Epistemology: Theory of Knowledge What is ‘knowledge?’ What is it to know something? What does it mean to say that a belief is ‘justified?’ What can we know?
Knowledge and Belief We have a vast collection of beliefs, and some are true and some are false: –Some people believe that astrology can inform us about our futures. –Some people believe that aliens from outer space are in contact with human beings. –Some people believe that human beings are the product of natural selection and survival of the fittest. –Some people believe that there is a God who created everything and who cares about us. –Some people believe that human beings will make settlements on Mars before the end of the next millennium. –Some people believe that human beings are more likely, in the next millennium, to deplete the earth of its resources and destroy the ecosystems on which we depend for our lives. Sifting and sorting: Those beliefs about which we're less certain are less likely to count as knowledge than those we're more certain of. Are there any beliefs of which we are absolutely certain? According to a January 2012 issue of The Week magazine, 46% of Americans believe divine intervention is responsible for Tim Tebow’s success on the football field.
Knowledge and Belief Among the things I believe, which are the things I know? Hypothesis: The things I know are the beliefs that are true. Problem: What if I have true beliefs by accident or for incorrect reasons?
Why do I need to know this? Better reader –Due to a highly tuned bias sensor Better writer –Due to the same highly tuned bias sensor mentioned above Better citizen Better level of self-awareness
Why do I need to know this? Better Citizen of the World “We hate each other because we fear one another. We fear one another because we don’t understand one another. We don’t understand one another because we are unwilling to sit down and talk to one another. We won’t sit down and talk to one another out of the fear that our foolish judgments may be wrong.” – loosely paraphrased from MLK Of course our foolish judgments may be wrong and in many cases they are wrong. –For example, if we have always been taught that a specific group of people are lazy, inferior and dishonest, and these alleged truths have been reinforced by both individuals, educational institutions and the communities in which we reside; our knowledge is locked in and we think we now know what we need to know about that group or any other group, race, gender, etc.
Real World Examples One day when I was late: –Seeing the clock read 5:15 then seeing one that said 6:15 – assume that the first is correct – even against all future evidence Edgar Divya Shaked
Where Do I Begin? Ask Yourself: Does my knowledge represent reality as it really is?
A Parting Thought... "Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, a more humane society will not emerge." –Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia