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A Theory of Knowledge - Mental Constructs

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A Theory of Knowledge - Mental Constructs

A Theory of Knowledge: Mental Constructs

"This is a pen." While there are many variations between the possibilities of things being pens, this is one of them. Even if I were dreaming, or a brain in a vat, I would know that this is a pen. I know that this is a pen because I have a mental construct of what a pen is. What I do not know is if I am really holding this pen. On that instance I am incorrect because I cannot form an accurate construct of me holding a pen. The construct of the pen, while it may or may not exist in my hand, does exist as a pen. Therefore, because of this, I may know that this is a pen. Yet what I cannot know is if I'm holding a pen, or if what I'm feeling is my hand is actually existing in the physical sense, which is what a skeptic would claim to be necessary for knowledge.

But of course, what is a mental construct? A mental construct is basically an idea that will consume space and has a specific meaning. When I am looking at this pen, or when I reference the word pen in language, my conception of ‘pen' is the reference to my mental construct of what something means to be a pen. When ‘pen' is spoken, the assumption is made that when that person says ‘pen' they are referring to the same mental construct that I am when I would say ‘pen'. This invites a dilemma for in this case, you have to assume the accuracy of the claims or the soundness of what another person is saying. In this sense, the skeptical problem may ascertain a foothold. However this involves a greater discussion of meaning and titles which will be addressed later on.

Sensory input allows for mental constructs to be created. I may know ‘chair' as in the one I am sitting in, only I may not know if I'm actually sitting in that chair. In terms of mental constructs I could combine "me" and "chair" to say that I am sitting in this chair, but then this would be a claim that the skeptics could refute due to the real-ness they desire. Even if I am a brain in a vat the construct of ‘pen' or whatever I am experiencing remains the same. In this there are two types of possible knowledge which I will call theoretical and applicable (please do not apply common definitions to these terms.) Theoretical knowledge is what would be a claim like "This is a pen." Applicable knowledge would involve an action and would be stated as "I am holding this pen." Applicable knowledge can be subjected to the skeptical problem largely because it incorporates direct involvement or action upon a simple subject of knowledge. Constructs can allow for singular, theoretical knowledge, yet they will not hold when subjected to involvement or alteration due to physicality. Why this is the case is the next logical question.

"I am holding this pen." I would not say that I would know that for fear of a skeptic jumping out of the closet and claiming that I am a brain in a vat. However, I will say that "I know that this is a pen." Why does this statement not fall under the same skeptical conditional? The statement of "I know that this is a pen" is a simple statement which lacks any involvement on the part of the knower aside from reference. A simple, as I am arguing, is a statement which can be known so long as it is not subjected to any additional criteria besides knowledge. The skeptic has grounds for saying that the pen might not really exist, but this does not eliminate my ability to know if it is a pen, or what a pen is. The knowledge of ‘pen' comes from the sensation which then elicits and creates in me, or references, the mental construct of ‘pen.' At this point I am sure this theory may sound ridiculous to the reader. It would appear that I am saying that sensory input can and cannot provide you with knowledge. If that claim is made at this point in the paper, you have only received half the theory, and the other half clarifies this possible problem.

Let's start with the presupposition that I am a brain in a vat, or dreaming, or some other conditional which the skeptic may claim in order to deprive me of possible knowledge. In all of these cases we do not know whatever it is that we think we know due to the deception and trickery of our senses resulting in what something that might be falsely interpreted on our minds. Even as a brain in a vat, our senses are led to believe or are stimulated in such a way that we would be incorrect in making a claim of knowledge. The connection between all of the claims that the skeptic can argue involves elements of knowledge that are all connected by some active or engaging mechanism: "I am holding this pen"; "I am sitting in this chair"; "You are reading this paper." The difficulty in ascertaining knowledge about these

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