Old, Overly Verbose Intro to this blog, but with some account of how I got here.
Mma Ramotswe, heroine of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels has an annoying habit of prefacing sometimes controversial statements with “It is well known that…”. Epistemologists (philosophers of knowledge) for centuries had an annoying habit of treating “It is known” or some equivalent as the only distinction worth making w.r.t. truth and knowledge. Not whether I know or you know, but seemingly just the abstract notion of whether a given justification for a proposition really, really qualifies it as knowledge. Whether one person or a million know X is not a matter for discussion. Anyway, the chances are if a million people “know” something, they don’t know it in a philosophically justified way, so if asked how many Americans know that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen, they might say hardly any. Social Epistemology offers some promise of rising above this dilemma, but surveying where it is today, I don’t see it happening.
My opinion is there may be little practical benefit to discussing knowledge in this way. Maybe the very idea of discussing or studying knowledge is the problem. Maybe the difficulties of advocates of rationality or critical thinking are due to this focus on this strange thing called knowledge - a product of the “view from nowhere”, which tends to break down in the social domain.