Is it possible to exaggerate the importance of knowledge? We can of course disagree about whether it is important to know the history of astrology, or the grammar of dead languages, or the mating habits of warblers, but only a stubborn blockhead would insist that it is not important to know. One might even be said to forfeit one’s humanity by denying the importance of knowledge.
Given its extraordinary importance, it follows that it would be good to know what knowledge is, how to gain it, how to be sure one has it, and its effects upon individuals, political states, and societies, and so on. For many of these questions we should turn to philosophers. But unfortunately quite a lot of these questions have so fascinated academic philosophers that their discussions of them have spiraled off into inaccessible regions of forbidding jargon. Moreover, many of these discussions are bound to a single discipline, as if there is only one set of questions one should ask about knowledge. It is hard for a curious human being to know where to go to get started in understanding knowledge in some more expansive fashion.
Hence Knowledge for Humans, meaning knowledge for humans who are intelligent and curious, but have not yet been shunted into specialized regions of abstract scholarship. The idea behind this text is to offer some introductory philosophical discussions about knowledge combined with some attention to science, history, media, politics, and psychology. It is meant to pull together different aspects of knowledge into a package that a philosophically curious reader might find interesting.
I wish to thank my students for reading through the text and offering feedback, to my friend and colleague Professor Richard Greene for doing the same, and to the Open Educational Resources team at Utah State University who helped to put the text into an accessible form. Any errors in the text are due to my own ignorance, appropriately enough.