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Epistemology

I Know That I Don’t Know…I Think (Emily)

I confess, I am feeling slightly daunted by everyone’s posts. Everyone has these huge long posts about what they believe or know or drew in class.

As for me, I’m not usually very good at thinking on the spot. So, I’m normally not too involved in heated class discussions. I usually let stuff bounce around in my head for a while before I can argue about it or even know what I think about it.

Philosophy, however, seems determined to trump me. At the beginning of the year, we were told to think about what our personal philosophy on everything was. I had absolutely no clue then. Now, I’m probably even less sure. And with epistemology, I am still so confused as to what everything is that I have no idea what I think or know. Don’t even get me started on condensing it into a belief statement or personal philosophy.

Like so many people have said before, the more I think, the more confused I get. Two steps forwards, eighteen and a half steps back. Philosophy is clear as mud.

Still, I suppose there are things that I think I know, even if I don’t know what I think.

First of all, Descartes. After that project about him during Metaphysics, I looked a lot at “I think, therefore, I am.” To me, that is True. You can’t think things or experience things without first existing and, if you ask me, Hume can say whatever he wants but I don’t see a way to think or feel without existing. So, I can incorporate that I know I exist (because I know I am thinking about existence) into that chamber of my brain for what I Know and Believe about the world.

Secondly, Van Orman Quine. I also took part in a project about him, so I (sort of) know his ideas and I generally agree, at least with his thoughts on vague language. We don’t have words to accurately describe anything, so it can be hard to argue or even talk about anything, because words can never accurately describe anything, and everyone has their own (slightly different) definition for everything. So, I can also incorporate that I can’t really talk properly with anyone else about what I Know or Believe, because it will always be slightly distorted.

Third, everything. Everyone has these nice little triangles, but I envision a completely different diagram. (I really don’t know what kind of shape it could take, but I’ll work on that) I think that opinion and belief, while classified right at the bottom of the triangles, belong elsewhere. Maybe in a weird blob shape off to the side. Who knows. But I think that opinion and/or belief could be right up there with Knowledge or Truth – because they are True to you, otherwise they would not be your belief or opinion (They are falsifiable, but while you believe them, they are True to you). So if we could do some diagram involving them being in Truth for you but at the bottom for everyone else? Who knows.

So: I know that I exist. I can’t discuss anything clearly or properly with anyone, even possibly myself. And belief and opinion can be truth. Sometimes.

My diagram might end up looking like this.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “I Know That I Don’t Know…I Think (Emily)

  1. I think your point on the fact that opinions and beliefs could be true is a good point and highlight the vagueness of our natural language, where we use Truth at the top of the knowledge ladder or pyramid.
    From my point of view it is not the fact that it could be true or false that makes a belief a belief, it is more based on the why you take it for true.
    For example, if I come to you and I tell you that the tides are influenced by the moon and you decide to take that for true because I told you, then it is a belief (even if it is true). Now, if after I tell you, you google it on the web or ask friends you trust or your physics teacher, and that you decide to take it for true because they confirm it, it becomes a Truth, or we could perhaps say a proven Truth or a validated Truth.
    It is also interesting to note that this multiple reference mechanism is the core of the search algorithm used by Google to display the results when you do a search.

    Posted by Celso Gonzalez | November 16, 2012, 10:33 pm
    • Thank you, Celso! That’s an interesting point, I think that that’s also another good way of classifying Truth. I don’t know if we’ve even discussed Truth in that way yet in class.

      Posted by anafricanswallow | November 17, 2012, 12:07 am

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