Knowledge, by Reyes Mate

This post is also available in: Spanish

Postmodern thought has attacked the first issue and even questioned the possibility of forming an image of the world.

The fact that we ask the same questions doesn’t mean our answers have to be the same. When we ask ourselves about what we can know, we don’t only ask about the conditions of knowledge, as Kant already did. He told us knowing doesn’t mean understanding the relationship between the human mind and reality, as if the former was some kind of mirror in which reality was reflected. Instead, he made us see that knowing means to interpret reality according to the characteristics of a human being that has certain handicaps. For example: time and space. In order to know, humans need to take into account time and space and a series of conditioning factors which explain that what they perceive of reality has an evident subjective load. Kant asks himself this question and removes us somewhat from the realist naivety of the scholastic period, which thought the mind was a reflection of the world, so he enlightens us about the conditions of possibility of knowledge. And today this question, given the importance of science, has to be asked differently. If we ask ourselves about what we can know, we have to ask whether we must know all we can know, whether there is no priority in the research about reality, or if there are things which shouldn’t be known, even if we could. The questions are the same but, due to the differences in our environments and the evolution of technical and scientific knowledge, are posed in a different way.

Some people claim knowledge is nothing but a subjective construction, independent from reality.

That is some kind of Kantianism, taken to the extreme. Of course, knowledge is impossible without hermeneutics, which modulate reality to fit our capabilities. From the hermeneutic perspective, every knowledge of reality is an interpretation and even that which we interpret may not be coincidental with the awareness of what we interpret. Sometimes we say things that escape our own awareness and which others may be able to interpret better than ourselves. In knowledge, the interpretative chain is fundamental.

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