[lit-ideas] Re: Pirots and Squarrels: Grice on Ethology

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2013 22:28:37 +0100 (BST)

 From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>
>At this point, I may want to explore the idea of 'knowledge' again -- Cfr.  
'intuitions'. Can one's intuitions get wrong? >

Yes, our "intuitions" may lead us astray: and examples of them leading us 
astray may be given. Examples could be given from logic, mathematics and 
physics: and the history of these subjects is such that few would defend their 
conjectures in these fields by appealing to the strength of their intuition. 
Indeed, is there any field of knowledge where what is intuitively correct has 
never been shown to be mistaken? 

A drowning man may be another example: intuitively, or instinctively, the 
drowing man may reach out forlornly for something to grasp - and we might 
imagine this would be the intuitive or instinctive reaction of someone falling 
through outer space. And we might understand their intuitive or instinctive 
response in terms of a disposition evolved by 'natural selection' - a 
disposition that might prove useful when falling from a tree or other height in 
the environments in which the man's ancestors evolved, but not in an ocean or 
outer space where there is nothing to grasp.

>This Darwinian-Popperian view 
of  lexical items like 'know' and 'intuit' may well hold that one's 
intuitions CAN  get wrong. Similarly, a Darwinian-Popperian may not regard the 
following as a  contradiction: "I knew but I was wrong" (on knowing-the-false). 

Philosophers of a stripe may baulk, but if someone in a play or in real-life 
said "I knew but I was wrong" we might well understand them as saying "I 
believed I had correct knowledge but I was wrong". Of course, if we define 
"knowing" so that we can only "know" when we have correct knowledge (not merely 
when we believe we have correct knowledge) then we cannot "know" and yet be 
wrong: but this definition of "knowing" would only render the claim "I knew but 
I was wrong" untenable as a contradiction-in-terms (of that definition) - it 
would not render untenable the claim "I believed I had correct knowledge but I 
was wrong". The point is: no serious epistemology can be premised on merely a 
definition of "knowing" here: and much favours adopting a view of knowledge 
where 'knowledge' can be false. Newton's physics may be false yet an immense 
contribution to human knowledge.


Other related posts: