What Do You Know? A Question And Overview Of Philosophy. Based On The Study Of 'sophie's World'by J Gaarder.

2053 words - 8 pages

In the novel, Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder many philosophical questions are raised. But one of these questions stands up above the rest of them as the most crucial. The question is, 'What is knowledge?' and, 'How do we know what we know?'The question 'what is knowledge?' is relevant to all human beings and all groups in society. Everybody from a newborn baby to someone drawing their last breath or a rebellious group of teenagers, a university student, a stay at home mum, a lawyer, a child or a council worker, everyone is on the pursuit of some sort of knowledge. Everyone wants to learn, to find out more and to understand better and more completely.In the words of the great philosopher, Francis Bacon 'knowledge is power .' This statement is true. Knowledge is the power to excel and the power to make important decisions. Knowledge gives authority, otherwise known as power. Whoever has knowledge also has power in one way or another.If everyone wants knowledge, then does that mean that everyone wants power? Yes, knowledge moves people forward from one stage to the next, or it moves you up from one stage to the next, thus giving you a more powerful position (though often other words are substituted for the word power or powerful, such as influential, responsible, dominant or significant - but in this context they all mean relatively the same thing). So, being in the pursuit of knowledge is being in the pursuit of power.In the dictionary knowledge is defined as what someone knows about a particular subject, about different things or about life in general. 'Macmillan English Dictionary (2002, p. 791)'Knowledge does not mean being smart or exceptionally intelligent, rather it simply means knowing things. So your knowledge is the things that you know, whatever you know.There are different types of knowledge, for example, public knowledge and private knowledge. Private knowledge is gained form personal experience. Public knowledge is shared by all people in society.Private knowledge ties into the Empiricist view (philosophy or theory) of knowledge. Empiricists believe that 'we have absolutely nothing in the mind that we did not first experience through the senses. ' This means that the knowledge that we have we had to acquire at some point during our lives. This theory can be demonstrated through the learning process of a child. For example a child might be told that the oven is hot and that they are not to touch it but the child will more often than not touch the oven anyway because children are curious creatures (as are human beings in general). They will only do this once though because they will have learnt through personal experience or through their senses that the oven is in fact hot.This flows on to the next point to do with Empiricism, if we have nothing in the mind that we have not first experienced in the senses, then any ideas or thoughts that we may have, that we have not experienced through the senses are false conceptions because we...

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