This page is one of the explanatory pages for my website, http://www.CardinalKnowledge.org. The website is a work in progress, and each and every part of it is open for discussion. The comments to these explanatory pages are where this discussion is to take place.
As a scientist, I have had many encounters in my life with the non-scientific schools of thought that often baffled me with their seeming senselessness. But as my exposure increased, I’ve learned to appreciate them for their products, their influence on the society and the world. From appreciation came the desire to analyze and understand. The result of that analysis is this web page.
I decided to look at the different types of public knowledge, not concerning myself with how the knowledge is obtained in the first place but with how it is passed on from one person to the other, affecting the actions of large numbers of people in a similar manner. Based on what I see, there are four independent routes by which the humankind increases its collective knowledge: art, science, philosophy, and religion.
Each uses a different faculty of the human mind as its vehicle:
The relationships between these four epistemas are such that some can join others in their quest for knowledge: Art and Religion, Science and Philosophy, Art and Science, Philosophy and Religion have all produced knowledge that would not have come from one without the other. However, Science and Religion are mutually incompatible, because faith is the opposite of doubt. Art and Philosophy, perhaps surprisingly, are also incompatible, because reason and logic are the opposite of the qualia of sensory perception.
Of course this tetrachotomy is not my invention; like so many reasonable ideas, it has already been explored by the philosophers in the past. I simply find it to be the most elegant way to categorize the human knowledge and give equal footing to such opposites as science and religion, despite by own bias.
To be sure I’m understood correctly, I have to point out that by “knowledge” here I don’t mean Plato’s justified true belief, my definition is closer to Wittgenstein’s, for the lack of a better example. When speaking of knowledge, I am speaking of any kind of information contained in a human brain, true or false, sensible or nonsensical, with the only condition that it can be acted upon. Additionally, this information has to be transferred from one person to another, and on to more, thus making it collective knowledge. This web page is about four mutually independent, cardinal, types of collective knowledge.
How does it work? Consider an example – you know something that I don’t know. How will you give me that knowledge? If you tell me “this is how it was, trust me!” and I accept it on faith, repeat that with a million people and you have a religion. If you tell me “this was derived from this and that, while this held true, and therefore that was not true, while this was”, and I listen to you and agree that it does, indeed, make sense, and more people do, this is a new philosophical idea. If you simply show me what, in your opinion, will make me feel what you are trying to convey, and others experience it as well – you’ve used art to relay the idea. And finally, if you tell me and the others, “hey, seriously, try this for yourself, see if you get anything different”, you’re talking science.
I am not a philosopher, I am only a chemist, but I hope to further my amateur understanding of philosophy, which is why every page of this site is open for comments. And since it is hard to discuss abstract concepts, I’ve chosen a few specific examples of each of my cardinal directions.