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Is it possible to actually be psychic, in that you know what will happen, when

Is it possible to actually be psychic, in that you know what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen, and possibly even why it will happen?

There seems to be nothing incoherent in the idea that there might be certain people who are much more reliable about the future than the rest of us, though neither we nor they can account for the source of this extraordinary talent. I don't think it is likely that there are any such people about; but if there are this might have an entirely natural explanation (even if we can't quite figure it out). Perhaps they are much more sensitive to sensory evidence and its significance than the rest of us.

On any given question, is there a way of identifying the proper perspective to

On any given question, is there a way of identifying the proper perspective to take in order to arrive at the correct answer? This is a question that is interesting to me primarily in the areas where philosophy overlaps politics and economics. Here are two extremes to illustrate the question. Those who adopt a Marxist perspective seem to draw conclusions about what "society" should do based on what they suppose are direct observations of "society", then extending that to the realm of the individual. Those who adopt an Objectivist perspective seem to draw conclusions based on properties of individuals, and how they aggregate into "society". In this case, one is taking a macro "top-down" view, and the other a micro "bottom-up" view. Aside from ferreting out fallacies and analyzing the form of one's argument, are there any tell-tale signs of a problem that lend themselves to analysis from a particular perspective?

It seems to me that you're asking whether there's a general rule of inquiry that one could adopt that will lead to the truth. I presume the answer is No. Inquiry requires judgment, taste if you will, and that has resisted all attempts at reduction to a collection of rules that can be mechanically followed.

I believe that I am the only thing that really exists. I think that my friends

I believe that I am the only thing that really exists. I think that my friends and people I meet are versions of myself if I had taken a different path in life. I could be anyone and I can understand even the most ridiculous of ideas. It seems like a negative view but I am convinced that everyone or everything I encounter is to benefit me in some way. I don't believe in good or bad. Nor emotions or science. Just nature. I was created and all I am here to do is survive as long as possible. Period. No silly questions about the meaning of life or what is my purpose or am I a good person. Life isn't a gift it was just something that was possible and eventually happened. I think people like to lie to themselves to forget the fact that they are basically useless. I apologize for making this sound negative and too long. I guess my question is how can anyone prove to me that they really exist?

Your question reminds me a little of the story Bertrand Russell told about the philosopher who claimed that solipsism -- the view that only you exist or anyway that there is no reason to believe anyone else exists -- was obviously the correct position and she couldn't understand why everyone else didn't agree with her! But there does seem to be a sense in which you cannot prove that anyone other than you exists. Actually, in that sense, it also seems that you can't prove that you existed in the past or will exist in the future. So you if you have standards this high, then the most you know is the content of your current experience, though even this may be saying too much.

Are we directly aware of reality, or is what we "sense" merely a representation

Are we directly aware of reality, or is what we "sense" merely a representation of reality?

This is a perennial and extremely vexing question about which there continues to be great debate. You might find this essay in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to be of value.

Why should I believe you?

Why should I believe you?

Fair enough, Alan. Based on my experience of human beings, the more sociableand cheerful attitude that you suggest seems appropriate as ageneral day-to-day attitude toward others. I’m generally not worriedthat people are lying to me.

But I understood the question differently– not as directed to humanity in general, but at usin particular, the panelists on AskPhilosophers. I took the questionernot to be wondering whether we were lying but whether we knew what wewere talking about. There are a lot of people out there promisinganswers to life’s big questions, and skepticism seems to me to be aperfectly healthy response to these promises. It was for this reasonthat I tried to assure the questioner that we aren’t making any suchpromises.

On what basis can we claim somebody is delusional? Assuming objective, True

On what basis can we claim somebody is delusional? Assuming objective, True Reality(tm) exists, but is not directly knowable and is only knowable through mediation of our senses, how do we have any solid footing for deciding one person's senses are defective compared to another's? Two thought experiments to illustrate this idea: Assume I am alone in a room, and I see a purple monkey swinging from the lamp. I perceive this odd sight and may, or may not, decide that I'm hallucinating based on my previous experiences. If somebody else comes into the room, and I ask them what they see, if they agree with me, then odds are better that we are both seeing accurately, but if he disagrees with me, then he may be blind to the monkey, or I may be imagining it. Adding more people will get us a consensus view, but doesn't really prove anything in more than a statistical way. Who is delusional, and who is seeing truly? Or, assume I am the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Like the monkey-seeing fellow in...

There seems to be a pattern of argument here that needs to be questioned. It is: (i) Method M for reaching judgements isn't completely reliable; therefore, (ii) method M can't be trusted. The conclusion simply doesn't follow. Method M might be very reliable, in which case it can be trusted to a high degree.

I doubt "group opinion" is the only method available to us for distinguishing hallucination and illusion from perception. (For example, in the land of the blind, there might be ways of correlating your apparent perceptions with facts on which you can all agree, e.g., that there is a boulder in such-and-such a location that wasn't there yesterday.) But it might be quite a good way of drawing the distinction even if it isn't a perfect way.

Does the future exist in any knowable fashion? If so, can it be known in any

Does the future exist in any knowable fashion? If so, can it be known in any absolute way? If not, why do so many of us believe it can?

On one view of time, the future is as real now as the present or the past, much as other places are as real as the place you happen to be; on another view the future is not yet real but will be. Either way, many philosophers would say that we can know some things about it, though Hume's great sceptical argument against induction attacks this idea. But Hume's argument is not especially about the future: it applies to any inference from what we have observed to what we have not observed, whether what we have not observed is in the future, present or past. In any event, it's not very surprising that we believe we can know something about the future, since we have so often formed expectations that we have subsequently found to be satisfied.

Could there ever be any logical basis for the thought: "I am untrustworthy"?

Could there ever be any logical basis for the thought: "I am untrustworthy"?

I assume your worry is not about whether you are untrustworthy in some areas, or in some sorts of enterprises. As Peter Lipton says, if you are dishonest as a general rule, then plainly you can know that about yourself. And all of us have excellent reason to think that we are not good at many things.

But if your question is whether you could have any good grounds for thinking that you are untrustworthy in some very general way (for example, epistemically--in the way you generate beliefs about the world), then I think the answer is also yes. Most skeptical arguments seem to me to give at least some reason for thinking that we are epistemically untrustworthy. Most philosophers these days are not won over by skeptical concerns, but that is not to say that they regard such concerns as logically impossible or incoherent. I think, moreover, that the field of moral psychology gives us some reasons for thinking that we may be somewhat untrustworthy in other areas, as well.

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