Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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TOO BIG TO KNOW

Belief- an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists

Knowledge- facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

At one point in time people believed the world to be flat

Through experience and information this belief was proven incorrect, being the world is spherical

Therefore knowledge changes overtime

Belief is that we are certain of something to a variety of degrees, that we have evidence for in and that may or may not be true. For example referring to a young child’s beliefs, the belief in unicorns or the belief that a person vaguely believes that he will be caught illegally downloading music. Both cases have varying certainty and varying likeliness to be true, we do not explicitly distinguish to what extent the belief is certain, backed by evidence or whether it is actually true.It is clear that knowledge comes from experience. Knowledge is what you know, however you cannot know anything outside of what society knows. Knowledge has factors of change, for what is true today may not be true tomorrow. One factor being that through change and time raises new knowledge. We must factor for the truth-value of knowledge because one can perceive something and believe in it though if it is not true, people believing the world to be flat. If you were to ask someone to describe the world they would have very confidently defined it as flat. What that person believes with all their heart, cannot be counted as knowledge, for everyone knows now that the world is not flat the world is round. What is known has to be true, it has to be fact. Unless something is a fact, one does not know it.

A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that there isn’t universal knowledge. Philosopher Rene Descartes was one of them. When he was a young man, he was taught a lot of things by authority figures. As he came of age he started to discover that much of what he was taught either was false or was highly questionable. Like me in philosophy class! questioning everything I do. He found he couldn’t have the certainty and was deeply troubled by this.

One day, he decided to tackle the problem. He hid himself away and decided to get to the bottom of it. He resolved to doubt everything of which he could not be certain. The biggest problem he faced is that sometimes the senses can be deceptive (as I talked about in my dreams post about him being unsure about being seated by a fire consciously or unconsciously) And after all, could he be certain he wasn’t insane or dreaming when tasting an apple “or being seated by that fire”? So while they might be fairly reliable, the senses don’t provide us with certainty—which is what Descartes was after.

Unfortunately, this left Descartes with no where to turn. He found that he could be skeptical about everything and was unable to find a certain foundation for knowledge. But then he struck something that changed modern epistemology. He discovered that there was one thing he couldn’t doubt: the fact that he was a thinking thing. In order to doubt it, he would have to think. He reasoned that it’s not possible to doubt something without thinking about the fact that you’re doubting. If he was thinking then he must be a thinking thing and so he found that it was impossible to doubt that he was a thinking being.

Some mistakenly think that Descartes was implying with this idea that he thinks himself into existence. But that wasn’t his point at all. He was making a claim about knowledge. Really what Descartes was saying is: I think, therefore I know that I am.

The story of Descartes is meant to illustrate the depth of the problems of epistemology and how difficult and rare certainty is, if certainty is possible there are plenty of philosophers who think either that Descartes’ project failed or that he created a whole new set of problems that are even more intractable than the one he set out to solve.

<-I agree with Immanuel Kant that knowledge is acquired through experience, knowledge is direct. Throughout time we experience different situations good and bad but no matter the outcome we have learned innovated knowledge. Personally that is how I learn something new, I’d rather be taught through actions to swim instead of being told how to do every action.

Knowledge is the root to many challenges we face on a day to day basis and how we solve those issues. We know that we have to eat in order to survive and that we need oxygen, this is a fact. We all know something, like how to choose our friends, hobbies and what we want to do in the future so I believe that humans do in fact know things, “I think therefore I am”. All these decisions we make effect the way we and others live, they are grounded in our view of knowledge—our epistemology. Fact is, people change, our environment changes, our ways change, everything in our world is at a constant change over time.

 

 

 

 

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