Proper Knowledge [CF Article]


And e.g. philosophy is the wild unknown for you.

I don’t think you need an “e.g.” in this sentence from the first paragraph of “Concluding thoughts”.

I really like this article as well. I appreciate when articles have overlapping content and connect concepts together in new ways. I have read (at least one pass) all of the articles on critical fallibilism, all the fallible ideas articles, all the essays your main website, and somewhere between 25%-50% of curiosity blog. My memory of this content is not very good so I have been starting to review content. The connections and organization of ideas in these articles are still counter-intuitive to me, and very helpful. Below I have just done something of a free-write, focusing on the first paragraph of the article and a bit about how I guess it relates to the other ideas in the piece. There is also some introspection here too.

Goals are not optional. Without goals you cease acting. I recall Mises making this point in “Human Action”, of which I’ve read about 25%. Action is teleological. He points out that even thinking is action (though it is not the same as the actions being thought about). I consciously agree with the idea that we must always be acting toward our goals, but I rarely hold the full context of my goals and actions in mind. I lapse into habits most of the time.

It is necessary to attempt to achieve our goals. If we don’t try, that also leads to a state of non-action. I think of this as the vegetative state (from Mises). The vegetative state is not suitable to remaining alive.

To analyze the idea of “trying to succeed”, I suppose you can try without really putting in full effort but that could mean that you are actually aiming at a different goal that you thought. I guess just “trying”, in a vague undefined way, is not good enough. You have to have goals specific enough to gauge success or failure. As is pointed out later in the article, this is not always as clear cut as having an answer key. Even without an answer key we can make inroads on judging success by gaining mastery over a larger domain. I like this idea a lot. I find it inspirational to aspire toward mastery, to be able to do more, to integrate my ideas together more, and have a greater domain of competence.

Making judgements about ideas is important (refuted vs non-refuted). Ideas can stick around in the mind without having been criticized. Those uncriticized ideas could be causing failure at a goal, or they could be wrong but irrelevant to any current goals. Some uncriticized ideas can be correct but without having been adequately criticized, they could get dropped in a de facto manner for a worse idea.

I consciously agree that judging is hard. I don’t often consciously judge ideas. I guess that when I do try consciously judge things I am overreaching because I get stuck on those issues. I am guessing that my filter for conscious attention is set to issues I perceive as hard but I should be consciously focusing on easier issues. My current attempt at a solution to this problem is to allocate time each week (about 3 hours) to studying lower-level ideas like basic logic and grammar. I have not figured out how to integrate these into my daily life much yet. I also have not learned very much about either topic yet, having started a couple months ago.

Thanks for the feedback/comments.

What are some things you find counter-intuitive?

You can also have partial knowledge (which is often called “knowledge”, and could also be called incomplete or unfinished knowledge) when you’ve started learning something, and know some things about it, but you haven’t finished yet. Partial knowledge can be examine in greater detail, in which case you’ll find it involves proper knowledge of some sub-parts of the thing you’re learning.

It may be that partial knowledge actually consists of nothing but some smaller pieces of proper knowledge, but I don’t know.

Some knowledge is correct in more contexts than other knowledge. Partial knowledge might just be knowledge that works in some sub-contexts but not others.

If you’re close to the Earth’s surface, then you can understand gravity by saying objects accelerate at 9.8m/s/s. If you get 100km away from Earth then objects accelerate more slowly towards Earth and to understand that you need to know something about how gravitational acceleration varies with distance. If you’re near a black hole objects act very differently under gravity than they do near the Earth and understanding those effects requires understanding general relativity, which is applicable to a lot of other contexts.

Cool. Have you watched much of my YouTube like my Max tutoring videos? I think those would be more helpful than some articles, particularly old ones.

I think I watched just a bit of the first Max tutoring to preview but I am planning on watching them all in full. I think I must have sampled portions from other episodes because I seem to remember bits and pieces of conversations between you and Max. I think I have listened to all episodes in the podcast playlist and all episodes posted since the last Max tutoring episode. I have sampled parts from a number of the streams on your channel. My engagement with that content has all been quite random and unstructured so my memory of which things I watched is not good.

The whole idea of relating the measurement of knowledge confidence to judgement is counter-intuitive to me. Though I don’t disagree with this relationship to the extent that I understand it. In my normal daily thinking my habit is to think of knowledge in fields such as math, physics, chemistry, and related fields as more inherently judgeable. I guess some of the underlying concepts in these fields are more common sense to me. I’m not really knowledgeable in any of these areas though. Maybe its just that fact that these are subjects where genuine expertise is more widespread and there is much more material available to check errors on those topics.

I think I have been implicitly assuming certain topics, like philosophy, will remain more difficult as long as very few people understand much about the subject. It is reliance on self-judgement and self error correction that I have been discounting. I supposed their will always be difficult questions at the frontier of knowledge (personal frontier) but I can see how practice over time can incrementally move that frontier.