How do we know something to be true, and how do we know if that knowledge is real?
In class the other day, while waiting for an explanation of The Allegory of the Cave to buffer on YouTube, we were talking about the difference between Knowledge and True Belief, and the definitions of each. If you ask me, though, the two topics are too interconnected to be defined separately or contrasted when speaking of them together. I guess knowledge is meant to be more fact based and true belief is based in faith, but, in my opinion, they are much related.
In our class discussion, someone mentioned that knowledge relies on the backing of experiences and things we know to be true. That’s when a few pathways in my mind really connected, and I came to question ‘How can we know something to be true if we don’t believe it to be?’
If Knowledge is, ‘Knowing something to be true,’ and True Belief is, ‘Believing something to be true,’ one hugely relies on the other.
Take the example of my fellow classmate, who I am not saying is wrong, but am just arguing my opinion against. If knowledge must be experienced, how do we know there is anything outside of what we can see? I have not been to Saturn, but I know it is there. I have not seen a polar bear, but I know that if I were to be near one, it would kill me.
I know the previous two statements are true because I believe in them, not because I have experienced them. I know that Saturn exists because I have faith in the knowledge that I have been given in the hopes that it is reliable. I know that a polar bear would eat me because I trust the information I have been given. But that doesn’t mean I know it from something I have experienced.
A few weeks ago, someone in my History 12 class asked my teacher why we should believe everything he says. His response was, ‘Because it is true.’ But I think the real response to that is, ‘Is there any reason not to?’
For our entire upbringing, we have been taught to believe what our teachers tell us, taking it as unconditional fact, and storing it in our ever-growing bank of knowledge. And we accept that it is fact because that is what we have been conditioned over time to do.
But, in reality, we do put a large amount of belief and faith into our teachers, true belief that the knowledge they give us is accurate. And that is where the two cross over. True Belief is the basis for Knowledge.
And without belief and faith, the only things we would know would be limited to the things we can see.