Essay on Philosophy- You Cannot Know

Submitted By clarity11
Words: 929
Pages: 4

Sometimes You Just Cannot Know

It has been suggested that knowledge is justified, true belief. In other words, in order to know something, you must be able to justify how you know. So, belief is only knowledge if your belief can be supported by any evidence regarding the truth of the premises. This idea comes from Plato’s “Theaetetus” and explored again in Russell’s “Problems of Philosophy.” Furthermore, it is examined in Gettiers “Is Justified, True Belief Knowledge?” Most things, such as knowledge cannot be known unless they are supported and thus, proved to be a knowable truth.
To prove any such premises, one must use the conclusion of another premises, and so on and so forth. What will happen then, when we reach the last of knowable things? The Theaetetus suggests that some things are knowable and some things are not. (Theaetetus 201d) All knowledge comes from a primary source, when such primary elements were formed. These elements cannot be supported, nor proven. We must just accept them as true. Socrate’s points out that, “primary elements, as it were, of which we and everything else are composed, have no account.” (Theaetetus 201d) These, being the axioms: the foundation of belief.
But, how does one begin to believe these axioms without evidence? There is no basis on which they are supported. We see that the primary elements have no explanations, nor evidence to support their claims. It is just so. Which would again, raise the question: How do you know? The answer being, you do not, you just know there is no answer to their questions; No explanation can be derived from any sort of further knowledge. Furthermore, to question the axioms is to question any knowledge at all.
Being caught up in an ongoing circle of debate on knowables and unknowables would cause certain collapse. The only way to avoid this altogether is to realize that for certain aspects of knowledge; one cannot prove the basic elements of belief. We know this to be true beyond a doubt and it is not irresponsible to accept this to be true. Aristotle deems these certainties to be necessarily true, self evident and better known than anything that they could be used to prove. (Ibberson) This basic and non-derivative knowable can be termed ‘intuitive.” (Russell 133) This type of knowledge is accepted as universally true, having no means to prove the truth. An example of this lies in the definition of a straight line, which goes on and on and on.
In gauging things known, one must consider Edmund Gettier’s, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Gettier shows proof that sometimes, justified true belief is sometimes comes about inadvertently. That is, by pure luck or chance alone. In Gettiers article, he exemplifies Smith and himself (Jones) applying for a job. Smith has a justified belief that “Jones will get the job.” (The President of the company said so.) Smith also has a justified belief that "Jones has ten coins in his pocket". (He counted them.) Smith therefore justifies “the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket.” In fact, Jones does not get the job. Instead, Smith himself does. Smith also happens to have ten coins in his pocket. So his belief that “the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket” was justified and true for him. But definitely not ultimately true belief because the truth itself was gained through a coincidence.
Chance alone guided this justifiable truth. Truth is sometimes deceptive, being that it could have come from false pre-tenses. We could say that we knew (had knowledge) who…