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When discussing epistemology you can’t stop to talk about that nagging doubt you have about whether or not you should take that CD over to Curitiba. I mean, you can’t address personal, local, selfish problems. After all, Truth will not stop being truth just to make room for your issues.

But that’s kinda problematic, for the following reason. Knowledge has deep personal implications. How “knowing” works has a lot to do with your day to day life. And so epistemology has to do with how you live your life, in a very direct, very inescapable, very urgent way.

In fact, epistemology is a difficult subject not because the properties of knowledge are too complex. They are simple, actually. The problem is that to understand some of the central issues of epistemology you have to, at least momentarily, let go of very ingrained attitudes towards the world — and few are willing.

This letting go, ironically, is exactly what some people argue objectivity is for. At some level, being able to give up on your idiosyncratic perspective helps you to understand. In the sense that it allows you to see farther — the proverbial giant shoulder stand. But that does not mean we should be objective, at least not if we take objectivity to mean that the subjective is “less true” or less precious than the objective. Instead, we should have a para-subjectivity.

Whatever we do with our ideas, we should never forget that they are ours and so should serve our goals — and be our responsibility!

From that follows that each and every person must accept the role of figuring out for himself which ideas are important and which are not. As Feyerabend shows, no knowledge at all is possible without a given person that, relying on himself, is able to make his own rules and have his own opinions.

This does not — except for the most pubescent of readers — mean fantasy, much less idle fantasies.

It means relevance. It means that it knowledge should be part of a mature mind. It means that knowledge must be personally and directly important.

Putting things on those terms might take away from science a certain aura of holiness, this sort of larger than life quality that leads the such as Dawkins to become as dull as the opponents he chose, but it certainly does not make science any less useful or powerful.

In fact, to my own biased opinion, those terms make science more important. It sheds many of the artificial barriers between science and daily life — but also between those two and religion, for example. Everything is part of my own journey through the amazement of living in this big beautiful universe.


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