(5) Fixing Infinity #KNOWLEDGEMATTERS

Other | Thursday 31st January 2019 | Saskia

After Gettier published the paper we discussed here, Philosophers came up with nearly infinite ways of solving the problem about the definition of knowledge. Giving all of these views a label seems futile, but it is possible to get at least a rough overview over the near infinite amount of theories.



I will start by introducing you to Coherentism. Coherentism is like a game of Tetris. You start to acquire certain building blocks which pile up on the floor. After you have already collected some blocks, you have to change incoming blocks to others, or they will not fit in anymore. For knowledge, it is basically the same process.

The knowledge you acquire has to fit in with the knowledge you already have. Otherwise you will either not accept it as knowledge or have to change all knowledge you have had before.



Foundamentalism in contrast, would not prompt you to change your previous knowledge, since this theory rests on the assumption that there is a form of basic knowledge, like the foundations of a house, which you do not change, but on which you build on.





If you still do not think that this is the right solution, I have got a slightly more unusual approach for you. Like the rabbit-duck illusion, so called Contextualism teaches you that whether you have knowledge depends on the context it is seen in.

Here is how it works: Assume you still claim to know when your train to work arrives. You would even bet on it. That is how sure you are in this regard. But then, somebody points a gun at you and asks you at which time your train to work arrives. He will shoot you if you do not answer correctly. Would you still say you know, at which time your train comes in? I think you will at least have some doubts about whether it is still advisable to define your state of mind as knowledge. Having a gun pointed at you, you are clearly in another context than just being in danger of missing your train.

That is what Contextualism is about. Whether you know something, depends on the context you are in. The same content can be knowledge at one context and not knowledge at another. As the same picture can be a duck or a rabbit.

Now we have a rough idea of the different positions about knowledge!

Pssssst, check out my other articles about knowledge:


Knowledge - Philosophical Bullshit?

Let`s start with Socrates - with whom else? 

Fake news and the truth, nothing but the truth

How Big Ben defies Socrates

Internalism or Externalism? Starting with a big bang