The Basis of Direct KnowingJune 27, 2021
According to William of Ockham, when it comes to knowledge in the first and second sense, that is, when it comes to knowing real objects, there are two kinds of cognitive faculties, and accordingly two kinds of knowledge. One of them is intuitive cognition and the other is abstract cognition. So, according to William of Ockham, there are two ways of knowing something simple through the mind: ‘intuitive cognition’, ‘abstractive cognition’.
According to William of Ockham, the term “abstractive cognition” can be taken in two senses: In the first sense, it is a cognition of something abstracted from many individual things. Cognition in this sense is about knowing a universal that is abstracted from many things.
In the second sense, abstract cognition means abstraction from being and non-being, from all other conditions belonging to or ascribed to the thing.
Abstractive cognition is concerned with the inability to know clearly whether a possible phenomenon exists or not. Because it is intuitive cognition that enables us to know an existing being and a non-existent being (William: 1990, 22-24).
It can be clearly known that an abstractive cognition is not a possible truth. This bare knowledge cannot enable us to know whether Socrates exists, whether he is white, or any such truths. We know such truths through intuitive cognition (William: 1990, 24).
Intuitive cognition, which is the second way of knowing something, is simply knowing something, more than one term. This knowing enables us to know a possible truth, especially truths about current situations (William: 1990, 23). For example, if Socrates is actually white, knowledge of Socrates’ whiteness is called intuitive cognition. Information such as that Socrates is white can be clearly known.
According to William of Ockham, scientific knowledge in the most precise sense is knowledge obtained as a result of demonstration. According to him, besides scientific knowledge, we also have convincing evidence and clues about things. That is, the field of scientific knowledge is limited; Some statements outside this field are also true, necessary, obvious, and therefore can be known with certainty.
William of Ockham deals here with the problem of how to know these expressions. But before going into this question, he talks about the two acts of the mind and the difference between them (William: 1990, 18). That is, when dealing with a proposition, in other words, when it comes to knowledge in the third and fourth senses described by William of Ockham above, that is, when it comes to knowing propositions, there are two acts: one is the act of grasping and the other is the act of judging. These two acts are different from each other. For it is possible for a person to grasp a proposition but not to make judgments about it.
The first of these acts, the act of grasping, whether simple or complex, is mental power. relates to any expression of an act. We, according to William of Ockham, grasp not only simple and singular things, but propositions, demonstrations, impossibilities, imperatives, that is, anything to do with mental power in general.
The second of these acts, the act of making judgment, is related to propositions. The mind does not only grasp its own objects, but also performs acts of approval or rejection in relation to them (William: 1990, 18). Our mind does not approve of what it does not believe to be true, nor does it reject what it does not believe to be false. Although these two acts are different from each other, one precedes the other: the act of making a judgment about a proposition assumes that the mind has performed the act of grasping the same proposition (William: 1990, 19).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook; Hacettepe University Journal of the Faculty of Letters Vol: 18 / Issue: 1 / pp. 165-186