Impossibility of Accurate Knowledge: Is there any generally accepted correct information?June 28, 2021
“Is there any generally correct information?” The question has been asked since the First Age.
In this period, philosophers investigated what is the basis of all beings and what is the main substance from which all beings emerge. For him, the first period of ancient philosophy is called natural philosophy. The fact that natural philosophers reached different conclusions on the same subject was effective in the emergence of skepticism.
For example, according to Thales, the main substance from which the universe comes out is “water”, while according to Anaximenes it is “air”. Again, according to Heraclitus, there is a constant change in the universe, and according to Parmenides, there is no change in the universe. The fact that philosophers have reached different and even contradictory results on the same subject has led people to think that they cannot obtain knowledge of the outside world.
It is useful to briefly state the views that affect the skepticism movement. One of them belongs to Zenon (490-430 BC). The “arrow” proof that shows the impossibility of motion, known as the Zeno paradoxes, is as follows: We think that a shot arrow is moving. However, in order to reach the target, the arrow has to pass each point of the distance between the place it was shot and the target one by one, that is, it has to be at each point separately. Since finding means stopping according to Zenon, it means that the arrow stops during a whole flight, that is, it does not move. This proof of Zeno is important for skepticism because with his proof, it causes people to doubt something they know for sure, namely that the arrow from the bow moves.
According to the atomist philosopher Demokritos (460-360 BC), the information obtained through the senses and the tangible entities in the outside world do not actually exist. The only things that actually exist are colorless, odorless atoms. Atoms cannot be perceived, and since they cannot be perceived, the real cannot be known.
According to the sophists, the source of knowledge is sensations. Sensations and perceptions are subjective. It varies from person to person. For this reason, there are no generally accepted truths that everyone should accept. Sophist thinkers were teachers in Ancient Greece who toured the cities and gave lessons for money. They taught people how to speak well and how to be successful in politics. The most famous of the sophist thinkers are Protagoras (482-411) and Gorgias (483-375 BC). According to Protagoras, “man is the measure of all things.” Accordingly, we cannot make a general judgment on any issue. There is nothing right or wrong that everyone can agree on. Gorgias; “1) Nothing exists. 2) Even if something happens, it cannot be known. 3) Even if something exists and can be known, this knowledge cannot be passed on to others.” stated that there is no generally accepted truth with his opinion.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook