Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Epistemology

Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη - episteme-, "knowledge, science" + λόγος, "logos") or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) ofknowledge.[1] It addresses the questions:

  • What is knowledge?
  • How is knowledge acquired?
  • What do people know?
  • How do we know what we know?

Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology


I thought I would make this kind of a questionnaire. I found it quite interesting to wonder how we actually decide to believe something as true. Everyone applies this in their lives at some point and for me, I am a Christian, so from my understanding of the world around me, I come to the conclusion that Christianity is the truth, it is the best explanation for the way everything is.

Firstly I define truth as "what is real".

How I determine what I believe to be true is by taking the best conclusion regarding a situation. This is all we can do in many cases... in fact, most cases. In our daily lives we put faith in the chairs we sit on without scientifically testing them to see if they will hold us up. We drink cups of water trusting that it is safe to drink.
I believe science is an excellent way of finding truth, but it cannot be the only way (practically), because we do not know the limits or scope of science as of yet. No one lives like science is the only way to finding truth. Even if someone did manage to, they would still be trusting their measurements every time they conducted science. To find truth I believe is by using science, philosophy (or common sense), history or personal experience. I don't mean to make up imaginary thinks such as Flying Spaghetti monsters to explain everything. To believe something should include real reasons why to believe something.

I don't believe that you have to test something with a tube to determine its reality. I can see the affects of many things that I cannot test but understand to be true. History is one. I can see the results of history but not history itself. I can see the results of the formation of this world but not the formation of the world itself. I can see the affects of gravity, but not gravity itself.


I believe in Christianity for many reasons, both scientifically and philosophically. Here are several reasons:
General complexity in creation -
People
Planetary positioning etc
Life itself
The Bible -
Prophecy
Miracles
History
Testimonies -
Prophecy
Miracles
Answered prayer
Personal experience
History -
Success of the spread of Christianity
Philosophy -
The idea of a personal God is the most convincing for me
Existence of morality in mankind
The ability to reason


How about you?
How do you determine what you believe to be true?
What do you believe regarding your world view?
Do you believe science is the only way to finding truth?
Do you believe philosophy is the best way to coming to a conclusion about truth?
Is it a mixture of both?
Or is it something I have not mentioned?

Thinking this through may challenge us in what we believe, strengthen us in what we believe.

God gave us brains...use them :)

cheers,

Daniel

28 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. "Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη - episteme-, "knowledge, science" + λόγος, "logos") or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) ofknowledge.[1] It addresses the questions:
    • What is knowledge?
    • How is knowledge acquired?
    • What do people know?
    • How do we know what we know?
    I thought I would make this kind of a questionnaire."

    OK, but let's first establish that you ripped this off Wiki without citation, and you made a conscious decision to leave out this sentence:

    "Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge." Since that sentence was in between the parts of your copy/ paste I wonder if you omitted it not wanting to admit that Epistemology is merely a branch of philosophy, but only you know that for sure.

    " I found it quite interesting to wonder how we actually decide to believe something as true. Everyone applies this in their lives at some point and for me, I am a Christian, so from my understanding of the world around me, I come to the conclusion that Christianity is the truth, it is the best explanation for the way everything is."

    Whaaaa? That paragraph totally lacks perspicuity starting with the third word, "this." Uses what? This? What is the "this" that you refer to?
    You first sentence belies your interest in stating your wonder of how we make decisions because in the second sentence you outline your presuppositions of how and why, without any supporting thoughts or possible options. Remember, the most important part of philosophy (of which you have no understanding) is that you argue one point against another in a logical manner.

    What philosophy is not, but what you think it is, is that because you are a Christian, and you believe so-and-so. Epistemologically, the question is why are you a Christian and why would that lead you to logically deduce "from the world around you" that "Christianity is the truth, it is the best explanation for the way everything is."

    You're cracking me up, Dan. You stated a belief. You are nowhere near epistemology or philosophy, and if you were, it would jump up and bite you in the ass because you would not recognize it for what it is and what it is not. If I say I believe in fairies from what I see happening in my garden is in no way related to philosophy or epistemology.

    Before you speak of Epistemology you need to have studied the basis of all philosophy that is found in the second chapter of any college textbook on philosophy- Logic. You have not made a logical statement yet.

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  3. "How about you?"

    I am an analytical empiricist. Philosophy is good for asking questions, but practically useless for providing answers.

    "How do you determine what you believe to be true?" Logic and reason. Empirical evidence.

    "Do you believe science is the only way to finding truth?" Yes.
    "Do you believe philosophy is the best way to coming to a conclusion about truth?" No.
    "Is it a mixture of both?"
    As I said, Philosophy is important for the asking of the questions,. Philosophers run along side the train of science hollering instructions to the engineer, who understands that their incantations cannot be tested, but he sometimes nods to them in approval of a valid question then goes back to operating the train.
    "Or is it something I have not mentioned?"
    Yes, but I don't want to muddy the already riled up waters, plus I think you will run into a wall shortly that will give me an opening to discuss further.

    "Thinking this through may challenge us in what we believe, strengthen us in what we believe.
    God gave us brains...use them :)"

    I doubt very much if you are yet ready to think this through in a logical matter. Rather that post half the definition of Epistemology, then proceed like you are using the tenets of Epistemology, you would have reserved some integrity by naming the post, "This is what I think."

    You are presupposing that "thinking this through" will "strengthen" what you already "believe."

    What you are saying, in effect is that , "I am doing everything I can to convince myself that belief in the Christian God is the ultimate truth, Philosophy and science be damned.
    "cheers,
    Daniel"

    Cheers to you. Go get some cookie.

    Froggie

    PS
    Just so you know, I have raised five kids and I have seen the light come on as they become more educated, and for your edification, two of them are classical moderate Christians.
    My youngest son just finished his first year in college. He will be taking Philosophy 101 in the fall and he already bought the book for the course! So…a couple days ago he was home and we were talking and he blurts out, "I am convinced that everything everybody does is for totally selfish purposes!"
    Hee hee! Game on! Thus I am accustomed to a plethora of sophomoric philosophical arguments from kids your age. You will mature and I am sure that you we be successful and have a great future, just as I think my knuckle headed son will! :)

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  4. You come to the conclusion that "Christianity is true" based on what, precisely? If it's just an assertion about your own personal opinion, that's fine. However, if you are making a truth claim (which it sounds like you are), then you are making an Argument from Ignorance; a logic fallacy.

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  5. Frog man and DrJ,

    OK, but let's first establish that you ripped this off Wiki without citation, and you made a conscious decision to leave out this sentence:

    Fixed.
    I cannot see the sentence you mean? I put what I put. I assumed everyone would know that it is a philosophical term.

    Whaaaa? That paragraph totally lacks perspicuity starting with the third word, "this." Uses what? This? What is the "this" that you refer to?
    "This" meaning what I stated in the previous sentence. "to wonder how we actually decide to believe something as true"

    You first sentence belies your interest in stating your wonder of how we make decisions because in the second sentence you outline your presuppositions of how and why, without any supporting thoughts or possible options. Remember, the most important part of philosophy (of which you have no understanding) is that you argue one point against another in a logical manner.

    I purposefully did not argue my point for reasons. Don't you think an atheist would get distracted pulling my arguments apart and forget about giving his own, very common. I notice that Christians are always defending because they want to share the truth the believe. How about we change the battle onto the atheist's ground ay?
    Sound like a nice change? So I made this a questionnaire, to find out what atheists and (others) actually thought and why (also for interests sake.
    I'll share my reasons in time.

    DrJ,

    I understand some fallacies and I assume you should realize that their is no belief without a fallacy.

    So Froggie,
    Thanks for answering my questions. It sounds like you would believe the statement "Only those things which can be empirically verified have any meaning".

    I am doing everything I can to convince myself that belief in the Christian God is the ultimate truth, Philosophy and science be damned.

    ? Where did I say that? I believe Christianity because it makes the most sense to me.

    cheers,

    Dan

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  6. Dan,

    "I believe Christianity because it makes the most sense to me."

    That is what we call a conversation stopper.
    I'm glad it makes the most sense to you.
    Really I do. Bye for now.

    /F

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  7. OK Froggie cya. One last question...So since God cannot be tested scientifically with a test tube (As, discussed in the previous thread), there is no way you could ever come to believe in Him... even if repeated answered prayer happened? Could that be called evidence of God "affecting" things around us?

    "That is what we call a conversation stopper."

    No, it is called a statement that has not been supported yet.

    cheers,

    Dan

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. There we go, I have added some support to my statement. It is in the original post.

    cheers,

    Dan

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  10. I think I would agree with Froggie, but I'm going to restate it. not because Froggie's statement need to be restated, but because my impression of the issue here is slightly different:

    Dan, you seem to be confusing "why you believe" Christianity to be true with "how you can know" Christianity (true or not). The former is a justification for faith, while the latter is actually epistemology. The things which convince you of the truth of your religion are not.

    I remember getting confused (often) when people used words like Epistemology and Ontology, so one day i sat down and read definitions on both terms for several hours - until the concepts were burned into my brain. Here are very simple definitions:

    Ontology: what exists
    Epistemology: how we can know it exists

    So, justification for your faith isn't epistemology. At least, this is how I understand the terms.

    Now then, to answer your questions:

    How do you determine what you believe to be true? I use a combination of methods. Like Froggie, I'm an empiricist: the more I can see/touch a thing myself, the more likely I'll believe it's true. I also use logic to figure out the likelihood of something being true. Finally, I take the opinions of others into account, and occasionally will trust my instincts.


    What do you believe regarding your world view?
    I'm sorry, but this question is too open-ended for me. My world view is complicated, and I can't sum it up in a few sentences.


    Do you believe science is the only way to finding truth?
    Of course not. I very much doubt that science will ever be able to tell me whether to fall in love with a girl or not; nor will it tell me the best way to play a solo that bridges the gap between other sections of a song. It wont tell me whether a statement like "Democrats suck!" is true or not.

    However, science is exceedingly good at explaining how the objective natural world works.

    Do you believe philosophy is the best way to coming to a conclusion about truth?
    No, but only because I don't like your use of the word "philosophy" here. Philosophy is merely a set of intellectual tools - and tools are only as effective as the person using them is skilled. They can be extremely useful, but in the hands of someone who doesn't understand them well, they'll obscure the truth (not reveal it).

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  11. PART II

    What's my epistemology? I'm a skeptic. The more confidently a person states their conclusions/ideas, the more likely I am to examine those conclusions. This applies to my own as well.

    ---

    I will be honest: this epistemology has resulted in me growing less confident of my ideas. The older I get, the less I know.

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  12. Hey Whateverman,

    The meaning of Epistemology when taken in context of this post means..."How do we know what we know?" as I quoted above.
    Froggie went around looking for greeblies under rocks accusing me of missing out info from quotes when I didn't.

    Thankyou for your reply.

    This post is asking us to think about why we believe what we believe... this is epistemology is it not? not ontology. Ontology may be part of it because we move into discussing what IS.
    But I am asking mainly "why" and "how" do we come to the conclusions have about truth. I have given a brief one of mine.

    Regarding this I'm sorry, but this question is too open-ended for me. My world view is complicated, and I can't sum it up in a few sentences.

    I should narrow it down to not so much a world view, but rather belief about our origins, such as God etc. Which in the end is the base to what would affect our world view. If I were an atheist my world view would be hugely different.
    But you are right I may have been too vague.

    regards,

    Dan

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  13. What's my epistemology? I'm a skeptic. The more confidently a person states their conclusions/ideas, the more likely I am to examine those conclusions. This applies to my own as well.

    But, to examine someone else's claims... you need to be measuring it up to some standard of your own to judge whether it is false or not. Or else how do you judge?

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  14. Dan,

    "Froggie went around looking for greeblies under rocks...."

    That's a cute euphemism for "handed my ass to me."

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  15. Whateverman wrote: What's my epistemology? I'm a skeptic. The more confidently a person states their conclusions/ideas, the more likely I am to examine those conclusions. This applies to my own as well.

    Da Pilgrim responded: But, to examine someone else's claims... you need to be measuring it up to some standard of your own to judge whether it is false or not. Or else how do you judge?

    I answered this question above: empiricism, logic, external opinions & instincts. Any one of these on their own wouldn't give me enough confidence that I'd judged correctly; in combination, they seem to be pretty reliable (but not 100%, obviously)

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  16. I'm going to restate what I said above: justification for your beliefs/opinions isn't epistemology (as far as I understand the term).

    Why you do believe in X is not epistemology
    How you can believe in X is.

    This field of philosophy involves the acquiring of knowledge. An example would be logic, as well as emotion, instinct, faith, etc. How can you know the God of the Bible? Through faith, personal revelation & the Bible - that's epistemology.

    How you determine whether Christianity is true or not is a different subject.

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  17. Dan,
    Perhaps you would like to throw your pathetic body of intelligence into other philosophies of which you have no unerstanding.

    Just so you know, I will not be a party to any of thoise discussions.

    People that learn philosophy from bible colleges actually are trained in anti-philosophy.

    I'd like to be less dimissive, because I like you, and I think you will do well, but at the expense of logic and reason.

    Next post!

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  18. Logic is a tool, not a standard. Epistemology (again, as I understand the term) involves tool usage.

    As a tool, there are jobs for which logic either wont be effective, or might even screw things up. Go to a concert by your favorite band, and you're not going to use much logic to figure out whether you're having a good time. Similarly, logic is (mostly) useless when it comes to determining whether you love your wife or not.

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  19. Hey there guys,

    Froggie quoted me and said Dan,

    "Froggie went around looking for greeblies under rocks...."

    That's a cute euphemism for "handed my ass to me."


    If you like to see it that way :). I am sure they should invent a new fallacy and call it the lemon picking fallacy as opposed to the cherry picking fallacy.

    Perhaps you would like to throw your pathetic body of intelligence into other philosophies of which you have no unerstanding.

    How did you learn philosophy Froggie? Through trial and error or were you just perfect from the word go?

    People that learn philosophy from bible colleges actually are trained in anti-philosophy.

    You know, I could actually agree with you to a degree there.

    I'd like to be less dimissive, because I like you, and I think you will do well, but at the expense of logic and reason.

    How can someone do well at the expense of logic and reason? That's not very logical is it? LOL.

    Next post!

    Coming.

    Whateverman said:
    I'm going to restate what I said above: justification for your beliefs/opinions isn't epistemology (as far as I understand the term).

    Why you do believe in X is not epistemology
    How you can believe in X is.


    I started the original post talking about "how" and then went on to talking about "why".
    Thank you for helping me understand clearer the actual meaning and purpose of epistemology.

    No, but only because I don't like your use of the word "philosophy" here. Philosophy is merely a set of intellectual tools - and tools are only as effective as the person using them is skilled. They can be extremely useful, but in the hands of someone who doesn't understand them well, they'll obscure the truth (not reveal it).

    Quite true.
    However, whoever can come up with the best explanation (or non-explanation) eg. Christians, atheists, agnostic atheists, deists... shouldn't they be given the credit to be believed as the most likely truth? Like sitting on a chair that hasn't been tested to be secure 100%, we can still choose a belief when being not 100% sure.
    Everyone chooses a belief, I even believe non-beliefs are beliefs.

    cheers,

    Daniel

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  20. Dan,

    "How did you learn philosophy Froggie? Through trial and error or were you just perfect from the word go?"
    I started with two formal classes in college, but that was 40 years ago :)

    "People that learn philosophy from bible colleges actually are trained in anti-philosophy.

    You know, I could actually agree with you to a degree there."
    Thanks, but there is no need to agree with me. Even if you don't agree, I am still right. :)

    "I'd like to be less dimissive, because I like you, and I think you will do well, but at the expense of logic and reason.

    How can someone do well at the expense of logic and reason? That's not very logical is it? LOL."

    Correct. It is not logical, as it is not logical how many ignoramuses actually make a good living by extracting fractured and disparate verses from their cultural artifact, the bible to justify all manners of irrational activities.

    "Next post!

    Coming."

    Hurry up!

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  21. Dan,

    "How did you learn philosophy Froggie? Through trial and error or were you just perfect from the word go?"

    Humbly speaking, I am the most interesting man in the world.
    I can speak French...in Russian.
    I would show my feminine side...if I had one.
    I am permitted to touch the art in museums.
    Women fawn over my every move.
    People lavish gifts on me daily, just because I am so smart.
    I am almost the perfect human being, but I elect not to be, 100%, to appear humble.
    I have also typed this entire comment.... and never once...did my fingers leave my hands.

    I deserve your unconditional respect and I forbid you to oppose anything I say.

    If you do, you will end up as an utter and defeated failure.

    Next!

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  22. Da Pilgrim (Dan) wrote the following to me:

    whoever can come up with the best explanation (or non-explanation) eg. Christians, atheists, agnostic atheists, deists... shouldn't they be given the credit to be believed as the most likely truth? In one sense, the group that comes up with the best explanation should be given credit, yes, but this credit does not mean their subsequent explanations are assumed to be as good as the first. Simply put, I can be right the first time, and wrong the second time.

    Dan also wrote the following to me: Like sitting on a chair that hasn't been tested to be secure 100%, we can still choose a belief when being not 100% sure.
    Everyone chooses a belief, I even believe non-beliefs are beliefs.


    I disagree quite strongly that we "choose beliefs". However, I think that might be a topic for a different thread. I'll just say that I agree with you about making choices without being 100% sure; I call myself a "deist" without being sure that such a deity exists. But - having made the choice, I am constantly reminding myself that I might be wrong.

    Making a choice doesn't mean one must stick to that choice...

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  23. Hi. I came across your blog through another blog I follow and have signed up as a follower. When you’re free, please do visit me and let me know what you think of my blog and leave a comment. If you like, do follow as well. I am always open to great new people and interesting websites. Look forward to hearing from you

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  24. Dan,

    I hope all is OK with you!
    You are cospicuous in your absence......

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  25. Hey Frog man,

    I am all sweet. My absence has been due to business and I may have some future plans regarding blogging. So I will see what happens in the near future...stay tuned, LOL.

    I hope you are well.

    covnitkepr1,

    I'll be keen to check your blog out when I have the time to.
    Always good to meet new people!

    Dan

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  26. I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come over to my blog and check it out. God bless, Lloyd

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey there,

    I'll be over to have a look.

    cheers, and God bless you to!

    Dan

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