Thursday, May 28, 2015


[§1 here.]

The nature of knowledge is, of course, itself the subject of scholarly debate. By approaching it through its "propositional content", philosophers from Socrates and forward have been instrumental in getting us to see knowledge as a kind of exalted mental state, namely, a "belief" that is both "true" and "justified". Writing instructors, meanwhile, have long argued that "research is a conversation" (Booth, Colomb, Williams 2006; Graff and Birkenstein 2007). Knowing something, on this view, is not so much a state of mind as a rhetorical competence that allows you to participate in discussions on particular subjects. This view also informs a historical conception of knowledge as shaped by "paradigms" (Kuhn 1970) or "discourses" (Foucault 1972). Here, knowledge is not an attribute of a certain class of propositions, but rather that which determines what counts as a either a solution to a puzzle (in a paradigm) or a statement (in a discourse). In academic contexts, certainly, language and writing are widely considered central to the business of knowing something.

(166 words)

[§3 here.]

[Note: this post is part of an ongoing project described here.]

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