February 4, 2013
Epistemology – The Study of Knowledge
The study of knowledge has always been the journey toward truth and understanding. Epistemology deals with the creation and distribution of knowledge in certain areas of inquiry. Humans should be free to gain, study and question knowledge and claims without repercussions in any social, cultural or religious setting. As we move forward in our understanding of life, religion and nature, we have changed our way of thinking through philosophy. We are less ignorant and uneducated about the truths of the world and how we as human beings perform in it. Knowledge and the confirmation of knowledge can be confirmed by propositional and procedural knowledge or knowledge by acquaintance. Propositional knowledge is expressed in declarative sentences or indicative propositions of one’s knowledge based on the known or knowing that. If someone says “all birds have feathers” they are stating or asserting a proposition that is factual or somewhat factual. Procedural knowledge is the knowledge used in the performance of a task, such as knowing how to replace brakes on a vehicle. It is learned knowledge through doing that act. Knowledge by acquaintance is experience based knowledge learned through casual interaction, such as knowing a place or person well (Mosser, 2010). Knowing for certain is always questionable because everything can be challenged. For the three identified ways of attaining knowledge, the most challenged one is propositional knowledge. Propositional knowledge receives the most skepticism because of the statements it brings forward, like “I believe that”, “I know that” and “I think that” (Steup, 2005). These statements are based on one’s beliefs, thoughts and ideas which can be questioned. If knowledge is based on one’s beliefs or opinions it will bring challenges, but remember an individual’s ideas based on beliefs or opinions should respected. We are certain of the other two due to experiencing or performing acts to solidify the knowledge. But then still can be questioned because of different procedures or experiences can still result in a different or validation of an outcome or answer. To justify what we really know is inherited, learned or experienced. We cannot really be certain of our knowledge because we can be tricked or limited by our sense that provides us this information to confirm or deny what we know or learn. Knowledge at one point is imperfect, but the truth at that point and is reinforced by the progress of science to be an absolute truth to some degree and as Vladimir Lenin says, "There is no impassable boundary between relative and absolute truth." (Bogdanov, 1908). The normal order of the world is how we perceive it through our senses. It can play tricks on us and deceive through illusions that the mind receives from sight, sound, taste and touch. How humans recognize what is real and not real through their senses is known as empiricism (Mosser, 2010). Empiricists view that there is no such thing as innate knowledge, but instead knowledge is received from experience. On the argument side you have rationalism which view knowledge to be innate. It argues that the knowledge of God, mathematics and science cannot be explained by the senses (Mosser, 2010). But this does contradicts how we learn, because without the senses how do we learn mathematics, science or the knowledge of God (the bible). Innate knowledge is derived from the mind, but requires other things to support or build the mind, the senses. Let’s break down the five senses (vision, sound, touch, smell and taste) and try to understand what can be limited and why. Vision can be received or altered based on the ability to distinguish objects, the depth or field, color, contrast, or even color blindness. Sound can be affected by the volume or pitch that is...