What is knowledge?


here is a suggestion that has some problems (gettier..), but that might start of an interesting discussion:

Knowledge=justified true belief.

Knowledge = experience

Survival = applied experiece

truth = redundant knowledge

But what makes a belief justifiably true?

I think Plantinga, in a creative way, properly pointed out that classical foundationalism (what is generally used to decide a belief is properly basic) was self-referentially incorrect; in otherwords, that by its own standards classical foundationalism couldn't rightly be declared jusitified true belief.

knowledge is - The accumulation and maintenance of information

I don´t think that last definition helps us, now the question becomes: what is information?

It´s the same question pushed away a step.

Not to mention it sidesteps the question of what is true.

By that definition one could accumulate and maintain a great body of false information. But could you call a great accumulation of well maintained false information knowlege?

Now, I don't think knowledge and truth are dependant concepts.

The truth is what it is, even if we do not have knowledge of it. Believing lies or wrong information still consitutes a persons body of knowledge... Some anthropologists believe the Sphinx is 5000-6000 years old... They may be wrong, but to their "knowledge" that is accurate information.

Knowledge and seeking it (accumulation and maintenance) can further lead us identifying what is wrong... The knowledge that you need to continue pursuing knowledge is also information that must be accumulated... Some think they know it all...

However, I see the point that information needs defining... but I also think the idea of "information" is self evident... (facts and data, experiences and anecdotes, theories and ideas, beliefs and concepts, and those that others possess as well).

I see knowledge as the accumulation information including but limited to - how to fix a carbeurator, what a shiite believes, the theory of evolution, what Genesis says, what the rabbi down the streets thinks about Genesis, my concept of equality, your concept of equality, math, how to read and write (including different languages), The Catcher in the Rye, what happenned in 1941 at Pearl Harbor, what Sean Hannity thinks about "liberals" and the lies he spreads about them, who won the superbowl in 1973, what wives tales my mother-in-law still buys into...

It is hard for me to define information in a succinct way, but I do think knowledge is simply the accumlation and maintenance of it (including false information, from the stand-point that you know it is out there, being spread and that some people have it wrong).

But how, as Beau points out, can anything be called knowledge or information if it is false?

The problem here that it´s far from self-evident (in some cases atleast).

I guess I am not segragating knowledge to only constitute true information.

Perhaps this is too simplistic, but I consider information to ba anything that can be known. The "maintenance" idea points to the continuous acquistion and, when neccesary, the overwriting (so to speak) of that which is learned to be false. Learning that something is false, is also information to be acquired...

Proverbs 2:6a "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding [...]"

-Tom Bombadil

Rich, is your definition circular? You define knowlege as, "The accumulation and maintenance of information." Then you define information as, "anything that can be known." We can then say that knowledge is the accumulation and maintenance of anything that can be known, which tells us nothing.

--- "We can then say that knowledge is the accumulation and maintenance of anything that can be known"

I am not sure why that is circular... If I said, "knowledge is the accumulation and maintenance of knowledge" then yes it is circular...

Known and Knowledge have the same root perhaps, but they are different words with differnt meanings and scopes. I use KNOWN to mean "aware of", "stored in memory", "understood"... and KNOWLEDGE as "the full body of those things that we are aware of, have stored in memory, and/or understand."

Now, we draw from this pool of knowledge to make decisions and take action. The implementation of knowledge to guide our decisions and actions is wisdom... Acting without referencing your infomation database (knowledge) first is unwise.


Allow me to try and remove any ambiguity in what I am trying to say and how I define some ideas (I am open to suggestions if I am seeing some things in err)...

* Information = Anything that can be known or understood

* Knowledge = The accumulation and maintenance of information

* Knowledgeable = Knowing alot of information

* Intelligence = The ability to understand (can be high or low)

* Intelligent = The state of of having intelligence

* Wisdom = The application of knowledge for acting and decision making

* Wise = applying knowlege before acting or making decisions

* Intellectual = The expression of knowledge and intelligence

"* Knowledge = The accumulation and maintenance of information [..] I guess I am not segragating knowledge to only constitute true information. "

Just for me to understand. If you belive in X, and X is false. then it can also be called as "you have knowledge of X", or " you know X" in your opinion?

to me this still sounds abit strange.

--- "If you believe in X, and X is false. then it can also be called as "you have knowledge of X", or " you know X" in your opinion?"

Well, if you believe in X, and KNOW X to be false... that would be a bit strange...

But if you believe in X, because you think X is true, what is wrong with that??? To your knowledge it is thus.

However, another component that one should possess within their knowledge-base, is that there may be more information to accumulate, and that X may be different than what they currently know it to be... My current knowledge of X may be false... (like I believe that we have free will, but I concede that I may be wrong - both the assessment that I have it and the idea that I may be wrong are components of my knowledge).

I do think it is OK to say that information, that you do not know to be false, is a component of your pool of knowledge...

"Well, if you believe in X, and KNOW X to be false... that would be a bit strange... "

No, that´s not what I said. You believe X to be true, but it isn´t.

Lets assume someone believes Clinton is President in America right now (he just woke up from a 6 year Coma.. and is still disoriented..).

That would qualify as knowledge (or a component of your pool of knowledge) according to you.

Fudo - I know that is not what you said, I was just giving a different scenario.

As for the idea of a coma patient thinking Clinton is pres... That thought would be based on his current pool of knowledge (clinton was pres last time he checked)... If there is no conflicting information, it is what he would believe (eventually, his knowledge base will come to change as more information is accumulated).

We can simply tell him that Bush is pres now, thereby updating his knowledge base, or we can say "you were in a coma for 6 years" - allowing him to access his existing pool of knowledge that tells him presidents are only allowed 2 terms of 4 years each, meaning that someone else must be president now...

So we use our overall knowledge base to help make decisions and perceive the world. If the info is false, our perceptions may be skewed, our decisions may be bad ones, the actions we take may be foolish, but that does not remove the false information from its presence in our pool of knowledge.