On Knowledge


I am seeking to hold true beliefs. In order to do satisfy this norm I must be critical and selective in my rational assent to beliefs. I must be able to distinguish between true assertions and not-true assertions, and then hold the true assertions as corresponding to reality in my view of reality, i.e. believe the true assertions. In order to distinguish between true assertions and not-true assertions I must be able to identify a distinguishing characteristic of either true assertions or of not-true assertions or both. There are other sentences that words suggest or various ideas are attempted to be combined into, that we never need try and consider because they can't be considered. They can't be thought, so they can't be an assertion, so they can't be true, so they can't be true beliefs, i.e. thoughts attempted to be combined into a coherent system such that the form is X is not-X (but again, this need not be taken as an assertion of any general rule or law, but only a general guideline of reflection to see if it holds true in each individual case or not).

To be able to distinguish true assertions would allow me to distinguish not-true assertions as well, and vice versa, but I must search for a distinguishing characteristic, i.e. a criterion, that identifies some true assertions, if not all true assertions; and, if nothing else, a distinguishing characteristic that identifies some not-true assertions, for it would be a true assertion that those assertions are not true.

Being able to distinguish between true assertions and not-true assertions, and then holding the true assertions as true, in other words having true beliefs, is the desired end of my actions. So I inquire into what would a distinguishing characteristic be? It can't be a distinguishing characteristic if it could be wrong. The possibility of error would destroy it as a distinguishing characteristic. So a distinguishing characteristic of what is true or of what is not-true cannot be wrong.

What does it mean for a distinguishing characteristic to "not be able to be wrong"? In order for something to be a distinguishing characteristic of a true assertion it can't indicate an assertion as true that is not true, or a distinguishing characteristic of a not-true assertion can't indicate an assertion as not true that is true. But this poses a problem of infinite regress because to distinguish a distinguishing characteristic that can't be wrong from distinguishing characteristics that could be wrong seems to require another distinguishing factor to even be able to distinguish it as a distinguishing characteristic that can't be wrong, and what would this be? Just thinking of something as a distinguishing characteristic of true assertion doesn't mean it is a distinguishing characteristic of true assertions. It seems that I have an infinite number of possible distinguishing characteristics to choose from; and, from how it appears to me from those I have considered, none have their own distinguishing characteristic of not being able to be wrong except for one. Only one possible distinguishing factor, out of all those I have considered, doesn't allow me to even think of its being wrong. However, not being able to think something is wrong doesn't necessarily mean it can't be wrong, but this unique characteristic called attention to considering this one distinguishing characteristic more closely to discover its positive support.

In reflecting on which assertions would obviously be true, I find a salient, clear distinguishing characteristic of some true assertions. There are some presented beliefs about presented phenomena that are pointers at reality, and reality is the definite, all-inclusive that contains within it this category of presented phenomena, so there are instances where a belief is present about presented phenomena that points at that part of reality that contains itself, so that my belief has one identifyee as being the phenomena, and the other identifyee as that specific part of reality, and both of these identifyees are pointing at the same one thing. This is what is meant by identity. This belief is about presented phenomena that are identical with a part of reality, so one possible distinguishing characteristic of a true assertions are when the pointer of that assertion is identical with reality. This is an example of what is meant by a distinguishing characteristic of true assertion, this is what is meant by an assertion that corresponds to reality. That is its positive connection. And as far as the negative is concerned: this is what is meant by an assertion that can't be wrong, for an assertion can't be wrong if its pointer is identical with the part of reality at which it is pointing, that is logically entailed in the concept of truth. And the pointer is part of what is meant by "reality".

For example, if I am looking at a presented red object and I believe that the object is red, this assertion is true in such a way that I am aware of its truth. I don't have a thought of this red object being presented and not being presented at the same time, in the same way, and what is meant by "red object being presented" is this thing that's happening to me now, and what is meant by "red object not being presented" is the very thing that's not happening now. And I don't have a thought of the object's being red and not being red at the same time, in the same way, and what I mean by my belief that "that object is red" is the very thing that is happening now when I hold that thought as corresponding to reality, and what I mean by "that object is not red" is the very thing that is not happening now.

Reflection reveals then, a situation where an assertion is true because its pointer is identical to reality, and this identity is presented because the subject and reality are both presented. In other words, I am aware of a part of reality as well as I'm aware of the part of reality that corresponds between my belief and that part of reality at which it points. This is how I can be aware of a correspondence in reality itself between my assertion and another part of reality.

This situation would still leave out a vast number of assertions whose truth or not-truth is not able to be identified either way.

There remains an open possibility of discovering various other distinguishing characteristics of truth or of not-truth. These other distinguishing characteristics must be connected with the assertion, otherwise it doesn't act as a distinguishing characteristic for that assertion. So I'm looking for a distinguishing characteristic of an assertion that is inextricably connected with it. The only distinguishing factor that is inextricably connected with true assertions that I have found is that the assertion can be distinguished as true because its pointer is identical with reality because correspondence is present because reality is present.

Using reflection on other situations in life where I have come to identify two things, three possible types have come to mind. One would have to consider each of the individual possibilities in themselves to see what there is in them:

1) the correspondence is presented because reality and the subject of the belief are identical
2) the negation of the correspondence cannot be thought
3) there is an indicator inextricably connected to the belief, a mark, a distinguishing factor

The first one will be used as far as it can be used. The second one is dismissed in general because the realm of thought is not necessarily the same as the realm of the real, outside of what the first type deals with. To deny that thought and reality are the same only results in contradiction when denying the realm of the first domain, but so far this only appears to holds true for that domain. The third option, it seems to me, remains as a viable possibility, and we can talk of the first type as being a type of distinguishing characteristic. What has been stated already is an obvious indicator, but beyond this other possible indicators appear arbitrary, extricably connected, and so correspondence is indeterminable. However, I am open to the possibility of a discovery of other indicators of true assertions or of not-true ones.

Reflection looks at the distinctions this way:
The number of possible assertions appears to be without end, and I only appear to consider a finite number of assertions.

1. An assertion may be present or not.

2. a) If an assertion is present it can be either true or false.
b) If an assertion is not present nothing happens.

3. a) If an assertion is true it can either be believed or not believed.
b) If an assertion is false it can either be believed or not believed.

4. a) If a true assertion is believed (i.e. a true belief) it is either believed based on its truth or not.
b) If a true assertion is not believed, then it is believed false or else nothing happens.
c) If a false assertion is believed (i.e. a false belief) it is either believed based on
d) If a false assertion is not believed.

5. a) If a true belief is believed based on its truth, then
b) If a true belief is not believed based on its truth, then

There exists a special situation when a true belief is believed based on its truth. This implies that something is present that indicates the truth, and that I am aware of its being present. This is the only scenario in which we can distinguish true from false. To hold a true belief and to hold a false belief are indistinguishable to me otherwise, and so cannot satisfy a desire to hold true beliefs. This special situation

A true assertion can be believed and is therefore a true belief, and a false assertion can be believed and is therefore a false belief.

3. I can have a true belief but can not be aware if they are true or false. I can hold false beliefs but can not be aware if they are true or false.

I seek to hold as many true beliefs as I can. In order to fulfill this end I must be able to distinguish between true assertions and false assertions, and then believe as many true assertions as I can.

Because knowledge requires a distinguishing factor, one test if a belief cannot be classified as knowledge is whether I can think the belief false without contradiction. If I can imagine a scenario where all the phenomena remain the same but the reality is different, then there isn't a distinguishing factor about that belief.

So, "knowledge" is awareness of the correspondence of an assertion (e.g. a pointing thought, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words, at a part of the definite, all inclusive), taken as corresponding, with the definite, all-inclusive, that does correspond to the definite, all-inclusive. In other words, knowledge is awareness of the correspondence of a true belief with reality; the ability to distinguish true from not true, and subsequently hold true beliefs.

As I use the word, awareness only occurs when something is present before the conscious mind. One may speak of potential awareness, subconscious awareness, and so on, but those instances will be discussed later, and they do not apply to awareness proper, and so do not apply to knowledge.

So how does something come to awareness? And what would it mean to be aware of part of reality? In considering the first question, I can only come up with two possibilites: 1) something is presented, 2) and logically, one idea moving in a connected way to another idea. The latter is either logic through entailment, or logic through association. I would have to consider each logical association in its particular case, but it seems that, as a general guideline towards self-reflection, that it would never yield a distinguishing characteristic that could be distinguished as such. In regards to the second question, being aware of part of reality would be to have that part of reality presented. Reality is presented as it is, bare and naked.

The word "knowledge" is merely a sign and can be used to refer to anything. I am not interested in what a language or a person or a society may choose to have the word "knowledge" refer to. The word itself is only a tool. I am interested in a particular concept that I make use of, whatever one wishes to call it. Throughout this exposition I choose to use the word "knowledge" to refer to this particular concept.

It is important to realize that I am writing about a concept, not a word. What I mean by the concept is itself. It does not mean something outside of itself. Carefully reflecting on this, I have no thought of the concept being something other than what it is, or meaning something other than what it means. Any suggestion that I mean something else by knowledge cannot be thought. The concept is right here in my mind, there is no mistaking it; it is what it is. The consideration that error is possible when dealing with the concept is nonsense to me; asking me to think of something that is not what it is, my mind is left empty and blank.

Since we are open to the idea that correspondence can be discovered in various positive ways.

Knowledge cannot be justified true belief because justified is too broadly used in the everyday world, and so it would give us the impression that justification is much broader than what is actually required for knowledge. So we should abandon this word and look for something that is more exact.

the concept of justified, true belief. This has been the most prominent definition of knowledge since Plato. The strength of this definition has always rested in what is meant by justification. A weak understanding of justification results in situations where one is justified, but the justification is not necessarily connected to truth, so we could be justified and believe something true while it is false. It results in situations where we are justified but our belief is false, and sometimes where the same justification is used but our belief is true, making the justification pretty much meaningless, so we never know what is true or what is false and we never know when we know and when we don't know, i.e. knowledge is when we are lucky enough for our justification to have encouraged us to adopt a true belief. This definition of knowledge isn't much different from blind faith.

From near the beginning of my interest in epistemology I have thought that the crux of the strength of the definition was on justification. My understanding of the skeptical problem was due to DesCartes Meditations which I read around 19 or 20. I was soon able to already see the form of the problems that Gettier put forth in the skeptical problem , unless a very strict justification was adopted. I advocated logical necessity as being the only justification, but this turned out to have problems for me as well. I have to watch Dexter now, more to come, hopefully.

Previous Notes

I start by seeking truth which presupposes that I don't know if I have the truth.

Thought can be meaning, mental representations, or experiences. What good does something being true mean for my search for truth unless I know it is true?

All of these are included in thought because I am seeking truth so that means reflection brings them before the mind to consider their truth. So meaning, mental representations, and experiences are focused on and asked if they are true. Each of these can be true without my knowing it, so truth cannot be thought corresponding to reality. I have to specifically list each one.

Truth is asserted: thought, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words, corresponding to reality.

With truth there is the pointer, the pointing, and the pointed at. There is the assertion and there is reality. Let us consider the relational variations of these.

1. There is not an object and no pointing but there is an entity in reality.
2. There is not an object and no pointing but there is not an entity in reality.
3. There is not an object and there is pointing but there is an entity in reality.
4. There is not an object and there is pointing but there is not an entity in reality.
5. There is an object and no pointing and there is a similar entity in reality.
6. There is an object and no pointing and there is not a similar entity in reality.
7. There is an object and there is pointing and there is a similar entity in reality.
8. There is an object and there is pointing and there is not a similar entity in reality.

Knowledge is the awareness that a thought corresponds to part of reality.

Given what truth is, and given the point of my whole endeavor, that I am seeking truth, in order to satisfy my endeavor I must be able to distinguish and classify which assertions are true and which are not true. Thus, I am led to the question of how do I tell true assertions from the not true.

Truth means that an assertion corresponds to the part of reality it is intending to. The assertion is present, we are aware of it. What we need is for reality to be present, to be aware of reality.

Let us inquire into how is something distinguished. How does something stand out as different to be classified?

Three possibilites: 1. When the pointer and the pointed at are identical we have knowledge. 2. When we can't think of the pointer not corresponding to the pointed at. 3. When the pointer has a special mark The criterion of truth is something that indicates when a referring object corresponds to reality. As far as we are concerned, a referring object either is supported by a criterion of truth or it is not. If it is supported by a criterion of truth, then for the criterion of truth to be what it is, it must, without fail, indicate the truth. So that anytime a referring object is supported by a criterion of truth, it is true, and so if we can see a referring object is supported by a criterion of truth, we can be sure it is true. A criterion of truth can never mistakenly indicate the truth. If it is false even once, then it is not a criterion of truth. A "criterion of truth" that is true sometimes and false sometimes, is not a criterion of truth, but it might be close to one and could be refined to become one. For my part, I take as truth anything that is supported by a criterion of truth, for I cannot think of a criterion not being what it is. There could be criteria around us constantly while we are unaware, but in order for us to acquire the truth we seek we must identify the criteria. We might not be able to identify all or any of them. So we must inquire into how we identify criteria? Some possibilities include: The nature of the referring object includes a criterion. The criterion is like a category and there are referring objects within it. The referring object is associated with a criterion. We use a referring object and its consequences are the criterion. Logic Induction – Something has happened in the past and so my thought moves from it happening in the past to it happening in the past, present, or future. Understanding – Thoughts make sense only in a specific context of background beliefs, so having a specific set of background beliefs will move my thought to believe one belief as fitting and other thoughts as not fitting with those other beliefs. Intuition – Thoughts are suggested by the subconscious Feeling Authority Agreement Association In considering all of these as possible criteria, all of them can be imagined to be present while at the same time indicating a falsehood, except for logic. I cannot think of logic yielding a falsehood, while I can think of all of the others yielding a falsehood. Logic stands out as being unique in this way. However, as all I can say about logic is that I cannot think of logic yielding a false result, however, I can think that reality can be different from how I must think it is. Knowledge I make an assertion. Either I believe my assertion or I do not. If I have a belief, my belief is either true or false. If my belief is true, I either am aware that it is true or I am not aware that it is true. If my belief is false, I either am aware that it is false or I am not aware that it is false. I can assert that there is thirty-two dollars in my wallet, which can be done without believing that I have thirty-two dollars in my wallet. If I do have thirty-two dollars in my wallet then the assertion is true. If I don’t have thirty-two dollars in my wallet exactly, then the assertion is false. I can believe that there is thirty-two dollars in my wallet. If I do have thirty-two dollars in my wallet, then my belief is true. If I don’t have thirty-two dollars exactly in my wallet, then the belief is false. In both of the previous cases, whether it is true or false is something separate from my assertion or belief. If I am seeking the truth, I will want to become aware which assertions and beliefs are true and which are false. Beliefs have different feelings associated with them. The strongest feeling about a belief being true is called certain. Although I might feel certain that a belief is true, feeling certain is not a criterion of truth, so I can feel certain and my belief can still be false. It is merely a feeling. A true, belief that I am aware is true, is knowledge. Knowledge is not believing something that is true, that is merely a coincidence and good luck. Knowledge is the state of being aware that a belief is true.

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