Conceptions of Knowledge

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A classic example that goes back to Aristotle is deducing that Socrates is mortal. We have a logical rule that says All humans are mortal and an assertion that Socrates is human and we deduce that Socrates is mortal. In this example how do we know that Socrates is human? Presumably we apply other rules such as: All born from human females are human.

Which then leaves open the question how do we know that all born from humans are human? This is the regress problem: how can we eventually terminate a logical argument with some statement s that do not require further justification but can still be considered rational and justified?


As John Pollock stated:. This means that one of two things can be the case. Either there are some beliefs that we can be justified for holding, without being able to justify them on the basis of any other belief, or else for each justified belief there is an infinite regress of potential justification [the nebula theory]. On this theory there is no rock bottom of justification. Justification just meanders in and out through our network of beliefs, stopping nowhere. The apparent impossibility of completing an infinite chain of reasoning is thought by some to support skepticism.

It is also the impetus for Descartes' famous dictum: I think, therefore I am. Descartes was looking for some logical statement that could be true without appeal to other statements. Many epistemologists studying justification have attempted to argue for various types of chains of reasoning that can escape the regress problem.

Foundationalists respond to the regress problem by asserting that certain "foundations" or "basic beliefs" support other beliefs but do not themselves require justification from other beliefs. These beliefs might be justified because they are self-evident, infallible, or derive from reliable cognitive mechanisms.

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Perception, memory, and a priori intuition are often considered possible examples of basic beliefs. The chief criticism of foundationalism is that if a belief is not supported by other beliefs, accepting it may be arbitrary or unjustified. Another response to the regress problem is coherentism , which is the rejection of the assumption that the regress proceeds according to a pattern of linear justification. To avoid the charge of circularity, coherentists hold that an individual belief is justified circularly by the way it fits together coheres with the rest of the belief system of which it is a part.

This theory has the advantage of avoiding the infinite regress without claiming special, possibly arbitrary status for some particular class of beliefs. Yet, since a system can be coherent while also being wrong, coherentists face the difficulty of ensuring that the whole system corresponds to reality. Additionally, most logicians agree that any argument that is circular is, at best, only trivially valid. That is, to be illuminating, arguments must operate with information from multiple premises, not simply conclude by reiterating a premise.

Warburton writes in Thinking from A to Z , "Circular arguments are not invalid; in other words, from a logical point of view there is nothing intrinsically wrong with them. However, they are, when viciously circular, spectacularly uninformative. A position known as foundherentism , advanced by Susan Haack , is meant to unify foundationalism and coherentism. One component of this theory is what is called the "analogy of the crossword puzzle. An alternative resolution to the regress problem is known as " infinitism ".

Infinitists take the infinite series to be merely potential, in the sense that an individual may have indefinitely many reasons available to them, without having consciously thought through all of these reasons when the need arises. This position is motivated in part by the desire to avoid what is seen as the arbitrariness and circularity of its chief competitors, foundationalism and coherentism.

The historical study of philosophical epistemology is the historical study of efforts to gain philosophical understanding or knowledge of the nature and scope of human knowledge. In philosophy, empiricism is generally a theory of knowledge focusing on the role of experience, especially experience based on perceptual observations by the senses.

There are many variants of empiricism: positivism , realism and common sense being among the most commonly expounded. But central to all empiricist epistemologies is the notion of the epistemologically privileged status of sense data. Many idealists believe that knowledge is primarily at least in some areas acquired by a priori processes or is innate —for example, in the form of concepts not derived from experience.

The relevant theoretical processes often go by the name " intuition ". By contrast with empiricism and idealism, which centres around the epistemologically privileged status of sense data empirical and the primacy of reason theoretical respectively, modern rationalism adds a third 'system of thinking', as Gaston Bachelard has termed these areas and holds that all three are of equal importance: The empirical, the theoretical and the abstract. For Bachelard, rationalism makes equal reference to all three systems of thinking. Constructivism is a view in philosophy according to which all "knowledge is a compilation of human-made constructions", [46] "not the neutral discovery of an objective truth".

Piagetian constructivism, however, believes in objectivity—constructs can be validated through experimentation. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic; [49] as Vico said: "The norm of the truth is to have made it. Pragmatism is an empiricist epistemology formulated by Charles Sanders Peirce , William James , and John Dewey , which understands truth as that which is practically applicable in the world.

Peirce formulates the maxim: 'Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. This is in contrast to any correspondence theory of truth that holds that what is true is what corresponds to an external reality.

William James suggests that through a pragmatist epistemology 'Theories thus become instruments, not answers to enigmas in which we can rest. Closely related to Pragmatism, naturalized epistemology considers the evolutionary role of knowledge for agents living and evolving in the world.

It suggests a more empirical approach to the subject as a whole—leaving behind philosophical definitions and consistency arguments, and instead using psychological methods to study and understand how knowledge actually forms and is used in the natural world. As such it does not attempt to answer the analytic questions of traditional epistemology but replace them with new empirical ones.

Indian philosophical schools such as the Hindu Nyaya , and Carvaka , and later, the Jain and Buddhist philosophical schools, developed an epistemological tradition termed "pramana" independently of the Western philosophical tradition. Pramana can be translated as "instrument of knowledge" and refers to various means or sources of knowledge that Indian philosophers held to be reliable. Each school of Indian philosophy had their own theories about which pramanas were valid means to knowledge and which were unreliable and why. The theory of knowledge of the Buddha in the early Buddhist texts has been interpreted as a form of pragmatism as well as a form of correspondence theory.

The main Jain contribution to epistemology has been their theory of "many sided-ness" or "multi-perspectivism" Anekantavada , which says that since the world is multifaceted, any single viewpoint is limited naya — a partial standpoint. The Carvaka school of materialists only accepted the pramana of perception and hence were one of the first empiricists. Skepticism is a position that questions the validity of some or all of human knowledge. Skepticism does not refer to any one specific school of philosophy, rather it is a thread that runs through many philosophical discussions of epistemology.

The first well known Greek skeptic was Socrates who claimed that his only knowledge was that he knew nothing with certainty. In Indian philosophy, Sanjaya Belatthiputta was a famous skeptic and the Buddhist Madhyamika school has been seen as taking up a form of skepticism. Descartes ' most famous inquiry into mind and body also began as an exercise in skepticism. Descartes began by questioning the validity of all knowledge and looking for some fact that was irrefutable. In so doing, he came to his famous dictum: I think, therefore I am.

Foundationalism and the other responses to the regress problem are essentially defenses against skepticism.

About The Philosophy of Knowledge: A History

Similarly, the pragmatism of William James can be viewed as a coherentist defense against skepticism. James discarded conventional philosophical views of truth and defined truth as based on how well a concept works in a specific context, rather than objective rational criteria. The philosophy of Logical Positivism and the work of philosophers such as Kuhn and Popper can be viewed as skepticism applied to what can truly be considered scientific knowledge.

Skepticism questions whether knowledge is possible at all. Skeptics argue that belief in something does not justify whether or not it is necessarily true. The evil demon skepticism described by Descartes previously known from Plato's cave ; with an updated version from sci-fi literature describing it as the brain in a vat supposes that our sensors have been placed under the control of some external power such as a demon, mad scientist, etc. As such, everything we see is a fake, and we can never know anything about the 'real' world inhabited by the demon or mad scientist.

Even if these external powers do not exist, we still must depend on only the information provided by our senses and can therefore make no definite statement about anything beyond that information. Skeptics oppose what they sometimes call dogmatic foundationalism, which states that there must be some basic positions that are self-justified or beyond justification without reference to others.

One example of such foundationalism may be found in Spinoza 's Ethics. The skeptical response to this can take several approaches. First, claiming that "basic positions" must exist amounts to the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance combined with the slippery slope. Among other arguments, skeptics used Agrippa's trilemma , named after Agrippa the Skeptic , to claim certain belief could not be achieved.

Conceptions of teaching and educational knowledge requirements

Foundationalists have used the same trilemma argument as justification for demanding the validity of basic beliefs. This skeptical approach is rarely taken to its pyrrhonean extreme by most practitioners. Several modifications have arisen over the years, including the following Peter Suber, "Classical Skepticism" :. Fictionalism would not claim to have knowledge but adheres to conclusions on some criterion such as utility, aesthetics, or other personal criteria without claiming that any conclusion is actually "true".

Philosophical fideism as opposed to religious Fideism would assert the truth of some propositions, but does so without asserting certainty. Some forms of pragmatism would accept utility as a provisional guide to truth but not necessarily a universal decision-maker. There are two different categories of epistemological skepticism, which can be referred to as "mitigated" and "unmitigated" skepticism. The two forms are contrasting but are still true forms of skepticism.

Mitigated skepticism does not accept "strong" or "strict" knowledge claims but does, however, approve specific weaker ones. These weaker claims can be assigned the title of "virtual knowledge", but only to justified beliefs. Unmitigated skepticism rejects both claims of virtual knowledge and strong knowledge. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the book by Roderick Chisholm, see Theory of Knowledge book.

For the alternative name for cognitive science, see Epistemics. A branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Plato Kant Nietzsche.

epistemology | Definition, Nature, Problems, & History |

Buddha Confucius Averroes. Main article: Belief. Main article: Truth. See also: Criteria of truth. Main article: Gettier problem. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

November Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Reliabilism. Main article: Internalism and externalism. Main article: A priori and a posteriori. Main article: Analytic—synthetic distinction. Main article: Philosophy of Science. Main article: Regress argument. Main article: Empiricism.

Main article: Rationalism. Main article: Pramana. Main article: Philosophical skepticism. Philosophy portal. For a topical guide to this subject, see Outline of epistemology. Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring ed. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Oxford English Dictionary 3rd ed. Oxford University Press.

What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept

Edinburgh: W. Retrieved 21 June Paris: F. See also Suchting, Wal. Historical Materialism : — An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The Annotated Daemonologie. A Critical Edition. The Philosophical Quarterly. New York: Oxford University Press. Section 1. The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding. Cambridge University Press. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 31 March Kirkham Archived from the original PDF on 29 May Oxford India The Gettier problem is dealt with in Chapter 4, Knowledge as a mental episode. The thread continues in the next chapter Knowing that one knows. It is also discussed in Matilal's Word and the World p.

In Pappas, G. Justification and Knowledge. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel. December Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Narrative Conceptions of Knowledge: Towards Understanding Teacher Attrition

Critical disability studies is no different. How is it possible, then, to be creative and effect change when scholars are restricted by the same limitations and practices that typically do little more than reproduce more of the same?

Working within sociology and equity studies, I proceed with two assumptions: meanings are intersubjectively created; and ideologies are embedded within practices. Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. More During the Renaissance, very divergent conceptions of knowledge were debated. Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication. Print Save Cite Email Share. Show Summary Details. Subscriber Login Email Address.

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