The Boundaries of Human Knowledge

A Phenomenological Epistemology

Steven Lehar

When we consider the question of knowledge, and what it is of which we can be absolutely certain to be true, it becomes clear that all knowledge is based on experience. Raw experience is the only thing which we can be absolutely certain to be true. In this book I explore an epistemology that is founded on experience. The phenomena of visual illusions, hallucinations, and dreams, all demonstrate that knowledge through experience is not direct; that we view the world indirectly through the veil of experience. Careful analysis can distinguish between the experience itself, and the hidden world of objective reality that is viewed, with greater or lesser fidelity, through that experience, like the bottom of a swimming pool viewed through its surface waves. I discuss the ontological distinction between mind and matter, and propose that if mind is itself composed of physical matter and energy, our experience of mind must also be a direct experience of matter itself, at the same time that that experience is also indirectly representative of a remote external world. A dualist epistemology on a monist ontology. This combination resolves many of the long standing paradoxes of the distinction between mind and matter, and the relation between subjective experience and the objective world known to science. Finally, I explore the properties of the representational mechanism of the mind as it is revealed through experience, with some rather startling observations on the representation of space, time, and structure, in the brain.

Submitted for publication to Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Feb 2004

Accepted for publication by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, May 2004

Table of Contents

Chapter One: What Do We Know?

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