Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Discussion Post – Epistemology – Alicia Atherton

A. Where did I start? (Questions, Propositions, Ideas)

I started with the initial question “Is knowledge based on our past or present experiences? If so, how? If not, why not?” This was the only idea that kept running through my head so I decided to make it my epistemology topic. The idea of experience was the only logical description of knowledge that was stuck in my brain, and I wanted to find out more information on it.

B. What did I read? (Quote/Link/Summarize)

Experience and Reason in Einstein’s Epistemology

This reading was almost exactly what I was looking for, as it explains the thought and reasoning by one of the smartest people known in history. Einsteins train of thought described in the reading was that “he believed that reality and thought were independent but related, and that conceptual systems are independent of but conditioned by experience.” This quote states that reality and thought are two different ideas but I’m some cases could relate to each other (such as reality being what is actually there while thoughts could be based on reality, but could also be imagined, so they are not reliable). Since this was the initial way Einstein, the smartest guy known to man, thought about knowledge, I decided that this article was the most reliable and realistic way of describing if knowledge was based on experience or not.

C. Who did I talk with? (Examples, quotes, ideas, questions) 

Mikayla: her initial question was “Can positive thinking affect how you already feel about something (something you know you don’t like or are afraid of)“, so in other words, if you tell yourself you don’t like something but force yourself to think positively about it, will you start to like it? I thought this question could somewhat relate to my question in a cool sort of way. If you force yourself to think positively about something you don’t originally think positively about, that could change your initial experience with that one object/thing that made your brain think negatively about it at first, otherwise changing your knowledge about that object (that is if Mikayla’s question is proven to be correct). For example, if somebody did not like horses and they spent a whole day around horses to see if their perspective would change about them, the experience would be different if you were to start liking horses as a posed to when you hated horses.

Tali: her initial question was “Is there a limit to knowledge?” which I thought could relate to my question as well. The way I saw it was, if there was a limit to knowledge, then there could potentially be a limit to experience. If somebody was not able to know something, or just simply did not want to know something, the experience it would take to know that one thing would also be limited. For example, if somebody did not want to know about something that Justin Bieber did, then they would not have to go through the experience of doing research about him in order to find out information about him (if that makes sense).

D. How did all of the above influence my starting point?

All of the above helped me come closer to the conclusion that almost everything we know is based off of experience, but at the same time, these conversations and the reading made me think of whether there were some things that we simply just know, without having some background experience with it, or if we were to go through some experience in our lives and were to realize that we gained knowledge at that point.


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