THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE, Essence and meaning of knowledge - Philosophy


In the entire world history of the development of philosophical thought, no one has ever bypassed one of the fundamental sections in the system of philosophy, which is the theory of knowledge. Without considering the theory of knowledge, no philosophical system is conceivable. This, among other things, is dictated by the power of the connection between philosophy and specific sciences, on which it relied and is now based in its development. This is necessary primarily for the development of the theoretical sections of any science, but at the same time it is necessary for the progress of the philosophical culture itself, and ultimately for the satisfaction of the innumerable set of vital questions of society. Mankind has always strived to acquire new knowledge. The process of mastering the secrets of being is an expression of the higher aspirations of the creative activity of the mind, which is the great pride of mankind. Over the millennia of its development, it has passed a long and thorny path of cognition from the primitive and limited to ever deeper and all-round penetration into the essence of being.

Here is how the United States philosopher N. Lossky writes about this: "In the soul of every person who is not too clogged by fate, not too pushed to the lower stages of spiritual existence, Faust's thirst for infinite breadth of life is burning ... But if my self can not expand and become identified with other Ego, that still I have a means to get out of the boundaries of my individuality, at least in part: it consists in knowledge ... We are talking about such knowledge as the poet gives, comprehending down to the deepest bends the inner life world, all that is hidden in the most in imnyh mysteries of the soul of every being. If we are told that there is no such knowledge comprehending real life, that knowledge has only a symbolic character, that we know not the thing itself, but only the action of it on us, or if we are told that the world we know is only the world of our ideas, the world of phenomena that are played out according to the laws of our minds, then this kind of knowledge will not satisfy us: we are suffocated in a narrow sphere. I, we want to go out into the vast the sea of ​​reality, as it exists, regardless of the properties of our self. "

In these remarkable, extraordinarily figurative words of Lossky, with which he opens his own theory of knowledge, the main problems associated with the topic of knowledge are very accurately expressed. Their presentation will be devoted to this chapter.

The essence and meaning of knowledge

All people naturally aspire to knowledge. Everything that extends before us and occurs in us is known through our sensory impressions and reflection, experience and theory. Sensations, perceptions, ideas and thinking, the degree of their adequacy to what is being learned, the delimitation of true knowledge from the illusory, the truth from delusion and lies - all this has been carefully studied from the earliest times in the context of various problems of philosophy, but above all such a section as theory of knowledge. Along with the "general metaphysics", which deals with the problems of being and consciousness (in our course the previous chapters are devoted to them), the theory of knowledge forms the basis of all philosophy. They are already based on more special sections on social philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, etc. Theory of knowledge is a general theory that explains the very nature of human cognitive activity, in whatever field of science, art or everyday practice it is carried out.

Mankind has always strived to acquire new knowledge. Mastering the secrets of being is an expression of the higher aspirations of the creative activity of the mind, which is the pride of man and mankind. For millenniums of its development it has passed a long and thorny path of knowledge from primitive and limited to ever deeper and all-round penetration into the essence of the surrounding world. On this way, an innumerable number of facts, properties and laws of nature, social life and the man himself were discovered, one another was replaced by scientific pictures of the world. The development of scientific knowledge occurred simultaneously with the development of production, with the flowering of the arts, artistic creativity. Knowledge forms a complex system that acts in the form of social memory, its wealth is passed on from generation to generation, from people to people through the mechanism of social heredity, culture.

Theory of knowledge historically developed in interaction with science. Some scientists investigate objective reality, and others - the very reality of research: this is a vital separation of spiritual production; some gain knowledge, and others - knowledge about knowledge, so important for science itself, and for practice, and for developing an integrated worldview. Scientists themselves do not always properly appreciate the results of theoretical and cognitive research, although widely-minded, great scientists often themselves carry out this double work of the mind. For example, G. Galileo specifically dealt with questions of the theory of knowledge; R. Descartes, G. V. Leibniz, I. V. Goethe and others were both scientists and philosophers.

Theory of knowledge is also called epistemology, or epistemology. These terms have Greek roots: gnosis - cognition, recognition; knowledge, knowledge and episteme - knowledge, skill; the science. In United States, the term "knowledge", as well as "cognition", carries two main meanings: first, knowledge as a given, extracted fact; secondly, the process of recognition, extraction of knowledge in the first sense. Epistemology can not but concern these sides, and yet in the narrow sense, the task of epistemology is rather the study of the nature of the "ready" knowledge than the methods of obtaining it. Thus, gnoseology is knowledge about knowledge. Consequently, some experts prefer to speak about knowledge theory, rather than cognition, since in the last word the shade of the cognitive process is expressed more strongly. In the last decades, scientists are increasingly interested in the process of obtaining knowledge, its increment, development, and this involves studying and using the achievements of the history of sciences, data of cognitive psychology, the recording of the personal factor in cognitive activity.

Of course, what has been said only introduces the theory of knowledge (or the theory of knowledge) into the problem, and we do not give definitions yet. NO Lossky, who made a significant contribution to the development of epistemological aspects of philosophy, proposes to distinguish between epistemology and the psychology of knowledge in the following way. Subjective processes associated with knowledge, "acts of knowledge - the activity of attention, discrimination, perception, recall, etc., as well as their dependence on intellectual processes, namely, on the feelings and will" Is the subject of the psychology of knowledge. The task of epistemology is the objective side of knowledge. "Epistemology, or theory of knowledge, is a spider about the properties of truth." 4 Since truth is the objective side of knowledge, consisting in a relation with its subjective side, in so far epistemology in its development determines the subject of the psychology of knowledge. The center of gravity of epistemology lies in the psychological side of knowledge, it does not depend on psychology, but, on the contrary, justifies it. Similarly, the relationship of the theory of knowledge with the "physiology of knowledge" is formed, i.e. the study of the nervous and brain processes that accompany the acts of cognition and comprehension.

Essential is the fact that although epistemology can not ignore the diverse data obtained in related sciences: the psychology and physiology of knowledge, it can not and should not depend on its premises from them. The proper delimitation of objects is directed precisely at this. Ideally, the theory of knowledge should justify all knowledge, including the natural and philosophical. It should explain the very possibility of such knowledge, its essence, the content of the concept of truth, its criteria. Therefore it is clear that if the theory of knowledge includes the conclusions of some other theories as prerequisites, then it risks getting into the logical circle. The person who begins the construction of epistemology is in a difficult situation: he must himself "raise himself by the hair," to create a theory in fact on a bare ground in order to satisfy the ideal of non-premise. Whoever wants to protect himself from such stones, about which his teaching about knowledge could break, must carefully analyze the "dogmatic premises" relating to epistemology, which are implicitly present in various scientific and philosophical concepts. And the fact that such theoretical and cognitive prerequisites can be found almost everywhere, to show fairly simply. As Lossky puts it, following I. Kant, the founder of the critical method, we must resort to a very peculiar approach. We must build a philosophical theory of knowledge "without drawing on any other theory," not using the statements of other sciences. " Anyone who wants to do this analysis, not relying on any theory, does not even have the ability to determine any knowledge, for example, he does not have the right to approach his research with the idea that "knowledge is the mental reproduction of reality" etc. Of course, one can, of course, "take advantage of the works of other sciences and their analysis of the whole world, but only as a material, and not as a basis for the theory of knowledge." For there is no such knowledge, there is no such statement that does not contain the products of our (any) theories of knowledge. "

The ideal of a pure, non-premise theory of knowledge is difficult and almost unattainable. Moreover, in practice, the theory of knowledge in the exact sense, for example, in the one proposed by Lossky, can not be completely separated from related branches of philosophy. Two points are particularly important here. First, in religious philosophy, it is impossible to act without presuppositions, rejecting the most essential for a religiously thinking person "prerequisite", i.e. specifically this knowledge about God, about the real Truth that determines the existence of the "truth" epistemological. At the same time, the construction of a system of religious philosophy can still have the character of "lifting oneself by the hair", it contains the bridging of the gap between the finite and infinite - the transcendental reality. This can be seen by reading PA Florensky: his work "The Pillar and the affirmation of the truth" is an experience of this kind. Religious epistemology is often inherent in ontology, ie. in it the construction of the theory of knowledge occurs together with the ontological construction.

Secondly, we should mention a feature of our time, such as scientism (from Latin - science), i.e. absolutization of the role of science. The influential part of modern epistemology is directly oriented toward scientific (primarily natural-science) cognition and, in its methods and material, essentially merge with the methodology of science. Is it necessary to separate the methodology from the theory of knowledge? If we start from the theory of knowledge given above, then yes. The methodology studies not knowledge and truth as such, but methods of obtaining them - in a specific setting of scientific research. Nevertheless, it turns out that not a speculative, but a substantive study of how the spider accumulates its knowledge, allows to understand very much about the nature of the received knowledge, its structure, functioning, the status of its parts. Philosophers who are engaged in this type of research, as a rule, own rich factual material on the history of science, and their conclusions should not be neglected. Without a comprehensive and profound generalization of the achievements of specific sciences and how these results were achieved in the throes of creativity, in ups and downs, in insights and delusions, the theory of knowledge can degenerate into scholasticism, into a system of artificial constructions. Note that classical epistemology usually deals with an individual subject of knowledge, considering several subjects as nothing more than an illustration of the theory. The methodology of science, in its modern variants, draws attention to the collective nature of an essential part of scientific knowledge (the concept of the "scientific community" in T. Kup) and its historical nature, for example, analyzing the essence of scientific revolutions. These aspects are very valuable. Moreover, modern philosophy tends to be applied, and the methodology of science will give an example of such applications, being not only descriptive, but also normative teaching. It helps scientists and stimulates scientific progress

From the primitivization of the Hegelian thesis goes "Marxist epistemology," which, however, does not extend beyond the assertion that it is also "logic", and "materialistic dialectics." But this is an extreme case of the ontologization of the theory of knowledge, essentially abolishing it altogether and based on the most wretched ontology of knowledge, revealing and making a common heuristic achievement. When combined with methodology, the task of epistemology is to comprehend what knowledge really is and how it is achieved. Cognition involves a creative attitude toward oneself, inventing cunning techniques of experimentation, sophisticated methods of observation, in order to invade as effectively as possible the thought that "lies and waits" when it is found. In this respect, knowledge is like looking for a treasure.

In the rest of the exposition, as well as the rest of the book, we will not link ourselves to the construction of the system, which will save us from the need for explicit construction of this or that "non-premise" pure epistemology. Rather, a description will be given of the variegated fabric of the problems that arise here, the ways to solve them, and various examples. This can be compared with the study of geometry, when instead of a dry formal-axiomatic construction of its foundations one immediately begins to get acquainted with its methods that find a living appendix in life itself. The only thing you need to remember: axioms exist, and "correct" construction in need is possible. So we are freed from philosophical naivete, but we give ourselves the pleasure of enjoying these advantages without losing the fruits of criticism. At the modern level, the theory of knowledge is the result of a generalization of the whole history of the development of cognition of the world. It explores the nature of human cognition, the forms and laws of transition from the superficial notion of things (opinions) to the comprehension of their essence (true knowledge), and in this connection considers the question of ways to achieve the truth, its criteria. But man could not know the true as true, if he did not make mistakes, therefore the theory of knowledge also examines how a person falls into error and how he overcomes them. Finally, the most burning question for all epistemology was and remains the question of what practical, vital meaning has a reliable knowledge of the world, of man himself and of human society. All these numerous questions, as well as those that are born in the field of other sciences and in public practice, facilitate the formulation of a vast problematics of the theory of knowledge, which in its totality can provide an answer to the question of what knowledge is. To know means, in the widest sense, to own and be able. Knowledge is the connecting thread between nature, the human spirit and practical activity.

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