Knowledge, its source and truthfulness have been under question for a long time. People have always wondered what exactly constitutes facts and if there are any defining laws that can be attributed to all knowledge or information available in the world.
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Many philosophers speculated on how information can be interpreted according to its falsity or truthfulness, but have not come to definite conclusions. Edmund Gettier has provided one of the key pieces in understanding and trying to figure out what knowledge really is.
The Gettier problem is a concept that links relative information supported by a form of reasonable assumption and the truthful outcome. Because the process contains an assumption and it happens to be the end result, it does not mean that it is universal and can be applied to all situations and the definitions of knowledge.
The fact that plays a significant role for one to come up with the end result, it is a guess and it is not bound by proper reasoning or factual information. This sort of deduction is not logical and so, is not reliable. For example, a person goes to a store and predicts that there will be a lineup of 10 people. They base this supposition on a mere guess and do not know for sure.
When they get to the store, there are indeed 10 people in the line. The fact that this prediction and end result are the same makes the prediction true, appearing as knowledge. A lot of factors come into play here as the assumption could have been made according to the personal characteristics of a person. The individuals could have been keen observers and every time they went to the store, there were an approximate number of 10 people.
Even if it was 7, 9 or 12, it was in close proximity to 10. Today, the person felt and simply humorously guessed that there will be 10 people. Even though the guess might seem to be educated, as it is based on previous data, it is not exact or universal. So, the question of whether chance or a person’s instinctual or simply random feeling could be attributed to that fact, but the knowledge was raised.
Of course, there could be other factors, such as the limitation of space in front of the store, so only 10 to 12 people could fit in there, but what if someone was standing around the corner? If they were not physically present in the line but were morally aware that they were standing in line, are they were a part of the line’s count? The real question is: Does a visual representation of something, and mental registration of it being that thing, even if it is something else, make it what it is or is not?
Gettier-style examples are effective in raising questions of what constitutes the true knowledge, but they do not refute what actual knowledge is. It makes a person doubt in how personal feelings and coincidences can be used as a basis for building on that guess and deciding on something as a result. The truth is that guessing is not reliable or valid.
It is a simple guess and it can be true or not true from one situation to another. It does not conform to the universality of time and place. If one were to say that gravity on Earth exists, most people would agree that it does exist and this is the exact mechanism that does not let people float around or fly. But a person might question the perspective that people assume to be the same for all humans on the planet.
What if gravity is in fact a malfunction of another or a number of physical and universal laws that have changed the conditions from proper to improper? What if planets are not supposed to have gravity but instead, lack it altogether? If this was the general law of the universe, human knowledge that gravity exists on all planets would be false. It would only be true and indisputable that it exists on planet Earth.
This shows that the perspective and previous knowledge, as well as comprehension and understanding of information are things that determine the end result. Even the definition of a concept or reality can be different. Gravity is just a word attributed to a physical law but other civilizations might use different terminology.
Does the name of a physical law make it knowledge or does the law itself, being in existence, make it true, thus being true knowledge. It seems that knowledge is simply a general and unspecifically defined characteristic of the surrounding environment. It is a criterion that is made up for easy transference of information between people.
The true definition and characteristics of knowledge are relative and can only be specified by each individual situation. The question of what knowledge is could be labeled as irrelevant while the true question is why it is in existence?