Talk:Descriptive knowledge

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Application to non philosophers[edit]

As someome trained in scientific methodology it seems prepostorous that such an article can have no references (beyond one supplied personally). I would request that those who have knowledge up to the appropriate level might submit these references in order to come up to the level of scholarship required by physical science (or at least observational science). An exacting standard but a verifiable one. Unfortunately the present standard of the article is thoroughly unsatisfactory in academic terms due to its lack of references. Serious non-philosophers will be reinforced in their view of philosophy as "angels on the head of a pin". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jimmy Maxwell Jaffa (talkcontribs) 20:28, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Merge from Propositional knowledge[edit]

Note on Merge. The distinction between descriptive knowledge and heuristic/normative knowledge was established in philosophy well before cognitive science and computer science workers in the middle of the last century re-invented it under a host of other names. Of the popular current alternatives, "declarative", "descriptive", "indicative", and "propositional", the last is the worst since heuristic slogans and normative maxims can also be expressied in indicative propositions. Jon Awbrey 15:10, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Discussion on a statement (2003)[edit]

"We know something, as opposed to just believing it with a little evidence"

I think we also need to separate remembering of information from knowing and believeing something. I just added factual and inferential knowledge (I'm reading Levels of Knowing and Existance: Studies in General Semantics, by Harry L. Weinberg, Harper and Row, 1959). I was struck by how it relates to Larry's example of a car going around a curve. (Of course, in that case, the question was whether to give credance to another's information which derived ultimately from actual observation of the accident.). As we drive on a curvy mountain road we infer from past experience that the road ahead is clear, but in fact there may a big rock, a cow, or an accident just around the bend. As we round that bend, General Napoleon in our own little private Waterloo, we verify our inference. User:Fredbauder. Of course the law, in Colorado at least, is that one may go no faster than allows stopping within the distance visible in front of you, but who is that pokey. "Some say that knowledge can also be useless or false versions of the above items" Indeed, some say black is white and war is peace, but who outside 1984? Fred Bauder 20:52 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC) I have provisionally replaced the link to uncertainty with one to Bayesian probability. This is not really satisfactory. What we are really talking about here is general epistemic probability, but that is redirected currently to Bayesian probability. Fred Bauder 11:03 Apr 21, 2003 (UTC) "While science is very powerful with nature, it fails horribly when the subject is intelligent, and can falsify the outcome." Is this the right tone for an encyclopedia article? (And I'm not even talking about the falseness of this statement, which seems to disregard all successes of psychology and sociology.) Victor Gijsbers Your observations seem well founded, when you encounter something like that, just edit it. Fred Bauder 10:33 24 May 2003 (UTC) "The only way to gain reliable knowledge about the physical world that we live in is though the scientific method. In this method, one starts by finding a phenomenon of interest, which generates questions. A scientist picks one question of interest, and basdd on all previous information and experience, develops a hypothesis. One then designs a controlled test which will allow one to test one's hypothesis against what actually occurs in the real world; predictions are made about the outcome of the test. Only at this point does one carry the test or experiment out; after the experiment one compares their hypothesis with the facts thus revealed. The final and most critical step of the scientific method is peer-review, in which one's results are distrbuted to others, who then test them for themselves. No other claimed method of gaining knowledge has ever provided any knowledge at all, about the physical world we live in." RK, the preceeding material which you added takes a rather contentious point of view. Whatever its merits in an objective sense, knowledge in practice is often derived by other methods. That such "knowledge" may be false does not change the situation. You also deleted useful material in the process. Why don't you see if you can clean up this situation? Fred Bauder 12:55 25 May 2003 (UTC)

Thanks. I will rephrase this section. I was trying to refer specifically to measurable knowledge about the physical world and the laws that govern it. In the last century, many competing paradigms have been offered, such as mysticism, radical feminist views epistemology, post-modern philosophy, etc...yet none of these theories have ever produced any actual knowledge about the physical world we live in. Rather, they apparently only produce beliefs; these beliefs are objects of knowledge, but they represent not knowledge of the laws of physics, but rather knowledge of the beliefs of those that hold such beliefs. I will rewrite this later today, but first I would appreciate comments from you and others on this topic. RK

ERROR! Factual and inferential knowledge are WRONGLY defined/described. Inferential knowledge IS NOT "knowledge derived by inference" but "knowledge composed of inference rules"!!! E.g. we can use "laws of physics" to esimate the "mass of Jupiter". It is "laws of physics" that make inferential knowledge, while the "mass of Jupiter" is just a new fact derived with "laws of physics". I just removed some odd claims. No one believes that biology can provide us with knowledge about the world, yet simultaneously denies that science can provide us with knowledge. Biology is a branch of science! Further, I have never heard of any group which teaches that knowledge about our physical world cannot be gained by science, yet can be gained by "ethical principles". Who makes claim? Precisely what does it mean? I can't even parse that claim, as it was previously written. And please provide citations as to which "ethical systems" claim to gives us knowledge about the physical world we live in! I have never of any system which made any such claim. Perhaps you are confusing religious knowledge with scientific knowledge? Science makes no claims about religious truths. RK 19:46 5 Jun 2003 (UTC) We should note that most religious fundamentalists do not deny that science gives us accurate statements about the world that we live in. Muslim, Chrisitans and Jewish fundamentalists all rely on and accept most or all of modern biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, computer technology, agriculture, engineering, etc. These are branches of science, not "ethical principles". By the way, which people claim that one cannot rely on science, yet simulatenously accepts the validity of the Gaia hypothesis? And please tells us precisely how they claim that this theory can provide us with knowledge, and yet also reject all science as a way of learning about our world? These positions sound totally irrational. If you want to discuss this, then you can't make vague statements. Please provide details. Give us their names, their beliefs, and some examples. RK 19:46 5 Jun 2003 (UTC) Anthere writes: "For many people alive on the Earth, the world can only be imperfectly explained by axioms of mathematics and science. Some are more inclined to see it as organized on some biological or ethical principle."

Could you please elaborate or redescribe? I have read this through several times, and I have no idea what this means. Does this mean there are people that deny that biology is based on chemistry, and that chemistry is based on physics, and that biology is the lowest-level of physical explanation, from which other sciences derive?
Hm. There is no explanation of all workings of the living cell in terms of existing chemistry, it is merely a "belief" that this can be constructed. And there is no exact description of all chemical reactions in terms of physics, only in recent years has it become even possible to view intermediary reactions with very fast laser pulses. And, the investigation of these phenomena must themselves rely on cognitive processes subject to a good deal of bias and social manipulation. So if someone wishes to say that cells are "given by God" or some such, and that explanations of cells in terms of protein cooperation alone, and of proteins in terms of molecular cooperation, and molecules as some kind of cooperation of fundamental forces describable in equations in physics, are just beliefs, not testable without a vast faith in human cognition which is itself a product of cell structure, then, there is no argument against that. This position is not novel or even unusual now, even amongst some physicists who look at cognitive and notational factors and do not trust the old models, say from particle physics, or new models from string theory, given the impossibility of testing them. One need not accept all of biology either, to accept this primacy of the cell. Read some Jehovah's Witnesses literature on the primary of the cell, it is quite accurate medically, but contests biology constructed on strict chemistry constructed on strict physics as you mean it. EofT
Also, I literaly have no idea what the last sentence means. What does it mean when you write that people believe the Earthis "organized on some....ethical principle." Do people really believe that one's personal code of ethics literally changes the universe? Are people saying that our code of ethics literally constructs reality?
Many believe that, yes. Buddhism and Taoism and especially Zen Buddhism take the position that the cognitive state creates "reality" as such, and that one has vast choice in how to perceive it. And these views are hardly uncommon among the Sufi and Roman Catholic 20th century theoriests like Pir-O-Murshid and Thomas Berry. EofT
Um, you are definately mispresenting the teachings of Sufi Islam and Catholic Christianity; they teach no such thing.
I named specific people who do in fact teach such things and are part of those traditions. They are not necessarily always in the majority. EofT
Now, there may be some sects of Taoists and Buddhists who really do believe what you say, but then that has nothing to do with this article. Rather, at that point we are discussing the nature of reality itself. We should take great care not to confuse the issue. The entire basis of this article assumes that reality is, well, real. The article is, and always has been, about how to define what we call knowledge of this real world. You are now talking about a different topic, i.e. what is reality? Does reality exist? And I agree with you that this is very interesting, and well writing articles about here on Wikipedia. It just moves off into a separate topic. Maybe we should mention this in the article, and have some link to the articles on reality? RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The article is no longer about the real world, i.e. Earth, since it now contains no mention of the means people used and trusted to acquire and refine knowledge for millenia. It attempts to validate scientism, science as a means to all knowledge and so is not about the real world of daily actions in which the scientific method is rarely followed, and body of scientific opinion rarely consulted.EofT
This sounds like Derrida-inspired verbal wordplay. Please rewrite to explan what you mean, because what you have written is mysterious. RK

You made one minor error. "A criticism of that view is that it places the science of ecology in the same preferential and foundational position as physics was in previous ideology. However, in some cultures, ecology is indeed considered as a science at the same level than biology or climatology..." This starts off by comparing ecology to physics...but ends up concluding it indeed is may be on the same level...as biology? In any case, as far as I know, no culture or religion that has learned about physics has ever taught that ecology is the basic science, from which all other sciences derive.

Talk to native Americans. Especially the Hopi. Not everyone considers the atom bomb and particle accelerator the highest expression or temple of truth. EofT
Nor do scientists! They aren't truth. Particle accelerators are tools used to determine the truth about the nature of sub-atomic particles. Do Hopi Native Americans claim that they have another way to learn about leptons and bosons? I doubt it. Scientists don't claim that science gives us all the answers; they only claim that it is how one studies the physical properties of the physical world. RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Which is only one type of knowledge, and some would say not that important. People can live their whole lives without learning about leptons or bosons, and be better off for it. They cannot live without knowing which mushrooms are safe. EofT

Rather, some groups make a different claim: They claim that in terms of practical useage, or in terms of religious importance, ecology is the most important science a person can know. This is a very different claim. RK 12:41 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Yes, that is different, and the Greens make that claim, and say that ecology is what you need to know to be trusted to do politics - that there are ecological limits on democracy. EofT
And, this is different than the claim of theorists of perceptual psychology and conceptual metaphor and behavioral finance who have all taken the core principle of cognitive science, that cognition constructs reality, and that it is only destructively not constructively sharable. Karl Popper's epistemological pessimism applied to axioms of human action and competition. EofT

The recent rewrite was quite good, but, it confuses the seeking of an ethical basis for knowledge with the seeking of an authority one can trust to say what that ethics is. This could be fixed, but, not to hurry, as, most who believe in ethics as opposed to aesthetics would say there is authority necessarily involved in learning ethics, at the least, one's own parents do such teaching. EofT

What precisely do you mean by "an ethical basis for knowledge"? Are you referring to an ethical way to use knowledge, an ethical way to obtain knowledge, or something else? RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The carving of experience into words, itself: Each distinction made in a dictionary is an ethical distinction if one cares to look at it deeply enough. For an obvious example, adjectives such as "safe" or "kosher" or "not genetically modified" necessarily imply a degree of trust in the observer's use of that label, a process of recourse in case there is a problem with use of it, a means of auditing. Finding that ethical basis for knowledge in one place we would call it a moral code or something, and we would expect it to have a major impact on the language it was written in. EofT

EofT writes "There is no explanation of all workings of the living cell in terms of existing chemistry, it is merely a 'belief' that this can be constructed."

Actually, that is not correct. Everything ever observed in cells, tissues and organs has been found to work in accord with the laws of chemistry, which themselves are a part of the laws of physics.
Observed how? Is intelligence observed to be in accord with chemistry? Is this somehow explained by physics? And is the *origin* of the cell so explained? I stand by my statement. No biologist would say he has a full chemical and physical explanation of the cell. EofT
To the best of my knowledge, this is now acknowledged by all mainstream religions. (The only exception is consciousness itself, which some people still claim requires a supernatural origin; however there is no scientific evidence that consciousness is supernatural. But that is discussed in other Wikipedia articles, or certainly should be!) RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
It is, yes, but when conciousness observes the workings of the cell, which is both too small and too complex for any one person to totally understand, there is a degree of social trust involved among scientists that is not itself subject to peer review. EofT

EofT writes "there is no exact description of all chemical reactions in terms of physics, only in recent years has it become even possible to view intermediary reactions with very fast laser pulses."

Well, every chemical phenomenon every observed has been found to be in accord with regular natural laws (i.e. chemistry and physics.) In this sense, exact descriptions do exist. You may be thinking about the fact that a comprehensive list of states does not exist for a given chemical reaction; and of course there will never be such a detailed record. RK
Some chemists think otherwise and are trying to assemble that list of states. Does this mean that those who are unconcerned with this question are somehow mystics? EofT
No one would claim that the United States doesn't really exist as a physical piece of land, since we do not have photographs of every square inch of land in the USA. But the USA's physical land does exist! Similarly, no one claims that an airplane leaving New York City does not follow the laws of aerodynamics and physics as it flies to Los Angeles, because we don't have photographs of its at every inch of its flight. The exact same thing is true of chemical reactions. Just because we don't have cameras fast enough to photograph every part of every chemical reaction does not mean that atoms somehow don't follow some natural law in betwen snapshots. But again, this is off-topic for this Knowledge article. Rather, you are talking about how different people view the nature of reality itself, which is a valid topic of discussion. We should do some work on this, incorporating all the views you mention, in Wikipedia articles on reality. RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
BTW, I could claim that you don't really exist, or that if you do exist, then you don't follow the laws of physics! After all, we only see you sporadically online. But why should we assume that you cease to follow the laws of physics when I don't observe you? Of course not. The same is true of cells, and of atoms. If someone implies that atoms (or cells, or people, or airplanes or the Earth itself) don't follow the laws of nature unless we happen to be looking at them, then the burden of proof is on them. Sigh...now I am off-topic, as this has nothing to do with Knowledge, but rather has to do with reality. RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)

EofT writes "the investigation of these phenomena must themselves rely on cognitive processes subject to a good deal of bias and social manipulation."

That's true. I only wish to stress that there is something real that underlies our observations, even though observations are biased by our human limitations. RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? That in itself is a belief, analogous to Platonism in philosophy of mathematics. You have not checked this belief against that of say chimpanzeesnor dolphins nor artificial intelligences nor even Buddhists, to see if they get roughly the same impression you do. Eugene Wigner, if we seek a noted physicist's view, stated that The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences was due to phenomena not explainable at all, and thought other opinions from other species would be required at least in theory. EofT

EofT writes ..."and molecules as some kind of cooperation of fundamental forces describable in equations in physics, are just beliefs, not testable without a vast faith in human cognition which is itself a product of cell structure, then, there is no argument against that."

I disagree. The fact that cells are made of molecules that follow natural law is a repeatedly demonstrated fact; it has been accepted by people of all ethnic backgrounds, religions and cultures. The fact that the universe has observable regularities (which we call "laws of physics") exists independently of our beliefs. Deconstructionist claims to the contrary are unsupported dogma. They can make such claims, but claims they remain. RK 21:35 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)
This is not a "fact" this is a 'useful model' as any serious physicist would be sure to correct you. Cognition is dependent on cells, and cognition finds the notion of molecules useful to explain cells to other cognition. That much is undisputed. Disputes arise when someone claims that the basis of reality is only investigatible with a multi-billion dollar device that only a few people know how to use. That is neither the historical nor practical idea of knowledge. EofT

Some criticism:

"The only proven way to gain knowledge about the physical world that we live in is though the scientific method."

Now, while I agree that the scientific method is the most proven, accurate and useful system of gaining knowledge that we know of. I will paradoxially ask whether the above statement, can be logically said to be a "true statement", or even more paradoxially, actually constitutes knowledge.

I don't think that this criticism is valid, because you could state any fact or idea in Wikipedia, and then say "It isn't correct, because there may be something more true that we do not know of." In any case, science merely means we should compare our ideas (whatever it is that goes on in our heads) with the real world. The vast amounts of anti-science rhetoric (which are sadly prevalent here on Wikipedia) are written mostly by people who have little or nounderstanding of science. Does someone here really claim that there is any other way to learn about the physical world, and that this claimed method produces actual results? Let's here it. But no other POVs are even being offered! They just claim that that science is flawed...but refuse to offer an alternative. RK 01:16 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)
BTW, The statement does constitute knowledge; there no doubt that science has given real useful results. It does provide true, justifiable, actionable beliefs. It it didn't, then we literally couldn't be having this communication, as Wikipedia depends on computers, and they depend on solid-state physics. No amount of deconstructionist of radical leftist anti-science rhetoric will make the laws of physics disappear, and make computers stop working. I always am amazed at what amounts to their "argument by temper tantrum". No amount of arguing against the usefulness of science will actually change any physical fact about the world we live in. RK 01:16 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)

The scientific method article has been wise on saying that the scientific method "is a method of expanding knowledge", not "the only method of expanding knowledge".

It is the only method that has produced knowledge about the physical universe in which we live. No other method exist, period. Similarly, no faster-than-light spaceships exist. If someone wants to claim that science is only one method of producing information about the physical world, then they are obligated to provide alternative examples and proof. Otherwise they are just giving us the anti-science argument by temper-tantrum that fills so many French literary journals these days. Similarly, if someone wants to claim that there are workable and functional faster-than-light spacecraft, then they are obligated to show us one and prove that it works. RK 01:16 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Another criticism of the article, in general, is that it is written from a limited philosophical viewpoint, and I consider it to be in a lower quality from the article about the scientific method, so I think more work is needed. Rotem Dan 14:27 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I honestly have no idea what this means. Please explain. RK 01:16 8 Jun 2003
It is lower quality now that all mention of traditional and experiential knowledge, and combinations of them in such media as aboriginal languages, has been removed. But it is you two who have degraded it to that lower quality! You should revisit what you have removed and accept that there are at least also "traditional", "experiential", "ecological" and "ethical" means of deriving knowledge that, while subject to vast notational bias, are different from "authority" in the sense described here, and "scientific method". You take a puny and limited philosophical viewpoint and obvious cultural bias and then expect from that to somehow produce something convincing? Please, try again. EofT
None of these things you mention have anything to do with the topic. This article is only about how philosophers discuss how certain beliefs may be considerd to be true and justifiable; this is also called the Gettier problem. This has been explained to you time and again. For goodness sake, this doesn't even have anything to do with science! I seriously question whether your English skills are good enough to contribute to this article. RK 00:47 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Facts derived by knowledge

Knowledge may be derived by reason from either traditional, authoritative, or scientific sources or a combination of them; such knowledge may or may not be verified by resort to observation and testing. Indeed, the process of testing and observation of results may itself be prohibitively dangerous - very often a theory in physics or medicine cannot be tested due to the danger of doing so. A planet-busting atom bomb design or human-extincting plague would be unlikely to get off the drawing board.

This has nothing to do with Knowledge, but more with the moral and practical limits of scientific exploration. Removing. -- Rotem Dan 15:55 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

The article claims that knowledge can only be reliably obtained by the scientific method, but somehow moral and practical limits of that method "have nothing to do with knowledge". What are you actually implying here? EofT
EofT, what are you talking about? Science is how we see how the physical world works. Morality has nothing to do with science. When we discuss the law of gravity, and describe how falling objects accelerate towards objects with a large mass, why do you think that moral issues enter? You seem to arguing against a point that no one is making. RK 01:18 9 Jun 2003
No, science is a process for investigating the natural (not "physical") world. The statement 'morality has nothing to do with science' would get your throat cut in many circles, rightfully fearing what experiments you were planning or results you were seeking, and is probably safe to assert only in Area 51 or Dr. Mengele's lab. Naming one harmless experiment by Galileo, which at the time did in fact arouse many such concerns and "moral issues", is simply proof that science sometimes treads safety where traditions have refused to go, and gained something. Whereas, a-bombs are proof of the opposite. To censor any moral view of knowledge is itself amoral or immoral. EofT
When we talk about the physical world, that is a synonym for the natural world! Please stop your disingenuous word games. As for your bizarre (if not sick) claims thatthese statements would "get my throat cut", this only is more evidence of your bigotry towards scientists and philosophers. Stop harassing us. RK 00:47 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)


No one is harassing you. There are victims of Hiroshima, or of Japanese or German medical experiments on Chinese or Jewish prisoners, American victims of radiation poisoning due to nuclear bomb tests, and many many others, who would consider your statement 'morality has nothing to do with science' to be a simple threat to repeat the crimes against them. If scientists and philosophers hold that opinion, let them live and die by it as they deserve. Their century is over. Do not choose to disappear with them. Learn, instead.EofT

Knowledge is often situated. Knowledge moved from one place to another cannot blindly be relied on in choosing one's riskier actions. Imagine two very similar breeds of mushroom, which grow on either side of a mountain, one nutritious, one poisonous. Relying on knowledge from one side of an ecological boundary, after crossing to the other, may lead to starving rather than eating perfectly healthy food near at hand, or to poisoning oneself by mistake. Unless these ecological boundaries are themselves embedded in the language in which the knowledge is encoded, direct experience may be the only way to know. Some believe that aboriginal lifeways are adapted to ecologies and that their languages are (almost by definition) the most efficient ways to make such distinctions. Thus the loss of aboriginal languages is the loss of a very considerable amount of accrued knowledge about the ecologies the natives live in. Critics of colonialism and advocates of bioregional democracy are often specifically concerned with these issues of situation and risky actions, and how "imperial" languages force attention to distinctions made by authority rather than those inherent in the body and ecology relationships of the planet.

Again, practical limits of natives, ecology, knowledge aquired by aboriginals: absolutly nothing to do with the philosophical meaning and definition of what constitutes knowledge, removing. -- Rotem Dan 16:01 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Absolute nonsense, and now a major flaw in the article, to say nothing whatsoever about tradition, ethics, ecology nor even direct experience, as means of acquiring knowledge. This is colonialism carried down to definitions. EofT
Uh, no. Despite all of our efforts, you still seem unable to grasp the topic of this article. We are not discussing anything even remotely like the topics you mention. We are not colonialists, nor racists. We are merely writing about the philosophical definition of "knowledge", and not any of these other issues which you keep trying to jam in here. Until you understand what the topic is, you can't usefully contribute. RK 01:18 9 Jun 2003
You are refusing to discuss the colonialism, racism, scientism inherent in your choice of scope. If you wish to write knowledge (science) by all means do so. If you wish to write knowledge (philosophy) by all means do so. You are "merely writing about the philosophical definition" and trying to pretend it is the only definition. Like any racist colonizer with his "superior science" which amounts simply to a faster way to kill the natives. EofT

Removing also the following paragraph, the whole "Situational limits" section is irrelevant and should be put in its historical context. It can be transferred to an article about natives or traditional ways of practicing science or delivering knowledge, and a link can be put to it. And the opinions of Roger Bacon is redundant and can be put in the Roger Bacon article or other related one. (I may return some text after I have removed it) -- Rotem Dan 16:10 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Nonsense. Bacon is a pivotal figure in the history of knowledge. For that matter the Muqadimmah should also be mentioned for the equivalent view from Islam. EofT

The first paragraph, defining knowledge, seems quite POV to me. Michael Hardy 21:46 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I agree, I have worked on this article literally for hours today, still not quite how I want it to be. The first paragraph is POV but very useful for the intiuition of what knowledge actually involves. A more genereal problem is that the article is written from a Rationalist point of view. If you think you can make it better, go ahead! -- Rotem Dan 21:53 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)

What do you mean by POV; How do you think it biased? We had some discussion about this on the Wikipedia-En list a while back; This entry is not about the many ways that people loosely use this word - we are trying to be very specific. This particular article is only about true, actionable and justifiable beliefs. It is not about facts (even though most people misuse the word "knowledge" as a replacement for "facts"), nor is this article about beliefs. RK

For the moment, I have removed the following:

Many people hold that the world can only be imperfectly explained by axioms of mathematics and science. Some are more inclined to see it as organized on some biological or ethical principle. One attempt to unify physical, biological an ethical views is that of 20th-century Gaia theory, which is the idea that life on Earth somehow works to make the Earth more suitable for life itself. A criticism of that view is that it places ecology in the same foundational position as physics was in previous ideology. However, in some cultures, ecology is indeed considered as a science at the same level as biology or climatology : they are explained by very little axioms, but some knowledge arise from repeated observations, cross checking of facts and simulation models.

Upon re-reading this article as it stands, and the original dozen versions, it seems that this paragraph is not related to the topic. This paragraph seems to focus on disputes on how one should organize their knowledge in order to make practical use of it, or on arguments about which form of science is most basic or valuble, etc. That's fine...but why is it here? It seems to belong someplace else. Any thoughts? RK 01:16 8 Jun 2003

Same issue as with RotemDan's reductionism - knowledge always has some tradition, referent, notation, language, and context of applicability. Gaia theory says that some things may be true only on Earth. This is wholly separate from the means of validating it (science) or authority stating it to be accurate. The dispute about ecology/experience/metaphor versus physics/experiment/symbol is at the core of vast controversies about knowledge itself. Without some foundation, like a dictionary, you simply don't have any way to encode new knowledge, or test the old. This is not a side issue, this is the core of the philosophical dispute. Cognitive realism is not as you seem to think the product of "french literary journals" nor pro-aboriginal activists. It is an acknowledgement that there is no basis of knowledge other than our sharable experience, and no record of that we can trust other than in our traditional languages, and the divisions they drew in "carving reality at its joints". This is a knowledge question, not a reality nor notation question. EofT
EofT writes that "Gaia theory says that some things may be true only on Earth." Uh, no it doesn't. Gaia theory says nothing like this at all.. Gaia theories are a set of theories which describe how organisms modify the environment of the planet in order to make it more suitable for life. Your claims about Gaia theory have no correspondance with reality. RK 01:18 9 Jun 2003
You reveal your weak arguments with these continued insults. If organisms modify the environment of the planet to make it more suitable for life, then organisms can take more environmental variables for granted in their habits, for instance, "we can breathe without looking for oxygen" is true only on Earth - with variants for those that breathe from water with gills, or directly from air. There are other truths like gravity and diurnal cycles and such that are fundamental truths on Earth and nowhere else, even other habitable planets. EofT
Again, it seems as if you just don't speak English. This isn't a debate between us about facts or POV. You honestly seem to be totally ignorant of English...or you are just trolling to provoke a flamewar. Please go away. RK 00:47 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)
What is your problem with context-specific knowledge? All knowledge is ultimately specific at least to those capable of comprehending and using it. EofT

Suggestion: introduce the idea that knowledge is only reliably derived from a body making controlled changes or experiments, and observing predicted vs. alleged effects in its environment. This produces correlation data and, to the degree changes *can* be controlled, causality evidence. Then from that basic view you may derive three ways of seeing knowledge 1. a group of bodies moving in an ecology and learning distinctions that matter to survival and thriving, creating a language that makes these distinctions and ignores others less important - the implicit knowledge of a culture 2. the scientific method as a disciplined way of doing this and agreeing on what the entire human species on Earth can rely on 3. systems of epistemology and authority that explain these as an element or consequence of reality or ethics underlying the "world", which can (according to philosophers and theologians) be abstractly understood, and unify all sciences, all traditions. You might then end with the Catholic idea of theology as the "science of sciences" and the Protestant idea that philosophy takes this role, and Islamic belief in experimental methods and quantification, as the three ways this has come to be expressed in "the West". That will entail expanding your "authority" and "scientific method" section to deal with all of the above, and explain why tradition is not authority, ethics is not ecology, science is just an accelerated and disciplined way to do what human groups have always done. Done properly this will resolve the NPOV dispute. EofT


Huh? Bodies do not move "in an ecology". I really have serious doubts that you speak English well enough to contribute to this article. RK 01:18 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Ecology is what the body perceives, the sense it makes of the environment or ecosystem or surroundings. Likewise biology is not necessarily the science but may refer of the object of the science, that is, one may refer to the biology of one's garden without any textbooks handy. Your doubts and certainty seem to arise at random. EofT
If you want to know what ecology is about, then read the ecology article, and read some books on the subject. But stop rewriting the English language, and arguing with people based on your own personal language that no one else in the world uses. Your claims about biology are equally dishonest, and I do not appreciate your non-stop trolling. Please, leave us alone. We would like to work in peace. RK
"A lie"? What claim is made that is false? Swap the word "ecology" for "environment" or "surroundings" if you find perceptual psychology to be objectionable. The point stands. You know it, and are simply inventing your non-arguments to trump up some claim that you are being harassed. *THAT* is a lie. EofT

Also, philosophy of science should as RotemDan says be more integrated. EofT

There is also no mention of law or moral code or legal code or ethical code or any kind of ethics or moral knowledge in a society. EofT

There is astonishly no mention of learning or of the knowledge of non-humans such as those a predator might use in hunting or a herbivore in grazing or chimps teaching their children to use sticks to poke for ants, all of which is quite basic to any concept of knowledge. As it is only knowledge transfer is mentioned and that as a "see also". What distincts knowledge from habits is the rationality of its acquisition, its transmissibility and reliability. These issues are not discussed at all. EofT



The bizarre comments from Entmoot of Trools are not only not productive, they are verging on harassment. Depsite numerous attempts to work with him, he seems unable to understand discussions about philosophy in English, and he is quite literally unable to understand what this article is about. Instead of working on other articles that are related to his concerns, he keeps demanding that we shove in bizarre off-topic subjects like "colonialism. I am not sure whether his English skills are too limited for him to understand, or whether he is just being abusive. Either way, his attempts to hijack this page must end. RK 19:21 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)

How so? I think EofT has brought up some good (interesting) points. In an article about knowledge (arguably one of the most significant and broadly-encompassing articles in Wikipedia), it's to be expected that many seemingly off-topic subjects would be mentioned. Could you point out where EofT has "demanded" something? And what's wrong with his English?
Philosophers have been having troubles with the concept of what knowledge is for millennia. Some tension and conflict is probably inevitable :)
-- Wapcaplet 01:52 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)
One is always more secure when criticising the English of others when one is able to spell "despite" correctly... ;-) The Law of Pedantic Reversal strikes again! Martin 11:00 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I agree that a Wikipedia article on knowledge should not be restricted to propositional knowledge. To that end I've moved this article, and created a stub at the old location. Hope this helps. :) Martin

We never had any such restrictions. They just existed in EntmootOfTroll's imagination. His problem was that he was trying to take one very specific philosophical discussion of knowledge (the Gettier problem), and trying to jam every use of the word "knowledge", and anti-colonianst jabs, under that topic. He appears not to understand that people often use the same word to mean different things. Or perhaps he was just trolling, as his user name implies? (His remarks on my user-page indicated some kind of bad faith on his part.) In any case, I am glad that Knowledge is now a disambiguation page, and that we now have an article on Knowledge (philosophy). RK

People do use arguments from authority based on scientific and philosophical authorities. Aristotle is the canonical example. Others have quoted Einstein's "God does not play dice". It happens all the time. Martin

If the knowledge (philosophy) article is about the Gettier problem, it should be at (surprise, surprise) Gettier problem. Martin

I think it's about more than just that. However, Edmund Gettier could probably be moved to Gettier problem

Martin, please stop making suggestions about topics which you know nothing about. It is not helpful. The Gettier problem is a sub-set of the philosophical problem of how to justify beliefs. Any philosophy article on knowledge would be laughably incomplete without discussing the Gettier problem, and any discussion of the Gettier problem outside of the larger issue of "justified true beliefs" would be incoherent. If you do any reading in this area, you will learn that they are never separated in philosophy books! They are discussed together. RK 21:51 13 Jun 2003 (UTC)

"any discussion of the Gettier problem outside of the larger issue of justified true beliefs would be incoherent"
I disagree. Such discussions exist. They cohere. Martin
Ok, I will go along with you. Maybe I am being overly pedantic on this issue. RK 00:38 14 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Hi RK,
I was wondering if you had any objection to algorithm as a means of acquiring knowledge or if it was just a cut-and-paste error when you re-orged that section?
Cheers,
Martin 01:56, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Aha. You subsumed algorithm within mathematical proof - I think that's incorrect. Martin 02:03, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Propositional knowledge vs knowledge in general[edit]

At the risk of being verbally stoned, I would like to point out that this article has less to do with prop. knowledge and more to do with knowledge in general, which would be more appropriate for an article on epistemology. Also, under types of knowledge if you are going to associate a posteriori with empiricism, why doesn't a priori associate with innatism, and what happened to authoritarianism and intuition? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 198.29.0.100 (talk) 23:10, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Newton quote[edit]

This quotion is incorrect. Newton wrote "If I have seen further (than you and Descartes) it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." in a letter (dated Feb. 5, 1675/76) to Robert Hooke. Neither the English chemist, microscopist, geologist, naval engineer, architect, paleontologist, mathematician, sometime Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society of London and professor of geometry at Gresham College (London) Robert Hooke nor the French soldier, mathematician and philosopher René Descartes were men of great stature. Hooke's lack of stature in particular appears to have originated from scoliosis. Newton and Hooke intensely disliked one another - a relationship dating from Hooke’s criticism of Newton’s theory of light which Newton presented on his election to the Royal Society in 1672. -anon