Epistemology And the Nature of Knowledge
What does it mean to say that someone knows, or fails to know, something? The question of understanding what knowledge is and is not. As we all know epistemology is the study of knowledge and as such we must first come to a conclusion on what it means to have knowledge before we can study it. And thus the greatest challenge arises. How do we really know, that we know?
The famous philosopher Plato once defined knowledge as “Justified true belief”. Web articles define it as “a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something such as facts, information, description or skills acquired through experience or education”.
If we accept these premises as true we can come to a conclusion that knowledge must be a belief we can justify as true through our understanding or familiarity from our experiences or education.
So how do we gain knowledge? Every person beings gaining knowledge from the minute they are born, from the texture of their cribs to the color on the walls we begin processing and taking in everything around us. Knowledge is everything around us that we can absorb and whose existence we can justify.
One of the most well known philisophical questions, what is actually real and how can we prove it? To add a little metaphysics to this argument we can only know something if it exists. If something exists then we must be able to know or learn about it, if it cannot be known then it cannot exist. There is only one thing we can be sure of and that is of our own existence – “I think therefore I am” as Descartes said. If we can justify that we do exist then we can begin to justify the existence of other things by relating them to ourselves. We can see the paper in our hands, feel its edges and hear its crinkle as we move it from hand to hand and thus we can justifiably believe it is there. Thus as we can justify this belief that it is in fact in our hands and feels, sounds and looks the way we think it does then we have knowledge of the papers existence and characteristics.