Launched with a discussion of Plato’s Theaetetus, and examples of justified true belief that are not knowledge (with the usual false starts of examples where the truth is not clear (or worse), or the beliefs are not justified — with an interesting detour into the question of whether not being justified is the same thing as being unjustified. We danced back and forth among chunks of material from the book on truth and knowledge. But when it comes to truth it was almost as if I paid the men to array themselves across the spectrum, from a Michael Lynch style defender of a commonsense view, to a skeptic about the notion even being meaningful or useful beyond indicating something like a shrug of approval. A rich full hour of lively and focused discussion. I wonder if the more esoteric nature of the topic this week had anything to do with the careful unpacking of ideas, development of the arguments, and more generally staying on point with each other.
One person made a connection to Berkeley’s Three Dialogues, which we read last year, and he ended by noting that that book had continued to influence his thinking about knowledge and perception in daily life too.
I am grateful for times like these when the confirmation of the intellectual value of what we do there is significant and pointed. Yet even when there are no such testimonials I leave those meetings without exception feeling as if I could not have spent two hours doing anything with much more impact.
On my way home I was pulled over by a cop on a dark side road I had just turned on to from a busy highway. I immediately felt sick at the contrast I’d surely have been feeling if I were a POC, especially a man, who’d surely and rightly have been afraid, with how I felt, which was at most peeved that I’d probably get a ticket for speeding — but mostly just not in the least afraid. He asked me for my license and registration; I handed over my license right away and was pawing through the glove compartment for the registration when he said: never mind, you’re fine. Do you know why I pulled you over? You were going 54 in a 40 mile an hour zone. I am sorry officer. That’s okay, have a nice night, but watch your speed. Talk about privilege. I am not complaining of course, but wish everyone would be just as likely to get such a pass as I did.