Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.
Philosophical assumptions relating the theory of knowledge aspire towards an understanding of and differentiating among belief, truth and justification. Over the ages since Immanuel Khant’s propositions regarding enlightenment philosophers are still struggling to define and conceptualize the term in relation to knowledge acquisition, revision and validation. As such, in perceiving that ‘knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts’ it would become necessary to define knowledge and facts. Subsequently, a detailed differentiation between the two will be embraced and thereafter conclusions derived from the exposition in relation to two are of knowledge namely religion and ethics.
What is knowledge?
Both linguistic definitions as well as philosophical assumptions differ on what knowledge really is. Linguistically it has been defined as one’s familiarization with something or someone. It can extend from knowing about the person or thing through acquisition of facts; information or application of skills. Also, facts and information regarding a person or thing could be accessed through an education process.1
Theory of knowledge posits that its foundations distinguish philosophy from science. As such, the definition of knowledge still is a controversial issue among philosophers even down to the twenty-first century. Classical views embrace the notion that for a statement to produce knowledge it must possess three distinct elements. First the statement must be justified, proven true then believed by a substantial number of people. Arguments have been subsequently that people can say that they believe, but they do not. It is left then for truth poof and justification of the statement to be established for knowledge authenticity.2
If this is so then, from a philosophical premise questions regarding what constitute belief, truth and justification may have to be clarified. However, perceptions of truth itself are controversial, in the same way knowledge is. In society today everywhere people claim to have truth especially, among religious leaders. Instinctively though, what is the truth? Precisely, what is knowledge? Incidentally, philosophers claim that words are used to describe truth.
For example, correspondence theory of truth advances that truth is relative to the world and whether it accurately describes it. Importantly, this theory posits that ture beliefs and statements must correspond with the state of affairs or reality.3 Justifiably; a person may say ‘there is no money.’ To describe this statement as truth or falsehood there must be proof that nowhere in the world money exists. Once this can be proven reality is established and the statement could be considered truth leading towards acquisition of knowledge.
Likewise, justification and belief in the statement must correspond to reality for knowledge to be acquired; produced, shaped, classified and accepted. The knowledge issue here in this opened ended question corresponding to what is knowledge is how is knowledge defined? Can truth, belief and justication alone offer enough scope for knowledge to be acquired; produced, shaped, classified in relation to our 21st century world? Incidentally, is knowledge nothing more than the systematic organization of facts?
What are facts?
Philosophical perceptions interpret facts as being events that have occurred or actuality. For example, World Wars 1 and 2 have actually occurred. The events/s emerge as facts from two perspectives; first the truth of it to have happened and secondly records in history books support an account of the events. Testing a statement to establish whether it is fact/s lay in verifying the corresponding experience as depicted in world wars 1 and 2.4
Alternatively, modern philosophers contend that facts are synonymous to truth when considered in relation to opinions. Specific to philosophy it must be clarified that facts might be conceived as statements that make a true sentence. Also, another philosophical perception is that facts could mean events applicable to a sentence, which makes it true. The statement,’ Barrack Obama is the President of United States of America’ undoubtly concerns the fact that Barrack Obama is the president of United States of America.5
More importantly, with further reference to Engel’s interpretation of the correspondence theory it was explained that elements which make a sentence or statement true are those features linking it to a fact. Precisely, this sentence ‘the world is round’ while it is a scientific fact philosophically it predisposes to the idea of an objective world, which means it has crossed the barriers of belief and justification in aligning itself with truth and knowledge.6
Facts, truth and knowledge are interrelated from the premise of conceptualization and interpretation. Philosophers further expound the facts notion to describe compound facts; fact value distinction model reveal that one fact can actually lead to interpretations of a number of other facts. For example, London is the capital city of Great Britain leads to the interpretation of the fact that both London and Great Britain exist. Next they are places. Therefore, in that sentence/ statement two other facts are compounded Great Britain and London being places and they actually are here on earth apart from the original fact communicated that London is the capital of Great Britain.7
While fact value distinction may not be entirely relevant to this discussion by merely mentioning that philosophers spend time arguing the values in fact may indicate according to Khant how enlightened that have become. What values are there in facts? What value there is in the statement that London is the capital of Great Britain? In my opinion as a young philosopher it lays in acquisition of knowledge, which must be proven true, believed and justified. Then factual counterfactual distinction tries to argue for contrasting fact with what occurred against what might have occurred.8
The fact/ knowledge issue here is a subjective attempted to complicate what is with what could have been. In my opinion why are philosophers interested in what could have been? There are no facts contained in what could have been so why attempt exploring it? Would it develop acquisition of knowledge or revision of it? For example, when pursuing the fact statement London is the capital of Great Britain what sense it makes asking what if London was not the capital of Great Britain. The obvious response would be maybe another place could be named. However, how beneficial is this question towards interpreting the statement knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts. 9
Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts
In the preceding pages of this document when defining and conceptualizing knowledge it was discovered that three criteria must be established for words or statements to be considered knowledge. Truth must be established; believed and justified. Facts are considered truth once the correspondence experience can be verified. In my humble opinion the same is true of knowledge even though Bernard Russel contends that the theory of knowledge is actually a product of doubt implying that knowledge itself is saturated with doubt when attempts are made at justifying corresponding experiences with facts; defining truth and validating beliefs.10
In religion for example, knowledge is not acquired merely through education, learning facts, creating truth, justification and believing in it, but rather some divine intervention of knowing. Here religion embraces emotion as a significant aspect of knowledge acquisition, revision production, shaping, classification and acceptance, which is the distinguishing factor between science and philosophy. The obvious knowledge issue question facing philosophers is can facts, which produce religious knowledge exist without a context.11
Significantly, religious knowledge is classified into four dimensions namely content; frequency; intensity and centrality. Content pertains to facts; frequency; intensity and centrality are associated with determining truth, establishing beliefs and justication for them. The knowledge issue here is where is the corresponding evidence that God/ sprit/divine exists somewhere in a human soul, which is invisible. Facts and knowledge then become intangible/abstract concepts beyond the conventional philosophical paradigms. 11
However, elements of religious knowledge, which are still relevant to this discussion regarding knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts lay in the existence of truth. All religions claim to have truth, which is an important feature of knowledge. In the same way there are strong belief systems in religions institutions justified by doctrine/ content, which again are facts written in a holy book that guide actions. These facts form the knowledge basis of religious practice. 12
When ethical knowledge applications are made to this discussion the element of emotion as it relates to a moral conscience influence in organizing facts; forming beliefs and justifying them is taken into consideration. Ethics is classified as moral philosophy. The knowledge issue question here asks what facts exist that justifies the truth in this area of knowledge. While religion seeks to establish knowing beyond actual facts ethics is preoccupied with facts that determine right and wrong actions by defending; systematizing and recommending concepts.
Philosophers attempt to clarify the boundaries of moral philosophy in advancing that it is not keeping in alignment with religion, social or even legal systems, but aligning one’s self to truth. Essentially, knowledge is truth, facts are truth. Therefore, in summarizing this argument concerning knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts referencing two areas of knowledge religion and ethics (moral philosophy); I must conclude that in my hear since the theory of knowledge is a product of doubt knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts which are likely to produce corresponding experiences. 13
- Cavell, Stanley Knowing and Acknowledging, Must We Mean What We Say? (Cambridge University Press, 2002), 238–266.
- Ibid., 238-266
- Ibib., 238-266
4.Seung. Kant: a Guide for the Perplexed. ( London: Continuum. 2007)
5.Richard Kirkham. Theories of Truth (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1992).
6.Michael Williams. Groundless Belief, (Basil Blackwell, Oxford.1977).
8 Pascal. Engel. Truth. (McGill-Queen's Press- MQUP.2002).
9. Oliver, Alex Fact, in Craig, Edward. (Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge, Oxford.2005).
10. Hartry, Field. Truth and the Absence of Fact (Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 2001).
11. Miller. The Conditions of Moral Realism. The Journal of Philosophical Research, 34,(2009) 123-155.
12. Paul, Guyer, (ed.). Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgement. Critical Essays, (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).
13. Wallach, Wendell; Allen, Colin. Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. (USA: Oxford University Press. 2008)
Alex Oliver, Fact, in Craig, Edward. Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge,
Engel, Pascal. Truth. McGill-Queen's Press- MQUP.2002
Field, Hartry. Truth and the Absence of Fact Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 2001
Guyer, Paul (ed.). Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgement. Critical Essays, Lanham: Rowman
& Littlefield, 2003.
Kirkham, Richard. Theories of Truth: A Critical Introduction, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1992
Miller, C. The Conditions of Moral Realism. The Journal of Philosophical Research, 34, (2009)
Seung, T. K. Kant: a Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum. 2007.
Stanley Cavell, Knowing and Acknowledging, Must We Mean What We Say? (Cambridge
. Wallach, Wendell; Allen, Colin. Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. (USA: \
Oxford University Press. 2008)
Williams, Michael. Groundless Belief, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.1977