Friday, December 2, 2011

Foreknowledge concerning self; impossible?

1. Suppose you have foreknowledge that you will drink coffee at noon, Tuesday of next week.

2. Suppose further; come noon Tuesday of next week, you take measures to NOT be drinking coffee, and in fact succeed.

3. It follows that at (1) you did not have foreknowledge. Your having prevented the event renders any proposition describing that event as having occurred false. Any statement you now make claiming you drank the coffee at that time is false. Any statement you made before that Tuesday noon that claimed you drank the coffee is also false.

SO, on the assumption that you have foreknowledge of your own future action, and you move to thwart the truth of the contained proposition, you did not have that foreknowledge.

Now, generalize from the instance to the class of all your future actions, supposing, as before, you have foreknowledge and go about a mighty mission of thwarting all it tells you about your future:

4. By the same reasoning, it follows that none of the events about which you purportedly gained knowledge is in fact an event about which you had foreknowledge.


5. In order for a belief to be a piece of knowledge it must be a true belief (among other conditions).


6. The events about which you purportedly had foreknowledge, and which you prevented as they came up for occurrence, were portrayed by propositions that presented them as occurring. That is, your beliefs contained propositions which were purportedly true. If they were pieces of knowledge, they must have been true. (Taking them as pieces of knowledge, you certainly believed them to be true.)

[Example from (1): Given that it is true on the given Tuesday that you do not drink coffee, it is true, at the earlier time referred to in (1), that the belief you held about your drinking coffee on that Tuesday was FALSE. It was false, while you took it to be true. Therefore, it could not have been a piece of knowledge, despite your believing it was. This is the same for all those other events about which you had purported knowledge]

Now compare all this with another hypothetical case.

7. Suppose now, you have the foreknowledge in (1), but refrain from taking steps to prevent the action from occurring.


8. You drink the coffee.

Did you therefore have knowledge at time (1)? Notice, your choice on Tuesday not only makes it the case that you are drinking coffee on that Tuesday, it also makes it the case that you had a piece of knowledge back in the past as well.

So, with this class of beliefs (foreknowledge about self) it is up to you whether or not you had foreknowledge or not. It would seem that whether or not you had foreknowledge about your self is very much up in the air until you arrive at the times of your various choices.

In each case, things could go in any one of several directions, and depending on the direction taken, each one of the beliefs that purported to be a piece of knowledge back at the earlier time could have turned out to contain a true proposition, or could have turned out to contain a false one. It could have been knowledge, or not. But, knowledge is not such that it could be non-knowledge. That's bat guano contradictory.

So,contra (1), it looks like self-foreknowledge is not really possible unless somehow or another you are completely constrained from making choices to take thwarting actions that turn beliefs containing true propositions into beliefs containing false ones.

Odd isn’t it?

Mysterious cylindrical object crashes through Mass. warehouse.

And TOP men are working on it...

It has some prosaic explanation..

It's just space junk.

Or is it?

From the Yahoo story:

"McWilliams said the FAA "confiscated" the piece of debris and is continuing to investigate its source."


Who "confiscated?" FAA? Who from the FAA?

Top men...