The study of epistemology essentially asks – how do we know what we know? We don’t. If one were to dare grapple with the gravity of this question, he/she would ground any conclusion with his or her sensory data. Venture a step further, and one finds one’s self slipping on this slippery slope. Allow me to explain.
Attaining a level of certitude rests on –
a. The idea that there is a certitude within reach.
b. The idea that an individual’s sensory perception is also exacted by others – and, thus it is grounded in some verifiable objectivity.
The brilliance of Immanuel Kant’s thought is that he courageously questioned his own sensory experience. Socrates rested on the idea that certitude was not attainable outside of his own subjectivity. These brave souls taught us to look beyond our own subjectivity. To be truly objective. One could stomp on the floor to demonstrate the solid nature (or, parameters of said reality – if you will) of what they’re experiencing – but – does this truly validate the claim? No. Only by the literal stretch of the imagination.
Anyone who has experienced a dream can challenge such a claim.
It is only reasonable to ask at this juncture – how can one know anything to be real? This is the beauty of the relative variable. This is not something I plan to explain in great depth, but I’ll give a demonstration using the aforementioned dream analogy:
1) One exists in this dream dimension and is asked to demonstrate the validity of said parameters.
2) The claimant stomps on the floor in order to establish said claim.
3) The floor acts like a floor by halting the inertia of the claimant’s foot.
4a) Other people in the dream react to the dreamer‘s action (census confirmation).
4b) Sensory data is established.
Therefore, said floor exists.
The sensory data is established; however its validity can only be relative to the parameters of the said hypothetical dream dimension. This is the extent I feel anyone can validate any claim.
Naturally, further explanation is required on this topic. The point the relative variable graces is, that, ultimately, sensory perception is the means one can validate any statement concerning reality. This understanding is problematic for many reasons; however, its conclusion restricts progress and suspends all knowledge as circumstantial. If all meaning rested on this note, not much progress could be made. On the other hand, reaching this finality only addresses the eye of the seer, and has no effect on a reality beyond the eye.
It is only sane to ask at this point – what value does this understanding have?
The restriction is the value. To understand that human awareness is encapsulated by this boundary – the very extent of its sight, is to understand, to a degree, the nature of knowledge itself.
Another issue that arises with this logical arrival is that it neutralizes human understanding beyond that of the individual. It surrenders census agreement to an equal fate. It is safe to say that, generally, knowledge is –
1) First attained by the individual (observation/conception);
2) Then, established through quantification;
3) Finally, is seen equally by others (confirmation).
[Note: 2 and 3 are interchangeable in some cases]
Noting that each and any step in this process can be compromised, challenges the validity of the outcome.
The purpose of the relative variable as I have defined it is not to stall understanding, but to shine a light onto knowledge in a manner that reflects its reality. To acknowledge limitation – the limits of our sight, is only, human. And, it is equally honest.
Human knowledge is a variable. A variable relative to an absolute. An absolute extended from the unknown. Naming this unknown has also stood at the heights of both human conceit, and desire. Gravity is an example of such a variable.
The absolute, by definition, is unchanging and final in its identity; however, due to the fact that these identities are dependent on human understanding – they can only ever be relative in principle.