Knowability  

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"Noam Chomsky discusses some philosophical issues involving the limits of language and mind. In particular, he considers three intellectual problems: what he calls Plato's problem, Orwell's problem, and Descartes's problem. Plato's problem has to do with how human beings, whose contacts with the world are limited and brief, are nevertheless able to know so much (i.e. issues involving innate knowledge & the poverty of the stimulus). Orwell's problem is the opposite: how human beings, with amble and reliable information, nonetheless know and understand so little. And finally Descartes' problem, which has to do with issues of freedom of choice and action. This talk is from the College de France."[1]

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Knowability refers to the state of being knowable. Capable of being known, understood or comprehended.

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  • Bouvard et Pécuchet
    • The relentless failure of Bouvard and Pécuchet to learn anything from their adventures raises the question of what is knowable. Whenever they achieve some small measure of success (a rare occurrence), it is the result of unknown external forces beyond their comprehension.
  • Linguistic turn
    • Opposing this interpretation would be concept of philosophical realism, that the world is knowable as it really is, as propounded by philosophers like Ayn Rand.
  • Fitch's paradox of knowability
    • Given that some truths are merely unknown, Fitch's knowability paradox asserts the existence of other truths that are unknowable. The paradox thus contradicts the widely accepted knowability thesis, which states that any truth is, in principle, knowable.

See also




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