How do we know what we know, and how do we know that we know it?

Authors Avatar by tadhgmccabeaolcom (student)

Philosophy: How do we know what we know, and how do we know that we know it?

Knowledge was for many years, a rather undisputed topic. Philosophers were in pretty widespread agreement about the definition of knowledge. It is a justified true belief.

In this definition of knowledge, you can see that there are three separate components to it.


The first component of this definition of knowledge is truth. To fully comprehend even the most rudimentary definition of truth, we need to understand the difference between two things that sound similar, an assertion and a proposition. An assertion is a linguistic piece, either spoken or written, that has a truth value. Despite what it might sound like, truth value isn’t a measure of how right something is, it’s just the state of being either true, or false, or indeterminate. The content of your assertion is your proposition. It’s the underlying meaning of what you’re saying. So even though an assertion can change depending on what language it’s spoken in, its meaning can’t change. And a proposition is true if it asserts a claim that corresponds to reality. For example, if i had a book on my table, The proposition when I assert this is a book is true if the object of the this is in fact a book and false if it is anything other than a book.

Based on the understandings of assertions and propositions, we can now understand the definition of a belief. Belief is just when you take a propositional attitude of truth. I believe that this is a book, if in reality i think it is a book. And even if I’m wrong, even if it wasn’t a book, if I really thought that it was a book, that would just be my belief. What all this means is that people can have false beliefs. Simply thinking something doesn’t make it correspond to reality, which is what’s needed for truth and then knowledge.

Join now!

And finally we have justification. Justificatiton is basically having some sort of legitimate evidence to support my belief. And justification can come in a variety of forms. Most often, it comes about through testimony. That is taking someone’s word for it.In fact most of what we know about the world was learned through testimony. We took our teachers’ word for it when they were teaching you stuff, and the same goes for every book you’ve ever read and every news report you’ve ever seen. They’re all just forms of testimony, which you accepted as justification for your knowledge and ...

This is a preview of the whole essay