Seminar: How should we define "knowledge"­?

We normally discuss a text at each seminar, but this month, as an experiment, we shall tackle a question instead. It is a question of the type that is set in university examinations. We shall use our discussion to work out the different ways in which one might answer it. (We are not likely to agree on a single answer.) The question is:

How should we define "knowledge"?

We want to keep these events reasonably small, so that we can keep the discussion focused, and so that everyone can participate. Please book your place by using the RSVP button. If you book and then find that you cannot make it, please cancel your booking, so that someone else can take your place.

We use the ground floor foyer of the National Theatre. We will try to be at the tables just to the right of the Lyttleton Cloakroom (as you stand facing the Cloakroom counter), but we may have to be somewhere else in the foyer. We will have a notice on the table saying "Philosophy for All", but we might not be there until a few minutes before our start time of 7.45. So if you get there earlier and cannot find us, please have another wander round the foyer at 7.40 to find us. If you cannot find us anywhere on the ground floor, try the next floor up where there is a bar area, but we will only move there is there is a problem with the ground floor.

This seminar will be conducted by Richard Baron.

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  • Bernard H.

    F--ing hell I spent nearly 3 hours composing something to say and this inane meetup.com website has lost all of it. It feels dirty enough having to deal with fascist organisations like Meetup, but when they seemingly deliberately make it difficult to say anything of consequence it makes it even worse. As a matter of principle I won't be using this facility any more. I would like to attend future seminars but if the PFA imposes the entirely unreasonable condition that it has to be done through this wedb site I won't be abl;e to.

    January 12, 2014

    • Bernard H.

      I tend to think any organisation that links to facebook is fascist. It means I have to go to the bother of hacking my browser so that FB doesn't track me all over the internet.

      February 25, 2014

    • Bernard H.

      I find it quite objectionable that PFA requires that you book a place in their seminar on a site like Meetup.com; I see it as an unjustified invasion of my privacy. Nobody asked the membership if this would be OK. PFA has its own website; what's wrong with using that? I don't want a load of greedy business men to know what I am doing and I certainly don't want them to sell the information to anyone else. The number of people who quite happily use sites that are designed to spy on them and quite happily install surveillance software such as Flash Player on their machines and then complain when they are actually spied upon is amazing.

      Getting back to knowledge, the very notion of trying to define it seems confused. Traditional definitions along the lines of “justified true belief” are totally useless because you end up in the situation where you can never assert anyone knows anything.

      February 25, 2014

  • terence f.

    sorry to miss this interesting discussion. Is there an answer? Or several? Let me know. Then again is Wisdom more useful?

    February 21, 2014

    • Richard B.

      There are plenty of answers, some incompatible with others, and none upon which everyone can agree. This is how philosophers stave off unemployment.

      February 21, 2014

  • Richard B.

    I have also increased the numbers from 12 to 15. When I did this, the Meetup computer split the series into two. So please note that the series will continue, and that the next few dates are 26 March, 23 April, 28 May and 25 June (not 24 June - ignore what it says about continuing until 24 June).

    January 22, 2014

  • Richard B.

    I have now added the venue - the foyer of the National Theatre.

    January 22, 2014

  • Bernard H.

    B] Clarificatory definitions. These are intended to indicate what part of everyday usage we are concerned with.[3]

    C] "Capturing" definitions. These are intended to capture what is referred to in common usage, under the assumption that common usage does indeed refer to something. Arguably this is the sort of definition Socrates was seeking when he asked questions like "What is Justice?"

    D] Hybrids of the above types. Thus we might seek a definition of "running" that makes it clear we are not talking about taps while simultaneously capturing reference of "running" as applies to athletes.

    January 12, 2014

  • Bernard H.

    I have to post this a series of posts because of the absurd 1000 character limit, but it should all be read as one post.

    Why should we want to define knowledge in the first place? The ordinary every day uses of the verb "to know," as in "He knows about elephants" or "She knows the capitals of every country in the world," seem to me to hinge on whether we are warranted to live our lives in the expectation that the world corresponds in certain ways to their honest utterances. But problems start to arise if we start to think that just because their are grammatically correct uses of the noun "knowledge,"[1] the noun must have a reference. It seems to me that there are several types of definition, including, but not limited to:

    A] Technical definitions. These are essentially arbitrary. In formal systems they are often used to indicate a (rough) isomorphism between a purely formal concept and an informal concept.[2]

    January 12, 2014

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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