Thursday, September 17, 2009

13a What is knowlege?

In our former lecture we looked at mathematics. Through history mathematics have been attractive for philosophers. Its universal applicability, its systematic structure, its consistency.

Mathematical deductions always lead to true conclusions. In that light it may not surprise you that Spinoza(1632 - 1677) already believed that he could develop a theory on ethics "Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata", in which the mathematical method was used as a model of reasoning.

However, mathematics may be a kind of knowledge, but in fact only knowledge about itself. That we can apply mathematical calculations to our emperical reality is something special, somewthing pragmatic.

So in fact, mathematical knowledge offers no clues to what we could call absolute and certain knowledge about our reality. We have to approach that issue from another angle apparently.

Again, what is so amazing in the history of thought, it was already Plato (427 - 347 B.C) who formulated the basic problem, or actually portraited Socrates in his dialogs as the searcher for knowledge.....definite knowledge.

And in all these conversations there is that distinction between what one BELIEVES and what one KNOWS. To know something is definitely something different from believing something.

Reality as we experience it, is shaped by our beliefs. Our beliefs guide us through the day. Nothing is more important that what you belief.

How many beliefs does a person have?....ten ..thousands, millions...Some we are aware of , other we become aware of by , for instance, look more closely at our behavior.

We have all kinds of beliefs, trivial ones as well as crucial ones. We believe that it is wrong to steal or to kill, and we also beliefve that 2 is more than 1 and 3 more than 2.

We can look at beliefs in two ways: a subjective and an objective way. With the subjective way I mean the mental attitude of being convinced of something, believing something.

With the objective way I mean the content of the belief, which we also may call a proposition, a statement that claims to have a truth-value. We'll mainly focus on this aspect of our beliefs: their content.

Everything we do is driven by our beliefs. Many philosophers regard human action as an interaction between our beliefs and desires: beliefs + desires = action.

But there is a problem....of course there is a problem...there always is a problem when you make a philosopher look at your stuff (^_^) We can have wrong beliefs, faulty beliefs.

How can we avoid faulty beliefs? The content of our belief is a proposition, as statement which claims to have a truth-value.

And when this proposition is true, isnt the belief then not something more than just a belief; may we not call that knowledge?

What Socrates was after is what we still find in our traditional definition of knowledge. Knowledge = adequately justified correct belief. This is what such a belief makes it differ from guesses, opinions or prejudices.

We can have faulty beliefs, but we can not know something false.....we only can know that something is false or to use the words of Aristotle:

To say of what is, that it is not, or to say of something that is not, that it is, is false; to say of something that is, that it is, and of say of something that is not, say that is not, is true."

Funny guys, those Ancient Greeks, but the question we have to deal with now is, is Aristotle right? Is it that plain and simple. Does truth really exist?

A number of philosophers says, oh yes.....but only in your given context, only from your perspective in your situation.

This is the well known view of relativism. There is truth indeed, but no absolute truth, according to relativism. Truth is always relative to your perspective, your context, your culture and so on.

But as we have seen in another lecture: this point of view is self-defeating, because it takes its own starting point as absolute, which is self-contradictory.

Belief is a necessary condition for knowledge. Truth is another necessary condition. Knowledge is built on true belief, but even that isnt enough.

Suppose I believe the Pope is now brushing his teeth.....And really..somewhere in the Vatican this man is brushing his teeth indeed. This means that the proposition: the Pope is now brushing his teeth is true

So my belief is true, but can it be called knowledge. Did I KNOW the Pope was brushing his teeth? Obviously not. I just was lucky.

So when we say that knowledge = adequately justified correct belief, there still is missing something in our quest for knowledge. What it have till Thursday to figure that out for yourselves.

The Discussion

[13:26] ChatNoir Talon: Oh no, not homework! :(
[13:26] Myriam Brianna: it is already said
[13:26] Abraxas Nagy: o.O
[13:26] Paula Dix: to be continued
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: just thinking
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes indeed ..homework..
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:26] ChatNoir Talon: lol
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: a birthday present from herman
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: oops there goes ari again
[13:27] Paula Dix: :))
[13:27] herman Bergson: What is most important today is the concept of belief...
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:27] herman Bergson: all what we say is, knowledge starts with a belief
[13:27] herman Bergson: and knowledge appears to be a special kind of belief then :-)
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: but have not scientists proved some of the beliefs to be true and so now it is kn owledge???
[13:28] ChatNoir Talon: Can one know something without believeing it? .. I guess not... mhhh
[13:28] Myriam Brianna: a justified belief, in the light of (apparent) evidence, (apparent) sense perceptions, etc
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: well after it is proved
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Gemma....
[13:28] herman Bergson: and the question did they prove it?
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: step by step
[13:29] Elia Scribe: Is it possible that mind can possess truth without what we call belief?
[13:29] oola Neruda: in science, an experiment needs to be repeatable
[13:29] Alarice Beaumont: trying.. collection information
[13:29] herman Bergson: or said otherwise how was it justified being knowledge
[13:30] herman Bergson: Some philosophers agree with you Elia...
[13:30] Paula Dix: you imagine ways to test your belief??
[13:30] oola Neruda: but you will never know if it really is true because the next time you do it might be an exception
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:30] Paula Dix: yes, need continual testing...
[13:30] Elia Scribe: What would they're views be called then?
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: we always end up in the same place
[13:30] herman Bergson: Intuitionism is the most extreme, Elia
[13:30] ChatNoir Talon: Yes, and taking it one step further we can never know if we're inside the matrix really... so there's never a way to be 100% sure of anything
[13:30] Myriam Brianna: there's no way to eliminate what I'd call an epistemic base-doubt. Apart from tautological statements that are necessarily true there's no way to prove something absolutely
[13:31] herman Bergson: But basiclly Rationalism holds such views
[13:31] oola Neruda: yet mathematics is constant (so far) and can even predict
[13:31] Paula Dix: then its the testing, confronting the belief with reality
[13:31] herman Bergson: I agree with that Myriam....
[13:31] herman Bergson: but to get that far in this lecture would have taken too much time :-)
[13:32] Elia Scribe: rationalism holds which views? That truth can be had without belief?
[13:32] herman Bergson: But I must agree that what Myriam says will be our epistemic destiny
[13:32] Paula Dix: yes, makes sense :)))
[13:32] Myriam Brianna: so to speak of "knowing" something is to say: In the light of the (apparent) evidence etc available to me, I'm justified to belief that x is true
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Elia.....a priori knowledge for instance (Kant)
[13:32] ChatNoir Talon: Yeah, sounds good to me
[13:32] herman Bergson: Or I think so I exist (Descartes)
[13:33] Elia Scribe: I thought that was cogito ergo sum.
[13:33] Elia Scribe: I think therefore I am.
[13:33] Elia Scribe: :))
[13:33] herman Bergson: In latin yes, Elia...:-)
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: that is another one
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:33] Paula Dix: then its all probability, right?
[13:34] Myriam Brianna: Cogito, Ego sum. The R was a printer's mistake, at first
[13:34] Elia Scribe: :))))
[13:34] Elia Scribe: ego??
[13:34] herman Bergson: I havent heard that one ever Myriam :-)
[13:34] Paula Dix: we talk about physics laws because they are the same every time we test them, but even if we know they arent necessarily fixed we accept them as being
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Paula....
[13:34] Paula Dix: so its a matter of being used to things...
[13:35] Myriam Brianna: and I sadly don't know where I heard it first *g* ... probably in an discussion of the meditations by a logical positivist ^^
[13:35] herman Bergson: So somehow there must be some kind of theory of truth...
[13:35] Tess Aristocrat: don't seek the truth. just cease to cherish opinion
[13:35] Paula Dix: in the dictatorship times here people used to say Cogito ergo Pum (gun sound)
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Tess...but that brings us to adequately justified correct beliefs...
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: Aye
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well....I think we reached a nice point here....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Myriam already revealed that we are not heading for an absolute truth theory..
[13:36] ChatNoir Talon: That'd be impossible
[13:37] herman Bergson: on the other hand does absolute relativism hold either..
[13:37] herman Bergson: so there must be something in between.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: YOUR
[13:37] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:37] Paula Dix: lol
[13:37] ChatNoir Talon: Lol
[13:37] Tess Aristocrat: well there is fact and truth
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: there goes the weekend
[13:38] Tess Aristocrat: and common belief
[13:38] Paula Dix: no its for thursday!!!
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: oh right lololol
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: forgot
[13:38] Paula Dix: lol
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: today is tuesday
[13:38] herman Bergson: You should formulate it differently Tess....
[13:38] Myriam Brianna: weak relativism, - admitting that there's an etic reality beyond the filter of my cognition, and also admitting that there's no way to leave one's emic reality and speak about it :x
[13:38] herman Bergson: There is fact and there is a proposition (statement about the fact)
[13:39] Paula Dix: whats emic reality??
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes what is that Myriam?
[13:39] Elia Scribe: This epistemic base-doubt that Myriam speaks of ... can it not be factored out of any belief system and so we can then talk about absolute proof within that context?
[13:39] Myriam Brianna: on sec ;)
[13:40] ChatNoir Talon: Absolute proof seems pretty far-fetched
[13:40] Tess Aristocrat: do you have a particularformula yougo by?
[13:40] herman Bergson: That sounds contradictory elia...
[13:40] Elia Scribe: sorry to be out of context. I'm a slow thinker. :))
[13:40] Elia Scribe: Why is that Herman?
[13:40] herman Bergson: The proof isnt absolute but relative to its context only
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: emic and etic
[13:40] Tess Aristocrat: when something is wet, is it not wet?
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:41] Elia Scribe: Hmmm. Then I wonder what we mean by absolute.
[13:41] Myriam Brianna: an emic reality: The thoughts, feelings and (apparent) sense impressions that people create by talking to each other(or by communicating in any symbolism); the semantic environment
[13:41] Tess Aristocrat: when something is dead, is it not dead?
[13:41] Paula Dix: thanks Myriam :)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Check the words of Aristotle Tess..:-)
[13:41] ChatNoir Talon: Tess, you should ask Shrödinger's cat
[13:41] Elia Scribe: Tess is cutting through :))))
[13:42] Paula Dix: emic reality is the realm of memes :)))
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: and etic: The hypothetical reality that has not been filtered through a human nervous system ;)
[13:42] Myriam Brianna: you could say that. Our socially formed reality, in which there are no absolute truth values
[13:42] Paula Dix: wow i thougth you meant ethic :))))
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well.....memes are a dangerous subject....
[13:42] Elia Scribe: why is that Herman?
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: and emic and etic are realy terms that need be studied upon....HOMEWORK
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: hello Qwark :)
[13:43] Qwark Allen: Hey! friends
[13:43] Qwark Allen: :-)))
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: Hi Qwark
[13:43] Abraxas Nagy: yooooo Qwark bro
[13:43] Myriam Brianna: it depends on who you are asking if, say, Buddha is a historical person. But either he lived, or he did not
[13:43] Paula Dix: lol nooooo more homework! :)))
[13:43] Myriam Brianna: hehe
[13:44] herman Bergson: Hi Qwark....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Gemma will inform you about your homework :-)
[13:44] Alarice Beaumont: Hello Qwark :-))
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: lololool
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: ^^
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: restate it
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: for rodney too
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ok....we got a few interesting issues mentioned here..
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:45] herman Bergson: one: in what way can a belief be adequately justiefied
[13:45] Rodney Handrick: thanks Gemma
[13:45] herman Bergson: two: apparently won't we find a theory of absolute truth
[13:46] Qwark Allen: omg !!!! i got here after rodneeeey!!!!!!!!!!
[13:46] Paula Dix: lol
[13:46] herman Bergson: three: relativism is seft-defeating so no feasable solution
[13:46] oola Neruda: wonder how bush and cheney would anwser that... how can it be adequately justified
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: omg never
[13:47] herman Bergson: four: new terms : emic and etic ..and semantic environment
[13:47] herman Bergson: How do these terms fit in...
[13:47] Paula Dix: they fit in plato cave
[13:47] ChatNoir Talon writes all down on paper
[13:48] herman Bergson: All text will be publsihed on
[13:48] Elia Scribe: Herman could you say a word or two about why you think memes are a dangerous topic?
[13:48] herman Bergson: No Elia...that is for a nex time when we'll discuss evolutionary epistemology..
[13:49] herman Bergson: At the moment we even have an epistemology...only a theory on beliefs :-)
[13:49] Elia Scribe: okee
[13:49] herman Bergson: And we have to find a way to classify at least a number of these beliefs as knowledge
[13:49] Elia Scribe: what is the fourth term?
[13:49] Paula Dix: emic and etic
[13:50] Tess Aristocrat: ok, so I'm to believe that 'memes' aren't all about 'me' and I should find investigate
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:50] Elia Scribe: memes are conceptual amimals
[13:50] Tess Aristocrat: and etic :)
[13:50] herman Bergson: is a term coined by Dawkins
[13:50] herman Bergson: in 1974
[13:50] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:51] herman Bergson: We'll get to that, but before that we have a way to go :-)
[13:51] herman Bergson: I have enough on your mind now...:-)
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: wow yes
[13:52] Elia Scribe: I need more. I'm floating away.
[13:52] herman Bergson: So..thank you for your great participation in the debate and for your interest
[13:52] ChatNoir Talon gets her fishing pole and catches drifting Elia
[13:52] Myriam Brianna: not all who wander are lost, Elia =)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Hope to see you next Thursday:-)
[13:52] Object: Qwark Allen, thank you for your vote !
[13:52] oola Neruda: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMAN!!!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAY
[13:53] herman Bergson smiles
[13:53] Paula Dix: yay!
[13:53] herman Bergson: And thank you for your congratulations
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: hu, there's a birthday to celebrate? Gratulations, Herman ;)
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: HAPPY HAPPY!
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: So, a virgo, huh?
[13:53] Frederick Hansome: before you go, could you explain a little more on the second assignment? a theory of absolute truty? Where are we supposed to ge with that?
[13:53] Qwark Allen: I wanna to tell you, in my own special way, that your extra special..............
[13:53] Qwark Allen: so have a GREAT DAYYYYYYYYYYY
[13:54] herman Bergson: a way
[13:54] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY..............
[13:54] Qwark Allen: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY..................
[13:54] herman Bergson: thank you Qwark :-)
[13:54] Myriam Brianna: lol
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class is dismissed :-)
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: YEEEEEH FKN HAAAWWWWW!!!!!!
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:55] herman Bergson: lol
[13:55] Qwark Allen: HooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo !!!!!!
[13:55] Qwark Allen: Hooooooo!!!!!!! \O/
[13:55] Qwark Allen: |
[13:55] Qwark Allen: / \
[13:55] Qwark Allen: Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: that brings me back
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: thank you

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