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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)

Knowledge of the world is acquired from experience under the interpretation of reason.

  1. By reason1, I mean the deduction of conclusions from initial premises (propositions) using the rules of logic. To provide knowledge of the world, these premises must be based on experience.
  2. By experience2, I mean observation of the world, whether studied or casual.
  3. Objective3 experience may be considered to be built up of atomic sense perceptions of the form "I see a red patch now". However, in order for the individual to perceive anything significant, these atomic perceptions need to be combined and analysed. That is, sense perception has to be interpreted before it can be understood. Reason has its part to play in converting sense data into experience even before it is applied to experiences to form a body of knowledge about the world.
  4. A distinction is to be made between experience & experiments4. In an experiment, the conditions are controlled so that the experimenter can determine whether the (pre-selected) proposition p or the proposition not-p is true of the world.
  5. The chief & most successful means of acquiring systematic knowledge of the world is by means of science5, which may be spoken of both as an activity and as a body of knowledge, the collected results of the application of the scientific method.
  6. Historical6 knowledge is a form of experience at second (or more remote) hand. The claims of historical science as to what happened in the past are validated by application of the reason to historical records.
  7. Innate7 knowledge is not available, though innate abilities & propensities most probably are (cf. Chomsky & language acquisition). Hence, the mind at birth is a tabula rasa with respect to knowledge but not with respect to the ability to acquire those skills which are subsequently essential for the acquisition of knowledge.
  8. There will always be areas of experience that are unexplained within any current understanding of the world. The two extreme viewpoints below8 are best avoided.
  9. In the above, we have been concentrating on the first-hand acquisition of knowledge through personal experience and personal reasoning. In practise, because the range of possible experience is so wide, the majority of any individual's knowledge of the world is acquired from books, teachers or other secondary9 media.

Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
12/08/2007 10:17:46 173 (Empirical Knowledge) CT Introduction

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Experience Experiments Historical Knowledge Innate Knowledge Objective Experience
Reason Science Secondary Knowledge The Unexplained  

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

CT Introduction        

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