the essential question of knowledge

The question “How do we know?” drives inquiry. When we ask it with the stress on the last word – know — it opens up overview questions on the very nature of knowledge and the forms it takes. When we ask it with the stress on the first word – how? – it takes an analytical edge applied to methods of giving answers. In this blog, we follow this question — sometimes seriously, sometimes lightheartedly — through issues and stories of our day.   Eileen Dombrowski

One response to “the essential question of knowledge

  1. Hi, Eileen and others. I had some reflections, perhaps more appropriate to the OCC website chat groups, but thought that discussion here might create some light (and not just noise and heat). I have been quite troubled about references in TOK materials and from IB representatives to “religious knowledge systems” and to new definitions of knowledge itself which seem to be dismissive of justified-true-belief as at least a provisional definition. I maintain, as I’m sure many other instructors do, that religious ideas are matters of faith and/or belief (depending on how you want to define those terms) and use the simple and obvious example that mainstream religions have contrary ideas about divinity–the idea being of course that if they can’t both be true, then we can’t call either set of ideas/beliefs knowledge. Unless you hold to a gnostic or mystic set of beliefs, even if you are religious you have to admit that you can’t be certain of your perceptions. While tolerance and understanding of religious and cultural matters is no doubt beneficial we are doing our students a disservice if we allow them to treat their beliefs as knowledge and not faith. While it may be considered impious to open the door to faith and doubt in some faith groups, theologians surely would understand and maintain the necessary distinction between knowledge and belief. Any thoughts on this matter? Can anyone out there provide some perspective and background as to where these new tendencies are coming from, and what is motivating them?



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