Thinking about Purposes of the Idea of Knowledge

By Clive Kanes.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In studies in the humanities the category of “knowledge” is often used as a way to hinge diverse phenomena, suggest connections or structures among these, identify positions of privilege and types of value, discuss power, account for and explain economic practices and development, and so on. As well, “knowledge” can be taken as a site within which to mount critiques of these understandings and to engage in processes of transformation. Given that “knowledge” is used in a vast range of alternative ways this gives rise to issues concerning the purposes that ideas of knowledge serve in theory and practice. In this article I take a philosophical approach to these issues and examine glimpses of “knowledge” evident at various points - starting with the works of Plato and Aristotle and moving to those of Bacon and Descartes. The method of analysis is to identify themes and compare and contrast them within and across the works considered. The article finds that issues confronting “knowledge” have been around when to stabilize and preserve illusions and when to do away with them. I identify the political concerns of knowledge”, the relationship between the personal and the public, the future as utopia or dystopia, and so on. I argue that these topics make demands on the purposes and idea of knowledge.

Keywords: Knowledge, Reason, Logos, Understanding, Belief, Opinion, Illusion, Madness, Sanity, Pathology, Scepticism, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bacon

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 4, Issue 10, pp.67-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.805MB).

Dr Clive Kanes

Department of Education and Professional Studies, King’s College London, London, UK

I research and teach in the area of mathematics education, learning and activity.

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