The Key Characteristics of Understanding and the Nature of its Value
Gordon, Emma C.
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I begin the analysis of understanding by considering the initially plausible claim that understanding is a species of knowledge. In order to do this, I investigate a variety of ways in which the two epistemic states might come apart, and see whether the notion that they often do so is plausible. I progress to examine a number of the most common and plausible hallmark features of understanding discussed in the current literature, and go on to try and clarify the different sorts of understanding that are available to agents whilst trying to discover which of these is epistemically significant (and why). I then explore the value problem for knowledge in more depth, explaining that there are in fact three interrelated value problems and looking at what degree of success the most promising attempt to solve these problems has had. Following that, I look at the properties which I believe are primarily responsible for the value of understanding, and investigate whether its possessing such properties allows us to better explain why understanding might be finally valuable even if knowledge is not. To conclude, I summarise what import my discussion has for the practice of contemporary epistemological theorising in general, and briefly review possibly fruitful avenues for further research.