Joho the Blog » [2b2k] False-starting Chapter 2

[2b2k] False-starting Chapter 2

Even though I think Chapter 1 may have to undergo total revision = start again, I’ve started Chapter 2 as if I knew where Chapter 1 left off. And so far I can’t say that I have confidence that it’s headed in the right direction.

After several attempts to open the chapter in a way that might actually be interesting, I’ve settled on pointing out the wide variety of fields in which people advertise expertise. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s quick. Then I say that expertise is part of our evolutionary strategy for knowledge, which leads me to Darwin on the evolution of language, just for context. If you know of scientific work on evolutionary advantages conferred by having persistent, shared stores of knowledge or by being able to write, let me know. I very briefly tell the story of Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, who invented most of the scientific method at the end of the first millennium, so that I can talk about knowledge as something we piece together through small investigations. The “scientific method” thread lets me then talk about the repeatability of experiments and make the transitional point that the aim of repeatability is not to have to repeat, because our knowledge strategy is: Discover, write it down, and move on.

At the moment, I’m writing a CYA paragraph reminding the reader that we’ve spent the past 50 years or so showing that knowledge doesn’t arise purely out of reason: Kuhn, Latour, Foucault, etc.

At the bottom of the screen I have a reminder that I’m aiming at talking about knowledge as a system of authority that gives stopping points for inquiry.

I would feel better if there were less exposition and more examples.

9 Responses to “[2b2k] False-starting Chapter 2”

  1. When “scientific method” is on the table, I cannot not to think about Carl Popper and his “Objective Knowledge” where, in the very begining he calls “common sense theory of knowledge” as a blunder which dominated western thinking for millenia,
    and proposes his “conjectural” concept of knowledge….

    I’m glad you mention Al-Basri; to me, his method was in fact the long lived harbinger of Popper method ….

  2. BTW, maybe of some significance – Popper used to call himself “realist and fallibilist”, and his fallibility theory always had an appeal to me – both when I though about scientific knowledge and the communal knowledge collected with the help of the web.

    He also tried to prove that the knowledge was not just part of ourselves – that it had some objective character.
    I never followed the thought trail of his theory in the era of the web, though …

  3. [...] Shared [2b2k] False-starting Chapter 2. [...]

  4. Mirek, yes Popper has been crucial. It’s crucial to my project not to conflate knowledge with scientific knowledge.

  5. Wow, this is even more boring than “Everything is Miscellaneous.”

  6. I understand … However as an amateurish philosopher :-) I used to think that his “fallibility” applies to knowledge outside the realm of science…

    But I may be wrong, I just was a fan of Popper…

    His “Open society and its enemies” was one of THE BOOKS of my life, and the notion of historic/social knowledge was also crucial there…

  7. Mirek, no no, the Popper reminder is helpful. Falsifiability is the hallmark of scientific knowledge but it clearly has uses outside of strictly scientific realms.

    I want to make sure I’m not just talking about scientific knowledge because knowledge plays such a broad and important role in our culture.

    Bileg, yes, if you found “Misc” boring, you’re likely to find this new book, this blog, and me boring.

  8. BTW, I started to read Infotopia…

    Just after first few chapters… I guess, I have better understanding of the main challenge you have with 2b2k….

  9. From Robert Frost – The figure a poem makes:

    Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields.

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