What is knowledge?
When can you say you know something?
These are the kind of questions that were imposed to us students taking up a philosophy class.
First thing that comes into my mind? Look it up in the dictionary.
“1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things.”
Some people have agreed that there are different kinds of knowledge.
One of it is “Knowing by Acquaintance”.
Basically, it says that you can say that you know something about an entity which is not necessarily accurate, but still a fact.
Shades of Red
For instance, you can say that a part of the picture above is color red. But what shade of red specifically?
Still, you are correct for saying it is red.
“2. familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning: A knowledge of accounting was necessary for the job.”
This definition is related to “Knowledge-That”, where things presented just become part of your knowledge, regardless whether it is true or not.
Whether it exist or not, you know what a Dragon is.
(*Can you prove that something does not exist?)
“3. acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report: a knowledge of human nature.”
How do we acquire ‘Knowledge’?
One of the ways we can acquire ‘knowledge’ is by using our senses. (Observational Knowledge)
But the knowledge we acquire through this method is not necessarily true.
Since Descartes argued that our senses sometimes mislead us. (e.g. illusions)
“4. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.”
When can we say we ‘know’ something?
To René Descartes, there are 3 requirements before you can say you know “something”.
“Something” being X.
1. You cannot doubt X.
2. You believe X.
3. X is absolutely true.
How do you know if it is absolutely true?
Descartes was only certain of one thing. That he exists.
Since I cannot be certain of anything (except the fact that I exist), I view knowledge as something that is very subjective.
To me, knowledge can’t be made and appears out of thin air. It’s just that we don’t know it and we can never know it.
Knowledge is concerned about its uncertainty and that is what defines it.
– Jeriel Francisco