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Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments
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Author:  DWill [ Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

Movie Nerd wrote:
To speak again on the concept of agnostic and atheists, I would say that these terms answer two different claims. To be an atheist means you simply don't believe in a God. To be an agnostic means you don't know if there is a God, and don't think there is a way to know. One answers belief claims, while the other answers knowledge claims.

It could be out of perverse stubbornness, or just not getting it, but currently I'm not seeing a meaningful distinction between beliefs (the word needs to be plural to be parallel) and knowledge. You've made a neat verbal separation, but is it a distinction with a difference? I'm not the one to do a philosophical dissection of these words, but I'd like to see someone do it.

Author:  Interbane [ Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

DWill wrote:
It could be out of perverse stubbornness, or just not getting it, but currently I'm not seeing a meaningful distinction between beliefs (the word needs to be plural to be parallel) and knowledge.


There are different types of knowledge. What you're referring to here is propositional knowledge, as opposed to knowledge by acquaintance(riding a bike or recognizing a face).

Belief is something you think is true, but admit could be false. But that admission isn't necessary. Some people mistakenly think that what they believe is knowledge.

Knowledge(propositional) is belief that meets two additional criteria: it must be justified and true. Justification of belief is the core debate in epistemology(the philosophy of knowledge). There are many schools of thought in epistemology, and depending on what you think is proper justification determines which school of thought you ascribe to.

I have many beliefs that I admit are not knowledge. I don't have time to examine all my beliefs, so some are accepted because they aren't critical, or they are difficult to justify so I accept them as axiomatic. It is okay to believe things that aren't justified in many cases.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowl ... is/#TruCon

Author:  DWill [ Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

I'll think about this some more and see where I arrive. I guess it's not surprising that a philosophical treatment of the terms would result in having to produce another term or two, in order to compensate for the generality of popular language.

Author:  Robert Tulip [ Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

DWill wrote:
Thanks, MN, but are belief and knowledge claims really any different? The chemical composition of water seems for me as much a belief as it does knowledge.

The problem with claiming that God doesn't exist seems to be as interbane says, that the concept is so inclusive that we can't possibly rule out all that it might be said to cover. But if we agree beforehand on what we mean by "God," I think we can say that we know he isn't real as a matter of knowledge and belief. The book doesn't make this explicit, but it's clear the writers are talking about the Judeo-Christian, biblical God. Do you feel agnostic toward this God, believing he might exist, or do you know he doesn't? My way of thinking is that "believe" and "know" aren't separate but are on a continuum.

The continuum between belief and knowledge was defined by Plato in The Republic in the analogy of the divided line, separating conjecture, belief, knowledge and understanding in that order as four modes of apprehension with increasing reliability and accuracy. It is interesting to consider how the evolution of science and philosophy since Plato may have changed views on the content of the parts of this epistemology. For example, I would class factual information about the physics of water as knowledge, not belief.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy_of ... vided_Line

Author:  DWill [ Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

Robert Tulip wrote:
. For example, I would class factual information about the physics of water as knowledge, not belief.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy_of ... vided_Line

I am trusting that he physics of water has indeed been verified. To what extent is that my knowledge?

Author:  Robert Tulip [ Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
. For example, I would class factual information about the physics of water as knowledge, not belief.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy_of ... vided_Line

I am trusting that he physics of water has indeed been verified. To what extent is that my knowledge?


The problem here is that we can know some of the properties of a substance but not all. For example, water is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. There is abundant scientific information which allows no explanation other than factual accurate certain knowledge. The simpler the information the clearer is our justification in classing it as knowledge rather than belief.

I am not sure if there are areas of research regarding the properties of water, but one that comes to mind regarding a belief is homeopathy, the idea that water can retain mystical traces of another substance it previously contained. There is no evidence in support of this belief, and it has been supported up to the level of the British royalty. I am not sure if homeopathic claims can be definitively disproved, but they illustrate the hold of Shakespeare's line that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Another issue here is that while the physics of water is a matter of scientific knowledge, I have not myself studied the science in sufficient depth to explain things like quantum physics, or even the basic physics of the properties of subatomic particles and how water physically forms. Yet so much technology rests on the correctness of this basic science that I have no alternative but to say it is objective knowledge and not mere belief.

I know the boiling and freezing points of water from memory, but I don't know these same facts for other chemicals and elements. Nonetheless all this information is basic unchanging knowledge about the fundamental properties of matter which anyone can easily find. We really should consider basic science to be absolute knowledge, while recognising that there is much that is unknown, and is therefore only the subject of conjecture or belief or ignorance.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments

The fact is, I think, that as social animals we attach ourselves to communities of different types, including knowledge communities. None of us really believes anything in isolation; we must seek the aid and support of others for our beliefs/knowledge. Again, I do not distinguish. I do accept the physics of water, and many other things long established by science because I attach myself to this community; I trust it. Those such as a certain very bright participant on BT who believes the Bible is literal truth attaches himself to a community that denies science, although in a selective fashion.

Robert Tulip wrote:
We really should consider basic science to be absolute knowledge, while recognising that there is much that is unknown, and is therefore only the subject of conjecture or belief or ignorance.

Do you mean that it is a moral obligation to consider science as truth? The matter does have a moral feel to it.

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