Précis of epistemology

Epistemology is the science of science (or the knowledge about knowledge). Science (or knowledge) is to give good proofs, with good principles, good observations, and logically correct reasoning. Good principles are recognized by their fruits. With this definition of science, even philosophy is a science. Ethics, epistemology and metaphysics are sciences.

Aristotle and Plato
  1. Reason, a manual
  2. How the spirit works
  3. The foundations of ethics
  4. What is knowledge?
  5. The search for reason
  6. Why is reality intelligible?

Good scientists do not say "I know more than you". They say "you can know as much as me, and more". Science is always to raise spirits. If we do not know how to teach science in a way that makes it accessible to all those who want to understand it, this is because we have not really understood it.

To become scientists, we must never forget our beginner's experience. It is the most fundamental experience for understanding science and making discoveries, because real knowledge must answer a beginner's questions and hesitations. To advance on the path of science, we must play by the imagination both the role of the beginner and the role of the scientist, because we recognize real science by its capacity to raise beginners. The hesitations of the beginning provide the criterion for the recognition of the most important knowledge, they germinate all the force of science.

This book is written to help beginners understand the most fundamental principles of science.

Epistemology is at the heart of the power of intelligence, because we must use our intelligence to develop our intelligence, if we want to fully benefit from its power. We must adopt good principles to recognize intelligence where it can be found and to recognize that it is not where it is not. Epistemological knowledge is precisely the good knowledge which provides the means to intelligently program oneself in order to acquire good knowledge. Epistemology is the most powerful knowledge, because it provides the means to appropriate the power of all sciences, those that already exist and those that do not yet exist.

Applications and complements :

  1. Logical principles
  2. ZFC is false
  3. The foundations of mathematics
  4. Spatio-temporal measurement devices
  5. Why is entropy real?
  6. Quantum theory of multiple destinies
  7. The origin and evolution of life and spirit
  8. Principles of psychiatry


About this book

Detailed contents

  1. Reason, a manual
    1. Learning through reasoning what good principles teach
    2. The most fundamental science of all is ethical
    3. The conditions of possibility of truth
    4. What do we know about good principles?
  2. How the spirit works
    1. Principles of psychology
    2. The connection between sensors and effectors
    3. Brain modules and routine activities
    4. Decision: a centralized administration without a central administrator
    5. The perception and imagination of the present
    6. Imagination and the simulation of perception
    7. Memory and invention
    8. Programming by the imagination
    9. Emotions
    10. Self-consciousness
    11. Voluntary self-control
    12. Meaning through imagination
    13. Meaning through principles
    14. Programming by the thought
  3. The foundations of ethics
    1. The original sin
    2. A good will is to will the good
    3. Living for the good of all spirits
    4. Good and bad schemas
    5. The good knowledge
    6. Emotions for a good life
    7. The extinction of dissatisfaction
  4. What is knowledge?
    1. Rational knowledge must be public and proven
    2. Conclusive justifications
    3. Justification of principles
    4. Justification of observations
    5. Foundationalism or coherentism?
    6. Knowing without knowing that we know
    7. Fallible justifications and the Gettier problem
    8. Justification of knowledge about knowledge
  5. The search for reason
    1. Knowing what to search for before finding it
    2. Searching without knowing what to search for
    3. The touchstones of reason
    4. What can we hope?
  6. Why is reality intelligible?
    1. Explanation
    2. What is a concept?
    3. Individuals and the binding of concepts
    4. The whole being of a being is its being in a whole, or its being a whole, or both
    5. The nature of matter and the truth of perception
    6. Logically possible worlds
    7. Nothing new under the sun
    8. Does Nature really obey laws?
    9. Naturally possible worlds
    10. The power of natural properties
    11. The totality of all beings


Applications and complements

  1. Logical consequence and logical possibility
  2. The truth of compound statements
  3. The fundamental rules of deduction
  4. Reasoning without hypothesis and the logical laws
  5. The derivation of logical consequences
  6. The interdefinability of logical connectors
  7. Why does reasoning enable us to acquire knowledge?
  8. Justification of logic
  9. The paradox of Lewis Caroll
  10. The logic of identity
    1. The diversity of names of the same being
    2. The principle of indiscernibility of identicals
    3. The identity of individuals in naturally possible worlds
    4. The identity of properties and relations
    5. Structures as properties
    6. Symmetrical structures
  11. Mathematical knowledge

  1. Natural numbers and Peano's axioms
  2. Zermelo's theory of sets
  3. Fraenkel's replacement axiom
  4. Russell's paradox
  5. Consistency proofs
  6. The truth of Peano's axioms
  7. The truth of Zermelo's axioms
  8. The incompleteness of the foundations
  9. The first incompleteness theorem of Gödel
  10. The uncountable infinite
  11. Tarski's theorem of the undefinability of truth
  12. How to prove the unprovable?
  13. The second incompleteness theorem of Gödel
  14. Are consistency proofs caught in a vicious circle?
  15. Theories, software and recursively enumerable sets
  16. Undecidable sets and problems
  17. Universal machines and theories
  18. The undecidability of the halting problem
  19. The undecidability of the set of all logical laws
  20. Universality is the cause of undecidability

  1. All lightlike intervals are equal

  1. The reality of thermodynamic entropy
  2. The three definitions of statistical entropy
  3. The reality of accessibility entropy
    1. Statistical ensembles, ergodicity and time averages
    2. The principle of polls and the Monte Carlo method
    3. Quantum decoherence
    4. Microscopic entropy
    5. The independence of microscopic constituents
    6. Lack of information, laisser-faire and equilibrium
  4. The difference between thermodynamic entropy and accessibility entropy
  5. Information as fuel
    1. Maxwell's demon
    2. Amount of information and work
  6. Why can not Maxwell's demon reduce total entropy?
  7. The conservation of the subjective entropy of an isolated system
  8. Why can entropy increase?
  9. Do irreversible computations always reduce the thermodynamic entropy of a computer?
  10. Maxwell's demon and the impossibility of a perpetual motion of the second kind
  11. Thermodynamics is a physics of observation
  12. Complements
    1. The perpetual motion of the second kind
    2. Entropy increase and the microcanonical distribution
    3. The reality of entropy increase
    4. Entropy is an extensive quantity when the parts are statistically independent
    5. The Szilard's engine

  1. Taking the Schrödinger equation seriously
  2. The existence theorem of multiple destinies is empirically verifiable
  3. One space-time for all parallel worlds
  4. Everett's theory is unified quantum theory

  1. Evolution through natural selection
  2. The molecules of heredity
  3. The spontaneous generation of life in the primitive ocean
    1. Autocatalytic networks
    2. Amphiphilic molecules and vesicles
    3. The first living cells
    4. The origin of DNA
    5. How to know if this theory is true?
  4. Life is at home in the universe
  5. Cooperation is more fundamental than competition
  6. The infinite tolerance of life
  7. The origin of spirit

  1. The dysfunctions of self-consciousness
  2. The unconscious is produced by repression and denial
  3. The fire of emotions
  4. The positive method in psychiatry
  5. Healing by the thought
  6. Three fundamental errors of psychoanalysis
  7. Forgiveness
  8. The effectiveness of prayer