Pragmatic Approach to Knowledge
Keywords: consensus theory, contextualism, utility, conservativism, fallibilism
The pragmatic approach to knowledge (the problem of truth, experience, certainty, and prejudices – not a specific philosophical school – Pihlström 2011, 1)) can be traced especially from the third quarter of the 19th century. Its founder was Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce did not agree with Descartes’ belief that our knowledge should start by doubting everything in order to avoid fallacies. He claimed that this kind of absolute doubt is logically and psychologically impossible (Peirce 1992, resp. EP1, 28) because we have to trust at least the means of doubt. Moreover, it is not possible to doubt certain types of knowledge even though it is possible to pretend we methodologically doubt them.
In Peirce’s understanding, knowledge is a reflection of consciousness, which solves problems (or more precisely, knowledge itself is the solving of problems). It ← 121 | 122 → is an interaction of an organism with its environment, a process of transformation of belief and its weakening by doubt for the sake of revision of opinions, or their affirmation.
Knowledge begins by examination which in turn begins with doubt. However, not pretend doubt, but real doubt of a subject and about the validity of some of its beliefs. In this respect, belief (conviction) is the basis of knowledge. However, our momentum of examination is rooted in doubt (the reflection of conflicting beliefs) which creates a certain unease related to the possible invalidity of our beliefs which forces us...
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