Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Epistemology Midterm

  1. What is something you know about knowledge? (proposition)

Knowledge is acquired through experience of the world. Though some conclusions can be reached rationally, even our rationale is taught to us.

2. How do you know it? (syllogism, premise premise conclusion)

P1: Knowledge is knowing facts, truths, or principles.

People can’t know the objective truth of things, so this would only be the truths we perceive. Eg: Conclusions reached through experimentation.

P2: Facts, truths, and principles are acquired through experience.

You gain understanding of something if you’ve experienced it in some way. Eg: Knowing a how bowl of soup will burn you if you drink it because you tried to drink it and it hurt. In the future you’ll be more cautious of hot food, and through following the instructions of someone telling you that you should wait for it to cool you’ll find out it doesn’t burn you after that.

When doing math, you use reason to solve problems. But how you got that reason was being taught it in a classroom, or with natural numbers and objects on your own. It’s a set of rules that you are taught then apply. Same with our common sense. Eg: You wouldn’t run across the street when the light is red, because you’ve been told and see that cars go through the crossing when your light is red and theirs is green. Because cars are less likely to stop for you, and through experience you probably know that getting hit by big, fast moving things hurts, you won’t endanger yourself.

So knowledge can be found using rational thinking (Knowing that getting hit by a car would probably hurt, even if it’s never happened to you), but experience comes first (you have to experience that getting hit by something causes discomfort).

Conclusion: Knowledge is acquired through experience of the world.


3. Who (which theories) help you explain this? (references)

Aristotle: Thinks all knowledge comes from experience (evidence acquired through the senses). Reason comes into play after people experience things.

Locke: Knowledge is gained through sensory experience, though some of the information we receive through our senses is subjective and cannot be trusted. Primary qualities (qualities that physical objects themselves have, eg: solidity, weight, height… etc) vs secondary qualities (colours, taste, smell, texture…)

Video on Empiricism, talks about what Locke and Berkely thought. Berkeley came up with a different way of looking at things since you can’t really take secondary qualities from something (only perceptions exist).

4. Can a personal example help illustrate this proposition? (anecdote)

There’s a part of this I’m not entirely sure on still, which is priori knowledge and how it fits in. Locke believed people are all born knowing nothing. I feel as if people should’ve evolved at some point to know some things by instinct. Like in “Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You” Dan Riskin talks about when he was a kid he wondered how people ever figured out how to reproduce because it’s pretty weird if you think about it. Or like is being able to eating stuff considered priori  knowledge? Do babies just know how to drink and swallow fluid, or do they have to take a second to figure it out?

I’ve been told that when I was little my mom once changed into this polka dotted dress and I didn’t recognize her and would start crying if she tried to hold me. As opposed to the other times, where she was one of the few people who could hold me without me appearing generally unimpressed. So that makes me question if we’re born understanding substance. It could’ve been that in that instant I was just particularly uncomfortable and the polka dot dress was a coincidence.


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