Analysis vs Theory (of knowledge)

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » Analysis vs Theory (of knowledge)

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

fast
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 12:04 pm
What's the difference between an analysis of knowledge and a theory of knowledge?

I once asked for a definition (a definition, I say) of the word "knowledge," so he turned to the dictionary (a book that houses definitions of words), and without hesitation, he flipped through the pages and before long, he cited to me a lexical definition of the word "knowledge." It only took a minute!

Several years later, I came back and asked for something else. I asked for an analysis (an analysis, I say) of knowledge, and like before, he turned to a dictionary, but he did so only as a starting point, for he knew that a definition alone was insufficient information to convey to me what I wanted. After refreshing in his mind what the definition of the word "knowledge" is, he left the room to do some thinking and consulting. A week later, he came back and laid before me "The JTB Analysis of Knowledge." It was short and quaint; It included a list of the necessary and purportedly sufficient conditions of knowledge. It was the best analysis of knowledge known to man.

I went away for a spell. A couple decades had passed, and once again, I was back to ask something else. This time, I wanted a theory (a theory, I say) of knowledge.

There is certainly a difference between a word and what a word refers to. The word "knowledge" isn't knowledge anymore than knowledge is the word "knowledge. It's interesting to note that the definition is about the word "knowledge" and the analysis is about knowledge.

He left the room, and though he hasn't gotten back yet, I bet a theory of knowledge is about the same thing the analysis was about (as opposed to what the definition was about). But, is there in fact a difference between an analysis of knowledge and a theory of knowledge?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 12:48 pm
@fast,
I suppose we should start where your guy did.

Quote:
Analysis: an investigation of the component parts of a whole and their relations in making up the whole

Quote:
Theory: A set of propositions which summarise, organise, and explain a variety of known facts, eg Darwin's theory of evolution. Theories are intended to logically summarise information and to give a framework for the generation of new tests and ideas on the topic.


If you know about the components and about their relations to each other, I think you are close to having a theory. Presumably you just need to tie it all together coherently.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 01:22 pm
@Jebediah,
Brilliant example of cut and paste Philosophy ! It red to me as an instruction for a pc to try to think...
 
jgweed
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:37 am
@fast,
"There is certainly a difference between a word and what a word refers to."

The definition cannot be separated from that to which it refers. In order to define knowledge, you have to know what knowledge IS; in defining it you must understand it by theorising about it.

But dictionaries only imperfectly reflect this, even though they may provide a list of different meanings for knowledge, because they operate only at a very general level. Yet within and behind and hidden even the most general of definitions lurks epistemological theory.

We all know what knowledge is until we begin to meditate upon it and elicit all the distinctions a general definition can contain.


 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 08:27 am
@fast,
fast;159608 wrote:
What's the difference between an analysis of knowledge and a theory of knowledge?

But, is there in fact a difference between an analysis of knowledge and a theory of knowledge?


A theory of X would be an explanation or understanding of X, (for example, the theory gravity would be an explanation or understanding of gravity). So, a theory of knowledge would seem to be an understanding or explanation of knowledge. For example, what kinds of knowledge there are; what the scope of knowledge is; and so on. One of the important, maybe the most important thing to understand about knowledge would be (I suppose) what knowledge is, or what is the nature of knowledge. In fact, the other questions I just suggested as part of what has to be explained or understood by a theory of knowledge would seem to assume that we had some kind of answer to the question, what is the nature of knowledge? That to ask that question is to ask (as near as makes no difference) for the analysis of knowledge. So it seems to me that the analysis of knowledge is an important, probably the most important, part of a theory of knowledge. So there does seem to be a difference.

---------- Post added 05-04-2010 at 10:41 AM ----------

jgweed;159955 wrote:
"There is certainly a difference between a word and what a word refers to."

The definition cannot be separated from that to which it refers. In order to define knowledge, you have to know what knowledge IS; in defining it you must understand it by theorising about it.

But dictionaries only imperfectly reflect this, even though they may provide a list of different meanings for knowledge, because they operate only at a very general level. Yet within and behind and hidden even the most general of definitions lurks epistemological theory.

We all know what knowledge is until we begin to meditate upon it and elicit all the distinctions a general definition can contain.




That does not seem quite right to me because some words don't have referents, but they do have definitions. So how can it be that the definition of a word is not separable from what the word refers to? For instance, the word, "mermaid" has a definition, but there are no mermaids, so the definition had better be separable from what the word "mermaid" refers to, for it is is not, then the word "mermaid" would have no definition. I think you are making the mistake that so many philosophers make. You identify meaning (or definition) of a word with the reference of a word, and paint yourself into the corner of holding that a word like, "mermaid" has no meaning because it has no referent. (Or, of course, you may resort to the expedient of inventing a referent for "mermaid" in order to protect your theory that the meaning and referent of a word are "inseparable".

By the way, I think it is true that we (as fluent English speakers) do know the meaning of the word, "knowledge" even before we meditate on it. But what we do not know the analysis of "knowledge" until we meditate on it. Would you accept that amendment?
 
fast
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 10:22 am
@kennethamy,
[QUOTE=kennethamy;159964]That does not seem quite right to me because some words don't have referents, but they do have definitions. [/QUOTE]
kennethamy;159964 wrote:

That's right. All words have meaning, and only some words have a referent. But, suppose for the sake of argument that every word has a referent. Then, not only would every word have meaning, but every word would have a referent. However, even with that being the case (if it were), it would still not be the case (as he seems to think) that I am mistaken.

You know this, but for the benefit of others, the following illustrates my point. Consider the difference between 1) the word "cat" 2) the referent of the word "cat" and 3) the meaning of the word "cat." Even if 2 and 3 were the same, neither the meaning nor the referent would be the same as the actual word.

If I talk about my cat, then I'm talking about a mammal, but if I talk about the word "cat," then I'm not talking about a mammal at all. (The mention/use difference)

---------- Post added 05-04-2010 at 12:30 PM ----------

[QUOTE=kennethamy;159964]A theory of X would be an explanation or understanding of X, (for example, the theory gravity would be an explanation or understanding of gravity). So, a theory of knowledge would seem to be an understanding or explanation of knowledge. For example, what kinds of knowledge there are; what the scope of knowledge is; and so on. One of the important, maybe the most important thing to understand about knowledge would be (I suppose) what knowledge is, or what is the nature of knowledge. In fact, the other questions I just suggested as part of what has to be explained or understood by a theory of knowledge would seem to assume that we had some kind of answer to the question, what is the nature of knowledge? That to ask that question is to ask (as near as makes no difference) for the analysis of knowledge. So it seems to me that the analysis of knowledge is an important, probably the most important, part of a theory of knowledge. So there does seem to be a difference.[/QUOTE]In the other thread (words and numbers), Extrain kept asking me for my theory of reference. Over and over again, he used the word, "theory." I suspected that he did not mean that at all. I suspected that what he was really asking for was my analysis of reference. I thought this because he kept mentioning the things that would have been mentioned if one wanted an analysis of reference: the necessary and sufficient conditions. I never said anything about his word choice, as it was clear to me that he wanted my analysis, but I couldn't help but think he was mistaken when he used the word "theory," but I still wasn't sure it was a mistake on his part (improper word choice) or a misunderstanding on mine. I could have been charitable, I suppose, since he did explain what he wanted.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 10:48 am
@fast,
 
fast
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:29 am
@fast,
What? I mean, seriously! I generally don't criticize people when they don't make any sense, as I have certainly spouted my fair share of nonsense, but not only do you appear to have no rhyme or reason for saying what you do, I sometimes wonder if you're actually trying to make sure what you say doesn't make sense.

Now you know the price of eggs in China!

That didn't make any sense did it? No, but at least we can understand what I said!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:40 am
@fast,
fast;160370 wrote:
What? I mean, seriously! I generally don't criticize people when they don't make any sense, as I have certainly spouted my fair share of nonsense, but not only do you appear to have no rhyme or reason for saying what you do, I sometimes wonder if you're actually trying to make sure what you say doesn't make sense.

Now you know the price of eggs in China!

That didn't make any sense did it? No, but at least we can understand what I said!


Some people have the idea that philosophy does not require making sense. In fact, on the contrary. And, you know, some philosophers they may have read, may have given them that disasterous impression.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » Analysis vs Theory (of knowledge)
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 09/27/2021 at 12:18:08