Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Construction of Knowledge

Paul Boghossian’s recent book Fear of Knowledge is a critique of constructivism and relativism and a defense of a classical conception of knowledge. In opposition to the idea of the constructed fact he writes “many facts about the world are independent of us…the fact…that dinosaurs once roamed the earth is not dependent on us but is, rather, just a natural fact that obtains without any help from us.” (p.20)

Without human minds, humans’ creation of meaning, the creation of techniques of inquiry like science, concepts, categorizations like “dinosaurs” and ancient history there would not be “dinosaurs.” Without these things there wouldn’t be ideas like “mind-independent world.”

First, create language. Then separate and conceptualize mind, world, objects, etc. Then conceive of mind-dependent and mind-independent things. Then forget all this has happened and imagine that you are transparently perceiving and representing the way the world simply is apart from any human looking at it with their particular perceptive constructions. Then say “it’s simply there, objectively.”

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