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William. Pursuing it further, I'm thinking it comes down to the apparent paradox - what is knowledge? Is it the accumulation of the works of many, many thinkers and doers who have made some little or large contribution to the sum of progress and civilisation we see now? All of it on record for our perusal, appreciation or critique? Or is it only "knowledge" when some piece of it is grasped - not merely memorised - by each person's consciousness? It has to be both, of course. There is no paradox between 'personal' knowledge and 'out there' knowledge. Nothing is "known" until an individual knows it and 'integrates' it with what he has already. Consciousness is not some collective entity, and knowledge, by defintion, can't exist in libraries of books (and the web equivalent) - books contain fact, information and opinion, simply. But as I see it, the modern movement has been strongly to that "collective" notion of knowledge, and empiricism (the implicit philosophy not the methodology - although the line is getting blurred by "philosophers of science", I think) is the cause and result.

One can see it in modern education, the growing emphasis on "What" to think, at the cost of "How" to think, which has been relegated further into insignificance by educators (of the government type, especially) who have the prime purpose of putting students through the system, and often into goverment employment. Here in SA education is well known to be in dire trouble and I've been involved with classrooms of students to see it up close. (Teaching done well is incredibly demanding, I've seen, and dedicated, talented teachers who challenge students' minds are worth gold). But not only here, elsewhere it is clear there have been a few generations containing some/many students unprepared for real living and thinking, the products of being taught "what" to think - and socially proper -um - 'thinking'. In their collective morality and political affiliations they show their educational roots, since increasingly more think in the same manner and of the same things.

Differing attitudes to induction reveal one element of the 'paradox' of knowledge: to scientists it is "the problem of induction", and one certainly can see their point of view arising from concerns about induction's precision and dependability. Scientists' findings inform and benefit us invaluably, I'm first to agree, but the products of science aren't the most important way to one's knowledge. Individual induction, from individual observation and experience (and learning) is.

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14 hours ago, anthony said:

I can't see what the fuss is about.

I got it! Not all swans are white!

When the object of the exercise is one's conceptual knowledge (not Immaculate knowledge for the Ages), when new knowledge comes in one ~could~ simply open a sub-category under "swan"-- "black swan". Why over load your concepts though? "Swan" says it all and includes the whole species. To say again - of course - all one's inductive input has to be reviewed and re-integrated continuously. But how much time does one get? If one can achieve it, 90%(say) probability is not bad going for one life.

One of the benefits of induction (of the empirical sort)  is that concepts are NOT overloaded with invalid implications. Swan does not imply White.  Scientific progress is achieved when prior generalizations  are falsified by new facts.  For example the notion of "wave" was overloaded to the extent that light is propagated as a wave in some wonderful elastic substance that fills all of space, but does not offer any resistance to the motion of physical bodies through.  The concept was aether,  a wonderful substance  far stiffer than steel  yet rarer than virtue.   Something totally stiff which would sustain transverse vibrations yet at the same time  offer no mechanical resistance to the motion of bodies through it.  If you believe this, then you might be interested in a bridge I have for sale.

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