A great many things are known to us, but how do we know them? What does it mean to be able to know? What does it take to know something?

There is, first, of course, the question of what it takes to learn something for the first time. But is there not also some skill or talent that is required to keep knowing? We sometimes talk about “maintaining” a position, as in, “I have always maintained that social life is predicated on recognition.” We can ask, “maintained” how? Maintained in the face of what forces that might render the position unserviceable?

The general answer, I would think is: in the face of criticism. So, the ability to know something is the ability to engage with criticism without losing belief, truth and justification. That seems about right. It merely traces the outlines of a competence, to be sure. But I think it’s important to think of knowing as an ability, not merely a state.

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