Updated Understanding – Knowledge

If you have read my first post you will see a section  that explains in the most simplistic form what knowledge is.

Merely saying that knowledge is the information that we remember is not enough! There is a lot more to knowledge than that, as we will see here.

To get a better grasp of this concept of knowledge we have to look introspectively about what we think knowledge is. Knowledge is simply the information that we know.

The know in the word knowledge is the key focus here.

Have you ever wondered about whether or not you actually know something? How can you prove that you have concrete knowledge about anything at all?

Let us look at an example;

Example 1.1

I know that France is a country in Europe.

There are two claims of knowledge being presented in Example 1.1

(a.)  France is a country.

(b.)  France is situated in the European Continent.

Most of us think we know that France is a country, and I am not debating whether it is or is not. It is important to see here is that a majority of people were told that France is a country through what we will call Testimony. Testimony usually is understood as what someone might tell a court room under oath. The word has a larger definition in the context we are using here. It is what other people tell you, when your in a conversation, reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, etc.

The important thing to take out of this is that, even though it is correct in this case, what other people tell you might not necessarily be true! Human beings have the capability to lie, and also to forget. (Memory, ethics and morality of lying will not be discussed here)

So we can then agree that most of us know that France is a country because, either, your elementary school teachers told you that it was, you saw it on a map when you were younger, or you heard someone say France one day and you thought to yourself “What the heck is a France?”. Did any of us ever question our school teachers, or think about the possibility that the map was somehow misleading? No.

Again, not that I am debating Frances sovereignty, but who really has the power to say that France is a country. Most of us would agree that France is a country because the definition of a country seems to fit France quite well. That is to say that, France is a country because of common-sense facts and most of us do not argue that notion. It is common-sense that a country is; a politically organized group of people with one government. We as human beings take these common-sense facts as they are, and without question.What if I choose that a country is a politically organized group of people with one or more governments? (I do not, this is being used to example purposes only.) If the definition was changed to that then a lot of the issues surrounding North and South Korea would not have taken place.

So we can see then that common-sense and testimony play a huge role in what we seemingly know.

There is a lot more that can be discussed here, but I will save it for other posts. This is to get you to think about the validity of the information in which you think you know. Mostly, we think we know a lot, but from this example it seems to me that some of the things we ‘know’ are true only in the context and understandings of other people. It is not necessarily true for you, and that is what we need to think about!


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~ by Peter on September 18, 2009.

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