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I am now going to nail the whole problem of knowledge.

The obvious unstated is just a fluctuation in the fabric of reality that you happen to observe. The obvious stated is knowledge.

It is obvious, though, that such statement is just as reliable as the obviousness that bears it. If you “think it is obvious” that for example “the red fruit is good” you will have a problem with pepper.

A whole lot of problems, a whole class of problems, arise when you try to compare knowledge to the basic awareness that precedes it (what we called obviousness). This is like trying to compare books and bridges — you might say both begin with a B, you might come up with clever metaphors for it “bringing you somewhere”, but, seriously, it is just stupid.

Knowledge has a lot of interesting characteristics. For example, it can combine to form new ideas (deduction). It can be shared and recorded. Those “characteristics”, in fact, deserve a lengthier treatment than possible here, and are the subject of the theory of knowledge (whenever it can avoid the mistake i just mentioned).

Thus it is advantageous to state things that are obvious.

Of those properties of knowledge, there is one that is prejudicial: the assumptions. Knowledge always have assumptions. One statement without assumptions would be an statement without meaning — or more precisely an sign without a code.

The assumptions, in a way, are a general form of the basic unreliability of knowledge alluded above.

Before statement, when we are not dealing with knowledge, assumptions are just guesswork, a not-very-special part of the awareness of the individual. After statement, assumptions become a dangerous compromise.

You become committed to the assumptions of your knowledge. But assumptions cannot be examined or discussed: they can only be accepted or denied.

If you could discuss an assumption, it would cease to be such. And in fact, the gradual unearthing of assumptions is the process of maturing of knowledge. Unearthing assumptions does not mean discarding them, but articulating them.

For example, Einsteinian relativity is “better” than Newtonian mechanics because it assumes less.

A method, which is a recipe, is a statement of behaviour. Therefore, it does have assumptions about the actions, but it does not have assumptions about the knowledge itself. It (ideally) references only the pre-knowledge state and not knowledge itself. The great importance of articulating the assumptions of knowledge make the method a very valuable tool.

An assumption is not a given. “Givens” are stated, assumptions are unstated. A given is an specific, quantifiable, on-your-face, piece of data. Assumptions are general and unclear notions and feelings.

Statements are language-acts. Therefore, knowledge is subject to rules of language. But knowledge and language are different things: as an example, many animals have languages, but they do not build knowledge.

Generally speaking, statements are only produced and understood by individuals. That means that knowledge can only be individual. Collective intelligence is not knowledge — even if it is more powerful. An anthill behaves smarter than any single ant can. Humans too are more intelligent in collective than in individual. But an anthill does not know anything, it just behaves in accordance to circumstances. Knowledge is individual and many times it skews the balance.

One of the important properties of language that is inherited by knowledge is the possibility of the lie. You can say things that are wrong. This means that knowledge needs to be correlated to the world to become relevant. Being individual, the adaptation between knowledge and experience is always performed by a concrete person.

Knowledge then is based on personal experiences. It is one (of many) consequence of experiences. Therefore, every proof of an idea is an experience.

One can always seek better and richer experiences. With different sets of experiences, different things usually become obvious. Richer experiences, besides being valuable in and by themselves, also produce better knowledge.

As knowledge interacts with the lives of the people that are subjected to it, it might also lead to the production of experiences that have the goal of enhancing a given piece of knowledge. Those experiments have a double edge: they are almost always more effective at enhancing a given area of knowledge than idle roaming, but on the other hand they are focused in only one area and therefore prevent (by exclusion) experiences related to other areas of knowledge.

The existence of different repertoires of knowledge raises the question: which knowledge is better? Can two different repertoires be compared? And the answer is that knowledge is not made to be translatable into other repertoires. It is not meant to be part of something else. But it is also possible that specific tools can be developed that allow such comparisons. In this case, it is important to understand that the comparison is a further form of knowledge and not part of each of the original areas of knowledge.

It should be obvious, then, that knowledge does not progress “towards” a specific external goal. Instead, it is a development of it’s own structure. Also, it would be foolish to expect the progress of knowledge to be linear or even compatible with it’s own history — any unearthed assumption could conflict with the whole body of knowledge.

Those are all the basic notions you need in order to understand knowledge. All the other buzzwords (truth, correlation, cause, reality, falsifiability, reproducibility, objectivity, exemption, qualitative and quantitative, etc.) are just confusions.

And there goes the problem of knowledge.


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