“Epistemological limitation” refers to the mortal limits shared by all living creatures, not being omniscient beings, but limited entities that can only ingest and interpret so many stimuli at any given time.
Oxford English dictionary defines “epistemology” as the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. It is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.
Two Ways To Gain Knowledge
To put this as succinctly as possible, there are two ways that philosophers and scientists argue that human beings gain knowledge: internally, and/or externally.
I personally believe that we gain knowledge both ways, and the term “epistemological limitation” refers to our mortal limits from either angle of the concept.
For example, I can gain knowledge externally by reading a book. The stimuli involved include (but aren’t limited to) the photons of light that would bounce off of the page and into my pupils which allows me to see the words on the page, which my brain then collects as my sight scans over them, which then becomes converted into knowledge.
Internally speaking, I believe that we gain primal knowledge from our genetics, but of base concepts, such as breathing, and the absorption of nutrients. A baby doesn’t need to be taught how to breathe; it doesn’t need to experience anything to absorb nutrients from the mother’s umbilical cord while in the womb. This is all a natural unconscious process that’s programmed into our nature by our genetics. Remove DNA and you no longer have a human being capable of breathing and/or absorbing nutrients; therefore, I espouse the hopefully adequately justified belief that we gain knowledge of how to do things before we’re introduced to language, before we’re even introduced to the open air of the world and external stimuli from the mapping of our very genetic code, which we’re still discovering how to completely understand.
Use Of The Term
When I use the term “epistemological limitation”, it is in reference to the theory of how our brains and body gain stimuli which then become knowledge. There are different kinds of knowledge: that which would refer to the description of something, knowledge of how to do something, and that which would refer to actual experience.
For instance, you may “know” that an atom bomb was dropped on Japan on August 6th, 1945, but you weren’t there, so you’re not acquainted with what it was like. You didn’t go through the experience, so you don’t “know” how to survive such an event. In this hypothetical scenario, what you know is just a random fact.
You may know that you can build a boat with wood, but you may not know how to build a boat with wood, and you may not have experienced how to build a boat with wood. But you “know” that you can build a boat with wood.
Quantum Physics And The Epistemological Limitation
Because we are not omniscient beings, if we were to put a cat in a dark box with poison in it, we wouldn’t be able to know if the cat is alive or dead from what we can observe from standing outside of the box. Because of our epistemological limitations, what our eyes can see of the cat and whether or not it’s alive or dead is stopped by the borders of the box. This is assuming, of course, that the cat isn’t making any noise which would be a different kind of stimulus that our brains would and could interpret as knowledge, from which we could derive the conclusion that the cat is not, in fact, dead.
If you’re not familiar with quantum physics, don’t worry about it. The content on this website is deliberately written so that complicated concepts are simplified for you. In fact, if you understood the paragraph above this one, you’re already capable of understanding some pretty complex lessons of quantum physics.
Most of everything that may have intimidated you in school can be easily simplified; it was the teacher’s style that screwed you up. If it can’t be simplified, then we don’t understand it well enough yet ourselves.
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