Re: Knowledge vs. Belief LO2723

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Sun, 10 Sep 1995 21:02:00 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO2612 --

On Tue, 29 Aug 1995, JOHN N. WARFIELD wrote:

> A variety of contributions to this list have collectively spurred me to
> bring up a topic that I will call "knowledge versus belief".
> Closely allied with this are questions related to "truth".
> I propose to you that knowledge is depersonalized belief. Further that
> by depersonalizing belief to get the concept of knowledge, we replace a
> genuine concept--belief--with an artificial concept--knowledge.
> I propose to you further that truth is depersonalized conviction.
> Further that truth is inevitable belief, where there is no time limit on
> the inevitability.
Now _There's_ something to chew on.

Chomp. chomp.

What's interesting about this is that word "depersonalized".

Here we have two common concepts "knowledge" and "truth" -- heavy with
philosophical burdens -- being related in an unexpected way to matters of
personal experience -- "subjective" personal experience, by this decidedly
odd idea of depersonalization.

I think I like that. For it makes the big burdensome things like
knowledge and truth _depend_ on the little personal ones like conviction
and belief.

If this is Peirce, I have got to read him.

Interestingly, there's a strongly analogous move in Kripke's "Naming and
Necessity". For Russell's Theory of Descriptions, Kripke substitutes what
he calls "rigid designators" -- a fancy word for ordinary names. And
then, in order to allow for the fact that we all use names of people and
things we've never met or come in contact with (which was one of the
motivators for Russell's Descriptions in the first place), Kripke suggests
mildly that we depend on a sort of chain of naming, from the authoritative
first namers -- the people who are directly acquainted with the thing
named -- through a chain of secondary authorities, to us.

And finally, and most poignantly, a formal implementation of exactly such
a scheme is proposed for authenticating users of public-key encryption
methods. So we authenticate, for each other, the names of things and of
people, and events.

> If these ideas are interesting to you, I recommend that you read PEIRCE
> ON SIGNS, James Hoopes, Ed., U of No Carolina Press, 1991.
> John Warfield

Jim Michmerhuizen
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