I Know that the World is Flat
Knowledge does not require truth.
It has often been argued that knowledge is justified true belief. As in the Tripartite theory of knowledge, one must believe something to be true, then it must actually be true, and it also must be justified. In other words, you must have good reason for believing something to be true, and it also must be true. To me, knowledge is more personal, and changing from person to person, time to time, and place to place.
A long time ago, it was believed that the world was flat, not round. That was their knowledge; however, now we can say quite surely that it is objectively true that the world is round, because we can observe that the world is round (even though our senses are flawed). At that time the statement “the world is flat”, had the property ‘true’. That is not the kind of truth that I am talking about. I am talking about objective (or as objective as possible), proven, factual, truth. To be clear, I am saying that when the world was believed to be flat, that was knowledge, even though it was incorrect knowledge.
Yes, I am proposing that there is correct, and incorrect knowledge. I am saying that knowledge need only be true in the mind of the thinker.
What is it to be human? Have you ever thought about that question? Intellectually, humans stand out from other animals. Humans have an increased ability to think, and the ability to know. Knowledge, then, is the very essence of being human. With the possible exception of very young babies, I believe that all humans have knowledge. Consider those with mental illnesses or disabilities, or even further, those who would be considered legally insane. Their reality would be much different than ours, and it is likely that they would come to different conclusions about the world. The point is that they have knowledge, it just might not be the same as what is considered by the population to be ‘correct’.
Suppose that one day I wake up, look in the mirror, see, and know that my hair is brown. Perhaps the next day someone will tell me that I have red hair. Which is it? Maybe I come to realize that I am color-blind and I actually have red hair. My knowledge of my hair color has changed, but that doesn’t mean that my previous knowledge was not knowledge! I had that knowledge, it was true to me, I could observe that it was true, but I was wrong. Still, it was my knowledge.
So the syllogism for this argument would go like this:
If truth is objective fact,
and incorrect belief was knowledge,
and correct belief is knowledge,
then knowledge does not require truth.
The part of this argument that I can see being questioned is premise #1 which states that truth is objective fact. People will have their differing opinions on what truth is, because it is one of those concepts that is difficult to define perfectly.
I did not get a lot of ideas from other philosophers for this, in fact, I didn’t look specifically at any one philosopher at all! This idea came from the world is flat example talked about in the beginning of the post. I have not heard of really any philosopher who supports or talks about this kind of thing, so if you know of someone or a school of thought similar to this, please let me know!