Thursday, January 24, 2008

Knowledge and Belief

Knowledge is an amorphous concept, difficult to pin down. Belief is an equally difficult concept. Yet, since Plato conceptualized knowledge as justified true belief, this particular definition has been the most widely accepted. To know something it must be true, the knower must believe it is true and have evidence (justification) that supports the claim to truthfulness. This was almost universally accepted until Gettier came along in 1963 and through counterexamples showed that this particular view of knowledge does not always hold.

But let us for argument's sake accept knowledge as true justified belief. What then is belief? Is knowledge belief with proof? Is belief knowledge without proof? Neither knowledge nor belief needs to be rational or bear any resemblance to rationality (if that exists). Is knowledge or belief (or both) the way we make sense of things? I'd like to venture that the latter is the crucial question! Knowledge and belief have a lot to do with sensemaking. We construct a plausible reality by generating both knowledge and beliefs.