Knowledge

   1) To Exist Is to Be Perceived
   It is indeed an opinion strangely prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and, in a word, all sensible objects, have an existence, natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding. But, with how great an assurance and acquiescence soever this principle may be entertained in the world, yet whoever shall find in his heart to call it into question may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest contradiction. For, what are the forementioned objects but things we perceive by sense? and what do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations? and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these, or any combination of them, should exist unperceived? (Berkeley, 1996, Pt. I, No. 4, p. 25)
   2) Abstract Science or Demonstration Is a More Perfect Species of Knowledge
   It seems to me that the only objects of the abstract sciences or of demonstration are quantity and number, and that all attempts to extend this more perfect species of knowledge beyond these bounds are mere sophistry and illusion. As the component parts of quantity and number are entirely similar, their relations become intricate and involved; and nothing can be more curious, as well as useful, than to trace, by a variety of mediums, their equality or inequality, through their different appearances.
   But as all other ideas are clearly distinct and different from each other, we can never advance farther, by our utmost scrutiny, than to observe this diversity, and, by an obvious reflection, pronounce one thing not to be another. Or if there be any difficulty in these decisions, it proceeds entirely from the undeterminate meaning of words, which is corrected by juster definitions. That the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the squares of the other two sides cannot be known, let the terms be ever so exactly defined, without a train of reasoning and enquiry. But to convince us of this proposition, that where there is no property, there can be no injustice, it is only necessary to define the terms, and explain injustice to be a violation of property. This proposition is, indeed, nothing but a more imperfect definition. It is the same case with all those pretended syllogistical reasonings, which may be found in every other branch of learning, except the sciences of quantity and number; and these may safely, I think, be pronounced the only proper objects of knowledge and demonstration. (Hume, 1975, Sec. 12, Pt. 3, pp. 163-165)
   3) Knowledge Derives from Two Fundamental Sources of the Mind
   Our knowledge springs from two fundamental sources of the mind; the first is the capacity of receiving representations (the ability to receive impressions), the second is the power to know an object through these representations (spontaneity in the production of concepts).
   Through the first, an object is given to us; through the second, the object is thought in relation to that representation. . . . Intuition and concepts constitute, therefore, the elements of all our knowledge, so that neither concepts without intuition in some way corresponding to them, nor intuition without concepts, can yield knowledge. Both may be either pure or empirical. . . . Pure intuitions or pure concepts are possible only a priori; empirical intuitions and empirical concepts only a posteriori. If the receptivity of our mind, its power of receiving representations in so far as it is in any way affected, is to be called "sensibility," then the mind's power of producing representations from itself, the spontaneity of knowledge, should be called "understanding." Our nature is so constituted that our intuitions can never be other than sensible; that is, it contains only the mode in which we are affected by objects. The faculty, on the other hand, which enables us to think the object of sensible intuition is the understanding. . . . Without sensibility, no object would be given to us; without understanding, no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind. It is therefore just as necessary to make our concepts sensible, that is, to add the object to them in intuition, as to make our intuitions intelligible, that is to bring them under concepts. These two powers or capacities cannot exchange their functions. The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise. (Kant, 1933, Sec. 1, Pt. 2, B74-75 [p. 92])
   4) The Means by Which Metaphysics Can Be Perfected as a Science
   Metaphysics, as a natural disposition of Reason is real, but it is also, in itself, dialectical and deceptive. . . . Hence to attempt to draw our principles from it, and in their employment to follow this natural but none the less fallacious illusion can never produce science, but only an empty dialectical art, in which one school may indeed outdo the other, but none can ever attain a justifiable and lasting success. In order that, as a science, it may lay claim not merely to deceptive persuasion, but to insight and conviction, a Critique of Reason must exhibit in a complete system the whole stock of conceptions a priori, arranged according to their different sources-the Sensibility, the understanding, and the Reason; it must present a complete table of these conceptions, together with their analysis and all that can be deduced from them, but more especially the possibility of synthetic knowledge a priori by means of their deduction, the principles of its use, and finally, its boundaries. . . .
   This much is certain: he who has once tried criticism will be sickened for ever of all the dogmatic trash he was compelled to content himself with before, because his Reason, requiring something, could find nothing better for its occupation. Criticism stands to the ordinary school metaphysics exactly in the same relation as chemistry to alchemy, or as astronomy to fortune-telling astrology. I guarantee that no one who has comprehended and thought out the conclusions of criticism, even in these Prolegomena, will ever return to the old sophistical pseudo-science. He will rather look forward with a kind of pleasure to a metaphysics, certainly now within his power, which requires no more preparatory discoveries, and which alone can procure for reason permanent satisfaction. (Kant, 1891, pp. 115-116)
   5) Knowledge Is Only Real in the Form of System
   Knowledge is only real and can only be set forth fully in the form of science, in the form of system. Further, a so-called fundamental proposition or first principle of philosophy, even if it is true, it is yet none the less false, just because and in so far as it is merely a fundamental proposition, merely a first principle. It is for that reason easily refuted. The refutation consists in bringing out its defective character; and it is defective because it is merely the universal, merely a principle, the beginning. If the refutation is complete and thorough, it is derived and developed from the nature of the principle itself, and not accomplished by bringing in from elsewhere other counter-assurances and chance fancies. It would be strictly the development of the principle, and thus the completion of its deficiency, were it not that it misunderstands its own purport by taking account solely of the negative aspect of what it seeks to do, and is not conscious of the positive character of its process and result. The really positive working out of the beginning is at the same time just as much the very reverse: it is a negative attitude towards the principle we start from. Negative, that is to say, in its one-sided form, which consists in being primarily immediate, a mere purpose. It may therefore be regarded as a refutation of what constitutes the basis of the system; but more correctly it should be looked at as a demonstration that the basis or principle of the system is in point of fact merely its beginning. (Hegel, 1910, pp. 21-22)
   6) Knowledge, Action, and Evaluation Are Interconnected
   Knowledge, action, and evaluation are essentially connected. The primary and pervasive significance of knowledge lies in its guidance of action: knowing is for the sake of doing. And action, obviously, is rooted in evaluation. For a being which did not assign comparative values, deliberate action would be pointless; and for one which did not know, it would be impossible. Conversely, only an active being could have knowledge, and only such a being could assign values to anything beyond his own feelings. A creature which did not enter into the process of reality to alter in some part the future content of it, could apprehend a world only in the sense of intuitive or esthetic contemplation; and such contemplation would not possess the significance of knowledge but only that of enjoying and suffering. (Lewis, 1946, p. 1)
   7) The Evolution of Knowledge
   "Evolutionary epistemology" is a branch of scholarship that applies the evolutionary perspective to an understanding of how knowledge develops. Knowledge always involves getting information. The most primitive way of acquiring it is through the sense of touch: amoebas and other simple organisms know what happens around them only if they can feel it with their "skins." The knowledge such an organism can have is strictly about what is in its immediate vicinity. After a huge jump in evolution, organisms learned to find out what was going on at a distance from them, without having to actually feel the environment. This jump involved the development of sense organs for processing information that was farther away. For a long time, the most important sources of knowledge were the nose, the eyes, and the ears. The next big advance occurred when organisms developed memory. Now information no longer needed to be present at all, and the animal could recall events and outcomes that happened in the past. Each one of these steps in the evolution of knowledge added important survival advantages to the species that was equipped to use it.
   Then, with the appearance in evolution of humans, an entirely new way of acquiring information developed. Up to this point, the processing of information was entirely intrasomatic. . . . But when speech appeared (and even more powerfully with the invention of writing), information processing became extrasomatic. After that point knowledge did not have to be stored in the genes, or in the memory traces of the brain; it could be passed on from one person to another through words, or it could be written down and stored on a permanent substance like stone, paper, or silicon chips-in any case, outside the fragile and impermanent nervous system. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993, pp. 56-57)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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  • Knowledge — Knowl edge, n. [OE. knowlage, knowlege, knowleche, knawleche. The last part is the Icel. suffix leikr, forming abstract nouns, orig. the same as Icel. leikr game, play, sport, akin to AS. l[=a]c, Goth. laiks dance. See {Know}, and cf. {Lake}, v.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • knowledge — (n.) early 12c., cnawlece acknowledgment of a superior, honor, worship; for first element see KNOW (Cf. know). Second element obscure, perhaps from Scandinavian and cognate with the lock action, process, found in WEDLOCK (Cf. wedlock). Meaning… …   Etymology dictionary

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