Home » philosophy » Philosophy – week two / Day one

Philosophy – week two / Day one


What is knowledge? And do we have any?

A new lecturer this week  Professor Duncan Pritchard. He seems very nice but I do miss the Scottish accent and the Jumper.

I do like the way he simplifies everything that he explains.

Propositional versus Ability Knowledge – he explained these  as Knowledge that and Knowledge how. He gave some examples and I can understand how this works.

I know that Paris is the Capital of France. I know how to drive. – yep – I am with this so far!

There are three Conditions for Propositional Knowledge
One can know a proposition only if:

  1. That proposition is true; 
  2. One believes that proposition
  3. One’s belief is justified.

Everyone got on well with this definition of knowledge until Edmund Gettier wrote a paper in 1927.

We had two examples of Gettier style examples. The stopped Clock and The Sheep.

The subject’s justification for the proposition that she believes has nothing to do with the truth of the proposition.

I liked the sheep example the best. I like the idea of a sheep shaped object obscuring a real shape behind it. I think that is very much like life.

The real ******* is obscured by a ******* shaped object.  Does your life ever feel like that?

So then we added to the above three that there should be no false lemmas .

But that doesn’t work with all cases and certainly not with the sheep case because nothing was false. In the clock case the false lemma was that the subject assumed he was looking at a working clock.

The ‘conclusion’ to this video was  that if we can’t justify knowledge what is it and do we have any?

Come back tomorrow for the next episode.

What I have learned today.

I have learned a new word ‘lemma’.

I learned that ‘Knowledge’ is difficult to define and a lot of people have been trying to do it for a long time.

I have learned that other people have thought about the way I see the world ie that the real sheep is obscured by a sheep shaped object. If we could see the real sheep all would become clear.



  1. gbl55 says:

    I was told in a MOOC on Connectivism that “knowledge is literally in the connections” and I’m also having some difficulty with JTB! It all seems a bit ‘pie in the sky’ish somehow – but I haven’t worked out why. Your summary is very readable and does seem accurate – love the animal house! Gordon

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Thank you Gordon.
      I am finding it interesting but I keep asking why? Why do we need to question these things? The meaning of this is still obscured by a sheep shaped object. I am hoping for clarity soon.
      I like that animal house too 🙂

  2. madolyn hyde says:

    I like your blog. You’re making Philosophy easier to understand. Will enjoy reading more.

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Thank you Madolyn. I am not sure I have the right approach to philosophy but I try to make it simple for myself.

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