FACTS

them and not for others! A much less able public speaker, or even one who might never have spoken in public might be a much better teacher. The point is that knowing that and knowing how are two different kinds of knowledge!

In philosophy, knowing that something is the case implies that what is known is true. Can we sensibly say that someone knows something, but it isn’t true? We cannot know that something is the case unless we are able to show that it is also true.

 

WHAT IS TRUE? (V)

There are three ways we might say that something is true:

  1. It is self-evident.
  2. It accords with the facts.
  3. It is consistent with our knowledge and reasoning.

 

INTUITION

To know something is the case without reasoning or using sense experience is to use intuition. For example, in ‘a straight line is the shortest line that can be drawn connecting two points,’ we do not imagine every possible scenario, let alone observe every case, nor do we use reason. It is something we intuitively know as true. (Even if it isn’t true in all mathematical systems!) Likewise, if we recognise something as great art, then we may not be able to categorise every reason that makes it great art. Similarly, in English, no one can state the rules for the use of the word ‘the’ in every case, but native speakers intuitively know what is right.

However, have you ever refused to do something because you were afraid? Have you ever felt that something could be so good for you that you jumped in without thinking? Aren’t some things which are so obvious at the time, later considered rash and misguided? Does this mean that intuition depends on using reason to dispel the irrational?

Intuition is a clear, certain and immediate knowledge that something is so. Some types of intuition, such as knowing that a given artifact is a valuable antique may require that we know about antiques. So other types of knowledge are important. Reason is necessary for an intuition. This does not mean that the intuition is arrived at by reasoning, simply that reason is needed to support intuition or to eliminate barriers to intuition.

 

FACTS

Suppose you all landed on Mars, a dusty dead planet. You see a bunch of grapes growing on a vine. You look away, and look back and they are still there. You eat one, and carry out various tests, all proving that there is a bunch of grapes growing on a vine. You can see and experience the grapes. You involve others and they all see the grapes and have the same experiences. Do you conclude that there is a vine with grapes growing on Mars, a dead planet with no water, or what? The evidence accords with the facts.

So back to Earth you go. ‘How was Mars,’ they say and you tell them about the grapes. What is their reaction? They say, “Vines grow on soil with water. You didn’t see any grapes or a vine.”

And are they right? Yes. These observations are so inconsistent with our knowledge that they just aren’t acceptable. No water, no grapes!

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