Chapter 2: The Cohort of All Those Concerned
This treatise will make use of experience to arrive at a number of its epistemic certainties. Inferring epistemic certainties from experience, however, requires that the experience itself is of epistemic certainty. To this end, this chapter will first address what of personal experience is not of epistemic certainty and what is. Secondly, it will explicitly define the treatise' intended audience—a cohort of individuals that share a limited set of identical experiences—for which this work's experience-based unfalsified certainties will hold universal validity.
2.1 The Epistemic Certainty of Personal Experience’s Occurrence
An epistemic certainty will, again, be devoid of all justifiable alternatives in practice, if not also in principle.
That said, personal experiences of what is will often be endowed with extremely implausible yet justifiable alternatives. These justifiable alternatives can include those of the experience being delusional, illusory, or hallucinatory.
Notwithstanding, and irrespective of the experience’s accuracy, the very occurrence of a personal, immediate experience shall be found to be devoid of justifiable alternatives in practice—if not also in principle—to the very individual so experiencing. For instance, if one briefly sees a pink elephant at a distance, this experience might be a fleeting hallucination brought about by intoxication. Nevertheless, relative to the individual who so experiences, the occurrence of the very experience in question shall be devoid of justifiable alternatives in practice, if not also in principle. The very occurrence of the experience in question shall thereby minimally be an unfalsified certainty to that individual so experiencing.
It is emphasized that the epistemic certainty that one is immediately experiencing X does not of itself address the epistemic certainty that X factually is as one experiences X to be. Rather, the epistemic certainty solely consists of the facticity that the experience of X is in fact occurring for the individual so experiencing.
In sum, while experience can potentially be inaccurate in that which it informs of or depicts, the very occurrence of an immediate experience to that individual which is experiencing it shall to that same individual be epistemically certain.
2.2. Our Inability of Finding Epistemic Certainty for the Presence of Other’s Experiences
Were I to tell you that I once saw a pick elephant—having in fact seen on the internet an elephant covered in pink powder during a festival in a foreign land—you might think I was pulling your leg for some reason. This, to you, will serve as a justifiable alternative to my having actually seen a pink elephant. Because of such justifiable alternatives, whether I witnessed a pink elephant will not be something that you can establish with an epistemic, i.e. alternative-devoid, certainty. Instead, you can at best establish my experience’s factual occurrence with a psychological certainty.
When sufficiently enquired into, the same property of others’ experiences will be found to hold for all experiences that can be fathomed. In short, we cannot find means via which to establish with epistemic certainty what others experience. In life as it is lived, in most all scenarios, this does not serve as a dilemma whose significance is worth contemplating. We engage with each other through various degrees of trust, sympathy, empathy, and reasoning via which we discern the facticity of what others experience.
However, in philosophical endeavors to obtain universally applicable epistemic certainties which are derived in part or in whole from lived experience, this same factor does pose a significant quandary. If an epistemically certain conclusion C is itself dependent on the occurrence of a particular experience E, then conclusion C can only be validly established for that one individual whom directly experiences E—for only this individual can establish the occurrence of E with epistemic certainty. Hence, I may be able to validate C given my own immediate, lived experiences—this because their occurrence will to me be of epistemic certainty—but I will not be able to likewise validate the epistemic certainty of C for any other, this because I cannot myself establish with epistemic certainty that their lived experiences are identical to my own in relation to what is required to validate C.
2.3. The Cohort of All Those Here Concerned
To resolve the just addressed issue, this work will be solely addressed to a specific cohort of individual relative to whom its conclusions will hold universal validity—this barring potential mistakes of reasoning.
Simply stated, this cohort will consist of all individuals whose lived experiences are identical to those this work specifies in its derivations of epistemic certainties.
I, again, cannot hold epistemic certainty of your experiences; nor you of mine. We can, however, individually validate to our own selves that the experiences this work addresses in its arguments are in fact identical to those we personally hold. Were both you and I to find epistemic certainty in the occurrence of experiences here mentioned, then both you and I will be constituents of the just mentioned cohort.
Furthermore, we—you and I—cannot obtain an epistemic certainty that all humans that ever have, do, or will exist share identical lived experiences with ourselves in terms of those specified for the purpose of deriving conclusions of epistemic certainty. Notwithstanding, those past, present, and future humans that have, do, or will share identical experiences to our own in relation to the epistemic certainties here obtained shall then be fellow constituents of the same cohort we are constituents of.
As was stated for all other humans, so too can be expressed of all other conceivable beings. As example—were any such to exist—all extraterrestrials, conscious artificial intelligences, and incorporeal beings (e.g., ghosts, angels, or deities) whose lived experiences are identical to our own in relation to those required to obtain this work’s epistemic certainties shall, then, also be fellow individuals within the cohort that this work specifies.
Only you, the reader of this work, can discern the epistemic certainty of your own immediate experiences’ occurrence. Only you, the reader, can then determine whether or not the cohort this work addresses consists of yourself as well as of me. That stated, the greater the quantity of individuals in this cohort, the greater the universality of validity to this work’s concluded epistemic certainties.
It is worth bearing that this same cohort of individuals is most always taken for granted in almost all forms of communication—for one most always assumes that those one is conversing with share some limited set of identical experiences with oneself as fellow human beings, this despite the differences of experience that often occur. Within this work, however, this same cohort will be explicitly presented whenever needed.
Let this just specified cohort be addressed by the phrase, “(all) those (here) concerned”—including variations such as those of “everyone here concerned” and “no one here concerned”.
In closing, I, the author of this work, hold strong psychological certainties that the experiences which are to be herein specified will be universal to, at the very least, all humans. Nevertheless, because of the attributes of experience this chapter has addressed, these same psychological certainties are found insufficient for obtaining universally applicable conclusions of epistemic certainty. Due to this, the epistemically certain conclusions of this work shall be presented as holding universal validity strictly to all those here concerned.