Knowledge

Here both posters and comments will be restricted to topic-specific discourse. Comments that are deemed to be too digressive or off-topic, may be deleted by a moderator.

Moderator: Soul_of_Shu

User avatar
Mandibil
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:46 am
Location: 55.59 Lat / 11.86 lon
Contact:

Knowledge

Post by Mandibil »

Hello

I have a question about epistemology. If I know something ... I know it by definition and I would not think of questioning it ... exactly because I know it. On the other hand ... if I don't know, how do I get to the point where I can deem it knowable and at what point (in my philosophy/argumentation) does it become knowledge. It seems impossible for me to go from un-knowledge to knowledge as it would require some previous understanding whether that something is knowledge. Bu that would, in my thinking, be to beg the question. You cannot know knowledge before it is knowledge, since it requires knowledge !?
“Study hard what interests you the most
in the most undisciplined, irreverent and
original manner possible.”
― Richard Feynmann
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3035
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by AshvinP »

I am not a 'formal philosopher' by any stretch, but my 2 cents is to think of knowing and knowledge as process rather than a state.

Knowing requires a dynamic process of developing internal models of the world with certain assumptions, exploring the world, unlearning some assumptions when encountering 'anomalies' of experience, and updating the models of the world with new assumptions that can account for the anomalies. This process, for all intents and purposes, never ends. That (in a nutshell) is the Piagetian or Kuhnian developmental theory of knowledge.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
ScottRoberts
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:22 pm

Re: Knowledge

Post by ScottRoberts »

Mandibil wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:00 pm
I have a question about epistemology. If I know something ... I know it by definition and I would not think of questioning it ... exactly because I know it. On the other hand ... if I don't know, how do I get to the point where I can deem it knowable and at what point (in my philosophy/argumentation) does it become knowledge. It seems impossible for me to go from un-knowledge to knowledge as it would require some previous understanding whether that something is knowledge. Bu that would, in my thinking, be to beg the question. You cannot know knowledge before it is knowledge, since it requires knowledge !?
I don't know what I will have for breakfast tomorrow morning. But sometime tomorrow I will know. No problem in such cases, I presume.

I don't know for sure that idealism is true. But it is possible that sometime in the future, probably not in this life, but perhaps at some point in my spiritual development, I may know it for certain. After all, there are mystics who say they have come to know it for certain. In sum, I don't know for sure that idealism is true, and I don't know for sure that some day (or eon) I will know for sure, but I see no reason to assume that I will never know.

In either case, would I not be going from not knowing to knowing?

Or I am missing your point.
User avatar
Mandibil
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:46 am
Location: 55.59 Lat / 11.86 lon
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by Mandibil »

You may be missing the point somewhat, but that may be as well due to unclearness in my question :-) I am interested in the jump from not knowledge to knowledge. No one can claim knowledge if they cannot explain how they make this transition, imo. To answer your answer:
I don't know what I will have for breakfast tomorrow morning
Is it the "what" or the "have" that is knowledge? If the "what" is in front of you now, can you not know "what" you will have for breakfast tomorrow? In any case, when does that "what", with or without the "have", become knowledge ?

What about "for breakfast", is that a kind of knowledge ?

And do you already know you are going to "have" breakfast ?
But sometime tomorrow I will know
So you are saying that knowledge is only possible in the now ?
I don't know for sure that idealism is true
I think you are misusing the term "true". Idealism is an aspect of metaphysics, and truth is an aspect of epistemology (imo). metaphysics is foundational to epistemology (it comes before), so truth is not "applicable" to idealism. Idealism is something before knowledge, in a philosophical sense.
know it for certain
There must be a difference between "knowing" and "knowing for certain" then? What is it ?
“Study hard what interests you the most
in the most undisciplined, irreverent and
original manner possible.”
― Richard Feynmann
User avatar
Mandibil
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:46 am
Location: 55.59 Lat / 11.86 lon
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by Mandibil »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:18 pm I am not a 'formal philosopher' by any stretch, but my 2 cents is to think of knowing and knowledge as process rather than a state.
Can you give an example of such a process ?
Knowing requires a dynamic process of developing internal models of the world
That is science. Science is not knowledge imo. Science assumes to predict future change by modelling from past experience of changes. I am on board with Hume's scepticism on causality, it is not experiential and thus there are no necessary connections between the past, now and the future
“Study hard what interests you the most
in the most undisciplined, irreverent and
original manner possible.”
― Richard Feynmann
User avatar
Soul_of_Shu
Posts: 1686
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:48 pm
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

I can only say that there in one state I know for certain, beyond any doubt whatsoever: in this now this awareness exists. Beyond that, everything else seems a relative, provisional story that arises out of it, I know not how.
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 746
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: Knowledge

Post by Cleric K »

I think you should elaborate further on what you consider "knowledge" to be.

You say:
If I know something ... I know it by definition and I would not think of questioning it ... exactly because I know it.
This implies that there are some things that you consider to be knowledge and you somehow know them beyond questioning.

Then you say:
It seems impossible for me to go from un-knowledge to knowledge
This rises the question of how did the knowledge "by definition" went from un-knowledge to knowledge in the first place? Do you simply postulate some things as certain knowledge and avoid questioning them? Or you are speaking of truly certain knowledge about which questioning does not make sense?

So before we can pursue the question in a meaningful way we first have to investigate closely what the nature of the "by definition" knowledge is and how it came to be. If this is clarified we'll have a living example of "un-knowledge to knowledge" transition which will give us clues how to proceed further.
Last edited by Cleric K on Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Mandibil
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:46 am
Location: 55.59 Lat / 11.86 lon
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by Mandibil »

I think you should elaborate further on what you consider "knowledge" to be.
I am not sure that I need to "define" knowledge for the question to be valid. I was wondering how you get from not knowing "something", to knowing it. If a definition is necessary it would indirectly indicate that no one has actually managed to reach a consensus on that definition since Thales. But anyhow, I would equate knowledge to "the impression of a concept" (for example "cow"), with impression referring to the Hume'an distinction between ideas and impressions.
You say:
If I know something ... I know it by definition and I would not think of questioning it ... exactly because I know it.
This implies that there are some things that you consider to be knowledge and you somehow know them beyond questioning.
Well, if I need to question it, how can it be knowledge. It diminishes the notion of what knowledge should be, at least in my understanding of what is necessary to classify an insight as such. When can I stop questioning it and settle on knowledge ?

Then you say:
It seems impossible for me to go from un-knowledge to knowledge
This rises the question of how did the knowledge "by definition" went from un-knowledge to knowledge in the first place? Do you simply postulate some things as certain knowledge and avoid questioning them? Or you are speaking of truly certain knowledge about which questioning does not make sense?
No I don't postulate knowledge. I refer to the philosophical idea of knowledge and how to settle it. Again, I am enquiring into how a "thing" can go from not being knowledge to be knowledge? Unless one can argue that knowledge arrives just as such, it has to be settled how to arrive at it
So before we can pursue the question in a meaningful way we first have to investigate closely what the nature of the "by definition" knowledge is and how it came to be. If this is clarified we'll have a living example of "un-knowledge to knowledge" transition which will give us clues how to proceed further.
By "by definition" I meant that, if I have knowledge, then by definition I have it, and it is no longer questionable. If it is questionable I can hardly be knowledge, as it is being questioned. So if it is not knowledge, what can make it so ?
“Study hard what interests you the most
in the most undisciplined, irreverent and
original manner possible.”
― Richard Feynmann
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 746
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: Knowledge

Post by Cleric K »

Well, if I need to question it, how can it be knowledge.
But here again we have a hidden preconception of what we expect knowledge to be. The above question implicitly restricts knowledge only to the domain of absolute truths. In other words I can only consider something to be knowledge if I thus find it within the contents of my consciousness that it is impossible to question it.

Clearly, the majority of things that we call knowledge in the practical sense, are not absolute truths at all. For example can we consider “apples fall” to be knowledge? Within a certain context it is but in outer space apples do not fall (sorry for the elementary example). So although we can consider “apples fall” to be knowledge we can still question if it is true in all circumstances. There are very little things in practical life that we can say are absolute truths/knowledge.

I’m not answering your question. At this stage I’m still trying to assume your perspective in order to understand the source of the dilemma. In the light of the above, am I correct to say that you are looking to equate knowledge with absolute truths? And contextual knowledge (that is true only within a certain set of circumstances) like "apples fall" is not really knowledge?
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3035
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Knowledge

Post by AshvinP »

Mandibil wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:09 am
AshvinP wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:18 pm I am not a 'formal philosopher' by any stretch, but my 2 cents is to think of knowing and knowledge as process rather than a state.
Can you give an example of such a process ?

Knowing requires a dynamic process of developing internal models of the world
That is science. Science is not knowledge imo. Science assumes to predict future change by modelling from past experience of changes. I am on board with Hume's scepticism on causality, it is not experiential and thus there are no necessary connections between the past, now and the future
That is the process sub-consciously utilized by every individual (Piaget) and by science (Kuhn) and all systematic fields to develop knowledge. An brief summary of the Piagetian process is pasted below:
Sensorimotor Stage
An infant may first not make sense of a specific toy, but as they begin to look at it, feel it, and manipulate it often, they are able to represent the object in their minds... By playing continuously with a toy animal, an infant begins to understand what the object is and recall their experiences associated with that toy.

Preoperational Stage
Children continue to build on the object representation that is significant to the sensorimotor stage in different activities. While the way they represent objects has no logic or reasoning behind it, they continue to grow in this area through dramatic play. Imaginative play, or the art of make-believe, is an indicative sign of this age and stage

Concrete Operational Stage
Children begin to represent objects and ideas in a more logical way. While the thought process is not on the same level as an adult, they begin to be more flexible in their thoughts and ideas. This allows them to solve problems in a more systematic way. For example, a child may implement the rule “if nothing is added or taken away, then the amount of something stays the same.” Applying systemic rules or ideas may help a child solve simple tasks in the classroom, such as addition and subtraction problems or scientific calculations.
...
There are two things that distinguish concrete operational thinking from preoperational thinking. The first is reversibility, which allows a child to manipulate the order of any process. The second skill that is acquired is decentering. This allows the child to step back and analyze an issue from more than one angle.

Formal Operational Stage
As children move into the formal operational stage, they are able to reason about more abstract ideas... Students must reflect internally on various ideas and manipulate many perspectives at once. Abstract questions such as these force students to use hypothetical reasoning to come up with an answer.
You can see how some or all of these 'stages' will apply to every new experience you encounter as an individual, and, I would argue, how it applies to humanity as a whole.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
Post Reply