Volume 45, 1998
Theory of Knowledge
Knowledge by Invention
Extending a Kantian Dichotomy to a Poincaréan Trichotomy
I argue for the possibility of knowledge by invention whch is neither á priori nor á posteriori. My conception of knowledge by invention evolves from Poincaré’s conventionalism, but unlike Poincaré’s conventions, propositions known by invention have a truth value. An individuating criteria for this type of knowledge is conjectured. The proposition known through invention is: gounded historically in the discipline to which it belongs; a result of the careful, sincere and objective quest and effort of the knower; chosen freely by the inventer or knower; and, private in its invention but public once invented. I extend knowledge by invention to include the knowledge of the invented proposition by those who do not invent it but accept it as a convention for good reasons. Finally, knowledge by invention combined with a revisionist, Platonist definition of knowledge as actively justified true belief provides a pedagogical model reviving the proactive spirit of the Socratic method with an emphasis on invention and activity and a de-emphasis on information gathering and passivity.