Is knowing a mental event?

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Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 06:05 pm
When I claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, am I saying that something that is going on in my mind, or that something is going on in Ecuador? Just what am I saying?
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 08:51 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102258 wrote:
When I claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, am I saying that something that is going on in my mind, or that something is going on in Ecuador? Just what am I saying?


Are you saying that there is something going on in Ecuador because you claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 09:47 pm
@kennethamy,
... I think the existence of the phrase "to the best of my knowledge" indicates that knowing is conditional with respect to the possibility of unforeseen change/misinformation to such a degree that this fact has been captured as a cultural truism ... so when you claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, the full implication is more along the lines of "unless things have changed or I have been misinformed, something is going on in Ecuador" ...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 02:52 am
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;102292 wrote:
Are you saying that there is something going on in Ecuador because you claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?


Yes..............

---------- Post added 11-07-2009 at 03:56 AM ----------

paulhanke;102295 wrote:
... I think the existence of the phrase "to the best of my knowledge" indicates that knowing is conditional with respect to the possibility of unforeseen change/misinformation to such a degree that this fact has been captured as a cultural truism ... so when you claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, the full implication is more along the lines of "unless things have changed or I have been misinformed, something is going on in Ecuador" ...


It is seems to be a necessary condition for my knowing that Quito is the capital that something be true in Ecuador. But must not something also be going on in my mind? (Of course, the phrase, "to the best of my knowledge" is not equivalent to, "I know", since the first may be true, and the second false).
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:22 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102306 wrote:
It is seems to be a necessary condition for my knowing that Quito is the capital that something be true in Ecuador. But must not something also be going on in my mind?


... like what? ...

kennethamy;102306 wrote:
(Of course, the phrase, "to the best of my knowledge" is not equivalent to, "I know", since the first may be true, and the second false).


... if knowledge of things that can unexpectedly change is always contingent on that possibility, then what is there in this world for you to "know"? ... that is, what in this world isn't susceptible to change? ...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:36 am
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;102322 wrote:
... like what? ...



... if knowledge of things that can unexpectedly change is always contingent on that possibility, then what is there in this world for you to "know"? ... that is, what in this world isn't susceptible to change? ...


Well, for one thing, a necessary condition of my knowing that Quito is the capital seems to me that I believe it is the capital. For another, a necessary condition of knowing that Quito is the capital is that my belief that it is the capital be adequately justified.

It is true that things change. But things also stay the same. It may be true that Quito might no longer be the capital next week. But, as long as it remains the capital, I know it is the capital. If it were to change, and I were still to believe it the capital, then, of course, I would not know it was the capital, although I might still believe it is the capital. But only believing one knows is not, of course, knowing.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:43 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102258 wrote:
When I claim to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, am I saying that something that is going on in my mind, or that something is going on in Ecuador? Just what am I saying?


Why are you considering that you are saying something is going on in your mind?

Can you rephrase this one?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:47 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;102327 wrote:
Why are you considering that you are saying something is going on in your mind?

Can you rephrase this one?


Because I could not know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador unless I also believed that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and believing is something going on in my mind. Therefore, a necessary condition for knowing is that something is going on in my mind.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:51 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102325 wrote:
Well, for one thing, a necessary condition of my knowing that Quito is the capital seems to me that I believe it is the capital. For another, a necessary condition of knowing that Quito is the capital is that my belief that it is the capital be adequately justified.


... agreed ...

kennethamy;102325 wrote:
It is true that things change. But things also stay the same. It may be true that Quito might no longer be the capital next week. But, as long as it remains the capital, I know it is the capital. If it were to change, and I were still to believe it the capital, then, of course, I would not know it was the capital, although I might still believe it is the capital. But only believing one knows is not, of course, knowing.


... then I think you have answered your own question: if "knowing" is a function of the world (you "know" as long as it remains true; the moment it stops being true it is only a "belief"), then knowing is not just a mental event ... from my perspective, however, "to know" is not simply to hold in my mind that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, but also to hold in my mind that this knowledge is subject to revision at any time ... in which case, knowing is a mental event Smile ...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 09:59 am
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;102330 wrote:
... agreed ...



... then I think you have answered your own question: if "knowing" is a function of the world (you "know" as long as it remains true; the moment it stops being true it is only a "belief"), then knowing is not just a mental event ... from my perspective, however, "to know" is not simply to hold in my mind that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, but also to hold in my mind that this knowledge is subject to revision at any time ... in which case, knowing is a mental event Smile ...


I did not ask whether knowing is just a mental event. I asked whether it was a mental event. Of course, what I know at one time, may no longer be true at a different time, so that I cannot know it at a different time. But, nevertheless, it is true that when I know something at T1, I will eternally know it at T1. Knowledge is, as you suggest, fallible. That is, what I believe I know I might not know. On the other hand, that does not mean I do not know what I believe I know. But I do not see why the belief that knowledge is subject to revision would make knowing a mental event.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 10:09 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102329 wrote:
Because I could not know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador unless I also believed that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and believing is something going on in my mind. Therefore, a necessary condition for knowing is that something is going on in my mind.


Yes, that is one of the necessary conditions for knowledge - it has to be believed. The only thing 'going on in your mind' is that you're believing. I'm not quite sure other mental events you're referring to, or hinting at.

But when you say (speak) that fact, you are not saying (meaning) any of the above. You asked in your OP what you are saying, which I interpreted as what you mean. And you simply mean that, according to what you believe you know, Quito is the capital of Ecuador.

If believing is a mental event, then it follows that knowing is a mental event, since believing is a necessary condition for knowing; you are believing when you're knowing.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 10:13 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;102335 wrote:
Yes, that is one of the necessary conditions for knowledge - it has to be believed. The only thing 'going on in your mind' is that you're believing. I'm not quite sure other mental events you're referring to, or hinting at.

But when you say (speak) that fact, you are not saying (meaning) any of the above. You asked in your OP what you are saying, which I interpreted as what you mean. And you simply mean that, according to what you believe you know, Quito is the capital of Ecuador.


I was using "saying" more broadly to mean "implying". That is, I know that Quito is the capital implies that I believe that it is the capital. At least believing is a mental event, and if knowing implies believing, then knowing is a mental event. And yes, I believe I know that Quito is the capital, and I also know it is. The belief that I know is true.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 10:15 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102332 wrote:
But I do not see why the belief that knowledge is subject to revision would make knowing a mental event.


... it simply comes down to definitions ... in your definition, someone who holds in their mind that Quito is the capital of Ecuador "knows" this as long as Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and only "believes" this otherwise: "But, as long as it remains the capital, I know it is the capital. If it were to change, and I were still to believe it the capital, then, of course, I would not know it was the capital, although I might still believe it is the capital." ... in my definition, all knowledge is simply justified belief subject to revision - if I hear tomorrow that Quito is no longer the capital of Ecuador and hasn't been for the last year, that does not retroactively recategorize my knowledge - it remained a justified belief up until the time I heard differently ...
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 10:23 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102336 wrote:
I was using "saying" more broadly to mean "implying". That is, I know that Quito is the capital implies that I believe that it is the capital. At least believing is a mental event, and if knowing implies believing, then knowing is a mental event. And yes, I believe I know that Quito is the capital, and I also know it is. The belief that I know is true.


So, the answer to your question is, yes, knowing is a mental event. But you already knew this, so why make the thread?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 10:27 am
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;102337 wrote:
... it simply comes down to definitions ... in your definition, someone who holds in their mind that Quito is the capital of Ecuador "knows" this as long as Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and only "believes" this otherwise: "But, as long as it remains the capital, I know it is the capital. If it were to change, and I were still to believe it the capital, then, of course, I would not know it was the capital, although I might still believe it is the capital." ... in my definition, all knowledge is simply justified belief subject to revision - if I hear tomorrow that Quito is no longer the capital of Ecuador and hasn't been for the last year, that does not retroactively recategorize my knowledge - it remained a justified belief up until the time I heard differently ...


But I could have justified belief that Lima was the capital of Ecuador, but I would not know that Lima was the capital of Ecuador. If I thought I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I thought I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only thought I knew it. If you found out that you were mistaken when you claimed you knew that Quito was the capital, would you continue to maintain that you knew it was the capital even when you were mistaken? It may very well have been a justified belief, but when you heard you had been mistaken, you would have to withdraw you claim that you knew it. After all, that is one of the differences between believing and knowing. You can believe what is false, but you cannot know what is false. (You can, of course, believe you know, and what you believe you know may be false. In which case you only believe you know it, but do not know it).
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 11:04 am
@kennethamy,
... again, it all comes down to definitions ... on the one hand, you say "But I could have justified belief that Lima was the capital of Ecuador, but I would not know that Lima was the capital of Ecuador."; on the other hand, I say "As long as I am justified in believing that Lima is the capital of Ecuador, then by definition I know that Lima is the capital of Ecuador." ...

kennethamy;102339 wrote:
If I thought I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I thought I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only thought I knew it.


... and what do you mean by "thought" here? - is it a synonym for "knew" as in "If I knew I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I knew I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only knew I knew it." ... or is it a synonym for "believed" as in "If I believed I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I believed I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only believed I knew it." ... (as neither of these really makes sense, I think you have fallen into a trap of using it in both capacities without realizing it, as in "If I knew I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I knew I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only believed I knew it.") ...

kennethamy;102339 wrote:
If you found out that you were mistaken when you claimed you knew that Quito was the capital, would you continue to maintain that you knew it was the capital even when you were mistaken?


... by my definition, yes ... it is what I knew at the time, but it turned out that I was mistaken ...

kennethamy;102339 wrote:
It may very well have been a justified belief, but when you heard you had been mistaken, you would have to withdraw you claim that you knew it. After all, that is one of the differences between believing and knowing.


... once again, a difference in definitions ... if knowing simply is justified belief, then there is nothing to withdraw ... the only difference between belief and knowing is that the latter is a subset of the former ...

kennethamy;102339 wrote:
You can believe what is false, but you cannot know what is false.


... and if you cannot know what is false, you cannot know what is true ... so does your definition imply that you can never know? Smile ...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 11:34 am
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;102340 wrote:
... again, it all comes down to definitions ... on the one hand, you say "But I could have justified belief that Lima was the capital of Ecuador, but I would not know that Lima was the capital of Ecuador."; on the other hand, I say "As long as I am justified in believing that Lima is the capital of Ecuador, then by definition I know that Lima is the capital of Ecuador." ...



... and what do you mean by "thought" here? - is it a synonym for "knew" as in "If I knew I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I knew I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only knew I knew it." ... or is it a synonym for "believed" as in "If I believed I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I believed I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only believed I knew it." ... (as neither of these really makes sense, I think you have fallen into a trap of using it in both capacities without realizing it, as in "If I knew I knew that Quito was the capital, and it turned out later that when I knew I knew it, it was not the capital, then of course I would say that I did not know it, but I only believed I knew it.") ...



... by my definition, yes ... it is what I knew at the time, but it turned out that I was mistaken ...



... once again, a difference in definitions ... if knowing simply is justified belief, then there is nothing to withdraw ... the only difference between belief and knowing is that the latter is a subset of the former ...



... and if you cannot know what is false, you cannot know what is true ... so does your definition imply that you can never know? Smile ...


But the meaning of words is not up to you, the individual. That is the Humpty-Dumpty theory of definition. "A word means just what I want it to mean". You can, of course, stipulate a meaning of a term, but "your" meaning is not the meaning of the term. In English, the term "know" implies truth. You do not know that p (is true) unless p is true. As I said, you can believe you know what is not true, but that, of course, is different. I don't understand why you say the other things you say. Especially why you say
"and if you cannot know what is false, you cannot know what is true" That seems to me obviously not true, since it is impossible for you to know what is false, and you necessarily know only what is true.

P.S. (Yes, all knowledge is belief, but some belief is not knowledge. Namely, false belief, and unjustified belief).
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 11:53 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102343 wrote:
I don't understand why you say the other things you say. Especially why you say "and if you cannot know what is false, you cannot know what is true" That seems to me obviously not true, since it is impossible for you to know what is false, and you necessarily know only what is true.


... you don't understand it because you are in the wrong frame of mind ... in other words, I'm playing with words Smile ... there are at least two ways "you cannot know what is false" can be taken: the way you meant it (you cannot "know" something if it is false, but only if it is true), and the way I played with it (it is always uncertain to some degree whether a particular belief about this world is true or false) ...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 01:46 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;102344 wrote:
... you don't understand it because you are in the wrong frame of mind ... in other words, I'm playing with words Smile ... there are at least two ways "you cannot know what is false" can be taken: the way you meant it (you cannot "know" something if it is false, but only if it is true), and the way I played with it (it is always uncertain to some degree whether a particular belief about this world is true or false) ...


You cannot know what is false. But, of course, you can know that some proposition is false. Perhaps that is the difference you have in mind. But I don't see what any of this has to do with the issue we had been discussing. Truth is still a necessary condition of knowledge, although I agree it is always uncertain whether a proposition (belief if you like) is true. But a proposition can be both true but, nevertheless, uncertain.

If knowing were just a mental event, then we could always be certain that we know. But, since we cannot be certain we know, knowing is not (just) a mental event. (I am assuming that if we have a mental event, we are certain we have it).
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 02:31 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;102358 wrote:
You cannot know what is false. But, of course, you can know that some proposition is false. Perhaps that is the difference you have in mind. But I don't see what any of this has to do with the issue we had been discussing. Truth is still a necessary condition of knowledge, although I agree it is always uncertain whether a proposition (belief if you like) is true. But a proposition can be both true but, nevertheless, uncertain.

If knowing were just a mental event, then we could always be certain that we know. But, since we cannot be certain we know, knowing is not (just) a mental event. (I am assuming that if we have a mental event, we are certain we have it).


... unfortunately, since we know that we do not have any access to "truth" to any great degree with the exception of what we agree to be cultural truths ("Quito is the capital of Ecuador") or have invented on our own, and since even those latter two are always in flux, this means we will never know what we know with the exception of these three things: 1) that we don't have access to the truths we have not invented, 2) the truths that have been invented as a culture are not under our full control, and 3) we can always change our mind about personal truths, thus downgrading any previous knowledge to mere belief ... (and note that these three things are all mental events) ... so let me ask you this: is this suitable as a theory of knowledge? as an epistemology? that beyond these three things, "knowledge" can be here one moment and gone the next even if nothing in our head has changed? ...
 
 

 
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