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Epistemology and the problem of knowledge<br />By Noel C. Jopson<br />Among the major philosophical problems that are of supreme importance is the problem of epistemology. Man’s search for knowledge and his desire to understand the essence and basic features of knowledge are perennial tasks. Everything about which we philosophize depends on our knowledge. If knowledge likewise is called into question, then that concerning which we claim to have knowledge is called into question. Surely no other area of philosophical inquiry could be more important than that which examines the very foundations of all knowledge—namely, epistemology. Thus, the task of epistemology is crucial.<br />Definition of Epistemology<br />The term epistemology comes from the Greek episteme, meaning knowledge, and logos, meaning, roughly, study, or science, of. It is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions concerning the nature, sources, validity, and scope of knowledge. Epistemology is also known as the theory of knowledge, in fact it is interchangeable used, for instance, in college course catalogues. Studying epistemology will expose to such questions as: what is knowledge? What can we know? How do we know if what we know is true? And is there a limit to what we can know?<br />Kinds of knowledge<br />We can classify knowledge according to the three ways in which we use the word “know.”<br />,[object Object]
Practical knowledge or “know how” refers to whether we have the ability to perform an activity in question in an appropriate environment.
Propositional knowledge or “knowing that” refers to the traditional analysis of knowledge. It is more commonly known as factual knowledge.Nature and definition of knowledge<br />A primary concern of epistemology is the very definition of knowledge itself. The traditional definition, since Plato, is that knowledge is justified true belief. This means that knowledge has three individually necessary and jointly sufficiently conditions: truth, belief and justification. Something is necessary condition of knowledge when there can be no knowledge in the absence of such a condition. The condition, however, works in conjunction with the other necessary conditions to constitute sufficient condition for knowledge. Whenever the three conditions of knowledge are present there is knowledge. If any of these conditions are absent there is no knowledge: <br />,[object Object]
Truth. Not all beliefs constitute knowledge. Belief is necessary but not sufficient for knowledge. We are all sometimes mistaken in what we believe; in other words, while some of our beliefs are true, others are false. As we try to acquire knowledge, then, we are trying to increase our stock of true beliefs (while simultaneously minimizing our false beliefs). Note that we are assuming here that there is such a thing as objective truth, so that it is possible for beliefs to match or to fail to match with reality. That is, in order for someone to know something, there must be something one knows about. Recall that we are discussing knowledge in the factive sense; if there are no facts of the matter, then there’s nothing to know. We can say that truth is a condition of knowledge; that is, if a belief is not true, it cannot constitute knowledge. Accordingly, if there is no such thing as truth, then there can be no knowledge. Even if there is such a thing as truth, if there is a domain in which there are no truths, then there can be no knowledge within that domain.

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Epistemology and the problem of knowledge

  • 1.
  • 2. Practical knowledge or “know how” refers to whether we have the ability to perform an activity in question in an appropriate environment.
  • 3.
  • 4. Truth. Not all beliefs constitute knowledge. Belief is necessary but not sufficient for knowledge. We are all sometimes mistaken in what we believe; in other words, while some of our beliefs are true, others are false. As we try to acquire knowledge, then, we are trying to increase our stock of true beliefs (while simultaneously minimizing our false beliefs). Note that we are assuming here that there is such a thing as objective truth, so that it is possible for beliefs to match or to fail to match with reality. That is, in order for someone to know something, there must be something one knows about. Recall that we are discussing knowledge in the factive sense; if there are no facts of the matter, then there’s nothing to know. We can say that truth is a condition of knowledge; that is, if a belief is not true, it cannot constitute knowledge. Accordingly, if there is no such thing as truth, then there can be no knowledge. Even if there is such a thing as truth, if there is a domain in which there are no truths, then there can be no knowledge within that domain.
  • 5.
  • 6. This place is not where elephants live.
  • 7. There is no zoo nearby.
  • 8. Severely intoxicated person are known to experience hallucinations.
  • 9. Nobody else in the area claims to have seen any pink elephants.To establish the truth of one statement one needs to get other statements to cohere in a unified body of knowledge. This coherence makes it true. Blanshard (1941) wrote : “The degree of truth of a particular proposition is to be judged by its coherence with experience as a whole.” Truth, then, is nothing other than the interconnectedness of our various beliefs. Its test is how well it fits in with everything else we believe.<br />Pragmatic Theory <br />A pragmatic theory of truth claims that the condition of a statement’s truth is neither its correspondence to a fact not its coherence to other statements. Rather, it is its usefulness in solving problems and answering inquiries. In short, truth is, to use Pierce’s description, the end of inquiry. The meaning of truth in the practical difference it serves.<br />Truth is not a stagnant property of an idea. “Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true. It is made true by events.” Possession of true thoughts means the possession of invaluable instruments of action.” The pragmatic formulation of this is:<br />A statement is true under the condition that such a statement is useful to be believed in.<br />That is, granting that a given statement works this factor would make that statement a true statement. Utility, therefore, is the essential mark of truth. It follows that the statements “It is useful because it is true,” and “It is true because it is useful” mean exactly the same thing: an idea gets fulfilled and can be verified. Truth is what works.<br />