Knowledge of Objects and Properties:
Posted by khuram on December 22, 2006
It seems that all our knowledge is confined to the knowledge of ‘objects’ and the ‘properties’ of those objects.
‘Objects’ are of two types i.e. (i) Material Objects and; (ii) Abstract Objects.
We get the knowledge of ‘Material Objects’ via our faculties of sense perception. Knowledge of ‘Abstract Objects’ mainly comes from ‘thinking and imagination’ activities. I also believe that we cannot ‘think’ or ‘imagine’ anything until and unless all the components or objects of our ‘thinking’ or ‘imagination’ are completely traceable to our ‘perceptional’ or ‘sense-experience’ based knowledge. What we do while ‘thinking’ or ‘imagining’ is just to manipulate, reshape, or re-organize our existing ‘knowledge’ or ‘information’. As our ‘existing knowledge’ contains knowledge of both ‘objects’ and ‘properties’ (or characteristics) of objects, so while reshaping this ‘existing knowledge’, we may assign the already known properties to any un-known or anonymous ‘object’ with the view to explain or account for any complicated or complex observable phenomenon. This is in my opinion, the way in which we get knowledge of ‘abstract objects’ using our faculties of ‘thinking and imagination’.
And the knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ comes from two sources, which are (i) Sense Experience and; (ii) Thinking and Imagination.
Here I also differentiate between ‘sense perception’ and ‘sense experience’. We can think of ‘sense perception’ as ‘direct awareness’ of ‘material objects’ using our senses. This ‘direct awareness’ has to be restricted to only the present moment. For example as in the present moment, I am watching monitor screen, so this direct awareness of monitor screen is ‘sense perception’ in this case. ‘Sense Experience’ would have slightly different meanings in this context. ‘Sense Experience’ is not just ‘direct awareness’ of any object via senses. It is actually our knowledge of the ‘observed’ outcome of the ‘observed’ event. The observed event and its corresponding outcome may not relate to exact present moment. So basically ‘sense experience’ is the knowledge of a ‘causal connection’ between some event and its corresponding outcome.
The purpose of explaining the difference between ‘sense perception’ and ‘sense experience’ is to mention that we do not get knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ of ‘objects’ via ‘sense perception’. We get knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ either through ‘sense experience’ or ‘thinking and imagination’. Let, for example, I see two similar bags. The direct awareness via senses, of the presence of those bags is the ‘sense perception’. Now I do an experiment. I lift one of the bags and come to know that it is quite heavy. The knowledge of ‘heaviness’ i.e. a ‘property’ has come from an experiment, which is ‘sense experience’.
As I stated that in addition to ‘sense experience’, the other source of getting knowledge of ‘properties’ is ‘thinking and imagination’. It is important to remember that through the experiment of lifting one of the bags, I had got knowledge of the ‘heaviness property’ of only one of the bags. But since I possess the faculty of ‘thinking and imagination’ also, so I can make assessment about the corresponding ‘property’ of other bag without repeating the same experiment. Since both the bags are apparently similar, so I can derive an analogical conclusion about the corresponding ‘property’ of other bag in a way that I just ‘assign’ the already known ‘heaviness property’ of a similar bag to the other bag whose ‘heaviness property’ is experimentally unknown. In this way I have got ‘knowledge’ of ‘property’ of an object through the process of ‘thinking and imagination’.