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Barbs20's avatar

Is there a limit to Human understanding?

Asked by Barbs20 (97points) April 2nd, 2011

Considering we are on just one small planet surrounded by billions of stars. In a galaxy surrounded by billions of galaxies that are too large to comprehend it seems to me that there is probably a finite capacity of what human beings can actually know about everything and nothing.
Surely we cannot be the most perceptive and complex life forms that exist within space and time.
What makes us so important and so worthy that we should even destroy the very thing that gives us life? Our own planet.

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16 Answers

Barbs20's avatar

There is clearly a limit to my understanding of grammar!

ucme's avatar

Good to see it back :¬)

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There is certainly a limit to what we currently know and our collective judgment as determined by the history of human behaviour is certainly less than impressive.

Barbs20's avatar

I suppose we just have to keep asking the questions even if we cannot find the answers the question is sometimes more important than the answer.
It seems the more we know the more questions need to be posed.
I guess what I am trying to say is who is to say that the human answer is the correct one?

kess's avatar

There is no li it to the understanding of men.. in fact we are or we have all understanding and nothing is impossible to those who understands this.

Barbs20's avatar

How do we know that we have all understanding?

Blackberry's avatar

Of course there is, or I imagine many humans would be much smarter.

yankeetooter's avatar

Apparently there is, as I found out taking Physics the last two semesters, lol! (No, I made out all right, actually…)

Berserker's avatar

Not only is there a limit to the things we are, currently, able to discover and comprehend, but I’m of the mind that human understanding and logic probbaly has its own limits. There are probably things too complex for us to ever understand, discovered or not.

tranquilsea's avatar

I don’t think there is. That is what progress is. Things that weren’t understood are now. I believe that will keep happening. Humans have an amazing ability to adapt and understand.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Yes though some would not want to accept it. Some human beings think they will eventually find the answers to everything but they will be disappointed when they don’t

starsofeight's avatar

There is a limit to human understanding, but there may be no limit to understanding, itself.

ETpro's avatar

Hi @Barbs20 and welcome to Fluther. Great question. I will resist the temptation to give a smart ass answer like, “I don’t understand the question.”

My guess is that even of we someday conquer the challenges of traveling billions of light years and observing every part of the Universe, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle we will never understand everything perfectly unless we discover a whole deeper way of understanding, and I don’t understand what that could be. Can anyone understand this?

12Oaks's avatar

Oh, how I state honestly that there must be a limit to human understanding, some more than others. With a stated callage of information, some more simpler than others, it will be known that somes understanding will surely outreach others. Whether explained by Robert Sedgewick or Lumbus, stated callage is the visual variance to which human understanding is the key to unlock the success we all strive to attain, but most fail.

mazingerz88's avatar

Definitely. We still don’t KNOW what we will see after we close our eyes and die or if we are going to again open our eyes at all. I do understand the need for people to either believe in an answer, assume one or totally devoid of the concern.

dabbler's avatar

a bonus question! that’s really two profound questions in one post. underlying answer to both is “limit” = boundary = definition = refinement and alignment of structure and purpose…not to be confused with hindrance whether or not it can feel like that.
1) Sure humans by definition have a definition and as far as I can tell none of that is limited except potential for transcendence (at which point one is no longer human) . We’re an ensemble of capabilities and boundaries that enable us to have the kinds of experiences that are uniquely human. What may seem like a limit is also a structural phenomenon that channels energies within usable ranges. Limits are necessary for focus, the sort of thing like the nozzles on a rocket engine shoot the thrust down and the rigid structures of the frame keep the forces aligned to let the transfer of momentum push up instead of unleashing all that power in all directions. Without ‘limits’ it’s all hell breaking loose (kablooeey! do you know people w/o boundaries like that?) When the soul is ready for “less-limited” understanding it’s when disciplines have built mental structures that accommodate new understandings beyond the previous. So it’s a trick question, by the time limitless understanding is achieved we’d not be truly human. On the other lots of us have experiences of the power and awesomeness of greater understanding, like riding a horse w/o being a horse.
2) we probably imagine we are important and the smartest critters around only because of that good old limited human understanding. We just can’t get a focus on stuff that is genuinely beyond us and our minds make stories to explain in terms we can handle. Like a photo focused on something in the foreground has information about what’s in the background but it’s not clear. You can see both the power and limits of mental prowess in the stories on both sides of the dramatic shifts in understanding since the age of reason. We now understand bacterial infections aren’t bad spirits (but we used to “understand” them that way) they are physical phenomenon that can be studied and dealt with. We know the earth doesn’t eat the sun every evening and burp it back up in the morning (but we used to ‘understand’ it that way). I couldn’t say for sure all the purpose humans collectively serve but one of our jobs in this time seems to be adding some new disciplines to our kit to help avoid our rampant overuse of planetary resources. And in a grander scheme we’re that phenomenon that absolutely perfected existence needs as a field in which to answer that musical question “what’s new in the universe?” We are allowed to be different from what’s understood to be perfect by perfection itself just to see what can happen – just for fun- it’s a very courageous thing for absolute perfection to do because it’s a commitment to being ready to evolve to be more fabulously perfect than before, and absolute perfection decidedly takes a chance by leaving the door open. We’re not imperfect we’re just different, the limits we experience are the mask of Maya (think vedic not meso-american) that hides all the knowledge our souls really have so we don’t necessarily do things the same old perfect way as ever in eternity past. We are the rascally frontier of experience at which God/Goddess/FSM sitting on the cosmic couch answers the question: “what else is there to do”. Also I recommend some descriptions of scale in the “third” book of a trilogy (the first two are in one volume go figure) by JJ Dewey as a nice thought experience that just brushes on what it would be like to approach limitless understanding.

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