- Strive for clarity and distinctness.
- Ask “What do you mean, and how do you know?”
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Philosophy
What does it mean to say that you “know” something is true?
According to traditional philosophical thinking, you can be said to know that some proposition P is true if and only if:
- P is true.
- You believe that P is true.
- You are justified in believing that P is true.
These three conditions jointly form the concept of justified true belief (JTB).
As an example, let’s examine my claim that I know Paris is the capital of France. Unless an edict to the contrary has come down in the last few minutes, Paris is the capital of France, I believe that Paris is the capital of France, and I’m justified in believing that based on available evidence. So according to the concept of justified true belief, I know that Paris is the capital of France.
Here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say I wake up in the morning, look at the clock (let’s make it an old-fashioned analog clock), and it shows the time as 7:30. And let’s say that the time is in fact 7:30, but that, unknown to me, the clock has stopped. Do I “know” that the time is 7:30? My belief that the time is 7:30 is correct, but is it knowledge — or is it more of a lucky guess?
Another thought experiment: Given the following scenario, do I “know” that my wife is in the house? I come home from work and see my wife in the kitchen. As it happens though, what I see in the kitchen is actually a perfectly rendered hologram. My wife is in the house though, but she’s upstairs where I can’t see her. Again, the three JTB conditions are true, but my justification for belief has nothing to do with the truth of the matter.
These types of thought experiments are called Gettier problems, named for Edmund Gettier, who in 1963 published a paper called “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”
When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing . . . And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.
I thought about something and then I thought, Why did I think about that? I can have thoughts about thoughts!
Philosophical skepticism must be distinguished from ordinary incredulity . . .
Man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out. — G.K. Chesterton
Master K’ung said, the gentleman has nine cares. In seeing he is careful to see clearly, in hearing he is careful to hear distinctly, in his looks he is careful to be kindly; in his manner to be respectful, in his words to be loyal, in his work to be diligent. When in doubt he is careful to ask for information; when angry he has a care for the consequences, and when he sees a chance of gain, he thinks carefully whether the pursuit of it would be consonant with the Right.
In old days men studied for the sake of self-improvement; nowadays men study in order to impress other people. — Confucius
The Master said, The Ways of the true gentleman are three. I myself have met with success in none of them. For he that is really Good is never unhappy, he that is really wise is never perplexed, he that is really brave is never afraid. Tzu-kung said, That, Master, is your own Way!
A gentleman does not grieve that people do not recognize his merits; he grieves at his own incapacities — Confucius
zu-Kung asked about government. The Master said, sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the confidence of the common people. Tzu-Kung said, Suppose you had no choice but to dispense with one of these three, which would you forgo? The Master said, Weapons. Tzu-Kung said, Suppose you were forced to dispense with one of the two that were left, which would you forgo? The Master said, Food. For from of old death has been the lot of all men; but a people that no longer trusts its rulers is lost indeed.
Master Tsêng said, The true Knight of the Way must perforce be both broad-shouldered and stout of heart; his burden is heavy and he has far to go. For Goodness is the burden he has taken upon himself; and must we not grant that it is a heavy one to bear? Only with death does his journey end; then must we not grant that he has far to go?
Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.
My fellow Americans –
You see how my friend Tom Paine, 220 years ago, perfectly anticipated — and rejected — your President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” quote.
Oh yes, we were aware of the “progressive” philosophy — that everything good comes from government — even then and we wanted no part of it.
By the way, I notice that liberals are now calling themselves “progressives.”
That’s good. The word “liberal” has lost its true meaning. Classical liberalism was based on “liberty” — from kings, churches and aristocracies.
Did you know that the great economist Milton Friedman did not call himself a conservative or a libertarian? He called himself a liberal, in the original sense of that word.
Progressives don’t believe in liberty. They believe in government as the new church and politicians as the new aristocracy.
Our body in Kali Yuga is a field of action: As a man sows, so is his reward. Nothing by empty talk is determined: Anyone swallowing poison must die. Brother! Behold the Creator’s justice: As are a man’s actions, so is his recompense.
May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering.
You were a fool, and set your thoughts on uncertainties. Why then do you not accuse yourself, instead of sitting crying like young girls? — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 10
What greater good do you look for than this? You were shameless and shall be self-respecting, you were undisciplined and shall be disciplined, untrustworthy and you shall be trusted, dissolute and you shall be self-controlled. If you look for greater things than these, go on doing as you do now, not even a god can save you.
Why do you not come forward and openly proclaim that you are at peace with all men, whatever they do, and that you laugh above all at those who think that they are harming you? saying, “These slaves do not know who I am, nor where to find what is good or bad for me, for they have no way of getting at my position.”
There is but one way to peace of mind (keep this thought by you at dawn and in the daytime and at night) — to give up what is beyond your control, to count nothing your own, to surrender everything to heaven and fortune.
Ought you to desire what is not given you, or to be ashamed if you do not attain to it? Is this all the habit you acquired when you studied philosophy, to look to others and to hope for nothing from yourself and your own acts?