth and we’ll be privy to it one day and it will be the last final truth and we will know some way some how beyond my wildest imagination what the nature of the universe is. How will we know? I have no f’in clue. But I believe anything is possible.

Just for clarity, I don't "disagree" with the idea that we'll never know for certain. To agree or disagree would be taking a stance and that's the exact opposite of what I want to convey. I def think your belief is a strong possibility. I just don't know either way


I'm not claiming to know any more than you are. I think we're both taking stances, man, based on what we think is the most reasonable. Else we wouldn't go round and round like this trying to get the other to see our views. I don't have a problem with that. I can easily accept that there will always be another viewpoint. It's what makes us human. Look, there is a possibility, no matter how remote, that the sun will not rise tomorrow. But my money is on it rising. What I guess I'm saying is that what I believe is a matter of degree and likelihood, forever subject to change based on whatever new inputs I receive. I don't see that changing, so we'll agree to disagree, my friend.

Funny the second sentence of my last response:
"To agree or disagree would be taking a stance and that's the exact opposite of what I want to convey"

Second sentence of your last response:
"I think we're both taking stances, man, based on what we think is the most reasonable".

LOL! Are you even reading my posts? The stuff you say makes me think perhaps you don't understand my position or I'm not explaining it clearly.

I'm curious... Exactly what am I taking a stance on? The stance of "I don't know" or "I'm not sure"? Sounds more like a wobble than a stance.

I believe to say with certainty that I will never know is an absolute belief or position about the fundamental nature of the universe. It's fine for you to have that belief (obviously) but it's just that... a belief.

I take no stance either way. I say u may be right. We may never know. I say u may be wrong. We may one day know. I can't say either way because I don't have those answers. Not the faintest clue.

One position (yours) asserts a fundamental belief about the nature of the universe. One position (mine) says you could be right or wrong and I dont know. By the very nature of those positions one is clearly claiming to know more than the other. And that's fine too... But let's be clear about what the differences are.


I'm as clear as I can be on what our differences are. Yes, in stating "I'll never know" I assert a fundamental belief about the depth of my understanding of reality or the lack thereof. I don't think it is possible for reality to be completely quantified by any framework I could ever come up with, regardless of knowledge gained now or in the future. Some things may very well be unknowable. Or at the most, we could be right about the current state of things, but then they could all change. So be it. We're not going to make any more progress here without getting irritated with one another, so I suggest we drop it

Damn dude. I'm not irritated in the least. Quite the contrary I rather love these discussions. I consider them great exercise for the brain. Sorry it irritates you.

You know I feel the same about these discussions, man. I just think we're going to be going over the same points ad nauseum (this conversation has been going on for weeks now) while never truly coming to an understanding beyond what we've been able to verbally communicate, which is often inadequate. We could again go into these reasons, but I don't really see the point. We clearly draw different conclusions from even the few things we agree on.

Personally I feel like I've gained a new insight every time we have this discussion... both about my own feelings on the topic and about your view. I feel like I actually understand your position a little better today than I did 2 days ago, and I understood it a bit better a couple days ago than I did a week ago. In turn I think I actually understand my own positions better because I'm forced to dig deep into my own introspection as a result of pondering your point of view.

In my mind this is the kind of discussion that probably gets picked up here and there for years as long as both participating continue to evaluate and objectify their own ideas and how they perceive others' ideas.

The one tangible achievement I think can be made even in the short term is both of us truly understanding the other's view, even if we disagree. I believe I mostly understand your view (about 80% is my hunch)... or at least the basic foundation of your view. I believe I can articulate your view in a way that would make you feel like I understand it.

I tend to think you understand my view because I know you're extremely intelligent, but then comments like "we're both taking stances" tells me that perhaps you don't get my position at all, since the only position I'm attempting to articulate is the exact opposite of taking stances... that I take no stance either way and accept you could be right or wrong in your assessments.

I'm happy to agree to disagree, and I'm happy to not discuss it anymore if that's what you prefer. The only reason I brought it up yesterday is because I felt I had something new to add to the conversation.

I appreciate that, man. I really do. I guess I'm just exhausted by this conversation. At least, at the moment I am. I'm sure we'll continue this sooner rather than later, lol.

As far as "stances" go, it's just that I consider a stance to be any view at all. Maybe I'm being obtuse, and you'll likely disagree but... To me, "maybe" is just as much a position as "yes" and "no". Eh, you know what I'm getting at. Technicalities and wordplay. It's enough to drive a man mad!

But in order to continue this conversation, I'll modify my belief and accept that you don't have a view, lol. That way, we can get back to what each other thinks about things we both claim to know nothing about, because ultimately that is all we have, right?

heh, laughing my ass off about "getting back to what each other thinks about things we both claim to know nothing about." I LOVE IT!!!

I'm very intrigued by the concept that no view or position is in-of-itself a view or position. I could get lost in my head just thinking about this one idea... like the chicken & the egg. I suppose you're *technically* correct but practically speaking, as we use the english language, the word "stance" tends to carry a certain connotation. If I told you T has a stance about the political election, you would assume he has a clear defined position about who he thinks is the better candidate, would you not? If you then ask T and he said he had no clue who was better, you wouldn't think that was much of a stance, would you? Clearly this is an issue of semantics, but I think it's an important issue as we choose these words to communicate our ideas and feelings.

If every thought that passes through our brain (even the thought that I don't know what I think or feel) is a stance or a position, then how in the world do we distinguish having an opinion from not having an opinion??? Now my brain hurts.


LOL! Yes! I share your pain. I'm going to ponder this over lunch.
Last edited by Soundboard on Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Postby Cory Duchesne » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:57 pm

Soundboard wrote:Hi All,

Was having a discussion with a friend of mine and thought I would gain some insight from the wise folks on this board. The discussion is below. Any comments?

[color=#0000FF]So here's a question for you... if you can accept that all of our thoughts & ideas in our present state of consciousness/evolution/existence are limited to our current understanding of reality, and for all we know that understanding may not even be close to what reality really is, then isn’t it possible that any thoughts, ideas or perceptions that we have (even about the nature of infinity) may not even be using a valid foundation to formulate those thoughts in the first place??


That's true.

For instance, the entirety of science, is in fact, an invalid foundation, yet many people pride themselves on using that very tradition as the foundation of their wisdom, and from there they proceed to entangle themselves in all kinds of trouble.
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Re: "never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Postby Soundboard » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:58 am

I've added some more to the discussion above.
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Re: "never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Postby Cory Duchesne » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:23 am

Reading over the conversation, you are both locked into a common paradigm of sensory, literal thinking. Breaking everything down into nothingness and unknowing is the sign of a good empirical mind, or maybe a talent for manipulating language, but a fully developed logical mind can handle analytic reasoning without getting confused and contradictory.

Have you given any thought about the difference between empirical truths and analytical truths? They teach such distinctions in first year university, so there is lots of info on the net about analytic (or a-priori reasoning). Very few can put a-priori reasoning into a practical and ultimately true context, and very few can even find such an aim sensible or interesting.
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Re: "never knowing" vs. "not knowing"

Postby Jamesh » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:58 pm

I wrote this a couple of days ago. Can't recall what spawned it. Don't know where to plonk it, so here will do.


In all of us there is The Watcher, the cognitive self, and there is also the Feelings Self.

The Watcher is like computer program, it is a structured linear process. This is the ego. It is a thing that focalises and values. It's role is to take the infinite and make it into a series of finite entities.

The Feelings Self on the other hand is not of a linear nature, it is experience, a vaguer generalised sense, a physical awareness.

These two selves are always in competition with each other and the merged outcome of that competition becomes what we do, our actions.

The Watcher use memory and formulates streams of data. It is a reflective entity. For it, everything is of the past tense, it is based on what has already occurred, and it uses this to predict the future, so as to be ready for same. It is a introspective program, the examiner of everything, judging everything that is occurring by comparing it to what it already knows.

The Feelings Self, however lives in the now, it is our physical awareness of the infinite.

A Watcher that has been lead to rational, logical thinking becomes a more powerful competitor with the feelings self. In gradually freeing itself from delusion, then the structure of the ego program, via a rewriting of the Watcher's logical system, is cleaned of the noise of the past. The past is still remembered, but the value system that applied to those memories is now indifferent, rather than emotive.

Where The Watcher determines that it should not allow certain feelings to dominate in consciousness, then the Watcher's construction of thought streams should become automatically more rational, than would another persons ego program that gives weight to, that values, animal feelings.

Thus the experience of reality with the simplified, more pure feeling of untainted awareness, where reactions become logical and easy. Little reflection is required, in circumstances where the learning and rewiring has been based on the most logical truths of reality. Unlike a normal Watcher, a normal ego, in an enlightened persons brain there is no conflict between the subroutines of the ego program. This allows for a faster mental reaction time to experiences, to form the "right" thought, and then the right action.

Someone who is playing sport very well, lets say lining up a pool shot, will have turned the Watcher right down. The aim is heightened physical awareness, whereby concentration limits the Watcher to physical and/or strategic calculations. Physical awareness is heightened further as where feelings are limited simply the expectation or readiness that stems from adrenalin.

The formation of a tight, logical ego structure, a well written program without crappy code or logic, must still always be flawed to some degree. Firstly people need to experience animal emotions in order to know them and to then understand their failings. Thus they must first develop an ego that contains conflict due to conflicting emotional impulses at different times, and the differing memories that were stored and categorised as a result. Their "Free-Will" must first be bound by what they have learnt to value. An enlightened person though has greater free-will as they are not as bound by past actions.

Secondly, an ego that has pursued a knowing of reality, will often start with flawed or flaky logic. It does not know, what it does not know. It lacks the full story until it has pursued a logical analysis of reality until it can go no further. That never happens at once, or perhaps ever, and all the layers in the ego building would have been formed without the big picture. The big picture may also include knowing that part of the picture that cannot rationally be pursued.

It seems that, for the ego's sub-routines to be absent of conflict between others, then the loose ends, the indefinites, must be tied off. The ego requires everything to be quantised, it needs discrete data packets. In every concept relating to infinity, there is the problem of infinity itself - its endless thus cannot be quantified, and in the same way for the ego, if there is a question that remains "open" then in a conceptual sense it is infinite.

To avoid a logical ego reaching an impasse, then at some point then rethinking, as in going around in circles over the same core ideas, has to cease. "Everything is connected" and truths like that have to be seen for what they are, and inserted into the ego program as fundamental values, values of absolute logic, that need no further questioning.

Once this occurs, and illogical sub-routines have been well discarded by this point, then the ego program becomes rather compact. There is fuck all input code as the Watcher's time is not taken up managing various value systems and their resulting confusion. In not requiring animal emotions, there is little need for valuing. Without the completely transitory nature of emotions overpowering The Watcher, then it is not causing the brain to chop reality into segments that may need to be acted on. Without those interruptions then overall awareness stays more in the now, in the continuousness of nature. The lack of distraction and the holistic nature of one's mental vista, its unfettered landscape, allows one to fell more alive, more knowing.
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