Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

Basically me and my friend are arguing whether if something cannot be said, can it really be known to us?

Can I possibly know something yet not be able to describe it?


I'm pretty sure there is no absolute answer (yes or no) but can anyone come up with some arguments for why the ability to describe something IS REQUIRED for knowledge?

I want some support to the idea that "no, you can't know something yet not be able to describe it"

Any ideas?

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

DivideByZero wrote:Basically me and my friend are arguing whether if something cannot be said, can it really be known to us?
Can I possibly know something yet not be able to describe it?
Tell me how a strawberry tastes so that I can taste it.

Remember how a strawberry tastes.

BAM. There's your difference.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:29 pm UTC

yeah but how can i have a persuasive argument proving that description is necessary for knowledge?

User avatar
Jos
Posts: 526
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:08 pm UTC
Location: In ur ___, ___'ing ur ____

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Jos » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:31 pm UTC

There are situations when "undescribable" knowlege is worthless; Eg. when the information has to be transferred to someone else (seeing as there is easy to doubt information you cannot verify)
Image
philsov wrote:Internets is a gift to Jos.

littlebuddy wrote:hmm... I wonder if I should call rule 34 on that hammer moderator, she probably has nice legs.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:32 pm UTC

.. you can't because there isn't one?

I mean, it really depends on how you're defining knowledge, now doesn't it? Some people define it as the stuff that *can* be described. I mean, I know how I feel when I sneeze, yet I can't really accurately describe it. Is this knowledge? Perhaps more importantly, does anyone care how *I* feel when I sneeze outside of me?

I can, however, tell you that if you are counting objects and add another object to the list to be counted, your count increases by one. X+1=X+1 and all.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:37 pm UTC

So if I can't describe how I feel, I don't know how I feel.
Would that be right?

but.. what about color
I can't describe color to you (without referencing another color) so how can I argue that I don't know colors.

That color example is really getting me here....

User avatar
zug
Posts: 902
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:05 am UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby zug » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:40 pm UTC

The first thing that popped into my head while reading the OP is how awesome sex is and how the experience can be mechanically (or even emotionally) explained to a virgin, but until the activity is actually undertaken, intellectual knowledge does not grant a real understanding of the awesomeness and all-encompassingness of sex.

I could spend an afternoon teaching a 15 year old a bunch of sex positions and techniques, but until he actually DID the thing he necessarily couldn't be knowledgeable on the subject, though he would be able to describe the things I've taught him to other people and pretend to understand it in the meantime.

So you can describe knowledge without actually possessing it, yes.
Velifer wrote:Go to the top of a tower, drop a heavy weight and a photon, observe when they hit the ground.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:41 pm UTC

So if I can't describe how I feel, I don't know how I feel.
Would that be right?
... no, that would be wrong. Let me try again.
DivideByZero wrote:
Can I possibly know something yet not be able to describe it?
I'm pretty sure there is no absolute answer (yes or no)
... annndd.. this is where you're wrong (and that's okay). There is an absolute answer, and that answer is Yes. Yes, you can possibly know something yet not be able to describe it. You know what Red looks like in comparison to Orange. You know how Strawberries taste in comparison to Oranges.

You likely cannot describe them completely in such a way that an individual who had never seen red nor orange would know what you were talking about, or if they'd never eaten fruit or whatever.

You can, however, describe math in such a way that someone who has never formally manipulated numbers would possibly get it. You can describe another language in such a way as to allow someone who could not speak it becomes able to speak it (Granted, we are talking about a several month description with lots of practice, but you get the point).

You can describe some things you know. You also are incapable of describing some things you know. This doesn't change your knowing of them.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

User avatar
Rinsaikeru
Pawn, soon to be a Queen
Posts: 2166
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:26 am UTC
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

Is direct physical sensory experience the same thing as knowledge? I'm not sure we should conflate taste with say a knowledge of how photosynthesis works.

I'd say if you are knowledgeable about a concept--you should be able to describe it so that others can understand you.

If you have experienced something via your senses some are easier to describe (say touch) than others (say smell).
Rice Puddin.

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:... annndd.. this is where you're wrong (and that's okay). There is an absolute answer, and that answer is Yes. Yes, you can possibly know something yet not be able to describe it. You know what Red looks like in comparison to Orange. You know how Strawberries taste in comparison to Oranges.

You likely cannot describe them completely in such a way that an individual who had never seen red nor orange would know what you were talking about, or if they'd never eaten fruit or whatever.

You can, however, describe math in such a way that someone who has never formally manipulated numbers would possibly get it. You can describe another language in such a way as to allow someone who could not speak it becomes able to speak it (Granted, we are talking about a several month description with lots of practice, but you get the point).

You can describe some things you know. You also are incapable of describing some things you know. This doesn't change your knowing of them.



Arite.. well now I'm beginning to double think my self and my original preposition. Maybe there are some things that cannot be described (like taste, color, etc).

I read somewhere that three criteria must be met in order to achieve knowledge.
1) one must believe it to know it
2) truth must be independent from people
3) a true statement must always remain true forever

I just don't understand how the argument (of indescribable knowledge) supports claim number 2 above.

User avatar
Emily St Aubert
Posts: 40
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:51 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Emily St Aubert » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:08 pm UTC

I would suggest having a look at Plato's Theaetetus as a starting point. Socrates and Theaetetus have a dialogue in which they consider different definitions of knowledge. Ultimately they decide they're lacking, iirc; but the discussions on whether sense perception or true judgement (both of which are relativistic of course) can account for 'knowledge' are pretty entertaining.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:31 pm UTC

DivideByZero wrote:I read somewhere that three criteria must be met in order to achieve knowledge.
1) one must believe it to know it
2) truth must be independent from people
3) a true statement must always remain true forever
Hey, welcome to Philosophy, where they have long, in-depth, accurate discussions on just what exactly they mean by the word "word".

Basically - in becoming an object, does a word achieve meaning and existence? What is the difference between "Dog" and "Dharg"? One is the sound we make in reference to the canine, one is more or less nonsense, but in becoming a byword for canine, does "Dog" itself achieve a meaning beyond the characters that make it up (o, d, g) and the sounds your vocal chords and mouth have to make in order to produce the noise? Dog and God are two very different concepts, yet the same sounds are used to make them, just in reverse order. odg and ogd are not words, yet they too have the same sounds and parts that Dog does. In being our exact definition, does the word Dog achieve something more than just letters and sounds?
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:02 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
DivideByZero wrote:I read somewhere that three criteria must be met in order to achieve knowledge.
1) one must believe it to know it
2) truth must be independent from people
3) a true statement must always remain true forever
Hey, welcome to Philosophy, where they have long, in-depth, accurate discussions on just what exactly they mean by the word "word".

Basically - in becoming an object, does a word achieve meaning and existence? What is the difference between "Dog" and "Dharg"? One is the sound we make in reference to the canine, one is more or less nonsense, but in becoming a byword for canine, does "Dog" itself achieve a meaning beyond the characters that make it up (o, d, g) and the sounds your vocal chords and mouth have to make in order to produce the noise? Dog and God are two very different concepts, yet the same sounds are used to make them, just in reverse order. odg and ogd are not words, yet they too have the same sounds and parts that Dog does. In being our exact definition, does the word Dog achieve something more than just letters and sounds?



I see what you did there :P

hnooch
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:55 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby hnooch » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:06 am UTC

Another example which stays away from the realm of conscious experience is proposed by Richard Feynman. He gives the example of knowing what a car's crankshaft looks like and how it works without easily being able to describe that knowledge to someone else. Although it's describable in principle (unlike "red" or "strawberry", though whether that's describable is debatable), I think we want to be able to say that Feynman knows what a crankshaft is, but can't describe it. (with words — he acknowledges that he has visual knowledge of a crankshaft)

Outchanter
Posts: 669
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:40 am UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Outchanter » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:17 am UTC

Also things related to proprioception. Like riding a bike, juggling, or kung fu.

Klapaucius
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:00 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Klapaucius » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:40 am UTC

I have this problem all the time, and not always with things that are impossible or even very hard to describe. I think I'm just terrible at verbalizing things.
500%!

Philwelch
Posts: 2904
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:33 am UTC
Location: RIGHT BEHIND YOU

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Philwelch » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:44 am UTC

DivideByZero wrote:I read somewhere that three criteria must be met in order to achieve knowledge.
1) one must believe it to know it
2) truth must be independent from people
3) a true statement must always remain true forever


You got that wrong. 3 is wrong because I know that I am sitting in a chair, even though in a few minutes I will be standing in the kitchen. (OK, 3 is arguable if you are clever enough, but I'm going to let you figure out how.)

The three classical criteria (from Plato, restated in various ways) are:

Edmund Gettier, restating Plato wrote:S knows that P if and only if
1. P is true,
2. S believes that P, and
3. S is justified in believing that P.


Various restatements include:

Chrisholm wrote:S knows that P if and only if
1. S accepts P,
2. S has adequate evidence for P, and
3. P is true.
.

Edmund Gettier addressed these criteria in his famous paper, "Is True Justified Belief Knowledge?". You can google "Gettier", "Gettier problem", or "Is True Justified Belief Knowledge" and get this link to it on the first page. In short, Gettier pretty conclusively showed that, no, true justified belief is not necessarily knowledge. In the past 46 years or so, philosophers have worked on new definitions of knowledge, but as usual, no one agrees on one yet.

Gettier, by the way, is one of my philosophical heroes because, aside from that single three page paper that overthrew millenia of philosophical agreement on the definition of "knowledge", he published almost nothing else in his entire career. This came up when he applied for tenure. From what I've heard, Gettier responded by bringing in many of the hundreds of papers and books that had already been written in response to his paper. In recognition of the impact of "Is Justified Belief Knowledge?", Gettier was granted tenure and hasn't published since.
Fascism: If you're not with us you're against us.
Leftism: If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Perfection is an unattainable goal.

DivideByZero
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby DivideByZero » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:16 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
DivideByZero wrote:I read somewhere that three criteria must be met in order to achieve knowledge.
1) one must believe it to know it
2) truth must be independent from people
3) a true statement must always remain true forever


You got that wrong. 3 is wrong because I know that I am sitting in a chair, even though in a few minutes I will be standing in the kitchen. (OK, 3 is arguable if you are clever enough, but I'm going to let you figure out how.)



For 3, a true statement can remain true forever because of time. If I am sitting in a chair at this exact time (7:14 am) and minutes later I stand up, the fact that I was sitting there at that time is still true. (x,y,z,t)

I'll read up on Gettier tonight. I like the way he quantize knowledge logically into P's and S's.

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby smw543 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:55 pm UTC

Enough books have been written on epistemology to fill several Olympic-sized swimming pools. Concerning the original question, I'd say it depends on how much you're allowed to reference other concepts. Why can't I define green as a combination of blue and yellow? At the risk of sounding like a deconstructionist, you can't define anything entirely from scratch. Of course, if we allow for a predetermined body of information, then anything can be described (green could even be described by its hex triplet.)

I would say that it's contingent on whether you can define it to yourself (i.e.: do you truly believe that you understand [x]?) If you want to make it external, then define knowledge of [x] by your ability to describe it to someone with the exact same knowledge as you, except for [x].
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
Fledermen64
Posts: 428
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:29 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Fledermen64 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:33 pm UTC

No, knowledge is not being able to describe something. I would consider that some form of intelligence (Linguistic or otherwise or some combination). My argument is that I can know of physical laws and phenomenon and utilize them in designing or constructing something without ever being able to describe why or how.
"I just want to say before I do this that I have no idea what I'm doing and I love you all very dearly. Ok lets light this bitch and hope for the best"
-Myself before a homemade 4th of July fireworks extravaganza

User avatar
BoomFrog
Posts: 1070
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:59 am UTC
Location: Seattle

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby BoomFrog » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:51 am UTC

Let's take the strawberry tasting to an extreme. I taste a strawberry but cannot describe to you accurately how this strawberry tastes. Then we spend years eating other fruits and formalize terms to describe every facet of fruit tasting. Then I taste a strawberry and describe to you exactly how it tastes, and you know exactly what I mean now. Now I can describe this knowledge. Was still knowledge before I could describe it? I think so.
"Everything I need to know about parenting I learned from cooking. Don't be afraid to experiment, and eat your mistakes." - Cronos

Outchanter
Posts: 669
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:40 am UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Outchanter » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:08 am UTC

Just to comment on the apparent consensus - while knowledge can exist without being described, I think society places greater emphasis on knowledge that can be described (or in a pinch, transferred visually or tactually) because it's often of greater benefit to society as a whole. As the Science of the Discworld books call it: extelligence. Like intelligence, but lasting over the lifetime of a civilization instead of just one person.

E.g., suppose Einstein had understood General Relativity perfectly but never been able to explain it to anyone else. Maybe he could have invented a few things that took advantage of it, but once he died, that would've been it.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:13 pm UTC

Outchanter wrote:E.g., suppose Einstein had understood General Relativity perfectly but never been able to explain it to anyone else. Maybe he could have invented a few things that took advantage of it, but once he died, that would've been it.
I disagree. Assuming one person can understand a thing, this proves that the thing is understandable.

Using SCIENCE, the scientific community would have examined the things Albert invented and determined that there was a common element, and worked backwards from there until others in the community could understand what was going on, even if they couldn't formally communicate it.

Like the Strawberry definition above (which I hadn't though about, honestly) they would have likely created words and phrases to help them formally communicate it.

I mean.. look at Quarks.
Wikipedia wrote:There are six different types of quarks, known as flavors: up (symbol: u), down (d), charm (c), strange (s), top (t) and bottom (b).


Charm and strange are part of a formal scientific explanation for quarks, and are flavors of it. Scientifically. Formally. Serious people discussing in serious ways the flavor of charm.

Science is run by drunks who have to pretend to be sober, I think.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

Klapaucius
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:00 pm UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Klapaucius » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:02 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Charm and strange are part of a formal scientific explanation for quarks, and are flavors of it. Scientifically. Formally. Serious people discussing in serious ways the flavor of charm.

Science is run by drunks who have to pretend to be sober, I think.
It's just a dead-metaphor synonym for "type"--as in, "Japanese baseball is a different flavor of baseball", which is less ambiguous in that it seems to imply a delineation related to something other than appearance or composition; the quarks are the same, but each is its own flavor.

Personally, I think science are run by the knurd who pretend to be sober.
500%!

Outchanter
Posts: 669
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:40 am UTC

Re: Ability to describe knowledge = knowledge?

Postby Outchanter » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:43 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Outchanter wrote:E.g., suppose Einstein had understood General Relativity perfectly but never been able to explain it to anyone else. Maybe he could have invented a few things that took advantage of it, but once he died, that would've been it.
I disagree. Assuming one person can understand a thing, this proves that the thing is understandable.

Using SCIENCE, the scientific community would have examined the things Albert invented and determined that there was a common element, and worked backwards from there until others in the community could understand what was going on, even if they couldn't formally communicate it.

Assuming that by the time they got hold of them, there were enough devices, and in good enough condition, to be reverse engineered. But it's more convenient to have a paper neatly detailing how the whole theory can be derived from a handful of axioms, in the first place :-P

Klapaucius wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Charm and strange are part of a formal scientific explanation for quarks, and are flavors of it. Scientifically. Formally. Serious people discussing in serious ways the flavor of charm.

Science is run by drunks who have to pretend to be sober, I think.
It's just a dead-metaphor synonym for "type"--as in, "Japanese baseball is a different flavor of baseball", which is less ambiguous in that it seems to imply a delineation related to something other than appearance or composition; the quarks are the same, but each is its own flavor.

Personally, I think science are run by the knurd who pretend to be sober.

Could there be another peak on the opposite side? http://xkcd.com/323/


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 18 guests