Three Varieties of Knowledge- a Critque Essay

1658 Words7 Pages
Donald Davidson- Three Varieties of Knowledge
Submitted By: Nathan Copeland- 500349268
Submitted to: Prof. Checkland
PHL550
April 15, 2013

In Donald Davidsons Three Varieties of Knowledge, he sets out to more or less prove that “A community of minds is the basis of knowledge; it provides the measure of all things." (Davidson, 218). This is done by first categorizing knowledge into three distinct categories. There is knowledge of ones own mind, knowledge of another’s mind, and knowledge of the shared physical world around us. He argues that no one could exist without the others. According to Davidson, knowledge of ones own mind differs from the other two types of knowledge in the sense that one knows the contents of their own mind
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(Davidson, pg. 217)

Davidson then goes on to say that “knowledge of the propositional contents of our own minds is not possible without the other forms of knowledge, since there is no propositional thought without communication” (Davidson, pg. 213). Furthermore, knowledge of others cannot be inferred unless we have knowledge of ourselves, as the process of coming to know another’s mind is done by matching evidence from others behaviour to our knowledge of our own, thus showing that knowledge of our own minds and others is also mutually dependent.

He acknowledges that there are a great deal of possible ways that we could assign our native language to the language and behavior of another to come about an understanding. He relates this to the measurement of weight in the sense that no matter what system you use for measurement; kilograms, pounds ounces, etc., the invariable factor, in this case the actual weight of the object, is the fact of the matter, not the arbitrary units of measure. His point is that there will likely always be indeterminacy in our translations, but we will often get the general idea. He also believes that there are no strict laws that connect mental states with physical ones, stating that such laws can exist “only when concepts connected by the laws are based on criteria of the same sort” (Davidson, pg. 215).

This all leads to the fact that we will never be able to agree on how sentences and thoughts should be

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