Browsing by Subject "epistemology"

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  • Mäkinen, Joonas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis is an attempt to explore the conceptual relations between the notions of knowledge and information by trying to present and argue for an analysis of knowledge in terms of information. Much of the work is done in the footsteps of Luciano Floridi, although in the end we end up criticizing his epistemology. I begin by introducing and arguing for Floridi’s strongly semantic conception of information, according to which information is well-formed, meaningful and truthful data. We also touch on the reasons for it being the prime candidate for being a starting point for information-based epistemology, e.g. the way it already encapsulates truth. Then, we continue our discussion about Floridi’s epistemology. The substantial features of its conditions, namely the notion of being informed, epistemic relevance and the network theory of account are discussed one by one in moderate length. After putting his analysis together, we took a critical look at it, the conclusion being that Floridi’s jump straight from the informational terms of his conditions to knowing seems unwarranted, given our intuitive grasp on what knowing means. There seems to be an unwarranted conflation of the notions of knowledge and knowing, i.e. that a definition of knowing also contains the full definition of knowledge. However, this conflation is not limited only to Floridi’s analysis but can be found also in much of contemporary epistemology. It is hypothesized that this is partly due to them favouring the third person point of view in their analyses, but if we combine the third person view on knowledge and knowing with e.g. the first person one, the distinction becomes clearer. Another possible reason for the confusion might be a certain equivocation of two senses of knowledge. First, knowledge is often thought of as a kind of extension of knowing: all that is known constitutes knowledge. Here, knowledge is defined through the intension of knowing. The other sense refers to knowledge on its own terms and equates it more closely with its content. While the former sense is more natural in mainstream epistemology and the latter when approached from the point of view of information, the equivocation can still be found in mainstream epistemology. The suggested solution is to make the distinctions between knowledge, having knowledge and knowing clearer. Now, Floridi’s analysis can be taken as a decent attempt at capturing the meaning of ‘S holds the knowledge that i’, but to define actual knowing something additional is required. Some very tentative thoughts are given with regards to what that might be, boiling mostly down to it having to be something providing conscious access, or transparency, to the knowledge we hold. This distinction is the result of approaching knowledge and knowing in informational terms. What ultimately validates making the distinction, and thus also indirectly the framework from it grew out of, is the insight it provides to existing epistemological problems and discussions.
  • Jokinen, Sonja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    The aim of this study was to explore the epistemologies and conceptions of learning upper secondary school students (13-15-year-olds), high school students and their teachers express, and to compare the differences of these epistemologies and conceptions between the three groups. The theory of this thesis is based on earlier research related to epistemologies and conceptions of learning that suggest that epistemologies and conceptions of learning evolve with education and age towards a more sophisticated view of knowledge and learning. The data for this pilot study was collected from a small region in Finland in November 2015. The participants; upper secondary school students, high school students and their teachers (N=380), answered an online survey with two-part Likert-type statements measuring various kinds of epistemologies and conceptions of learning (collaboration, valuing metacognition, deep approach, surface approach and certain knowledge). The data was analyzed through looking at correlations and comparing the results of the three groups using ANOVA. The results of this study partly confirm previous study results of differences in epistemologies and conceptions of learning. Differences between secondary school students, high school students and teachers did occur, older students as well as the teachers tended to have more complex views of knowledge and learning. However, the results of the high school students suggest that they valued certain knowledge too, which is considered a less sophisticated epistemology. The results also show that the teachers valued collaboration and metacognition, but that the students didn't experience these two epistemologies to be practiced in class.
  • Lehtonen, Saana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how a poetic metaphor challenges our common sense notions about the world (the estrangement effect) and enables unorthodox ways of thinking and acting (creative imagination). In the study, I will compare and evaluate theories that investigate the role that metaphor has in lived human experience. All the theories discussed share the view that metaphor is epistemologically important for humans. Two different characterisations of this epistemic importance can be identified: 1) the cognitive view, which emphasises the role of metaphor in unconscious, prelinguistic and embodied thought; 2) the pragmatic and phenomenological view of metaphor as a creative activity, a re-imagining of experience and a communicative phenomenon. Defending the latter position, I argue that metaphor has epistemic value, but not because metaphor serves as a cognitive foundation for shared human knowledge, but because it is a creative human pursuit of imagining new possibilities and ways of being. I will criticise the cognitive metaphor theory (CMT), as proposed by Lakoff and Johnson, which holds that metaphors are the foundation of human thought and reasoning. This position advocates ideas about global and fixed ways of interpreting metaphor. As such, it fails to explain novel poetic or scientific metaphors, but fairs better with common everyday metaphors, which already have fixed meanings. I will argue that the existence of universal cognitive metaphors is highly doubtful. As an alternative to the problematic framework of the cognitive metaphor theory, I propose pragmatic and phenomenological theories. The pragmatic view of metaphor, proposed by Davidson and Rorty, succeeds better at describing the experience which a novel metaphor incites in the reader. This position suggests that metaphor has an effect, which cannot be explained by extension of a word’s meaning. Metaphor is a linguistic stimulus, which forces the reader to do some creative guesswork about its intention and meaning. Metaphor has pragmatic potential, because it motivates human innovation and discovery. The phenomenological position, espoused by Ricoeur, describes the sense of wonder and excitement that living metaphor evokes in us. This view suggests that metaphorical estrangement is closely aligned with the phenomenological method of epoché, suspension of everyday judgment. Ricoeur suggests that poetic metaphor, similar to the epoché, can help us distance ourselves from the natural attitude and reveal novel ontological possibilities for humans. Despite their differences, both the pragmatist and the phenomenological position characterise metaphor as a creative use of language and arrive at similar conclusions. Committing metaphoric acts has positive consequences because metaphors motivate critical thought, prompt self-reflection and re-evaluation of our previous thought, and enable creative problem solving, speculation and invention.