What is knowledge? By Félix de Azúa

This post is also available in: Spanish

On one hand, of course there is knowledge. Or there’s something we call knowledge. On the other hand, we don’t know if what we know is real, and that’s a great problem. What I mean by that is that it is the story of Philosophy in the West: determining what on Earth is real. Of course, right now I couldn’t tell you if, when we speak about what’s real, we are talking in a scientific way, that is: what does Science call reality? That which can be falsified, simply? What does our linguistic structure, which may be redundant, call reality? In a nutshell, defining what’s real has problems. But if we put aside the notion of reality, we are also putting aside the notion of truth. That’s the worst problem. But then, we are left with knowledge as the set of elements which allow us to live socially given some consensus which is, in a way, authoritarian. That is: it is assumed by everyone and, if someone doesn’t, he or she is called mad and set apart from the tribe. For example, if someone seriously states that the Earth is flat, he or she will be in trouble. If he or she states that seriously, of course; in an office meeting nothing will happen, but in a serious article in a newspaper, saying “everybody’s wrong, the Earth is flat”, he or she will be in trouble. I would call knowledge simply that. I guess it’s insufficient, but that’s all I can get.

That would back up the creationists’ claim to postulate their theories as knowledge.

Yes, but actually it hasn’t worked too well for them. It’s a typical case, like saying the Earth is flat. Some guys come out and say the World was created by God. And they crash and burn. Of course, they will enjoy popular success. In the USA, in the polls, 80% believes in Heaven. We’re never going to be able to avoid that. When we speak about knowledge we speak about knowledge for people who are interested in knowledge. The populus, the mass, is not interested in knowledge, it’s interested in beliefs. Knowledge is only interesting for some of us. In this group of people who are interested in knowledge, when someone defends the Universe was created by God he or she invalidates herself. Some days ago I read an interview with this Catalan physicist called Jou (of course, he’s not a physicist: he’s a Catalan who’s a physicist, which sets him apart from the rest of the physicists) and, as expected in a nationalist, he believes in God. And he said it in the interview. And I thought: if a physicist believes in God, he is not valid as a scientist. He cannot be a scientist. In any case, he should keep quiet about it: be a hypocrite and believe in God like someone who has some vice. As if he was a heroin addict. Because, how can he be a physicist if he believes in God? There’s an absolute incompatibility. He maybe doesn’t realize, but it’s absolutely incompatible to defend current Physics and God’s existence. But that, in certain societies, such as the Catalan one, doesn’t matter.

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