Opinion which is in accord both with experience and theory is called knowledge.
pk echoing Sagan

@ K. c. 2003

Knowledge is local; ignorance universal.

Knowledge is inseparable from social life.

Where knowledge is possible, the need for belief evaporates.

pk & bk emails on Knowledge

pk to bk: 2003 03 07: current simmer

“knowledge” is possible only in a group; God, alone in the universe, can have no knowledge; Yahweh, chief at a committee, can. But then the knowledge is based on some quorum of agreement, the agreement based on some other quorum of common epistemology …
Illusion, the Maya of the gods (and men): all of Sentiens
Science seems like such a good epistemology: evidence, theory, but it only works looking backwards: Yes, I see how Galileo was “right”, how the professors and the cardinals were prejudiced …
Yes, I see how kleptocratic Caesar, Herod, the Sanhedrin, Pilate … were; but what make’s Jesus’ epistemology infallible? Universal agreement not to examine it closely.
Look for science in your own milieu, where? No communication, no willingness to examine evidence, argument: everyone too busy saying they do (while conspicuously avoiding it) to look, to think. Macroinformation, e.g. Reich, Leary … And there’s no telling what else.

The government denies knowledge.
The X Files

bk replied:

The Wittgensteinian argument against monotheism …

2003 03 08 pk asked:

Are you telling me that I’ve duplicated a Ludwig argument? Neat-o. I wonder
if I read it.
All I know is it just came to me: not for the first time, but this time
kicking me hard in the shins.

bk replied:

No, I didn’t mean to imply that Ludwig himself ever made that argument. I meant to say that your statement that “‘knowledge’ is possible only in a group” is not at all obvious or intuitive — not to the modern Western mind, at least. It is a position that Ludwig slapped Western philosophy into, and it’s why he’s considered such an important 20th-century intellectual: someone who turned the accepted wisdom on its head.
You start with Wittgenstein (whether intentionally or not) and then derive a disproof of God-The-Knower.
I agree that God-The-Knower is impossible in a Wittgensteinian epistemology.
Freshman year, in Intro Philosophy, I did something similar by combining a Korzybskian epistemology of maps and territories with a Cartesian understanding of God as infinite. I have only in recent years come to recognize the invisible assumption in my own disproof.
The nature of a Map is to filter out and organize a subset of the overwhelming information from the Territory for a finite purpose. Maps are finite tools for finite users, surrounded (for all we know) by the infinite — or at least the much-larger-than-we-finites-can-handle.
If God is infinite and everywhere, God has no use for Maps. Either God is the Territory, or God “knows” the Territory in infinite perfection.
But my understanding of “knowing” is Korzybskian — it’s all about Maps, not about Territories. To Know something is to have Maps, to depend on Maps.
Therefore God, who/which cannot make use of maps, cannot be said to “know” anything. This is not a disproof of God, per se, but it is a disproof of a personal God. Whatever God is, God isn’t a person. And therefore one cannot have a personal relationship with God. Descartes’ proof (whose fallacy it took me years and years to identify) was a proof of an infinite Territory that he called God. I did not see how it saved Jehovah at all — – and as far as I know, Descartes himself, and certainly his readers, did not distinguish God from Jehovah.
N.B., The invisible assumption I was making is that there can only be one infinity. In other words, two infinite things must be co-extensive. So an infinite God must in some sense be (or at least coextensively occupy) an infinite Territory — and therefore be unable to use any Map of that Territory. I now see the two statements “God is infinite” and “God is everywhere” as quite distinct, whereas at the time I saw them both as equivalent to “God is everything.”

Men think women should be protected by not knowing.

I trust the reader already knows Korzybski on distinguishing map from territory, Gregory Bateson on the subject, Wittgenstein, of course, pk’s … [Link to be restored] here and bk’s [Link to be restored] earlier note.

Knowledge is always local. We never know all else it might connect to.

bk to pk email

One has to address questions of knowledge before one can even begin to address questions of science.

2006 01 30

2006 06 25

Some of the later entries that string along here scrapbook fashion belong more in my Teaching / Society section than in my Teaching / Thinking Tools. Oh well: if I had a staff, I’d shuffle a lot. Meantime:

I agree: there are some topics on which some humans have reliable knowledge, even wisdom. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that therefore there must be humans with knowledge on any topic. Knowing the Apennines doesn’t mean you know the Alps. Knowing how to cook for two doesn’t make you able to cook for six billion. Knowing how to make a speech doesn’t make you able to rule the Reich.

Thinking Tools


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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