Will Rieffer (force_of_will) wrote in unjust_phil,
Will Rieffer

Hijacked by the Highwayman: Is the Coherant Extention of Knowledge a Philosophical Act? and other th

because...well because and gerbilsage wanted to take a poke at me over the latter part before it was given the baculum ad deletion...

These are some base definitions.

1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things.
3. acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report: a knowledge of human nature.
4. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.
5. awareness, as of a fact or circumstance: He had knowledge of her good fortune.
6. something that is or may be known; information: He sought knowledge of her activities.
7. the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time.
8. the sum of what is known: Knowledge of the true situation is limited.

a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

1. a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert.
3. possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled (often fol. by in or at): an expert driver; to be expert at driving a car.

I made an assumption that a dialog about expertise in the abstract, about its form and function in society, was philosophically relevant based on the coherence of the above definitions i.e. that they all deal with knowledge and that knowledge is philosophically interesting. I'd just like to know, were did I go wrong?

1. logically connected; consistent: a coherent argument.

Citizendium and the Problem of Expertise

The interesting thing about Citizendium, Larry Sanger’s proposed fork of Wikipedia designed to add expert review, is how consistent Sanger has been about his beliefs over the last 5 years. I’ve been reviewing the literature from the dawn of Wikipedia, born from the failure of the process-laden and expert-driven Nupedia, and from then to now, Sanger’s published opinions seem based on three beliefs:

1. Experts are a special category of people, who can be readily recognized within their domains of expertise.
2. A process of open creation in which experts are deferred to as of right will be superior to one in which they are given no special treatment.
3. Once experts are identified, that deference will mainly be a product of moral suasion, and the only place authority will need to intrude are edge cases.

All three beliefs are false.

There are a number of structural issues with Citizendium, many related to the question of motivation on the part of the putative editors; these will probably prove quickly fatal. More interesting to me, though, is is the worldview behind Sanger’s attitude towards expertise, and why it is a bad fit for this kind of work. Reading the Citizendium manifesto, two things jump out: his faith in experts as a robust and largely context-free category of people, and his belief that authority can exist largely free of expensive enforcement. Sanger wants to believe that expertise can survive just fine outside institutional frameworks, and that Wikipedia is the anomaly. It can’t, and it isn’t.

Basically for authority to work it 1) has to look arbitrary or 2) spend time it doesn't have to "get to know" its subjects. Both of these problems are "solved" in a certain sense by beauracracy as it affords to codify rules and regulations within a public heirarchy and afford access and response along a spectrum.

There is another point stemming from a line of thought that goes back to Vygotsky and Russian Activity Theory about knowledge and information management, which affords to try and bridge between the more overt and covert aspects of knowedge in the individual and society. That there needs to be an organizational move to be intent on sharing certain knowledges which those with more experience have, and those with less lack. Many businesses have specific positions for such knowledge management, indeed they cannot afford to not have the most members know the "tricks of the trade" which experience often brings but which may not be overtly distributed without a certain insight.

There were certain theorists who though the internet and such forums as this one would afford a great teaching/learning experience. But what do we get? Ignorance is bashed. A lack of imagination is shown across the diversity of learners. And beware anyone who'd come looking for some help or guidence towards their greater body of work. "Do your own homework!" is the reply, and in fact there is a whole group whose efforts are to throw such efforts off course.

I also meant to say that a beauracracy also affords the effect of diffusing anger at authority. Since the authority is so "spread out" over a group, and is not enforced by an individual there is a certain protection. The commoners don't usually engage with the higher ups, those with the most vestiges of power. There is also the fact that such structures often are set up so that those up the management chain aren't even functional towards solving the problems that the institution is responsible for, but are only able to respond to internal situations.

The end is that this forum doesn't have either the overhead or organization to service the public interest in philosophy like it might. Ignorance is not seen as an opportunity to expand and strengthen the community of philosopher and philosophy by engagement and a plan for it. No, the general rule is a disdain shown as combative aggression. Character assasination as a tool to have the final voice with neither any awareness that a final voice would lead to silence, nor that it lacks any sympathy for the assassins own history. Who was not ignorant?

Teaching is an art, and a demanding and imaginative one. Politics as derogatory sloganeering is easy, and for the lazy mind.
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