Epistemology

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By Henry Habberley Price

ISBN-10: 0041210093

ISBN-13: 9780041210095

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Example text

But it is not necessary to consider this studious sort of introspection. Let us confine ourselves to what one might call ordinary introspection, the attentive awareness of some present content of our own minds. This occurs sometimes in nearly everyone (even, perhaps, in the most behaviouristic psychologist), though more frequently in some persons than in others. Is it a form of knowledge by acquaintance? And if we say it is, shall we be using the term 'knowledge by acquaintance' in a technical sense, or in its ordinary everyday sense?

The two features mentioned just now, first-handness and familiarity, are both present. No one else can tell us what it is like for something to be red, or to be inside something else. Nor can we find this out by inference. We have to see it for ourselves, by actual face-to-face inspection of instances. Moreover, knowing what it is like for something to be red, or inside something else, has the other characteristic which I mentioned. Familiarity is an essential element in it. A man who knows what it is like for something to be red is capable of recognising the colour red when he encounters it again in other instances.

This is the usage I have myself adopted so far. Where we say 'Smith believes p', 'J ones believed q until yesterday', the letters p and q are what logicians call variables, and the values of these variables are propositions. But we also speak sometimes of believing a person. He told me that there would be muffins for tea, and I believed him. Alas! there was only buttered toast. It may be that in the history of language this 'personal' usage is the earlier one. Nevertheless, it seems to be logically derivative.

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Belief (Muirhead Library of Philosophy) by Henry Habberley Price


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