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The theory of knowledge by Aristotle (384-322 BC) is considered as one of the great works in the world of philosophy as a branch of learning. The theory explores knowledge as an entity, seeking to establish what individuals can know and the how, i.e. the process of knowing. The philosophy behind the theory is the unnoticed yet crucial-distinction between general knowledge and knowledge for us. This theory also explores the differences between semantic and psychological requirements for knowledge. In addition, the theory also focuses on 'nous', a notion considered to be obscure among many individuals. The key question addressed in the theory of knowledge is ‘what is knowledge?’ rather than, ‘what is the object of knowledge?’ The solutions offered in the theory provide both philosophical and scientific premises in the quest to provide logical propositions.
The hypothesis of the theory is based on the foundation that knowledge must be based on indubitable foundations. As a result, the theory is also commonly referred to as the theory of foundationalism. Over time, there have been intense debates on what makes up an indubitable foundation for knowledge. Critics of the theory have argued that the theory, based on deductive rationalism fails to offer concrete mechanisms for attaining knowledge. The reader will therefore, explore the insights into the theory and approaches offered in the account of knowledge.
The theory of knowledge submits that all knowledge, either given or received emanates from already existing knowledge. This premise means, that the process of acquiring knowledge is a long term cumulative process; rather than an intense sudden process. According to the theory, new knowledge is based on what we already know rather than on fantasy or imagination. The theory further explains that when people possess knowledge of something, they are able to comprehend it even further if they have experienced it before.
Knowledge proceeds from the known to the unknown which implies that new schema are built on the pre-existing knowledge. Aristotle’s theory refers to the process of acquiring knowledge as demonstration. Demonstration ensues by deducing a proposition from other propositions that are logical to those prior to it. However, he process of demonstration should lead to a retreat or a foundation that is proof to arguments or debate. The end product of demonstration, either leads to knowledge or further deviation from the propositions of the truth.
In Aristotle’s theory, the structure of knowledge is hierarchical; this implies that knowledge proceeds from prior knowledge to new knowledge. ‘The first principles’ also known as the foundations of knowledge are used to draw other foundations of knowledge. The first principles are derived from a process that begins with perceptions. This theory explains that individuals must first perceive particular things in order to form memories of them that are relatively permanent. When people form memories, they attain experience of certain types that are useful in development and retention of knowledge. The foundations of knowledge are well understood from a focus which is more basic. It establishes that knowledge gain from experience is indubitable. Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge that the theory of knowledge believes in two key foundations i.e perception and memory.
However, the theory of knowledge appreciates the possibility of being deceived by our senses due to bias or lack of attention. Similarly, memory is at times unreliable and cannot be the major basis of knowledge. Aristotle, in his theory of knowledge, believes that perception plays a significant role in the acquisition and retention of knowledge. According to the theory the first and important step towards comprehension of the first principles is keen perception. The Aristotle’s theory of knowledge focused on empiricism to account for knowledge of fundamental rationalism and foundationalism. The theory explains the structure of knowledge as an account of epistemology. Throughout, the theory of knowledge, thought and sense-perception are consistently distinguished by virtue of their specific objects. Attention and intellect (vous) is related to what is in thought, imagination and intelligence.
The theory implores on deduction which has been defined as a ‘truth preserving operation’ that helps in avoiding infinite regression of knowledge. Critics of the theory however question the processes of acquisition of knowledge through perception and memory.
Confirmation is another basis used in proving beliefs and experiences to be true. On the other hand, non confirmation of an event or phenomenon certain it to be false. When perceptions are unclear, individuals tend to verify and prove using evident circumstances that are solid. In reference to this theory, what is not apparent does not exist. Aristotle’s theory offers broad premises of knowledge based on foundationalism. The theory draws on empiricism in order to account for knowledge of the first principle. The theory represents accounts of the structure of knowledge from perception and intellect as two epistemological divides. Similarly, the deduction and the results of the deduction are considered to be true and logical. Although the theory is faced by criticism on the credibility of perceptual processes, the empirical or scientific processes are of great feasibility in the philosophical world.