What Is Necessary Knowledge?

In philosophy, questions about the nature of knowledge are some of the oldest. They have kept philosophers busy for well over 2,000 years and continue doing so today. The branch of philosophy that tries to answer questions about knowledge - epistemology - is considered one of the core building blocks of philosophical thinking. However, philosophy …

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Spreading the Word: History of Medieval Philosophy – Talk on Avicenna

Ibn Sina, or Avicenna as he is known by the Latinized version of his name, was an Islamic polymath and peripatetic philosopher (influenced by Aristotelian philosophy) widely recognized as one of the leading thinkers in the medieval period. His influence spread both in the Islamic world and in the Latin West. Here is a very …

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Spreading the Word: A Buddhist And A Neuroscientist In Dialogue

What would a conversation between a Buddhist monk and a neuroscientist look like? And what would they agree and disagree on? In the following conversation, Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk trained as a molecular biologist, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist, offer their perspectives on the unconscious and the role of meditation in resolving conflicts …

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Spreading the Word: Our Access To Reality

One of the oldest debates in the history of human quest for knowledge is whether we can access the objective reality at all. Some think there is no objective reality at all and that "it's all in our minds", others think there is nothing else besides it and that our knowledge directly represents that reality. …

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Rationality As The Effortful Way To Knowledge

Although we intuitively understand the meaning of such terms as 'reason' and 'rationality', these concepts are not unequivocal (e.g. this SEP article on bounded rationality lists at least 7 accounts of rationality and says that the list is not exhaustive). Moreover, these concepts often have a normative connotation where being rational and reasonable is considered good, valuable, …

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How beliefs are different from actions?

In our daily lives, it is common for us to think and talk about actions in normative terms. I should do this, I'd better not do that, for different reasons, depending on the situation. Actions are amenable to such regulating, normative attitudes because we can choose how to act, we have control over our actions. In other words, our …

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Self-Knowledge Through Justification

How do you know that you know something? When does a belief or opinion become knowledge? Often an intuitive response to this is - when I can offer justification, proof, for my belief. Justification seems to play a silent but crucial role in our understanding of what counts as knowledge. However, there is more.  When you justify …

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The Quest for Knowledge

Next to the quest for survival and life itself, I would argue that the quest for knowledge is one of the oldest endeavours of our species. Probably the first 'documented' attempts to understand this world and interpret our place in it are captured in the cave paintings. The currently oldest known cave painting is estimated …

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