Little Consensus on the Theory of Knowledge
Descartes’ meditations deal largely with the issues of knowledge; namely can we have any, if so of what sort, and of course with what support? This essay will ask a single question of a rather different nature: Why? This stated more clearly is to ask: Why bother with knowledge or any theory thereof? In response to this, Descartes will offer several arguments; these include a simple human interest, concerns over free will, and understanding of human motivation, and a question of moral values.
One of the primary arguments posed for the motivation of humanity to pursue knowledge is an affirmation of simple human interest. Most people, whether they are philosophers or otherwise, can agree that humans have an innate curiosity. Take for example the debate of creationism versus evolution theories. In reality, it matters little how humanity came about. If there is no god, than there are still plenty of very convincing reasons for humans to live a moral life. If there is no afterlife, its lack of existence will make no difference in our feelings when we are dead regardless of anything. Knowledge of an afterlife or of a god serves little practical purpose for everyday life. The counter to this, of course, is that I am absolutely right and that the true purpose of the pursuit of knowledge in this case is that of human curiosity. Simply put, people will always care about knowledge regardless of whether or not it makes a difference in their lives practically (Pojman, p. 29).
Another argument for the pursuit of knowledge is the consideration of free will (Pojman, p. 24). The argument goes that if we are not living with free will we should know...
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...ne theory more likely than another? The answer for the skeptic is nothing, and so that is what the skeptic believes. So, why not skepticism?
The discussions above show that there is little consensus on the theory of knowledge today. Each possible belief comes complete with its own following. If anything can be shown from the discussions above, it is that one of the most important causes for divide in epistemology is opinion. Opinions are values. Some people value belief and faith in knowledge, these people pursue knowledge. Others are more interested in certainty and so are uncertain of everything, these are the skeptics. It is a sure belief that no one is certain of anything, they may believe they are, but it is belief only.
Pojman, Louis P. The Theory of Knowledge: Classical and Contemporary Readings 3rd Ed. United States: 2003