[lit-ideas] Re: Understanding Why Newton Contributed To Human Knowledge With A False Theory

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 14:37:55 -0800

Well, yes. In the formula 'A knows x only if...[insert your favourite
condition],' 'A' usually stands for some sentient being.

There's an ambiguity in "know". Knowledge is also fact, which means information that is not human-dependant. Neptune orbits the Sun, whether we know of it or not. There are many knowable facts that are not-yet-known.

If know is a feature of sentient beings, then knowing (and epistemology) becomes a form of psychology. Humans have knowing, and it has features, capabilities, and limits. Other sentients would have different parameters to their knowing. Birds can count up to nine and so on.

I also "know" 160.24 is the square root of 25,678 because my calculator tells me so, but I don't "know" this in any personal sense. I just accept it. Most of our knowledge is depersonalized and externalized information.

You have an admirable faith in technology which suggests that you know
that electronic devices never go wrong.

That was intentional. I chose a relatively simple and low number. Calculators have problems with very large numbers.

If knowledge is 'fallible,' what's the point of having such a concept?

So long as we stay within the limits of "knowables", it works, just as any tool works within its parameters.

In our technical society, knowledge and many other once-humans activities have changed into post-human skills. "Knowledge" is now maintained by Google and wikipedia, which has vastly more information than any human can comprehend. Computers allow us to manage information on a scale many once assumed was impossible. Computers also make available new forms of knowledge that we didn't even imagine.


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