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Experimentation for Knowledge in Empiricism


Today we are talking about the metaphysics of empiricism. I tend to range rather far afield in classes, so I will try to remain more on topic.

Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that holds that knowledge (either exclusively or primarily) comes from sensory experience, and that discovery is accomplished through experimentation.

Thus the term empirical data. Measurable sensory experience? Recordable certainly, but it does seem that a system of measures is insisted upon.

Shall I begin with critique or first attempt to explore the metaphysics of empiricism as it stands on its own first?

Let’s explore the metaphysics.

Sensory experience is a variable, but the assumption is that observation can take place by anyone attempting to attain knowledge of reality. The behaviour of individual senses, even when operating, varies between individuals, so sensory experience and observation are not only dependant on the principles of sensation, they are likewise dependant on individual cognition. Sensory experience and cognition can’t be meaningfully separated.

Yet don’t they consider empirical data to be objective? They do consider empirical data to be objective. In fact, empiricism rejects the notion of innate ideas which is the basis of Gnosticism.

How can anything that relies on senses be classified objective? I suppose because it is more commonly reported by individuals, more consistent across peoples experience, at least that’s the notion. A schizophrenic seriously believes they have bugs crawling under their skin, but since multiple people cannot experience the bugs, empiricism concludes there are no bugs.

Genetic inheritance plays a large role in brain development and function which introduces another factor of variability into empiricism as a basis for knowledge. If it can’t meet publicly understood criteria, it’s considered specious.

Assisted sensory experience is acceptable in empiricism. Lenses in a microscope do distort visual imagery, but I suppose the design of the tools can be accounted for in making a correct observation of anything being experimented with. In the case of nanotechnology, they can in theory even build a new material particle by particle. Interestingly, the technology for doing this is the same as they use for looking at something on a molecular level. The beam they use to pick up the information can move the atoms. Mechanical observer effect?

Empiricism relies on there being no observer effect. If the observer alters the things observed just by becoming aware of it, then the basis of knowledge reverts back to pre-existing constructs in the mind. The innate ideas concept.

So there are some fuzzy ideas that have become associated with empiricism and heavily debated. According to empiricism, the debate itself is invalid. Only experimentation can affirm or refute the conclusions being debated.

Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.

Travis Saunders
Dragon Intuitive

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