The study of knowledge traditionally studies of the problem 'to
know'. This has been changed in more recent times, significantly
by the work of Karl Popper who argued that knowledge was independent
of the question of knowing, so the existence of knowledge did
not depend on the existence of a knowing person.
The position here follows Popper and can be summarised as follows.
There is a Reality beyond our senses, which contribute to our
knowledge, and we can know that knowledge. There are three relationships:
first between knowledge and Reality, second between Reality and
our knowing, and third between knowing and ourselves.
The three relationships deal with three related but different
issues. The first is how we come to know Reality, this is the
problem of perception as it arises in this philosophy and is the
topic of the first paper. Questions on our relationship with what
we know are questions of psychology. For example, I have a friend
who became involved with a woman who was recently separated. On
several occasions we sat and discussed the very real problems
occurring and those that could very likely occur. He knew the
risks, he understood very well what was involved and he was most
insightful about the likelihood of success. There was no problem
with his knowledge (Note; the issues of relationships and the
immediate future of someone's life after the breakdown of a long
marriage are quite scientific in the sense that the issues and
assessments of them can be quantified). Yet he chose to stay involved
and fall in love. When it all fell apart a few months later he
was devastated. But his friends, including myself were not very
The anecdote is one of a person with knowledge of a situation
who chooses not to heed the messages in that knowledge. To some
extent and on occasions he chose not to think a certain way and
stated such afterwards. He knew and did not want to know.
There remains within the example the question of how we know
at all. That is what happens when we have a thought. But this
is not epistemology rather it is the mechanisms of epistemology,
the workings of the brain.
Strictly following Popper, epistemology is exploring the relationship
between our knowledge of Reality and that Reality. It takes us
into some very detailed, technical questions of the type already
alluded to, questions such as those below.
- What exactly is the relationship between knowledge and Reality?
- In what way is there a Reality?
- How does Reality influence formation of our knowledge of
- If knowledge is an abstraction from Reality, then what is
- If knowledge of Reality exists independent of Reality, then
in what manner does that knowledge exist (the ontological
- If knowledge exists, then in line with all other objects
it must have a structure. What is the structure of knowledge?
Can we create a theory that describes the structure of knowledge
- If we answer all these questions where on earth will it
take us? (The question of wonder.)