What knowledge is and how it is obtained

The hierarchy of knowledge

The physical sciences, especially physics, are considered nowadays to be the pinnacle of knowledge. They are given credit for modern technology, which has far surpassed any other civilization. Maximum deference is given to the physical sciences, which then function as the paragon of all knowledge. “Physics envy” pervades the study of knowledge today. But it […]

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General and special knowledge

General knowledge is based on common experience and is available to everyone. No special training or vocabulary are necessary for general knowledge. It is also called ‘general revelation’ and ‘common knowledge’. This is the knowledge that realist philosophy builds on. General sciences are the areas of general knowledge. In philosophy these are metaphysics, epistemology, and

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Textual realism and anti-realism

Anti-realists always begin with reality – and reject it. Because, they argue, it is obscure, misleading, and subject to different interpretations. So anti-realists begin again, this time with an idea of theirs. Even materialists begin with an idea, the idea of materiality. Thus anti-realists substitute their ideas for reality. In contrast, realists begin with reality

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Event-structure metaphors

This continues the posts here and here and here based on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s book Philosophy in the Flesh (Basic Books, 1999). The Location Event-Structure Metaphor Locations → States Movements → Changes Forces → Causes Forced Movement → Causation Self-propelled Movements → Actions Destinations → Purposes Paths (to destinations) → Means Impediments to

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Modern metaphors

This continues the posts here and here based on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s book Philosophy in the Flesh (Basic Books, 1999). Modern metaphors begin with René Descartes. Knowing is seeing: Visual Domain → Knowledge Domain Object Seen → Idea Seeing an Object Clearly → Knowing an Idea Person Who Sees → Person Who Knows

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A complete explanation

Who, what, when, where – journalists repeat these adverbial questions to find key factors that explain things. That and the four explanatory factors or “causes” of Aristotle are needed to cover all aspects of a complete explanation. Consider Aristotle’s example of a statue: The material factor is what it is made from, “that out of which”

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What before how

One way to express realism is that it insists on knowing what before knowing how. Why is that? Because for a realist metaphysics precedes epistemology, which means being precedes knowing. Something is, whether we know it or not. A question students are asked is, If a tree fell in the forest and no one knew

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Cumulative knowledge

While it is generally thought that science is a form of cumulative knowledge, this has meant different things. Since Kuhn, new theories are often considered ‘incommensurable’ with old theories. Essentially, a ‘scientific revolution’ occurs in which the old theory is superseded by a new one rather than incorporated into it as a special case. But

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