Monday, 18 May 2015

Jennifer Nagel (2014) - Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy involving the study of knowledge.  What is the different between knowing and believing?  How do we know that what we know is not something we dreamed up?

My books have been boxed up and are being moved to our new home.. new bookcases to be built.  One or two are lying around.. this small Very Short Introduction series from Foyles..

From the end of the chapter, 'Rationalism and empiricism'

The ideal, of course, would be to find a theory of knowledge that explains both the abstract and the observational (and how they fit together).  Making progress towards that goal seems to require a deeper understanding of the relationship between the first- and third-person points of view on knowledge, a problem that remains a very active research topic in contemporary epistemology, and is the subject matter of Chapter 5.  In modern terminology, the choice between taking a first-person or a third-person approach is the choice between 'internalism' and 'externalism'.  The importance of this choice became very clear in the 1960s, as philosophers struggled to answer a surprising challenge to traditional ways of analysing the concept of knowledge.

The first-person approach example is from Descartes (rationalism):  "What can I know for certain?"

The third-person approach example is from Locke (empiricism):  "What do human beings know?"

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