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 ----------
"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?