Re: Goldilocks world

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 14:34:48 +0100

Le 24-nov.-05, à 02:06, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

> Jesse Mazer writes:
>>> Can we talk about knowledge or intelligence in a similar way? A rock
>>> is completely stupid and ignorant. A human has some knowledge and
>>> some intelligence (the Goldilocks case). God is said to be
>>> omniscient: infinitely knowlegeable, infinitely intelligent. Doesn't
>>> this mean that God is the equivalent of the blackboard covered in
>>> chalk, or the rock?
>>> Stathis Papaioannou
>> Hmm...but isn't it relevant that an omniscient being is only supposed
>> to know all *true* information, while the blackboard covered in chalk
>> or Borges' library would contain all sentences, both true and false?
>> It's like the difference between the set of all possible grammatical
>> statements about arithmetic, and the set of all grammatical
>> statements about arithmetic that are actually true (1+1=2 but not
>> 1+1=3).
>> Jesse
> OK, so information = all information, true or false;

Mmh... All information is also akin to no information at all (which
explains perhaps why some people makes back and forth between the
notion of everything and nothing).

> but knowledge = only the true information.

Glad to hear that. This illustrates the necessity of agreeing on
definition. I thought nobody would contest that: IF Claude knows p THEN
p is true, by definition of knowledge. If Claude says that she knows
some proposition k, and if it happens later that k appears to be false,
Claude will not say that she knew k, but that she believed k. That is
what the difference between belief and knowledge is all about. In the
modal theories of knowledge we have always the axiom Bp -> p. In the
modal theory of belief we never ask for the axiom Bp -> p. Just because
it makes sense to belief something wrong. But no entities can know
something wrong. If someone believes that we can *know* something
wrong, I would say there is a confusion between the notion of belief
and the notion of knowledge. To insist, if Claude says I know p, and if
you know that p is actually wrong, you will say that Claude believes
something wrong, you will not say that Claude knows something wrong.

I hope everyone agree we take the formula Bp -> p as axioms for a
notion of knowledge.

> In that case, we could say that intelligence in an omniscient being is
> superfluous, since intelligence could be defined as that ability which
> allows one to sort out the true propositions from the false using
> certain rules.

Using rules, or using intuition, memory etc. Personnaly I prefer to use
the weaker term of competence for the ability of making that true/false
discrimination, reserving the word "intelligence" for something deeper
more akin to an open-mindness state or an ability to doubt, etc.
It will appear then that intelligence is necessary for the development
of competence, but that the development of competence has a *negative
feedback" on intelligence.
You can perhaps feel that intuitively: to be very competent can make
you forget that you can be wrong and this could degrade your doubting

> On the other hand, this could be too narrow a view of knowledge and
> intelligence, restricted to scientific and logical thinking.

That is another reason to use the term competence in this setting.
Intelligence is really more like humility or modesty, or wiseness. In
general it is not something which can be evaluated or measured. Only
competence (and even only in circumscribed fields) can be measured.
In school and universities, I think it is a very sad error to confuse
the two. Someone can be very intelligent but completely incompetent.
For example when you have neural problems disallowing your interface
with the world. And the reverse is true too, someone can be very
competent in some field and be completely non-intelligent, incapable of

> If we include artistic creativity, the amount of "knowledge"
> increases, including abstract art, abstract literature, every possible
> musical composition... the blackboard and the library begin to fill
> again. It seems that God has to be a hard-headed scientist who eschews
> all that artistic nonsense for his omniscience to be meaningful.

My favorite definition of ...
... is that thing that once you give it/he/she/e a name or a
description, then you can say "hello" to the catastrophes ....

Received on Thu Nov 24 2005 - 08:39:29 PST

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