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This article covers many aspects of knowledge. For the philosophical areas of knowledge please use epistemology.

Suggested rewrite[edit]

I would suggest that this page be replaced by views of 10 or more solicited top thinkers and people of knowledge, without pay. One of the major problems of Wikipedia vs. traditional encyclopedia is the lack of top authorities, who avoid the open environment of Wikipedia. Here is one page that can take some solicited top authorities in knowledge, who can be criticized by the regulars. Jumpulse (talk) 20:38, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Sounds like Citizendium is the place for you then. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 20:51, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Writing as the "primary technology of knowledge transfer" (disputed text)[edit]

The following text of section Communicating knowledge is not completely factual: "Writing is still the most available and most universal of all forms of recording and transmitting knowledge. It stands unchallenged as mankind's primary technology of knowledge transfer down through the ages and to all cultures and languages of the world." This is far from the truth, as many cultures and languages have not ever used—and still do not use—written language: a fact that this statement denies. In addition, writing is likely not humankind's current "primary", "unchallenged" technology of knowledge transfer; the Internet is arguably replacing writing in informational importance at an exponential rate, thus the claim that writing alone is unchallenged in this way is utterly false. This material, as well as the rest of the section, is completely unreferenced and should be modified or otherwise partially removed from the article. — |J~Pæst| 21:52, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Last time I looked people wrote (or at least typed) on the internet using written language. Per Boisot (if we need a source) codified knowledge diffuses faster ----Snowded TALK 00:09, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Even if you consider typing a form of "writing", mention of the Internet is not included in the section anyway. Some clarification should be added to this statement, then. The incorrect usage of the word "all" should be replaced with "many or "most" as well. And nonetheless, the text remains completely uncited. — |J~Pæst| 03:46, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
I think its a little perverse not to see the internet as writing, its just one medium for the written word with illustrations. I'd agree that the oral tradition also has value, but it does not diffuse outside of its community. Codified knowledge can be cited (Boistot Knowledge Assets) as enabling rapid diffusion and that would reference the written work in various forms. One could then add some of the cited stuff on internet growth and compare with a similar explosion when the secret of how to make cheap paper was stolen from the Chinese. From memory there are sources on that----Snowded TALK 06:55, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion, both of your points have merit. Written is clearly superior to in-person communication of knowledge across distances, but not always superior with regards to more tacit forms of knowledge where visible emotions, body language, and other cues need to be communicated (and nowadays the internet can convey either written or oral communication asynchronistically). So might I recommend a compromise of taking out the phrase "unchallenged"? It has generally been my experience that when philosophical debates claim something is unchallenged, that's usually reaching a tad to far for the field :-) Harvey the rabbit (talk) 07:17, 8 August 2013 (UTC) also, let's not forget memes and subconscious fads!
This section has problems indeed. (1) First and foremost, huge WP:OR red flags in the passage JPaest highlighted. E.g. "Unchallenged" but also unsupported here. "...primary technology of knowledge transfer down through the ages and to all cultures and langauges of the world"?? For WP's sake, who cares how true that statement is if it's unreferenced (and thus clearly OR). (2) Why is Plato cited through Postman without actually drawing on any of Postman? (3) Why even bring up Robinson if his argument is going to be treated as a straw man. Another example of OR, perspectives are not stated objectively with supporting or criticizing sources cited; a single source is cited and then the author of the section declares it wrong.
As to the truth of the statement in question... I agree that it's silly to say so matter-of-factly that written language is "the most available and most universal of all forms of recording and transmitting knowledge" when in fact we still speak language and there are entire cultures and populations (including in, for example, the US) who cannot read/write? What about the first years of our lives before anybody can read? In many ways you could argue we gain more knowledge during that period than at any other time in our lives. There are good arguments for and against; my point isn't to absolutely say anybody's wrong, but that it's easy to "challenge" writing as "mankind's primary..." I do have to disagree with JPaest about the Internet, though. The Internet is a means of production and transmission, which is important, but it can't exist without written language (and if we focus on such means, it's hard to say the Internet in its short history is more worth of mention than papyrus, movable type, or the printing press in "recording and transmitting"). --Rhododendrites (talk) 18:35, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Philosophy game[edit]

So what exactly is the problem with putting information first? To be clear, I'm not in support of turning Wikipedia into a game, I'm in support of ending an edit war that's been going on for years. — MusikAnimal talk 19:18, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

It's not always that single word swap, players of the game have tried whatever change occured to them, and it varies which article they try to fix - the Truth article actually gives a very grumpy edit notice when you click "edit". Perhaps we need a more sympathetic edit notice ("if the Philosophy Game is broken right now, click here to discuss it") applied across a few endgame articles.
I'd guess that "facts" is listed before "information" because it's a neater progression of explanation - "statements which are true, but also the wider category of raw data" rather than "raw data, and its subset of true statements". But the whole sentence ("Knowledge is an (A, B or C) of a (D or (E, such as F, G or H,)) which is acquired through (I or J) by (K, L or M)") does seem a bit overwrought and could probably use a rewrite. --McGeddon (talk) 20:02, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification! You make excellent points. I am very much fond of a friendly edit notice, but even more so keeping awareness linked. Then we have the progression we want, and the game can be played. We're not going against WP:MOS, at least to a drastic extent. And best of all, anyone can still edit the article. No need for semi or pending changes protection. I'll draft an edit notice and share it for everyone here. — MusikAnimal talk 20:19, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Another solution is to agree a new opening which misses the list all together. Normal definitions would include both knowledge through reflection as well as knowledge through experience. There are plenty of third party sources with better definitions ----Snowded TALK 18:59, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
@Snowded: I'm not sure if I follow. What was wrong with linking awareness? Remember the goal is to allow this silly game to be played so we don't have to put up with more disruption – but without a cost to the article's integrity. One little link doesn't seem to matter much, at least considering the amount of disruption it will prevent. — MusikAnimal talk 19:06, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
The point about a link is that it adds meaning. The article concerned is not really awareness in the sense that it is used here (or would need a lot more explanation). At the moment the term in ordinary language use is, in my option, enough and excessive linking is discouraged but MOS ----Snowded TALK 04:48, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm with Snowded on this one. I'm also in favour of an edit notice, though perhaps not as "grumpy" as the one existing on Truth. I don't think it makes sense to threaten editors with a block and I believe it's sufficient to say "please don't" and "it will be reverted quickly". Pichpich (talk) 21:47, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
I just took a look at Truth's edit notice. I quite like it and believe it would be a welcome addition.--☾Loriendrew☽ (talk) 00:32, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Proposed edit notice[edit]

The edit notice (Template:Editnotices/Page/Knowledge) can only be created by an admin or a template editor. Nevertheless, I propose the following (less grumpy but hopefully effective):


| id = faqedn

| header = "Philosophy" game editing

| headerstyle = font-size: 120%;

| textstyle = background-color: #fee;

| text = Please note that altering the order of wikilinks or otherwise editing the lead of the article for the sole purpose of playing the Get to philosophy game is considered disruptive. These edits will be quickly reverted.

}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pichpich (talkcontribs)

Yes check.svg DoneMusikAnimal talk 23:37, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Classical definition of knowledge[edit]

The article states: "Plato famously defined knowledge as ´justified true belief.´" No citation is given, however. While this definition (known as the classical definition of knowledge) is commonly attributed to Plato, it is unclear wheather he actually ever presented or subscribed to such a definition. The exact formulation commonly used is not found in either the Theatetus or the Republic, nor in any other known work of Plato. Historians of philosophy usually take the closest assimile to the classical definition to be Theatetus 201c: "...knowledge was true opinion accompanied by reason". It is not established that Plato means to accept this as a definition of knowledge.

I suggest that the reference to Plato be removed or else that at least the relevant section of Theatetus be cited. Reference to Plato could be removed by simply saying that the definition in question is the classical definition (instead of claiming that it is the definition given by Plato). If deemed important, it can be stated that this definition is commonly attributed to Plato (some citation would be needed then to credit the the statement that this practice is indeed common).

I will not edit the page, but I strongly suggest that some editing be done. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:19, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

I would have thought there were more than enough third party sources that attribute that to the justification dialogues of Socrates in Theatetus for us to be comfortable with it. ----Snowded TALK 18:22, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Ordinary knowledge[edit]

This article is about knowledge, not epistemology, philosophy of knowledge. Sophisticated treatment of epistemology belongs there. The subject of the article is much more ordinary. By the way, the material deleted regarding the origin of ordinary knowledge in authority and division of labor had 3 footnotes in the cited reference. They include Coudy, Tony, Testimony, A Philosophical Study, Princeton University Press; Audi, Robert, 1997, "The Place of Testimony in the Fabric of Knowledge and Justification," American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (No. 4) 404-42; and Adler, Jonathan E., 2002, Belief's Own Ethics, MIT PressUser:Fred Bauder Talk 09:35, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Please keep in mind that the subject of this article is knowledge, not how a sophisticated epistemologist knows something. People, in general, know things. How, why, and the implications of that knowledge is also part of this article. BTW, Russell Hardin is, for the most part, a political scientist. Do you see how what people "know" relates to politics? User:Fred Bauder Talk 09:38, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
You have several problems. Its a single sourced addition, you've added it as a section right up front elevating the status, the source does not establish that it is a sub-division of knowledge as a field, its just a title used by one author in the context of a thesis in economics. Please note WP:BRD, you have been reverted you now discuss and don't reinstate until there is consensus on the talk page. From what you have placed there I see no justification for the addition. A wider section on knowledge in economics (if referenced as a field) might justify some reference. But its not a major section upfront in the article ----Snowded TALK 09:47, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
Good point about placement in the article, Not really a theory of knowledge. Definitely holds itself out as economics. By the way this is not a new discussion. Discussed, hotly, with User:Larry Sanger a decade ago. User:Fred Bauder Talk 10:31, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
Oh, Ho! You describe "Knowledge" as a field. If there is such a field, it is epistemology, or sociology of knowledge, or simply Anthropology. Knowledge as an Wikipedia subject is not about a field of study but about a subject which is part of the everyday life of all beings. Even a worm knows and acts on that knowledge.
A question: What is the body of knowledge that forms the basis for the questions, and correct answers, in a quiz show on popular television? What is it called? How and where does it fit into this article? Name an epistemologist who has qualified as a contestant on Jeopardy!. Is a degree in epistemology and 10 years of experience and 30 published articles a qualification? User:Fred Bauder Talk 10:26, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
Anthropological treatments of knowledge fall in the epistemological tradition as does most sociology, similar references etc. I'm less expert on worms but the idea that a genetic or even an epigenetic response to sitimulus is knowledge is questionable. I'm not sure how many 'ordinary' views of knowledge would not be covered in philosophy anyway, that is not confined the the pin head dancing of analytic philosophy. The point is that we need some third party source to establish the significance of something. ----Snowded TALK 11:16, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Wrong knowledge is still knowledge[edit]

"Complementary to the sociology of knowledge is the sociology of ignorance[1] including the study of nescience, ignorance, knowledge gaps or non-knowledge as inherent features of knowledge making.[2] [3] [4]"

Production and distribution of knowledge[edit]

Used in the introduction to The Politics of Knowledge ISBN 0415704758 What is that? That "knowledge." How would it be treated, as the subject, of a Wikipedia article? User:Fred Bauder Talk 10:59, 13 June 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ The Sociology of Ignorance
  2. ^ Beck, Ulrich; Wehling, Peter (2012). Rubio, F.D.; Baert, P., eds. The politics of non-knowing: An emerging area of social and political conflict in reflexive modernity. New York: Routledge. pp. 33–57. ISBN 0415497108. 
  3. ^ Gross, Matthias (2010). Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262013482. 
  4. ^ Moore, Wilbert; Tumin, Melvin (1949). "Some social functions of ignorance". American Sociological Review 14 (6): 787–796. doi:10.2307/2086681.