Nothing Is Certain Essay, Research Paper
Theory of Knowledge Writing Assignment
Nothing can be known with certainty Is this statement true? Are you certain? In this essay I plan to show that nothing can be known with certainty, I will examine the truth and certainty of life and of humans, and prove that nothing can be known for certain.
Sir Isaac Newton came up with many theories of time and space. Euclid said that there can be a concept of a straight line but Newton said nothing could ever travel in a straight line, see illustration below.
It shows that in this spherical universe one can go straight but never for very long. If you are certain you are going in a straight line think again. But these facts are known, if not by the general public then at least by mathematicians. However Max Born states the theory only holds water if the exact sphere of reference is specified, if nothing is certain then the sphere of reference can never be known to a point where there is no question as to it being perfect, therefore a basic theory of motion is null and void. The statement nothing can be known with certainty holds true to the vast unending universe all the way down to the tinniest subatomic particle. Everything is moving; nothing can be studied to so exactly that there is no question about the object, because the act of studying an object changes the object.
I am not saying that Newton s and other theories like it are wrong, I am saying that we put too much faith in something that is not absolute, unfortunately we have no other choice.
When I sat down to write this essay I decided to look for the easy way out. In Microsoft Word 97 there is a feature where you can ask the computer a question and it will answer it to the best of its knowledge. If computers are as powerful as man created them, then my state of the art machine with its state of the art word processor should have no problem answering the question, Why is nothing ever certain? When I hit enter to ask the machine the question I was bombarded with a multitude of answers but none of which fit the question. The computer could show me how to print multiple copies of this essay, and how to get this essay on to the Internet where mathematicians and artists alike could see it. Yet it could not tell me why nothing is certain. And then I realized the computer could not answer the question because it was not certain why nothing was known for certain.
In the movie The Ascent of Man the narrator points out that the goal of physical science is to paint an exact picture of all material, in the same sentence he says that the crowning achievement of physical science is that the exact picture is unattainable. All information is imperfect. The artist and the poet have come to accept and nurture that realization. The painter knows when he paints a beach he will not get every grain of sand on the canvas, nor does he want to. He wants to get the concept of a beach just as Euclid wanted to show the concept of a straight line even though Newton proved it physically impossible.
Nothing can be known with certainty because man s sphere of knowledge expands each day. It is like The Cave. We accept the shadows on the wall as the knowledge, and that there is nothing else. These shadows on the wall, which everyone comes to accept as the only way, soon die out and fade away when the sunlight of actual knowledge pours in to the cave. But how are we to know that this sunlight is not actually a high powered flashlight. The things we once accepted as facts are now myths and the things that are facts may soon be myths. As the universe is constantly moving so is knowledge. One cannot pinpoint the exact location of an atom for more than a fraction of a second; the same is true for knowledge. One cannot prove something true without five others proving the same thing false. To reiterate, by studying we change what we study, if we change what we study each time we study it, it will be different so nothing can be know or studied with certainty
There is one thing that is certain that puts the certainty of this essay in question. This one certainty will prove my theory. There is one thing that makes nothing known with certainty, but is the one thing that is known with absolute certainty. That thing is death. Death and the ceasing of life is all around, it is one certain thing that we all know but it is so uncertain and unstable that no one knows for certain how, or when it will come, all they know is that it will come. Death is the exception to the rules that makes this the one and only true rule: Nothing can be known with certainty.
Einstein s Theory of Relativity by Max Born, 1962: Dover Publications Inc. New York, NY