The belief that ‘we can know’ logically presupposes ‘knowing’. But on what grounds can the premise, ‘we can know’, be asserted with any degree of certainty? Furthermore, what would be the basis for that assertion? For if the statement ‘we can know’ is the logical precursor to the act of ‘knowing’, such a statement cannot be said to be a matter of knowledge but rather, one of belief. Otherwise, we would be compelled to assert that the ‘ability to know’ or ‘capacity for knowledge’ are the conditions precedent of themselves. This, of course, is a logical impossibility.
Put another way, since the belief that ‘we can know’ necessarily precedes the condition of ‘knowing’, the condition of ‘knowing’ cannot logically precede the belief that ‘we can know’. And so one would not be completely out of line in saying that ‘we only know because we believe that we can know however, we cannot actually know that we can know.’ Or perhaps more simply put, ‘we only think we know because we believe that we can know.’
Thus, the difference between matters of knowledge and matters of belief being self-evident, one is drawn to the inference that knowledge and certainty are not mirrorlike reflections of one another nor are they even on the same continuum, necessarily. Given that the inherently contradictory nature of the two concepts are implict, nothing can be said to be known for certain. And in corollary, only in matters of belief can there be anything like certainty. Thus, we can comfortably and confidently assert, with almost total certitude, this one statement: we believe that we can know.
And so, in basic terms at least, we can perhaps best quantify our belief in our ability to know in the following manner:
1. We believe that we can know.
2. However, since the act of believing is qualitatively different than the act of knowing, our belief that we can know (anything) can never, in itself, be known certainly (to be either true or false).
3. Consequently, since it is impossible to ascertain any knowledge with certainty, any objective determination of knowledge as fact is purely arbitrary as it is based upon a fundamentally subjective belief in our ability to know things.
4. Thus, our belief that we can know anything is just as likely to be true as not. We can know nothing for certain. In fact, we know nothing for certain. We only believe that we can know.
In sum, you can’t possibly know what you think you know.