Listen to part of a lecture in a philosophy class.
Okay. So, uh, to continue our discussion…
When philosophers talk about the basis of knowledge, they don't mean the source of information about any particular subject.
They mean how we know what we know.
Let's start with one philosophical view—foundationalism.
Foundationalism is the view that our knowledge claims, what we think we know, that is, they need to have a base.
And think of knowledge as a house, you need a solid foundation on which to build your house.
And if you have a strong foundation, your house is more likely to be solid.
Well, foundationalists think the same thing is true of knowledge.
If you have a solid base for your knowledge claims, then your knowledge structure is more likely to be strong, valid, true.
First, you need some good foundational knowledge claims, and then the rest of the knowledge claims can be based on these.
Now, as to what kinds of knowledge claims are foundational....well, that's where this gets particularly interesting, it may sort of depends on which philosopher you ask.
Take John Locke for instance.
Locke's viewpoint essentially was that when humans are born, their minds are like blank slates, that is, we don't have any kind of knowledge when we are born.
We get our knowledge from our senses, you know, taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing.
So, when we look at the world, first as babies and then as we grow, that's where our knowledge comes from.
Our senses, our experiences serve as the foundation for our knowledge.
Now, for a very different view, let's turn to another philosopher—Rene Descartes.
Descartes thought that you have to go much deeper to find the foundations.
He believed that our senses are not to be trusted, so he wanted to find a more solid foundation for knowledge.
He began with what has come to be called methodological doubt.