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INTRODUCTION TO

KNOWLEDGE
T H E O R Y O F K N O W L E D G E
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K e y Q u e s t i o n s

How much does humanity really know?

What is the relationship between culture, values, and education?

How do we know what is right and what is wrong?

What is knowledge?

How do we know?

How do we distinguish knowledge from belief? truth?

What is a knowledge issue?

How much of ones own knowledge depend on interaction with


other knowers?

To what extent does personal or ideological bias influence our


knowledge claims?
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Our understanding of the world probably contains
inaccuracies and biases that we are not aware of.
We acquire knowledge about the world through
language, perception, reason and emotion, but none
of these ways of knowing can give us certainty.
According to relativism, truth is relative to the
individual.
Two criteria for deciding whether a knowledge claim
is plausible are evidence and coherence.
Knowledge can most easily be defined as justified true
belief.
Truth is independent. Simply believing something does not
make it true.
There are different levels of knowledge ranging from a
superficial grasp of a subject to complete mastery of it.
The difference between knowledge and information is that
knowledge is information organized into a meaningful
whole.
Certainty is a matter of degree.
Absolutism
Authority Worship
Belief
Certainty
Coherence Theory of Truth
Correspondence Theory of Truth
Evidence
Gullibility
Justified true belief
Knowledge
Knowledge claim
Knowledge questions
Personal knowledge
Pragmatic Theory of Truth
Primary knowledge
Relativism
Secondary knowledge
Shared knowledge
Skepticism
Truth

Activities and Readings
Handout - Cosmic Calendar
Image - Pale Blue Dot
Poem - One-Hundred Eighty
Degrees
Video - The Frontier is Everywhere
Handout - Fulfilled Human Life
Video - This is Water
Poem - 180 Degrees
Activity - Knowledge-Belief
Continuum
Activity - Icebreaker Activity
Handout - Key Concepts
Handout - Intelligence, Learning,
and Values
Handout - Benjamin Franklin,
Remarks Concerning the Savages
Article - Your Brain Lies to You
Video - Did You Know 3.0, 4.0
Handout - Limitations of Second
Hand Knowledge
Handout - Certainty
Handout - Truth and Belief
Worksheet - Three Approaches to
Truth
Handout - What are Knowledge
Issues?
Handout - Understanding
Knowledge Issues

key understandi ngs
R e l e v a n t p r e s c r i b e d t i t l e s
k n o w l e d g e i s s u e s / l i n k i n g q u e s t i o n s
Can we know what the meaning of life is?
Are values objective or subjective?
What are the differences between the following:
information, data, belief, faith, opinion, knowledge and
wisdom?
How much of ones knowledge depends on interaction with
other knowers?
To what extent does personal or ideological bias influence
our knowledge claims?
How are knowledge claims justified? Are the following
types of justification all equally reliable: intuition, sense
perception, evidence, reasoning, memory, authority, group
consensus, and divine revelation?
NI ST I nt e r na t i o na l Sc ho o l
Quotes on the Nature of Knowing
The greatest obstacle to progress is not the absence of knowledge but the illusion of knowledge. Daniel
Boorstin

What men really want is not knowledge but certainty. Bertrand Russell

Common sense consists of those layers of prejudice laid down before the age of 18. Albert Einstein

To know ones ignorance is the best part of knowledge. Lao Tse

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save
us from thinking. Alfred Korzybski

We know too much to be skeptics and too little to be dogmatists. Blaise Pascal

It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. T.H. Huxley

People who believe absurdities will commit atrocities. Voltaire

The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates

Knowledge is the small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify. Ambrose Bierce

We must rise above the obsession with quantity of information and speed of transmission, and recognize that
the key issue for us is our ability to organize this information once it has been amassed to assimilate it, find
meaning in it. Gregorian Vartan

Information is acquired by being told, whereas knowledge can be acquired by thinking. Fritz Machlup

If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. Anatole France

Where there is shouting there is no true knowledge. Leonardo da Vinci

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King

Mediocre minds usually dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding. Francois de La
Rochefoucauld

Those who are convinced they have a monopoly on The Truth always feel that they are only saving the world
when they slaughter the heretics. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

There are many who know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom. Democritus

The most important truths are likely to be those which! society at that time least wants to hear. W.H. Auden

The criterion of truth is that it works even if nobody is prepared to acknowledge it. Ludwig von Mises

Truth and False are attributes of speech, not of things. And where speech is not there is neither Truth nor
Falsehood. Thomas Hobbes

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth more than death. Thought is subversive, and
revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and
comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless to the well-tried wisdom of
the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid! Thought is great and swift and free, the light of
the world, and the chief glory of man. But if thought is to become the possession of the man, and not the
privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back fear that their cherished
beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have
supposed themselves to be. Bertrand Russell

De omnibus dubitandum (Doubt everything).

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