The Epistemological Status of Liberative Knowledge

Dissertation, University of Hawai'i (1986)
This dissertation addresses the problem of determining the epistemic worth of mystical based insights. Appropriating the widely accepted justified true belief theory of knowledge, it can be easily demonstrated that mystical knowledge does not satisfy the conditions of the JTB account. The question can be raised as to whether the failure of liberative knowing to qualify as "knowledge" is due to a nonepistemic character of liberation itself, or is it due to an overly stringent, inac-curate set of criteria given in the JTB theory. ;The strategy adopted to answer this question is to determine the adequacy of the JTB theory. One way to judge the adequacy of a theory is to ascertain whether it adequately describes the phenom-enon it is formulated to give an account of. Here, one must determine whether the JTB theory is consonant with common usage of what constitutes "knowledge." It was determined that there are a number of modes of knowing, e.g., moral, aesthetic, intuitive, religious, which appear to be outlawed by the JTB account, yet are commonly recognized as constituting knowledge. ;On the basis of this determination, an overhaul of the JTB theory of knowledge was begun. The principal feature of this new account was to recognize that there exist numerous distinct modes of know-ing, and each mode contains its own distinct conditions that define it. Any account of knowledge must then take on a piecemeal approach which attempts to outline the various modes of knowing. There are obviously overlapping characteristics, but they do not constitute a set of necessary and sufficient conditions. This stance opens the way to a consideration of whether a mystical based knowledge is possible. Ultimately, the question of acceptance or rejection of liber-ative knowing comes down to the particular epistemological hierarchy of knowing modalities each individual adopts. One needs to consider the assorted factors or grounds that leads one to adopt or dismiss liberative knowing into one's hierarchy of knowing modalities. But one cannot attempt to dismiss one mode, such as liberative knowing, on the basis of not satisfying the criteria applicable for another mode, such as factual knowing. In the past, arguments rejecting the epis-temic content of liberative knowing have violated this prohibition
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