“Leibniz took his inspiration from The Sand Reckoner of Archimedes, who in this study sought to establish the astronomically large number of sand grains that could be contained within the universe defined by the sphere of the fixed stars of Aristotelian cosmology–a number Archimedes effectively estimated at [10.sup.50]. Thus even as Archimedes addressed the issue of the scope of the physical universe, so Leibniz sought to address the issue of the scope of the universe of thought.” (Rescher, 2005)
In the Western intellectual tradition that has evolved over the last two millennia, knowledge was the “essential resource for those mortal and particular human beings struggling to cope with a world that could be imagined as being independent from any observer.” Scientific endeavor was thus directed to make knowledge independent of the observer (subjective) into an enduring truth (objective). For a human being to ‘know’ something is one way of gaining access to that aspect of the world. The tradition of ‘reasonable knowledge’ is one that brings into concurrence an individual’s observation through sight, sound and logical analysis with the truth associated with the object being studied. In the philosophical tradition, “dealing with this difference between the object and subject of knowledge has become the decisive problem. Even Plato distinguishes episteme from doxa, that is knowledge from meaning. The first is infallible and true, the second only plausible and therefore fallible.” (Nassehi, 2004) This distinction has been addressed, updated and altered by numerous other philosophers since Plato. In the Critique of Pure Reason, German philosopher Immanuel Kant distinguishes three modes of mentally representing reality. These are 1.meaning, 2.believing, and 3.knowing. Kant evaluates meaning as
“both subjectively and objectively inadequate. It can neither satisfy an objective examination, nor it can be subjectively appropriate. In the end, meaning is knowledge by pure chance. In comparison belief is also objectively inadequate, but it is subjectively adequate as it stands for an authentic decision. Finally knowledge is both objectively and subjectively adequate. Here Kant stresses the difficult issue of whether knowledge is a representation of the world with objective certainty for everyone.” (Nassehi, 2004)
- Bauer, J. E. (1997). The End Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age. Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), 20(4), 113+.
- Nassehi, A. (2004). What Do We Know about Knowledge? an Essay on the Knowledge Society. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 29(3), 439+.
- Rescher, N. (2005). Textuality, Reality, and the Limits of Knowledge *. The Review of Metaphysics, 59(2), 355+.