Intro to the E.E.  

Intro to the E.E. The Road Trip Writings from the E.E.

Introduction to the Epistemology Express

Although superceded by the new Introduction for the refocused Circles direction of this web project, below is the Intro as it stood during the epistemological and driving phase:

This is a site from one guy in an RV, christened the Epistemology Express, on a road trip across North America to network, to explore and to promote reform in philosophy.  The focal point is through the outdated, vacuous and now floating concept of knowledge.  Hence, the name of the vehicle for the branch of philosophy interested in knowledge.

If you do not know much about epistemology, the theory of knowledge, then you might want to go to the "Epistemology for Dummies or for Forgetters" page at this site. More complete introductions can be found at the epistemology sections of the Routledge Encyclopedia website or of Epistemelinks.com.

For the simple version of which direction in epistemology is espoused here see the Surfing the Mental Ecology webpage.

The route taken is to travel to talk to people, particularly at universities. I need support and criticism. Philosophy does not have to be a private affair, and when, as now, our public philosophy is in tatters, talking and meeting are good things to do. My primary goal has been to network to meet others exploring the same lines of reform. But increasingly my role of advocate has grown. The many positive strands of current research are exciting and worth being stated simply with a view to application as well as to theory.

Knowledge is the currency of our culture. Truth and knowledge have been inseparable partner beacons of inspiration for centuries. Yet, it is easy to overlook that this view of a special, universal viewpoint is itself an ideal that now exists precariously in our culture. The concept of knowledge is drifting (Is it the new knowledge economy? Who can say what is real in therapy-remembered accounts? Is knowledge the same as power? Is it information, and if so is so much of it a good thing?). The value of truth is in disarray (Why do experts contradict each other?). One feature of this website is an attempt to outline the many ways we understand knowledge. It is the web section The Knowledge Question.

Additionally, the site takes a socially critical look at how the concept of knowledge as truth effects many social problems. The way we use knowledge shapes our lives, our culture and also our problems. The problematic facet of the way knowledge effects culture, particularly first world culture, is presented in a section called Social Aspects.

But the major goal of this site is to gain your interest in the incredible potential for improving our lives that a renewed understanding of knowledge could have. We have dealt with knowledge for so long as if it were merely the obvious or acquisitions of skills (the mirror metaphor) that the amazing contribution that the human meaning layer adds to the planet goes hardly noticed. Luckily, as different cultures come into contact or emerge from silence, we are noticing that there are cracks in the obvious. Truth is no longer what it used to be. But here too we are a long way from entering the remarkable potential of living in and managing our meaning commons.

But these are theories and theories of knowledge will not make huge revolutions in culture unless they change the way we act. A different approach to knowledge is so potentially powerful because of the cumulative effect of our continual use of a changed relationship to knowledge. When knowledge is understood as “something” that we are doing and adding to the world, then we are nudged into paying closer attention to how we use it. Such a shift in attitude shifts the focus of life’s dramas from preferences for Big Picture understandings and towards interactional frameworks. Any theory of knowledge should have the effect of reframing us from directors to actors. It is from this interactional activity of knowing, rather than from any knowledge about some thing, that could significantly effect our social lives. And these considerations of the importance of interactions and of the interpersonal hopefully carry over into the spirit of how the Epistemology Express pursues the quest. Knowledge is good if it is effective, but knowledge is better if it builds good relationships.

With this vision of great potential in mind, my work here at this website and in my journey will attempt to make any and all contact with others who either share or are interested in how knowledge and meaning should be understood. In a wager of my own best efforts to show this vision and a path to its use and as a prologue to dialogue, I have put forward my own Declaration of Interdependence. This draws on the work of many researchers who describe aspects of cognition, rhetoric, embodiment and other current areas of interest and places these into an interpersonal format. In other words if these theoretical works make sense, then the Declaration attempts to put them forward as to how it should effect the way you and I interact especially when we “know.” What is striking about knowledge as opposed to researching, say, skin diseases, is that we must use it to describe it. Understanding and usage must merge. To all researchers, I say let’s experiment with how we use meaning between ourselves.

As the Epistemology Express is in its third year (2003), there have been a number of earlier writings that are dated but still possibly useful. They are collected in the Writings section. And the Road Trip itself, as a travel counterclockwise around the US and Canada, has a section for its own “embodiment.”

Stepping back, this is an ongoing project. It is an invitation to dialogue even as it will continually evolve. Dialogue, sharpening a new view, trying to foster interest in the question and seeking support are all goals that I would like more of. If you can offer any of these, please do.

A particular challenge to this project is that some of you will be equipped to read and contribute quickly and easily to these very wordy discussions while for others the abstract distance to everyday life will quickly give you a philosophical or epistemological headache. In attempting to write for both parties, I should apologize in advance for possibly offending both groups while working beyond the limits of my aesthetics-challenged personality and web skills.

Home Circles (Essays) Epistemology Express A Bio