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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What does it mean to know something?

I spent four days last week asking profound questions like this:

Where else did you install insulation? Did you purchase the insulation? What did the packaging look like? Did you watch your husband install the insulation? Do you remember what the insulation looked like? And so on.

there may or may not be some relationship between this and yesterday's post

The result of this careful inquiry was this (1) the witness did not have any specific memory of any of the installations but (2) was positive that on several ocassions the insulation was brand X and on several other ocassions the insulation was brand Y.

So, in between wishing the answers would come faster with fewer unrelated stories, I wondered can I really know a general fact without remembering any of the specifics. Can I know that I saw lots of people without remembering what any of the people looked like? It reminds me of my first philosophy class. Socrates & Aristotle. Socrates says it is all abstract, and specifics are derived from abstracts. Aristotle says it is all specifics and the abstract is derived from specifics. (According to Persig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Aristotle won and society has never been the same.)

Makes you think, you know.

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