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The Concepts of Knowledge, Belief and Ignorance Essay

Philosophy comes from the Greek words “philo” which means love and “sophia” which means wisdom. When these words are combined, this would then give the meaning of philosophy, which is “the love of wisdom” (Russo & Fair, 2000, n. p. ). Unlike science and mathematics, philosophy does not rely on scientific observation and experiments or on formal methods of proof (e. g. , calculations and formulas). In philosophy, the search for truth comes from presenting ideas or simply asking questions, drawings arguments (debating or arguing), and testing the arguments to determine how these work (Nagel, 2005).

Thus, philosophy, like science and mathematics, aims principally at obtaining knowledge. Yet, the knowledge that philosophy aims to attain gives system and unity to all bodies of science. The search for philosophical knowledge also involves a more comprehensive and systematic study of specific questions that focus on meaning, assessment or evaluation, and rational or logical consistency (Nagel, 2005). Philosophy is further divided into different branches. These include logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, social and political philosophy, and aesthetics.

Logic deals with the science of correct reasoning or arguments. Metaphysics, on the other hand, is the study of the ultimate nature of reality; thus, it systematically presents how things really are. Epistemology deals with the study of knowledge. It seeks to discuss analytically what we know. Ethics is another branch of philosophy which deals with the study of moral problems (what is right and what is wrong). It attempts to establish rational grounds for good acts. Social and political philosophy works with the study of the value judgments and the nature of the state.

Lastly, aesthetics is the study of the nature and value or judgments related to art and the aesthetic experience (Grolier Incorporated, 1989). Discussing the concept of knowledge with my colleagues, I noticed that we have different sets of arguments regarding the topic. While three of them believe that there is an absolute truth based on the common and accepted knowledge, the remaining two argue that truth is relative and that its existence is dependent upon one’s own set of beliefs, making it impossible for an absolute truth to occur.

For those who do not believe the existence of an absolute truth that is based on the common and accepted knowledge, the concept of knowledge seems to be unrealized. Thus, having the opportunity to explain and illustrate some philosophical concepts, I explained to them the difference of knowledge, mere belief, and willed ignorance. Knowledge, according to philosophic view, is a form of true belief. It has two types: the theoretical knowledge and the practical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge is concerned with assessing and analyzing the presented systematic and factual information and relationships.

Practical knowledge, on the other hand, centers on the application of skills to do certain things. Since knowledge is a form of true belief, it is also important to define what belief means. Belief consists of subjective acceptance (particularly mental acceptance) to particular claim or argument as being the truth. Mere belief is then a deed of believing itself. Only if the claim gathers common mental acceptance or only if the individual or various people have a mere belief about the claim would such claim be considered knowledge. The process of acceptance based on philosophical view does not just happen.

It should be remembered that all knowledge, if to be accepted, undergoes specific criteria that should be assessed or evaluated and have rational or logical consistency. Thus, looking at it in a holistic perspective, the connection of these concepts and the development of knowledge as a product of tested and accepted belief present the existence of an absolute truth based on accepted and common knowledge. On the contrary, if the individual or group of people still chooses to have a different belief that is contrary to the common and accepted knowledge presented to them, then they would become victims of willed ignorance.

Ignorance then becomes a false deed of believing about an untested idea or argument. References Grolier Incorporated. (1989). Academic American Encyclopedia. Michigan: Grolier Incorporated. Nagel, T. (2005). What does it all mean. In N. Warburton (Ed. ), Philosophy: Basic Readings (pp. 3–4). New York: Routledge. Russo, M. & Fair, G.. (2000). What is philosophy anyway?. Molloy College Department of Philosophy. Retrieved May 29, 2009, from http://www. molloy. edu/sophia/what_is_philosophy_anyway. htm.


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