Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The hierarchy of knowledge - a coherent metaphysics

From highest to lowest...

Imagination --- attained by Intuition
Rationality --- attained by Reasoning, including Logic ( 'Philosophy')
Empirical Evidence ('facts') --- attained by Observation, including Experiment ('Science')

(Note: an older division, before the development of Science as a separate domain, combined Rational and Empirical as Natural Philosophy

The above hierarchy is, I think, the only coherent set of metaphysical assumptions for arranging these types of knowledge - in the sense that 'facts' depend on reasoning, and reasoning is validated by intuition.

What, then, validates 'Imagination/ Intuition'? The further assumption of divine revelation - which needs to be both internal and external - we need to have something divine within in order to respond to divine revelations from without.

Once these assumptions, and this scheme, is in place - then everything necessary seems to follow.

Any other arrangement of the elements seems to be self-refuting.

1. Imaginative knowledge can be tested by reasoning and observation (tested to some extent, although almost-never conclusively so) - but imaginative knowledge is primary.
2. Facts need to be tested by their coherence with other facts - i.e. by reasoning - and also and ultimately by imagination (although this imaginative test cannot be forced; the answer may come slowly or not at all; and at any cross-sectional point in time, intuition is likewise variable in validity and reliability).
3. Reasoning needs to be tested by imagination - since we are very prone to errors in reasoning, and correct reasoning is not fully and un-distortedly known in any explicit and reliably-transmissible fashion.