Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:13 pm The Gettier problem is that some cases of justified true belief don't amount to knowledge, so the JTB definition is inadequate. But I suggest that Gettier-cases really demonstrate the muddle caused by the myth of propositions.

A Gettier-case is a story with dramatic irony. Given that the story is fictional, we Gettier-spectators know the complete situation, because we have, as it were, objective knowledge of the features of reality in the story. But the protagonist doesn't have this knowledge. Here is an example.

A woman sees a group of people and mistakes one of them, a stranger, for her friend. So she believes her friend is there. And as it happens, her friend really is there, but hidden. So what she believes is the case. But does she know her friend is there?

The point is, what happens in the story has nothing to do with propositions. The woman’s mistake does not come from a false premise. She just believes the stranger is her friend, which is not the case. And her belief that her friend is there is not propositional. Propositional belief is as muddled an idea as propositional knowledge. There are just beliefs and knowledge-claims expressed by means of propositions.

We want to say that what she believes is true, because her friend really is there. But that is the myth of propositions at work. What she mistakenly believes to be the case is a feature of reality, which is not a proposition. When we believe or know a feature of reality is the case, we do not believe or know a proposition. So we do not believe or know something that is true or false.
Hypothetical are more effective for being credible.
This has very little credibility. It's almost like it is invented to make a point regardless of common sense. It is worthless are a hypothetical unless we know how the woman has made the mistake, and how and why her real friend is "hidden".

The woman does not know her friend is there because she lacks objective knowledge of that feature of reality.
How, why
And afterwards, apprised of the situation and her mistake, she would not say she knew her friend was there. That is not how we use the word 'know'. She would say she believed the stranger was her friend, but was mistaken.

We say we know a feature of reality is the case only if it is, or we think it is, the case. And if it turns out not to be the case, we don’t say we have stopped knowing it. We just say we were mistaken. For example, we don’t say we stopped knowing the earth is flat.
This example might have more traction if any one ever "knew" that - they did not. An example that the earth was KNOWN to be in the centre of the universe would be better. Historically it was accepted as knowledge and there was plenty of evidence and bogus ideas interpreting the evidence to justify that as a fact. This illustrates that all knowledge is built upon other ideas, which when challenged help removed the dead knowledge to make new interpretations. Knowledge has to be accompanied by its building. Belief floats on the breeze and is worthless.

Gettier-cases recycle the JTB definition's concentration on: subjective knowledge - what an individual knows - effectively ignoring objective knowledge and its justification; propositional knowledge - S knows that p - as though what we know is propositions rather than features of reality; and the truth condition - S knows that p only if p is true - which gets things back to front. Our knowing that p doesn't come from the truth of p. It comes from our knowing the feature of reality that p asserts.

There are features of reality; there is what we believe or know about them, such as that they are the case; and there is what we say about them, which may be true or false. To muddle these things up is a mistake.

But Gettier-cases also contain the solution to the Gettier problem. The protagonists believe things for reasons that don't objectively justify their beliefs, which is why their beliefs don't amount to knowledge. Objective knowledge of features of reality, which may be expressed by means of true factual assertions, frees us from subjective, epistemic isolation. It's the objective knowledge that we Gettier-spectators have.

If you're interested, there's a full discussion, under the same title as the post, at:

http://http://www.peasum.co.uk/435531068
This echoes another thread here.https://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums ... 09#p387309
In which I am being attacks for the mere suggestion that faith is useless; that knowledge has to be grounded; and that it can be challenged where belief based on faith is is empty
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Peter Holmes wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:23 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:31 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:13 pm The point is, what happens in the story has nothing to do with propositions. The woman’s mistake does not come from a false premise. She just believes the stranger is her friend, which is not the case. And her belief that her friend is there is not propositional.
This is an old post, so who knows if you even have the same view still, but I don't really understand your comment here.

I'm wondering if you weren't thinking of propositions as being the same thing as particular expressions (of propositions). Propositions are rather the meanings that occur "behind" (and previous to) the expressions. That's why "Snow is white" and "Schnee ist weiss" can be the same proposition, but they're not the same sentence, the same expression, the same utterance.
I'm denying the truth condition of the JTB definition of knowledge: S knows that p iff p is true. Just as, outside language, a feature of reality has nothing to do with language (and therefore truth or falsehood), neither does knowing that a feature of reality is or was the case. (Russell's point about knowledge by description is trivial, because knowledge by description is knowledge by acquaintance with a description.)

So propositions don't come into Gettier cases. The JTB truth condition gets the situation exactly back-to-front: we can know a proposition is true only if it correctly describes a feature of reality, which therefore we must know first. And that has nothing to do with language.

The separate point about propositions is that they're misleading fictions. There's no third, abstract thing expressed by your two examples. It's simply that the two assertions have the same function in the two languages. And a logical expression of a proposition is just another linguistic assertion with a subject and predicate. The myth of propositions has haunted philosophy for far too long.
I'm afraid I'm following almost none of that. I'm guessing this is because we'd have very different views on what all of these things are--propositions (and thus meanings), truth, etc.

We'd have to tackle one thing at a time. First, I'm very confused by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language." I'm guessing you're using "reality" as a metonym for the external or objective world, by the way. I'd say that language has a lot to do with features of reality--that's a lot of what we're using language to think and talk about after all. So I'm not sure what your idea is there.

I have similar issues with almost every sentence in your post.

By the way, I don't really agree with the Gettier objections--I buy that propositional knowledge is jtb and that jtb is sufficient for it. I think that most Gettier objections rely on parsing propositions, beliefs, justifications, etc. in manners that get wrong how those things actually work in practice.
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
It's because reality, outside language, is not linguistic that knowing that reality - that a feature of reality is or was the case - has nothing to do with language. In other words, I'm arguing for a sharp distinction between: 1 features of reality; 2 what we believe and know about them, such as that they are or were the case; and 3 what we say about them, which (alone of the three separate and different things) may (classically) be true or false, given the way we use the signs involved.

It's muddling these things up that leads to the JTB definition of knowledge, which makes the truth of a linguistic assertion (aka a proposition) a necessary condition for knowing something - which is ridiculous. And Gettier merely recycled the muddle.

The traditional account of a proposition - that it's the 'meaning' expressed by a token sentence - what an assertion asserts or a statement states - promotes the fantasy of a linguistic expression that really isn't - that 'meaning' - and therefore truth - can somehow exist independently somewhere, ready to be manifested in a token linguistic expression. It's mystical nonsense.
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Peter Holmes wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:25 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
It's because reality, outside language, is not linguistic that knowing that reality - that a feature of reality is or was the case - has nothing to do with language. In other words, I'm arguing for a sharp distinction between: 1 features of reality; 2 what we believe and know about them, such as that they are or were the case; and 3 what we say about them, which (alone of the three separate and different things) may (classically) be true or false, given the way we use the signs involved.

It's muddling these things up that leads to the JTB definition of knowledge, which makes the truth of a linguistic assertion (aka a proposition) a necessary condition for knowing something - which is ridiculous. And Gettier merely recycled the muddle.

The traditional account of a proposition - that it's the 'meaning' expressed by a token sentence - what an assertion asserts or a statement states - promotes the fantasy of a linguistic expression that really isn't - that 'meaning' - and therefore truth - can somehow exist independently somewhere, ready to be manifested in a token linguistic expression. It's mystical nonsense.
Rather than hashing out each term (and explaining why I think you're reading ontological claims into some of the terms that aren't really there), what would knowledge be on your view if not some sort of interaction/relationship between people and other things?
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:54 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:25 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
It's because reality, outside language, is not linguistic that knowing that reality - that a feature of reality is or was the case - has nothing to do with language. In other words, I'm arguing for a sharp distinction between: 1 features of reality; 2 what we believe and know about them, such as that they are or were the case; and 3 what we say about them, which (alone of the three separate and different things) may (classically) be true or false, given the way we use the signs involved.

It's muddling these things up that leads to the JTB definition of knowledge, which makes the truth of a linguistic assertion (aka a proposition) a necessary condition for knowing something - which is ridiculous. And Gettier merely recycled the muddle.

The traditional account of a proposition - that it's the 'meaning' expressed by a token sentence - what an assertion asserts or a statement states - promotes the fantasy of a linguistic expression that really isn't - that 'meaning' - and therefore truth - can somehow exist independently somewhere, ready to be manifested in a token linguistic expression. It's mystical nonsense.
Rather than hashing out each term (and explaining why I think you're reading ontological claims into some of the terms that aren't really there), what would knowledge be on your view if not some sort of interaction/relationship between people and other things?
I agree that 'some sort of interaction/relationship between people and other things' could come into a description of what we call knowledge, and of many other things.

My point is that the misattribution 'abstract noun' misleads us. We ask 'what is knowledge and where does it come from?' - and then argue endlessly over the answer - as though there really is something that is 'knowledge'. But there isn't. A theory (explanation) of knowledge is nothing like a theory of, say, thermodynamics or gravity or evolution. And that's why philosophy's pseudo-questions can never be answered. Or, rather, those questions are really about the ways we use certain abstract nouns and their cognates - which is easy to explain.

So I disagree with your claim that ontology isn't the issue. The idea that supposed abstract things, such as truth, knowledge, identity, beauty, and moral rightness and wrongness actually exist somewhere, somehow, is an ancient and still pervasive delusion.
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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I am largely on board with Peter Holmes on this. Though in real life we bandy words like "true" about as if they were properties of reality, when we come to try and make sense of them philosophically, it's clear, I think, that they are actually just ways of talking about propositions, which are themselves just things we say about the world*.

Gettier does a good job of illustrating the problem that arises when we don't remember this. I like to use an analogy of a stage magician creating an illusion behind a curtain. The magician must allow the audience to glimpse some of the reality behind the curtain—there must be something for them to see during the performance of the trick or there would be no show. For example, the audience might be shown a coin being put into a box, and after some show-business, a dove flies out of the box and the conclusion the audience is invited to jump to is that the conjuror has turned the coin into a dove.**

Let's assume for now that a complete description of everything that happens during the trick is possible to enumerate as a very long list of propositions, such as "the bird is placed in the box between 20:14:31.55 and 20:14:32.27", "the bird breathes in from 20:14:32.95 to 20:14:33.18", " the bird breathes out from 20:14:33.74 to 20:14:34.04", "the bird breathes in from 20:14:34.66 to 20:14:34.92", "the conjuror blinks both eyes at 20:14:34.98" ... and so on. Some of these facts are more important to an understanding of how the trick is pulled off than others of course, but the first point to note is that, if "knowing" is JTB, then to know the whole truth we have to believe an inconceivably vast number of true propositions and all those beliefs have to be justified.

In Gettier examples, what is proposed is that the knower can claim justified belief in (a very few) propositions which they can be reasonably bring together in an inference (hence a justified inference) of a further proposition which is also true. But it is clear that the inference would not have been reasonable if the knower had known more of the propositions that comprise the whole truth***. It is as if Gettier has conjured a trick obscured by a curtain and allowed his knower to glimpse just enough of the trick to jump to the wrong conclusion.

Except that Gettier's conjuror is a postmodernist whose aim is not to confound the audience, but to confound epistemologists. So instead of leaving the knower believing a justified falsehood, at the last minute the conjuror reaches behind the curtain and arranges for the justified but incorrectly inferred belief to be true—voila!.

The Gettier-curtain is like Kant's veil [of perception****] which hides the Noumenon. In fact, I think it may be possible to show that they are the same, but that's for another day.

* there are important distinctions tween propositions, and sentences/ utterances and the like, but I don't believe they are important here.
** Naturally, next-to-no-one in the audience actually believes this interpretation of what they have seen, and instead they are entertained by the cognitive dissonance created by a lack of perceived evidence for all other viable interpretations.
*** Note for example, in Gettier's first example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettier_problem#Case_I, Smith, the "knower", does not know that both candidates for the job have ten coins in their pockets.
**** I went to check what Kant said about the veil of perception, and I find that he said nothing. It appears not to be a Kantian metaphor at all. Oh well!
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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mickthinks wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:14 am I am largely on board with Peter Holmes on this. Though in real life we bandy words like "true" about as if they were properties of reality, when we come to try and make sense of them philosophically, it's clear, I think, that they are actually just ways of talking about propositions, which are themselves just things we say about the world*.

Gettier does a good job of illustrating the problem that arises when we don't remember this. I like to use an analogy of a stage magician creating an illusion behind a curtain. The magician must allow the audience to glimpse some of the reality behind the curtain—there must be something for them to see during the performance of the trick or there would be no show. For example, the audience might be shown a coin being put into a box, and after some show-business, a dove flies out of the box and the conclusion the audience is invited to jump to is that the conjuror has turned the coin into a dove.**

Let's assume for now that a complete description of everything that happens during the trick is possible to enumerate as a very long list of propositions, such as "the bird is placed in the box between 20:14:31.55 and 20:14:32.27", "the bird breathes in from 20:14:32.95 to 20:14:33.18", " the bird breathes out from 20:14:33.74 to 20:14:34.04", "the bird breathes in from 20:14:34.66 to 20:14:34.92", "the conjuror blinks both eyes at 20:14:34.98" ... and so on. Some of these facts are more important to an understanding of how the trick is pulled off than others of course, but the first point to note is that, if "knowing" is JTB, then to know the whole truth we have to believe an inconceivably vast number of true propositions and all those beliefs have to be justified.

In Gettier examples, what is proposed is that the knower can claim justified belief in (a very few) propositions which they can be reasonably bring together in an inference (hence a justified inference) of a further proposition which is also true. But it is clear that the inference would not have been reasonable if the knower had known more of the propositions that comprise the whole truth***. It is as if Gettier has conjured a trick obscured by a curtain and allowed his knower to glimpse just enough of the trick to jump to the wrong conclusion.

Except that Gettier's conjuror is a postmodernist whose aim is not to confound the audience, but rather it is to confound Epistemology. So instead of leaving the knower believing a justified falsehood, at the last minute the conjuror reaches behind the curtain and arranges for the justified but incorrectly inferred belief to be true—voila!.

The Gettier-curtain is like Kant's veil [of perception****] which hides the Noumenon. In fact, I think it may be possible to show that they are the same, but that's for another day.

* there are important distinctions tween propositions, and sentences/ utterances and the like, but I don't believe they are important here.
** Naturally, next-to-no-one in the audience actually believes this interpretation of what they have seen, and instead they are entertained by the cognitive dissonance created by a lack of perceived evidence for all other viable interpretations.
*** Note for example, in Gettier's first example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettier_problem#Case_I, Smith, the "knower", does not know that both candidates for the job have ten coins in their pockets.
**** I went to check what Kant said about the veil of perception, and I find that he said nothing. It appears not to be a Kantian metaphor at all. Oh well!
Thanks for this - it's an interesting approach.

My understanding is that Gettier's initial criticism of the JTB was logical, but that it turned into a supposed epistemological problem, partly because of what he wrote. And I think that blurring of the boundary between what we do or can know and what we say (or what can be said) is the ur-mistake we've been making. Logic deals with language, not reality. Other discourses deal with reality, such as the natural sciences.

I need to mull over what you say. Thanks again.
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
Because knowledge is all langauge based??
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:30 am So I disagree with your claim that ontology isn't the issue. The idea that supposed abstract things, such as truth, knowledge, identity, beauty, and moral rightness and wrongness actually exist somewhere, somehow, is an ancient and still pervasive delusion.
First, I wasn't saying that how you're reading it. I was saying that you're reading ontological claim P (a specific ontological claim) into some of the terms that I disagree is being made by that term. It wouldn't imply that a different ontological claim isn't being made. But you're reading specific things into the terms that I disagree are there.
My point is that the misattribution 'abstract noun' misleads us. We ask 'what is knowledge and where does it come from?' - and then argue endlessly over the answer - as though there really is something that is 'knowledge'. But there isn't.
There's something--some sort of phenomena, behavior, whatever--that people are referring to by the term "knowledge." I'm asking you about what we're referring to.

If we're referring to something that's about a relationship between people and other things, just what do you think we're referring to along those lines?
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Sculptor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:54 am
Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
Because knowledge is all langauge based??
And? If knowledge is language-based, what is the relevance of the fact that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic?
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:27 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:30 am So I disagree with your claim that ontology isn't the issue. The idea that supposed abstract things, such as truth, knowledge, identity, beauty, and moral rightness and wrongness actually exist somewhere, somehow, is an ancient and still pervasive delusion.
First, I wasn't saying that how you're reading it. I was saying that you're reading ontological claim P (a specific ontological claim) into some of the terms that I disagree is being made by that term. It wouldn't imply that a different ontological claim isn't being made. But you're reading specific things into the terms that I disagree are there.
Okay. I think philosophers have mostly assumed knowledge is an abstract thing that can therefore be described - making an ontological assumption. Hence competing theories of knowledge, such as empiricism and rationalism. Perhaps we just have to disagree about this.
My point is that the misattribution 'abstract noun' misleads us. We ask 'what is knowledge and where does it come from?' - and then argue endlessly over the answer - as though there really is something that is 'knowledge'. But there isn't.
There's something--some sort of phenomena, behavior, whatever--that people are referring to by the term "knowledge." I'm asking you about what we're referring to.
All we can do is look at the variety of ways we use the word 'knowledge' and its cognates and related words. And we can always explain those uses by synonymity, paraphrase and exemplification - which is what dictionaries do. For example, to know a tune is to be familiar with it. And mathematical knowledge is what people understand about mathematics. And not to know a situation is to be unaware of it. And so on. There's no residual, metaphysical thing - 'knowledge' - beyond or behind these uses of the word. Belief that there is is delusional.

If we're referring to something that's about a relationship between people and other things, just what do you think we're referring to along those lines?
As above - what sort of referent do you mean? Why does there have to be one?
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:39 pm
Sculptor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:54 am
Terrapin Station wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:05 pm Maybe by "a feature of reality has nothing to do with language" you're simply saying that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic? I'd agree with that, but then I'd be confused by why you think that's relevant to talking about knowledge (and truth).
Because knowledge is all langauge based??
And? If knowledge is language-based, what is the relevance of the fact that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic?
Highly relevant since all knowledge is apprehended by the subject.

It's worth stepping aside for a moment to reflect that we may have knoweldge in the form of pure sensation, or praxis. Knowing where the keys on a piano or the instinctive bodily knoweldge of the feel of a car and the feedback from peddles and stirring wheel we cal take for granted. Etc. Such knowledge may be demonstrable, but langauge is usually relied upon to make sense of that knoweldge to others.

All knoweldge not of this kinetic/bodily kind has to be tranlated from the objective world and filtered through the categories of langauge. Since such structures and categories are predefined by our lived experience and previous knoweldge, knowledge that it purely NEW tends to be seen in relationship to what we already know, or think we know. New knoweldge is only apprehended in view of how it compares to what we already know. This can be problematic.
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Sculptor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:07 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:39 pm
Sculptor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:54 am

Because knowledge is all langauge based??
And? If knowledge is language-based, what is the relevance of the fact that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic?
Highly relevant since all knowledge is apprehended by the subject.

It's worth stepping aside for a moment to reflect that we may have knoweldge in the form of pure sensation, or praxis. Knowing where the keys on a piano or the instinctive bodily knoweldge of the feel of a car and the feedback from peddles and stirring wheel we cal take for granted. Etc. Such knowledge may be demonstrable, but langauge is usually relied upon to make sense of that knoweldge to others.

All knoweldge not of this kinetic/bodily kind has to be tranlated from the objective world and filtered through the categories of langauge. Since such structures and categories are predefined by our lived experience and previous knoweldge, knowledge that it purely NEW tends to be seen in relationship to what we already know, or think we know. New knoweldge is only apprehended in view of how it compares to what we already know. This can be problematic.
That doesn't make sense to me. What exactly is the relevance? Can you spell it out?
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Re: Justified true belief: knowledge and the myth of propositions

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Terrapin Station wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:46 pm
Sculptor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:07 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:39 pm

And? If knowledge is language-based, what is the relevance of the fact that the objective/external world isn't itself linguistic?
Highly relevant since all knowledge is apprehended by the subject.

It's worth stepping aside for a moment to reflect that we may have knoweldge in the form of pure sensation, or praxis. Knowing where the keys on a piano or the instinctive bodily knoweldge of the feel of a car and the feedback from peddles and stirring wheel we cal take for granted. Etc. Such knowledge may be demonstrable, but langauge is usually relied upon to make sense of that knoweldge to others.

All knoweldge not of this kinetic/bodily kind has to be tranlated from the objective world and filtered through the categories of langauge. Since such structures and categories are predefined by our lived experience and previous knoweldge, knowledge that it purely NEW tends to be seen in relationship to what we already know, or think we know. New knoweldge is only apprehended in view of how it compares to what we already know. This can be problematic.
That doesn't make sense to me. What exactly is the relevance? Can you spell it out?
1. the objective world is not fundementally linguistic.
2. Knowledge about the world is understood in two ways. a) non linguistc knowledge, and b) linguistic knowledge.
3, non linguistic knowledgesuch things as muscle memory, imagery, practical.
4. linguistic knoweldge is textual, representative

ONLY representative. Categories and representations called words and grammar ar different from reality. Words are necessarily reductive. They are different specrums of meaning between people's differing experiences and uses of those words.
Words are connotative as well as denotative. Descriptions of reality are therefore ALWAYS approximations. Descriptions of reality are ALWAYS open to interpretation and misinterpretations.
THe more we live the more we construct a world view, and all new information is modified to accomodate what we expect. Children are better at new stuff, since their world views are still under construction and new stuff is more likely to modify the view rather than the view resisting change as happens with older people.

A world view constructed of abstractions - ask yourself how close to reality could it be??
This is why the difference between knowledge and reality is problematic.
I'll stop here.
Is this making any sense yet?
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