What came first:Belief or understanding?

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Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 01:25 am
@kennethamy,
It comes down to what one means by the word "knowledge." If you say that knowledge is not necessarily certain, that's fine with me. I don't believe in perfect certainty. Which is what I meant by "knowledge is provisional." The word "provisional" means "will supply present needs" and comes from the word "provision" which traces back to food for an army. The word "justify" traces back to "administer justice, make right, etc.". Either one is good enough. Provisional is arguably more suggestive of the dynamic nature of "knowledge". And the word know comes from the Anglo-Saxon for F***.

Wink
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 01:37 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106816 wrote:
It comes down to what one means by the word "knowledge." If you say that knowledge is not necessarily certain, that's fine with me. I don't believe in perfect certainty. Which is what I meant by "knowledge is provisional." The word "provisional" means "will supply present needs" and comes from the word "provision" which traces back to food for an army. The word "justify" traces back to "administer justice, make right, etc.". Either one is good enough. Provisional is arguably more suggestive of the dynamic nature of "knowledge". And the word know comes from the Anglo-Saxon for F***.

Wink


It depends, rather, on what "knowledge" means. It doesn't matter what anyone means by "knowledge" unless he means by "knowledge" what it means. What the etymology of the term is presents no argument for what the current meaning of the term is, as I pointed out in the case of the term, "philosophy", which obviously does not currently mean, "love of wisdom" either. The philosophical issue is what would be the argument for the conclusion that knowledge implies certainty. And what the argument would be for the conclusion that knowledge does not imply certainty. There are, at least, two arguments for the former, and they are both (IMO) invalid arguments. And I believe I can give some sound arguments for the conclusion that knowledge does not imply certainty. But there is no reason that I can tell to think that the word "knowledge" in the meaning we are discussing has more than one meaning.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 01:49 am
@kennethamy,
Ask 10 people on the street to define knowledge. Do you really think that words which are made of sounds and letters have the exactness, for instance, of numbers?

The mere fact that the meanings of words do change, as per your own assertions, is a refutation of your claim that "knowledge," for instance, has an exact meaning.

Or do you think the meaning changes instantaneously?

No, words drift according to how they are used. And surely you have read enough philosophy to see how much this happens in the philosophical tradition alone. For instance, how would you define "philosophy"?

It's exactly because I have studied the evolution of language, and take a keen interest in metaphor, that I am reluctant to oversimplify. Derrida got famous for persuading quite a few people that language was just a system of differences, that words have meaning only in relation to other words. And the whole system slips now and then.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 02:17 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106824 wrote:
Ask 10 people on the street to define knowledge. Do you really think that words which are made of sounds and letters have the exactness, for instance, of numbers?

The mere fact that the meanings of words do change, as per your own assertions, is a refutation of your claim that "knowledge," for instance, has an exact meaning.

Or do you think the meaning changes instantaneously?

No, words drift according to how they are used. And surely you have read enough philosophy to see how much this happens in the philosophical tradition alone. For instance, how would you define "philosophy"?

It's exactly because I have studied the evolution of language, and take a keen interest in metaphor, that I am reluctant to oversimplify. Derrida got famous for persuading quite a few people that language was just a system of differences, that words have meaning only in relation to other words. And the whole system slips now and then.


I don't think that any of 10 people who walk down the street could define "knowledge" to save themselves. Giving a definition, especially of a term like "knowledge" takes a very special kind of skill that most people have never learned, and have had no occasion to learn. And that goes for "philosophy" too. But being able to define a term is not a test of knowing what that term means. All those 10 people can (if fluent English speakers) use the term knowledge satisfactorily enough to communicate. If, for instance (ceterus paribus) they were asked whether Einstein had any knowledge of physics, I am sure they would all (to a person) agree that he certainly had. But if asked, did Michael Jackson have any knowledge of physics, they would either shrug their shoulders or say, no. They know perfectly well the meaning of the term, "knowledge" in that they can communicate with it, and they can use it appropriately. Unless they could, to that extent their knowledge of English would be deficient.

Of course meaning changes. But at any one (slice of) time, the meaning of a term consists in how fluent speakers of the language communicate using the term, and how they use it appropriately. When talking of meaning change, I am talking of language "diachronically" (as linguists say). But when talking of the meaning of a term, I am talking of language, "synchronically". These should not be confused. No doubt, the meaning of "knowledge" has changed over time. But it now means what it means now. Namely, justified true belief.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 10:08 pm
@Mutian,
Google dictionary: Define :To state the precise meaning of. (That's the short version.)


Yes, people can use a word like "knowledge" without being able to define it, but as humans we are quite used to the approximate nature of signifiers. As philosophers, not so much. It offends our sense of control.

Because language is slippery, it seems wise for those who debate an issue to carefully define their terms, and not to assume consensus on the matter.

Smile
 
3k1yp2
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 07:53 pm
@Mutian,
:Not-Impressed:Perhaps whether belief or understanding comes first is dependent upon the person in question, some people

☆are quite content to believe w/o understanding (biblical mysteries?)

☆others believe something, (fish live only in water) perhaps with reservations, then seek to understand it. why only in water? how?

☆others refuse to believe something unless they understand it (completely or at least to an extent)

here im assuming that belief is the feeling or assumption that something is true, whether it be true or not.

Understanding being: having knowledge of the reason(s) something is true; like the "why this is true"
maybe a tad elementary, but short and to the point at least gives a basic overview, right?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 08:54 pm
@Mutian,
Does the belief in understanding come before the understanding of belief? Or does the understanding of belief come before the belief in understanding?
(The questions are asked playfully...)
 
 

 
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