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Experience and knowledge

Tang, R.; (2010) Experience and knowledge. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Experience is the source of empirical knowledge. Does this require that experience itself be knowledge? My answer to the question is affirmative. Experience, in so far as it is the source of empirical knowledge, has to be itself knowledge. Following the traditional understanding of knowledge, this means that experience as the source of knowledge is a kind of justified true belief. This I call the gnostic conception of experience, or gnosticism for short. The aim of the thesis is to argue for gnosticism. The thesis consists of nine chapters. Chapter 1 proposes gnosticism and examines some historical traditions from the gnosticist point of view. Chapter 2 defends a version of traditional understanding of knowledge on which gnosticismis based. Chapter 3 rejects nongnosticism by arguing against nonconceptualism. It is argued that nonconceptual experience cannot play a justificatory role for thought, since there is no systematic relation between nonconceptual experience and thought. Chapter 4 rejects quasi-gnosticism by arguing against conceptualism. Based on the doxastic criterion of justification, the chapter challenges the justificatory role of nondoxatic conceptual experience. Chapter 5 explores the relationship between experience and concept and argues that experience and concept are constitutive of each other. Chapter 6 proposes and argues for doxasticism which says that experience is belief about the world. Chapter 7 defends doxasticism against the disbelief objection which says we do not always believe what we experience. Chapter 8 argues that the voluntariness of belief does not undermine doxasticism since experience is an active, rational exploration of the world. With doxasticism established, chapter 9 returns to gnosticism by tackling the problem of the justification of experience. It is argued that experience can be justified as true without being inferential and is in this sense the foundation of empirical knowledge.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Experience and knowledge
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy

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