International Society for Philosophers

International Society for Philosophers

Wisdom begins with wonder

PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728


Issue number 74 28th December 2003


I. The Board of the International Society for Philosophers

II. 'Where is I?' by D.R. Khashaba

III. Essays on Knowledge by Catherine McAuley Students



2003 has been a great year for Pathways and the International Society for Philosophers.

Back in the Spring, after talks with the University of London, I announced a new program of tutorial support for the University of London External Programme leading to a Diploma and BA Honours Degree in Philosophy.

In May, my article "Pathways to Philosophy Seven Years On" appeared in 'Practical Philosophy', the Journal of the Society for Philosophy in Practice. The article looked back over what had been achieved, but also asked whether Pathways would still be going seven years from now.

The network of Pathways web sites has continued to grow, the most recent addition being 'The Ten Big Questions' in August, showcasing the talents of the Pathways 'Ask a Philosopher' panel.

November saw the launch of a second Pathways newsletter, 'Philosophy for Business'. The third issue of the business newsletter is due to go out today to over three hundred corporate, business and private subscribers around the world.

As reported last week, earlier this month the first group of Pathways Schools students graduated from Catherine McAuley High, Sydney Australia. More philosophy essays by these 14-16 year olds are reproduced below.

During this time, the International Society for Philosophers has continued with the same setup as it had when it was first formed back in April 2002. Our working partners, The Philosophical Society of England, has a Council and a formal Constitution. It seems to me high time we had something too.

That is why I am setting up an ISFP Board which will oversee the running of the Pathways web sites and philosophy programs.

One of the main tasks for the ISFP Board will be to examine essay portfolios submitted for the Associate award, as well as dissertations submitted for the Fellowship award. Previously, this work was undertaken by our official Examiner Dr Martin Gough of the Open University. I very much hope that the Board will continue to benefit from Dr Gough's wide knowledge of philosophy. However, I believe that candidates can only gain from having several opinions on their work rather than just one.

Invitations to join the Board were sent out this month to the more senior Pathways Mentors and contributors. The response has been fantastic. Here is the initial roll call of Board members - I hope that many more will join in the months and years to come:

Tony Bellotti, UK John Brandon, UK Steven Ravett Brown, USA Rachel Browne, UK Matthew Del Nevo, Australia Hubertus Fremerey, Germany Simone Klein, Austria Jurgen Lawrenz, Australia Tim LeBon, UK Dmitry Olshansky, Russian Republic Brian Tee, UK Justin Woods, Australia

As I wrote in my letter of invitation:

"Since the launch of the ISFP in April 2002, I have benefited from the help and advice of many people. The formation of a Board is the logical next step which will continue a process of consultation which is already well underway, as well as giving formal recognition to your valued contribution to the Pathways project. Board members will have a major influence on the future direction of ISFP.

"I envisage the Board as being the think tank of the ISFP, as well as its policy making body and conscience, initiating new projects and also  keeping a watchful eye on the day to day running of Pathways.

"The formation of a Board represents the coming of age of the ISFP."

(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2003


Pathways to Philosophy Seven Years On: http:---

The Ten Big Questions: http:---

Philosophy for Business newsletter: https:---




Thanks to Professor T. R. Miles, a previously unpublished lecture of Gilbert Ryle's has appeared in the journal, 'Philosophy'. "Courses of Action or the Uncatchableness of Mental Acts" encapsulates Ryle's philosophy of mind in an attempt to explain why both Cartesian Introspectionism and behaviourism fail to 'catch' mental acts. I seek to show that, while Ryle adequately explains why Introspectionists and behaviourists necessarily fail to 'catch' any mental act, there is a more fundamental reason which Ryle, as an Empiricist, has no place for. If mind and body are two dimensions of one thing, then all actual human doings can be represented in terms of bodily happenings, yielding linguistic formulations. Subjective reality remains ineffable because language deals only with objective things and happenings, not with subjective realities. To deny or to forget those realities and to believe that the actually existent is all there is, is a grave error.

Prefatory note

Thanks to the generous initiative of Professor T. R. Miles, an important, previously unpublished, lecture of Gilbert Ryle's has appeared in 'Philosophy' (Vol: 75, no 293, pp.331-351). "Courses of Action or the Uncatchableness of Mental Acts", prepared only two years before his death in 1976, continues Ryle's lifelong concern to exorcise the Cartesian 'ghost in the machine' and encapsulates Ryle's philosophy of mind in a fresh attempt to explain the reason why both Cartesian Introspectionism and behaviourism fail to 'catch' mental acts. In examining Ryle's important paper, I seek to show that, while the reason advanced by Ryle adequately explains why Introspectionists and behaviourists and others are ever doomed to fail to 'catch' any mental act, there is a more fundamental reason which Ryle, with his Empiricist approach, has no place for in his philosophy.


Ryle begins by depicting the problem of the uncatchableness of mental acts from an introspectionist perspective. When we try to describe 'the ways in which we had been mentally occupied' while thinking, our attempts 'are always total failure.' Why? Ryle rejects en passant the Freudian explanation of the elusiveness of mental acts by inventing a Subconscious or Unconscious Mind in which they hide away. He then suggests it might be 'our ideas of act-description or process-chronicling that [are] the source of the trouble'. To illustrate this suggestion he offers an allegory. A camera-proud boy at the zoo after happily snapping a variety of the zoo's denizens, follows a finger-post marked 'Mammals' and takes photos of a lion, a wolf, an otter, but looks in vain for a mammal. The boy sees 'Danger' notices displayed here and there, but cannot have a photo of Danger to keep on his album. 'The term 'danger' is semantically too sophisticated or of too High an Order to permit it to occupy sentence-vacancies that welcome specific terms like "lion", or even generic terms like "mammal" and "danger".'

Ryle then promises 'to show, in partial analogy, that our powers of thought-description can be baffled by their would-be objects being, like dangers, semantically of too High an(d) Order'. He is to find a place 'for the notion of Thinking, between our so-called "outer" and our so-called "inner" lives, between reductionism and duplicationism about "mental acts" and "mental processes".' So, by analogy to the distinction between the lion and the otter, on the one hand, which the boy could snap, and, on the other hand, the Mammal and the Danger that he could not locate, Ryle now draws a distinction, with an abundance of illustrative examples, between an action, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a course of action or chain-undertaking or Super-action. An example of action is eating this piece of cake or whistling to your puppy; an example of a chain-undertaking is dieting or puppy-training. Dieting, puppy-training, exploring, researching, are not actions but 'purposive Higher Order chain undertakings under which various actions proper are tactically conducted.'


I will now offer some comments to show why I find this explanation interesting, instructive, enlightening, but not completely satisfactory, because it offers to give us Hamlet, leaving out the Prince.

Gilbert Ryle is right about the uncatchableness of mental acts, and he is right in holding that neither reductionism nor duplicationism about 'mental acts' and 'mental processes' can give us the understanding we need. However, Ryle's own position is a species of reductionism. In common with all Analytical philosophers, he thinks that when we have created a conceptual distinction, that's where we have to stop. They are interested in 'mental acts', 'mental processes' -- as acts and processes -- and the conceptual pigeon-holes in which we can conveniently range those acts and processes. The activity itself which does all that, which is truly uncatchable because unobjectifiable, is of no practical importance and can be left out of the account.

Ryle, speaking of chain-undertakings, says, 'A snapshot cannot, but a cinematograph-film might show an explorer exploring.' I would say that neither would a cinematograph-film, nor anything in any way objective, show an explorer exploring. The cinematograph-film would show what Ryle calls 'variegated infra-acts' (which he emphatically and correctly distinguishes from the overall chain-undertaking), but only the idea of exploration in the explorer's mind can make of those infra-acts an integral part, a meaningful moment, of the activity of exploration.

Ryle argues that the behaviourist would be wrong in concluding that dieting is an action or an activity, since it is a course of action. These distinctions are useful but they can never be hard and fast; besides, we don't need that for showing that behaviourism does not give an adequate account of mental events. No action, however simple, however seemingly instantaneous, is actually an irreducible particle of action. The reception by the eye of a ray of light (I intentionally put it as naively as possible) is no more susceptible of being reduced to atomic constituents than our good old solid matter has proved to be.

He admits: 'We have no regulations to fix what shall and what shall not count as a single action rather than as a combination or sequence of numerically different actions; and we have no regulations to fix what shall count as an action and not as a mere reaction, reflex, output of energy, automatism, or spasm.' This admission virtually negates the distinction. It is, strictly speaking, impossible to find any 'single' action that is truly single. I have a cup of coffee before me. Not even each single sip is a single action: I stretch my arm, hold the cup, raise it to my lips, sip, swallow: each of these 'simple' acts in turn can be broken down into others. A single instant, a single impression, a single reflex, a single spasm, are all fictions, useful and indispensable fictions, but fictions nonetheless.

While rightly seeking to show the inadequacy of behaviourism and reductionism in dealing with chain-undertakings, Ryle reduces the chain-undertaking or supra-action to a token word without any content. After giving a long list of examples 'of familiar kinds of things in our adherence to which we are engaging in courses of action o[r] chain-undertakings', he says, 'A person follows a programme of any of these and other kinds ... only by regularly or duly (etc.) conducting his appropriate infa-actions in intentional subordination to the programme.' Where does that leave the programme? The programme of course is an idea, but an idea which is and must be of very poor specificity. No infra-action is included in all its minute details in the programme, and yet it is not a chance happening or an arbitrary action. It is shaped by the programme in virtue of a plasticity in the programme; but that plasticity would be impossible if the programme were nothing but an abstract idea; the plasticity comes from the creativity of the mind in which alone the programme has its being.

The behaviourist, when he finds that 'the student's supposedly unique action of studying the German language cannot be equated' with this or that particular action, is driven to identify it instead 'with some particular but jellyfishy, "internal" act or process', and this, Ryle finds, is absurd. 'The category-difference of, say, the particular action of eating a piece of toast from the Higher Order course of action of dieting was misconstrued as the supposed mere "sortal" difference of doing a particular overt or bodily thing from doing a particular crypto or "mental" thing.' But the fault lies not in propounding a distinction between an overt or bodily thing and an internal or mental thing, but in regarding that 'thing', as an act, and, equally seriously, in seeking to identify the 'Higher Order course' with anything whatever. The supra-action, chain-undertaking, programme, or however you name it, is not to be identified with this or that, but is to be found in the mind, as a creative issue of living intelligence.


Ryle believes that the uncatchableness of mental acts is explained by their being thought-complexes involving subordinate clauses. That is a good piece of logical analysis. But what sustains those injunctions (programmes, etc.) comprising the subordinate clauses? What gives them the virtue of unfolding, realizing themselves in a manifold of related particular acts, processes, etc? It is that they inhere in a living, active, creative mind, that itself is uncatchable not because it is a phantom or a slippery jellyfish or a second- or third-order logical entity, but because it is a reality that, since its nature is to be the arche and aitia of all existence, cannot itself exist (ex-sist).

Second-order concepts have no existence. Empiricists conclude that they are nothing but words. No; they are not mere words: they are realities without which existents do not exist for us. They constitute the reality of our being as intelligent beings.

Further on we read, 'Waiting for a train, like keeping a secret o[r] postponing writing a letter, is not an action. ... Rather it is a course of action or a chain-undertaking with a negative supra-purpose tactically governing its infra-actions and inactions.' Ryle's argument, in common with all Analytical philosophy, suffers from a mental blind spot. When Analytical philosophers have succeeded in giving a good analysis of a concept, they are no longer interested in the meaningfulness of the concept. Being fundamentally Empiricists they are not only ready to, but are determined to, forget about the mind behind the meaning.


Under the rubric 'Application', Ryle sums up what he means to achieve. I will quote this short paragraph in full:

     I want, in the end, to achieve an impartially anti-Dualist
     and anti-Reductionist categorial(,) re-settlement of at
     least some 'mental acts' and 'mental processes', including,
     especially, the cogitations of Le Penseur. I am hoping to
     have found, in this notion of courses of action, a hitherto
     unsponsored categorial hostel in which the logical
     grammarian may, at once unmysteriously and unreductively,
     at once unprivately and publicly house the notion of
     pondering. In this hostel it will be under the same roof as
     (though on a higher and airier floor than) such notions as
     dieting, waiting, wheat-growing, exploring, spring-cleaning,
     studying, puppy-training, etc.

I have already stated the view that Ryle's 'anti-Reductionist' position is itself a species of reductionism. By 'anti-Dualist', moreover, Ryle obviously means to indicate a position opposed to the assertion of the reality of subjective states -- in other words, the reality of the mind, hence the scare-quotes wherever the word 'mental' occurs.

Ordinary Language philosophers seem to think that by collecting as many specimens as possible of particular instances of a given concept, they have exhausted or come as closely as is practically possible to exhausting the meaning of the concept. They have not absorbed the first lesson of the Socratic elenchus, namely, that drawing up an inventory of instances is not the same thing as grasping the meaning of the concept. Ryle again and again lists tens of examples to show us that dieting is not only not the same thing as, but also not the same kind of thing, as eating; that practising is not only not the same thing, but also not the same kind of thing as doing. That is all very good as far as it goes, and the distinction drawn between the concept of action and that of a course of action is a useful and important distinction. But that bypasses the question of what is behind not only a course of action but even the simplest action -- for the simplest of actions cannot bring itself about; its antecedents cannot bring it about: Hume long ago shattered that myth; only the creativity of an autonomous mind can bring anything about.

Ryle affirms, 'Only where there is exploration, innovation, origination, enterprise or the essaying of something new, can there be experimenting; only where there is intentional repetition, acclimatisation, rehearsal, consolidation or self-drilling can there be the intention to school oneself in something.' That is well-said. But we are nowhere given any hint as to whom or to what that exploration, innovation, and intention are to be credited. Ryle at this point would of course be irritated by my stupidity: the whole point is that these things are not to be credited to anyone or any-what because they are no-thing, no-action. But I will persist in being stupid: because they are no-thing and no-action they are a higher, purer, kind of 'thing'. They are projects, intentions, etc., which will never have any actual existence -- agreed! -- but whose particular existent instances could never come to exist but for the mind in which they germinate and breed their progeny blessed with respectable existentiality. If our insistence on this brands us with stupidity, let us on top of that be impudent enough to say that those who deny it are simply obstinately refusing to acknowledge that they themselves are not merely existent but have a reality over and above their existence.

All of this applies pari passu to the problem of thinking. Someone trying to solve a problem, as Ryle rightly affirms, 'is certainly to be described, with hardly a tinge of metaphor, as exploring or researching.' Ryle also rightly affirms that the thinker's thinking 'does not reduce' to the 'subordinated various infra-actions, steps or moves'. What then? My point is that we cannot stop here. There is still one more thing that we need to bring out: the 'various infra-actions, steps or moves' cannot come into being, cannot happen, without the reality (which in my usage is not the same thing as, but opposed to, existence) of a mind behind them.

Ryle concludes, 'We now know one unmysterious reason why our attempts, whether introspective or behavioural, to "catch" oneself or another thinking performing the mental acts of which, while still grammatically hobbled, we expected Thought to consist is the same as the reason why we would equally vainly try to catch oneself or someone else in the here-and-now act of puppy-training' etc. I am at one with Ryle in maintaining that both introspectionists and behaviourists are equally engaged in a wild-goose chase. But I further maintain that the reason why they will never catch their goose is not for the 'unmysterious reason' that thinking is a Higher Order undertaking and that introspectionists and behaviourists fail to note the distinction between actions and courses of action, but rather the -- in a sense -- truly mysterious reason that we have minds whose nature is to be real but never exist.


Today, neuroscientists and philosophers of mind are like a child standing before a mirror, perplexedly saying, Here is my nose, here are my eyes, here are my arms... but where is I? The I, the mind, is not a 'ghost in the machine', for that was Descartes's gravest sin, that he broke up the whole person into a machine that could not move itself and a mind that was a mere phantom. Spinoza saw at once that that was a nonstarter: he restored the wholeness of Nature, the wholeness of Reality, the wholeness of the Person, but philosophers would not listen and continued to knock about errantly between Cartesian dualism and Empiricist phenomenalism.

Ryle, like all Analytic philosophers who share a common Empiricist background, in showing the error of Descartes's dualism did not, like A.N. Whitehead, restore the wholeness of the whole but was content with the objective half. Naturally, if mind and body are two aspects or two dimensions of one thing, as Spinoza thought, then all actual human doings can be successfully represented in terms of bodily happenings. The temptation then to forget about the 'inner' (the spatial metaphor is bad but pardonable) aspect is great, and great are its pernicious consequences.

Because the Cartesian body was confessedly a machine, the mind inhering in it could be justly pilloried as a 'ghost in the machine', but I, writing these words, know that I am I and am not a category mistake. Ryle would say that the fact that I obviously and necessarily stammer in making this statement shows that I am speaking of a chimera. I answer, No; my reality is ineffable because language has been developed to deal with objective things and happenings, not with subjective realities. The poets trick language into conveying subjective realities -- love, hope, fear -- and philosophers, to give articulate expression to those realities, have to clothe those in myth as Plato knew. To deny or to forget those realities and to believe that the actually existent is all there is, is the death of humanity.

(c) D.R. Khashaba 2003


Web site: http:---



Students were set the following essay question:

     'In view of advice from the philosophical think-tank
     formed last year from six eminent professors, we shall
     be introducing legislation to ban the use of the verb
     "to know" its derivatives from all official documents.'
     - Comment on this imaginary extract from the Queen's
     speech at the opening of Parliament.

Philosophical scepticism represents the classic challenge to the concept of 'knowledge'. What this question is asking is, Why would it matter so much if we gave up talk of 'knowing' things? Couldn't we get by perfectly well talking about belief instead?

Let's see how three smart Australian school girls responded.


Caitlin Hosking

The idea of ÔknowingÕ[1] is what upholds our society. Although we can never truly be sure of any fact, we must believe that we ÔknowÕ certain things and trust our senses and judgement to fulfil the needs of our society and indeed keep ourselves sane.

We have never really ÔknownÕ anything. What we ÔknowÕ is only ÔknownÕ to our human senses. How can we judge what we know with what could be false indicators. Therefore by creating this law the Prime Minister is only stating that we cannot say we know what we are not sure we know.

Although we can never really trust our senses to completely tell the truth, ÔknowledgeÕ is what we perceive through our senses and judgment. It is not what we are sure to be true but rather what we perceive to be true through experience. What we know at a point in time is in fact the sum of our experiences up to that moment. Ultimately the Prime Minister is therefore dispensing our rights as human beings to judge what we know by stating that we cannot know anything.

This new law would dramatically effect our everyday lives. For example, many jobs could not function properly. Scientific exploration as we know it would cease to exist, as scientists would have no basics to build on.

Education would also stop functioning as teachers would have nothing to teach children and children could not learn any fact, meaning that the future generation would be doomed with no knowledge whatsoever.

Without knowledge we would be unable to think for our selves and make our own decisions therefore destroying free will itself.

Taking action over possessed knowledge has in the past led to chaos and destruction. For example, introducing a new species (like the cane toad) into an environment has proved to be a dilemma. We believed we knew all the factors before we introduced the species however we were wrong and this action led to serious damage. Perhaps without knowledge, this would not happen.

However without any knowledge the damage would be far worse. For example if we forwent all knowledge we would run the risk of annihilating our countries ecosystem through ignorance. This would occur due to the lack of knowledge of how well the ecosystem can harvest introduces species.

Even ignoring our societies thirst for knowledge, we in ourselves could not be sure of nothing. For example, we could not know nothing because we would know that we know nothing. Even knowing that we know nothing is knowing something. Even if we were simply unsure of everything we would know we are unsure. We always know something.

Without knowledge we would be wandering without passion, free will, jobs, friends, sentiment, intelligence and essentially lives. We simply could not live without knowledge, it is against instinct and evolution. It is not possible to know nothing.


1. To be sure or definite of


Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy http:---

Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy http:---

(c) Caitlin Hosking 2003


Alysar Aboumelem

To know something is to feel certain that something is a fact or the truth, or to have learned and understood. To have much knowledge, to be knowledgeable and wise is considered to be a good thing in todayÕs society, and in fact in many societies of the past. Why then, would the Prime Minister announce that the verb  Ôthe knowÕ is to be removed from all official government documents? What event, or what ideas or concepts could lead to such changes being suggested?

A parliament, government, or legislative body is normally relied upon by the people of a state/ nation to produce laws/rules that are in the best interest of the people. So we must ask ourselves, why is it considered to be in the best interests of the state/ nation to have the verb ÔknowÕ removed from legal documentation? Normally when the right to do something is removed from the laws of a nation, and is replaced with a law banning that something being done, it is because the right was abused to do damage to a person/ society. Would the removal of the verb ÔknowÕ fall under this category? Has the word been abused or taken for granted? Has it become something that is so often used in the wrong context that it would really be beneficial to society to have it removed, even if only to ease the confusion surrounding the true meaning or purpose of the word? But how can it be said that the word is used in the wrong context when we are not even sure of the best context to use it in? In fact, many people, if asked, would struggle to define the verb know, because it is seen as being self-explanatory. But can anyone truly know anything?

Following with the definition above, to know something is to be certain of its truth, certain that it is a fact. But can any person ever be truly, definitely, one hundred percent certain of something, sure enough to say that they know it? We say that we are advanced enough to know that the world is round. Yet we havenÕt seen for ourselves evidence that the world is round, so how can we profess to know this? We are told by others who have evidence that the world is round, but how can we know that this is the truth, and that the whole thing is not a lie? We assume it is the truth, much in the same way that we assume many other things that we claim to ÔknowÕ. These assumptions are often mistaken for true knowledge, if such a thing exists. When it comes down to it, there are very few things that can be called true knowledge, and those things are more individual than universal, in that one person might know something to be a true fact and say that they, as an individual, know it, whereas another person might not truly know that something is true, they might just believe it to be so.

Which brings up the whole issue of beliefs. While knowledge is defined as what is or can be known, a belief is written as being something you believe and accept as true; faith or trust, and to believe is to trust and have confidence in; to accept as real and true. The basis of both is in truth. Beliefs deal with truth in that they are accepted as being true or right, but proof is not always necessary. Knowledge on the other hand, deals with truth in that supposedly what we know, what the majority of us have been taught, is right, or true.

But there are many people who often confuse what they believe with what they know (if they indeed know anything, i.e. what they think they know isnÕt just assumptions).

This may happen because they are stubborn, or easily confused, or maybe even because they believe something so strongly, and are so firmly convinced that it is right and true, that they convince themselves that they no longer believe this thing to be true, but know it to be true, therefore they would say know it as a fact.

Perhaps then, one could attempt to clear their mind and grasp that most of what they think is knowledge are actually assumptions, and they could then say that they know nothing. But in admitting this fact to themselves, they are actually being contradictory, for they do know that they have no knowledge, which is knowledge in itself.

From the thoughts presented above, it would seem that the word, or rather the verb ÔknowÕ is the source of heated and stimulating arguments and ideas. Perhaps this is because it is one of those issues that are very difficult to classify or generalise. This is because the term ÔknowÕ refers to a concept or idea, as opposed to words which refer to classifiable objects which are easier to generalise.

It may be easier now to understand then why the government would make the choice to remove the verb ÔknowÕ from official government documentation. Issues that governments deal with tend to be more important than everyday situations which arise for average people, and so if the word ÔknowÕ can cause so much confusion and disturbance in these matters, then it would be best for all concerned if the government were to find a different word to use.

(c) Alysar Aboumelem 2003


Rebecca Abdou

"Know - to feel certain something is a fact or the truth; or to have learnt and understood; to perceive directly; grasp in the mind with clarity or certainty; to have fixed in the mind."[1] To understand this topic we firstly must be able to discuss the word freely, which is not how we are. To explain the words 'to know' would be to explain our minds and how we know.

If we were to be banned from the word 'know', how would we as humans be? We would not be able to speak our minds; we may not be sure and would have to be reassured over and over again. Knowing is a part of our everyday life and if, in fact, we were unable to be sure of many things then why would we be able to think. Even though we can only assume to know things for certain, we all need to be in no doubt that things are the way they are, therefore we must know.

We cannot know nothing because then we are, in point of fact, knowing we know nothing.  But also, we can never be unsure we know anything, because we know we are unsure that we can, in fact, know. We can't say other people don't know anything because we know that everybody at least knows something or we could not exist and be ourselves.

If we were actually banned from saying the actual word 'know', many issues would be brought up about it and we would probably talk about it and its consequences in the end. For example, a builder would not be able to say he knows a building or a house is safe in all aspects, and in the end we may never be able to live or use these particular things because we would not know for sure if they were safe. Also scientific exploration would cease to exist, as they would not be able to show they knew something was true or proven.

We all 'know' our feelings and we all need to know our feelings. If we weren't able to 'know' our feelings then we would be very confused and we could put things out of proportion and take things out on people we didn't mean to. Also, to know is part of our instinct; for example, if the prime minister were to say the word 'know' was banned, we would first think 'how can we ban this word because our whole life is based on knowing so we could not be able to not know'.

"Common knowledge is a phenomenon which underwrites much of social life." [2] Can somebody actually know everything? Can we know what another person is thinking? For example, If a married couple are separated in a department store, they stand a good chance of finding one another because their common knowledge of each others' tastes and experiences leads them each to look for the other in a part of the store both know that both would tend to frequent. Since the ex-partners both love cappuccino, each expects the other to go to the coffee bar, and they find one another.

How can we be certain that we have the ability 'to know'? Can we just assume everybody has the ability ' to know'? We will never fully be sure of all these questions; therefore we know we cannot know the answers. "If a pedestrian causes a minor traffic jam by crossing against a red light, she explains her mistake as the result of her not noticing, and therefore not knowing, the status of the traffic signal that all the motorists knew."[3]

To know includes all of our daily needs and activities. We must be able to have this in our vocabulary or we may have troubles that we don't need. This verb is part of our everyday language and it may disturb the way many production areas operate.  We must be able to know as instinct, feeling and as the way we are.  


1. Maquarie Dictionary 2. http:--- 3. http:---

(c) Rebecca Abdou 2003

© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2020