Monday, August 01, 2011

Knowledge Issues and the Theory of Knowledge

In some old and troubled dream
I load my magazine
Thirty cartridges now seem
Too much for what they mean.
The true test of reality is death, because termination falsifies the dream. The problem then is subjective observation, because if you're dead, you have no way to personally verify the test outcome. It is a terrible situation to be in, which is why ontology should always precede epistemology.

That said, the question "How do we know (that)... ?" is the most important question of knowledge. It is possible to begin all knowledge issues with these words. More importantly, answering such questions requires the verification (or falsification) of claims, and the exercise of attempting to do this always tells you something more than you knew before.

Therefore, when stuck for a way to start an essay, ask yourself the question of how you would find out the answer to it. This applies both to explicit questions (e.g. "Freedom of speech is a necessary human right. Why is this (not) so? Discuss.") and implicit questions (e.g. "Write short notes on garlic cultivation and its significance to human existence.").

The second question, of course, is: "How do we conceive, construct and communicate a convincing answer to an unknown target audience?" This is something for another day.

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