Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Knowledge Claims and the Theory of Knowledge

As I walk into the stream
For cerebral hygiene
The pollution of the meme
Seems pungently too keen.
What we claim is essentially both an assertion about reality and our assertion of will over reality. If we believe our claims are likely, there must be reasons. These are often couched in terms of evidence.

But note well: 'evidence' comes from the Latin for 'what I see', and 'couched' is about sleeping. Our claims are sometimes adventitious growths planted in a flowerbed, and as defining of reality as a pilchard is definitive of sharks. This last point is something that you might get from Hall's The Raw Shark Texts, by the way.

When you claim something, or add your clamour to the din (or clams to your dinner), you are trying your best to reclaim order from the sea of chaos. You are like one of Moorcock's von Beks, living in a citadel on a spur of solidity and holding things together by ritual and will.

Without underpinnings, a justification and framework for your claims, your claims will fall flat and be washed away in chaos. Hence be very careful when making claims, and also understand that the affirmation or denial of your claims will decide your answer to your knowledge issue.

For example, if your knowledge issue is, "How do we know if bees understand honey?" then your claims might be: 1) bees have cognitive ability to make sense out of chemical perception, 2) honeys have differences that can be distinguished by chemical perception. Your conclusion (after presenting the evidence) might be 1 - yes, 2 - also yes, 3 - the bees' ability and perception are sufficient to note those differences and their behaviour will change because of this. Hence, bees do indeed understand honey, in at least one sense of the phrase.

The bees are yes, the best.

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