chapter  11
22 Pages

Knowledge and Democracy

I argued in the Introduction that my intention is to try to understand what knowledge is, how it is developed and what is does. I further argued that knowledge is a neutral concept. There might be knowledge that I disagree with. I might regard it as wrong or false, but it might still be knowledge. Knowledge is what is (socially) regarded as a right understanding of things. Knowledge is not merely an opinion. Saying it is social also implies that there are warrants to knowledge. The social process somehow sorts out what is knowledge in relation to lies, fantasies, deliriums or meaninglessness. Neither is knowledge mere fact. Facts are not knowledge. Facts become knowledge when they are subject to some sort of interpretation. One could say that knowledge is facts plus meaning, but that would be too simple. Knowledge is something we know, or we think we know. Knowledge is a meaning-related phenomenon. Knowledge is not the same as truth. Saying that there are socially warranted understandings of things that we hold as knowledge does not mean that they are true. However, as knowledge is distinguished from mere fantasies or opinions, there has to be some sort of truth procedures or validity procedures in order for something to be knowledge. So if claims and statements are not knowledge, there have to be (social) procedures that sort out mere fantasies from knowledge. It opens discussion on false consciousness, the need for critical theory and the need for democratic dialogue.