Zettelkasten Forum


How comprehensive should the second edition be?

I surpassed 60,000 words for the new manuscript (2d edition of the book). It is in German, but after finishing the book and the online course (English) I'll go on and try to make a English translation happen. Therefore, it is relevant to all:

I allow myself to go to every detail. I'll explain knowledge through multiple lenses (even analytical philosophy), go to the traits of systems and how they behave (e.g. locally dense connected vs evenly connected) and so on and so forth. It is possible that I'll finish the manuscript with way north of 100,000 words. If you read Ahren's book: It could be three times the amount of words and I am not a very anectodal writer (for the better and worse).

Do you have any opinion on the dimensions on such a book?

I am a Zettler

Comments

  • My opinion is that the issue is not the scope of the book overall, but how easy it is for a reader to find the type of information they think is particularly relevant to them. So perhaps each step in the process could be broken down into a section on theory/philosophy, a section on process steps, a section with specific examples, and a section explaining the benefits of this approach as compared to other possibilities. These categories are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea. I'll give you one other example to make my point clearer. I'm sure your barbell method of reading is very useful for many people, but it does not work for well for my sources, notetaking style, and writing goals. Therefore, if the barbell method is referred to frequently and is inseparably integrated into your discussion of how to use the ZK, it will be harder for me to read the book as a whole and get value out of it.

    Please note that I am not simply saying that you must have an organized table of contents or outline. The key is to make it easy for readers to identify what category of information they will find in each section (rather than just the topic of that section) so they can easily locate and/or skip things not relevant to them.

    Another option is to have the book include only Some information and add supplemental information on a companion website. I recently read a book of popular science by an acclaimed academic researcher who had a companion website with hundreds of pages providing additional examples, discussion, and references. It worked extremely well.

  • @sfast

    Maybe this is a crazy idea but you could beta test the book. Sign up ever how many folks you need to give you feedback, let them read it and help answer the questions. Give them a private forum for discussion and give feedback. Works well for software. Could this concept be applied to a book?

    Behind this thought, is here all you will get are opinions and suggestions. Which may be helpful but how would you know what would work well unless it was tested and QA-ed.

    I am sure you would get more volunteers then you would need.

    Just ignore me if this not realistic or too absurd.

  • @cobblepot said:
    My opinion is that the issue is not the scope of the book overall, but how easy it is for a reader to find the type of information they think is particularly relevant to them. So perhaps each step in the process could be broken down into a section on theory/philosophy, a section on process steps, a section with specific examples, and a section explaining the benefits of this approach as compared to other possibilities. These categories are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea. I'll give you one other example to make my point clearer. I'm sure your barbell method of reading is very useful for many people, but it does not work for well for my sources, notetaking style, and writing goals. Therefore, if the barbell method is referred to frequently and is inseparably integrated into your discussion of how to use the ZK, it will be harder for me to read the book as a whole and get value out of it.

    1. How did you come to the conclusion that the barbell method not working is due to the mismatch of (1) your sources, (2) notetaking style, (3) and writing goals?
    2. In general, this is how I planned the book. But for other reasons.

    Please note that I am not simply saying that you must have an organized table of contents or outline. The key is to make it easy for readers to identify what category of information they will find in each section (rather than just the topic of that section) so they can easily locate and/or skip things not relevant to them.

    I think this is one of my main issues. Many people skip. It is fine for me that people do it. But in my experience many people skip and get bad results. I encounter it in my main field (health and fitness) a lot. And very often I point to the skipped parts of the material when they need an answer. It is true for videos, for books for any kind of material. So, I'd be fine with skipping if I didn't experience people skipping because of quick-made prejudices instead of careful evaluation (no connection to my first point). This is one of my struggles. I try to write in a non-skipable manner. Perhaps, I need to learn to be more accepting. Haha.

    @MikeBraddock said:
    @sfast

    Maybe this is a crazy idea but you could beta test the book. Sign up ever how many folks you need to give you feedback, let them read it and help answer the questions. Give them a private forum for discussion and give feedback. Works well for software. Could this concept be applied to a book?

    Behind this thought, is here all you will get are opinions and suggestions. Which may be helpful but how would you know what would work well unless it was tested and QA-ed.

    I am sure you would get more volunteers then you would need.

    Just ignore me if this not realistic or too absurd.

    Not unrealistic or absurd in the least. It will be done in that manner. My last book was written like that and I am expanding the scope beta-test. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

  • edited March 6

    I second the beta testing suggestion by @MikeBraddock - would love to be involved, but I will also try and read the German book anyhow.

    Also, one of the things that @cobblepot more or less reminds me of is a good 'onboarding' process for the method and use of involved tools. That would certainly be a successfactor for a book, and also massively help in 'accepting-the-book-as-not-having-skippable-parts'.

    p.s. @sfast what a nice signature haha

    I am a Zettler, ie 'one who zettles'
    research: pragmatism, 4e cognitive science, metaphor | you can't be neutral on a moving train

  • I think this is one of my main issues. Many people skip. It is fine for me that people do it. But in my experience many people skip and get bad results. I encounter it in my main field (health and fitness) a lot. And very often I point to the skipped parts of the material when they need an answer. It is true for videos, for books for any kind of material. So, I'd be fine with skipping if I didn't experience people skipping because of quick-made prejudices instead of careful evaluation (no connection to my first point). This is one of my struggles. I try to write in a non-skipable manner.

    It is impossible to write a 1) comprehensive book that 2) has no skippable parts that 3) can be clearly understood by a broad audience with different levels of expertise. Honestly, pick two of those three features. If it is comprehensive and can be understood by total nonexperts as well as people with some expertise, than some parts are going to be skippable by the more knowledgeable people. If it is clear, concise, and can be understood by everyone, then it will not be comprehensive. If it is comprehensive and every part is essential, than not everyone will be able to follow every part.

    I don't know if you have teaching experience, but it is just a fact that some students understand a concept explained in one way and other students understand it explained in a different way. In my class, I state things several times in slightly different ways to make sure everyone understands it. But it is redundant for the students who understood the first time. That's the compromise I use. I could explain it clearly one time only and lose a lot of students but fit in more material. You just make a choice.

    Re:

    How did you come to the conclusion that the barbell method not working is due to the mismatch of (1) your sources, (2) notetaking style, (3) and writing goals?

    I just posted a long discussion about your three layers of evidence model, and that post will give you a hint about my thinking. In short, I think that at some point you said that the barbell method worked for you for everything except Nietzsche. Well, pretty much everything I'm reading is like Nietzsche. But I think it makes sense to get your comments on the 3 layers post before adding yet another complicated theoretical conversation to the mix.

  • @John said:
    I second the beta testing suggestion by @MikeBraddock - would love to be involved, but I will also try and read the German book anyhow.

    I am looking forward to make a English Version happen. But it will be a bit difficult to fit it in my process of publishing.

    Also, one of the things that @cobblepot more or less reminds me of is a good 'onboarding' process for the method and use of involved tools. That would certainly be a successfactor for a book, and also massively help in 'accepting-the-book-as-not-having-skippable-parts'.

    Can you give me an example of a good onboarding?

    p.s. @sfast what a nice signature haha

    @cobblepot said:

    I think this is one of my main issues. Many people skip. It is fine for me that people do it. But in my experience many people skip and get bad results. I encounter it in my main field (health and fitness) a lot. And very often I point to the skipped parts of the material when they need an answer. It is true for videos, for books for any kind of material. So, I'd be fine with skipping if I didn't experience people skipping because of quick-made prejudices instead of careful evaluation (no connection to my first point). This is one of my struggles. I try to write in a non-skipable manner.

    It is impossible to write a 1) comprehensive book that 2) has no skippable parts that 3) can be clearly understood by a broad audience with different levels of expertise. Honestly, pick two of those three features. If it is comprehensive and can be understood by total nonexperts as well as people with some expertise, than some parts are going to be skippable by the more knowledgeable people. If it is clear, concise, and can be understood by everyone, then it will not be comprehensive. If it is comprehensive and every part is essential, than not everyone will be able to follow every part.

    I don't know if you have teaching experience, but it is just a fact that some students understand a concept explained in one way and other students understand it explained in a different way. In my class, I state things several times in slightly different ways to make sure everyone understands it. But it is redundant for the students who understood the first time. That's the compromise I use. I could explain it clearly one time only and lose a lot of students but fit in more material. You just make a choice.

    Ok. There will always be parts that are skipable. But most of my writings are new. You cannot be an expert on anything of that.

    For example: I use the standard definition of knowledge (true, justified opinion) as a starting point for explaining how knowledge work works. But even if you are a philosopher you couldn't skip the parts because the application is will be new to you. That is what I mean.

    You yourself couldn't skip the Barbell Method of Reading because you didn't knew it. You had to read it and then decide on its value to you.

    How did you come to the conclusion that the barbell method not working is due to the mismatch of (1) your sources, (2) notetaking style, (3) and writing goals?

    I just posted a long discussion about your three layers of evidence model, and that post will give you a hint about my thinking. In short, I think that at some point you said that the barbell method worked for you for everything except Nietzsche. Well, pretty much everything I'm reading is like Nietzsche. But I think it makes sense to get your comments on the 3 layers post before adding yet another complicated theoretical conversation to the mix.

    Answer is coming. But what are those things? (In the other thread)

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast said:
    Ok. There will always be parts that are skipable. But most of my writings are new. You cannot be an expert on anything of that.

    It actually doesn't matter whether you are presenting new ideas or not. You can present a new idea in one sentence, clearly written, and many people will get it. If you restate the idea in a different way or restate it using an example to illustrate it, more people will get it, but your writing is now slightly redundant. If you want it to be clear to almost everyone, you need to say it several times in different ways. This isn't a critique of your writing, it's just my observation about teaching ideas to people unfamiliar with them. Even if none of your readers have ever read these ideas before, some of them will have knowledge of related schema that they can use to quickly assimilate your ideas, and others will have no related background and it will be much harder for them to to fit your claims into their knowledge network.

    For example: I use the standard definition of knowledge (true, justified opinion) as a starting point for explaining how knowledge work works.

    I'm sure you have a strong background in philosophy, but my claim (in some other thread) is not that you didn't understand philosophy, but that you are not writing (standard academic) philosophy. This is clear here. The notion that knowledge is justified true belief is a traditional view, but "Few contemporary epistemologists accept the adequacy of the JTB analysis." That doesn't mean that it cannot be a great framework for explaining knowledge work to non-philosophers for the purposes of teaching them to do great research, but it's not philosophical analysis, and that is what I am having trouble with in terms of implementing the ZK techniques. (Incidentally, I'm also not holding up analytic philosophy as the ultimate intellectual pursuit. It has many problems just like any other field.)

    How did you come to the conclusion that the barbell method not working is due to the mismatch of (1) your sources, (2) notetaking style, (3) and writing goals?

    I just posted a long discussion about your three layers of evidence model, and that post will give you a hint about my thinking. In short, I think that at some point you said that the barbell method worked for you for everything except Nietzsche. Well, pretty much everything I'm reading is like Nietzsche. But I think it makes sense to get your comments on the 3 layers post before adding yet another complicated theoretical conversation to the mix.

    Answer is coming. But what are those things? (In the other thread)

    I'll respond in the other thread!

  • @cobblepot said:

    @sfast said:
    Ok. There will always be parts that are skipable. But most of my writings are new. You cannot be an expert on anything of that.

    It actually doesn't matter whether you are presenting new ideas or not. You can present a new idea in one sentence, clearly written, and many people will get it. If you restate the idea in a different way or restate it using an example to illustrate it, more people will get it, but your writing is now slightly redundant. If you want it to be clear to almost everyone, you need to say it several times in different ways. This isn't a critique of your writing, it's just my observation about teaching ideas to people unfamiliar with them. Even if none of your readers have ever read these ideas before, some of them will have knowledge of related schema that they can use to quickly assimilate your ideas, and others will have no related background and it will be much harder for them to to fit your claims into their knowledge network.

    I don't mind this. Of course, there will be skippable parts. But more like the rest of some paragraphs or a paragraph that is introduced as a repetition of the former.

    I mind people skipping based on their prejudices. :smile:

    For example: I use the standard definition of knowledge (true, justified opinion) as a starting point for explaining how knowledge work works.

    I'm sure you have a strong background in philosophy, but my claim (in some other thread) is not that you didn't understand philosophy, but that you are not writing (standard academic) philosophy. This is clear here. The notion that knowledge is justified true belief is a traditional view, but "Few contemporary epistemologists accept the adequacy of the JTB analysis." That doesn't mean that it cannot be a great framework for explaining knowledge work to non-philosophers for the purposes of teaching them to do great research, but it's not philosophical analysis, and that is what I am having trouble with in terms of implementing the ZK techniques.

    Haha. This is my beat. Apologies for my bad English. It gets worse the more I need to write about what I thought a lot in German.

    (1) Standard analysis does not mean that it is accepted. But most of the time, at least in Germany, it is the starter point.

    (2) The dictionary is wrong

    In fact, however, the JTB analysis was first articulated in the twentieth century by its attackers.

    The first formulation of propositional JTB I know is found in Meno (Plato). I don't know if the passages are named the same in English. In German it is 97e-98a. Sokrates states that true belief is a lower form than episteme which adds justification. (It is just not formalised)

    ...strange. They mention Theaetetus. I'd be suprised if the JTB wouldn't implied there, too.

    There is a good reason why quite a lot of literature choses the standard ( :wink: ) analysis as a starting point: Truth and justification are the main issues of knowledge. Propositional truth the aim aim of episteme, justification its mean.

    I don't know if the 2001 essay of Ansgar Beckerman is available in English.[^Beckermann2001] But in many, many essay JTB is the starter.

    [Beckermann2001]: Ansgar Beckermann (2001): Zur Inkohärenz und Irrelevanz des Wissensbegriffs. Pädoyer für eine neue Agenda in der Erkenntnistheorie, Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 2001, Vol. 55, S. 571-593.

    (Incidentally, I'm also not holding up analytic philosophy as the ultimate intellectual pursuit. It has many problems just like any other field.)

    Haha. I think analytical philosophy is one of the few things in philosophy that is true. True in the metal sense. Or real. Real in the hip-hop sense.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited March 10

    @sfast said:
    Haha. I think analytical philosophy is one of the few things in philosophy that is true. True in the metal sense. Or real. Real in the hip-hop sense.

    I know this is at least one of the must funny things I have ever heard about analytical philosophy. Funny in the laughing-out-loud sense. Or hilarious. Hilarious in the Monthy Python sense.

    My definition for a lot of 20th Century analytical philosophy is belly-button staring and having little practical relevance for society or individuals at all. Armchair philosophising of the first order. Ivory tower business about problems only relevant for philosophers themselves. But luckily, there are some exceptions. But in such matters I am happy to agree we disagree. Here, the risk we all run is to succumb to bias and prejudice as well when it comes to our preferences for a philosophical style or method.

    @sfast said:
    Can you give me an example of a good onboarding?

    Well, good onboarding in software can consist of walking the user through his/her first tour of an application's interface or functions. And in this tour you slowly step up complexity or integration.
    Merriam Webster defines it like this: "companies want to onboard their clients and customers too—to get them fully fluent in their products and services, so that they can get the most out of them."

    Translating that to your methodology you could start out explaining this easily, with a lot of analogies or metaphors to help comprehension, and slowly start spiralling out into ever more context and 'content'. You go from comprehensible to comprehensiveness.

    Or did you mean to ask about whether I have seen a good example of onboarding in books on methods or such things?

    I am a Zettler, ie 'one who zettles'
    research: pragmatism, 4e cognitive science, metaphor | you can't be neutral on a moving train

  • @sfast said:
    (1) Standard analysis does not mean that it is accepted. But most of the time, at least in Germany, it is the starter point.

    Yes, it's the starting point, but then you have the Gettier problem, and you need a way to solve it, so it's not the ending point.

    (2) The dictionary is wrong. The first formulation of propositional JTB I know is found in Meno (Plato). I don't know if the passages are named the same in English. In German it is 97e-98a. Sokrates states that true belief is a lower form than episteme which adds justification. (It is just not formalised)

    Well, I suppose we don't want to get too sidetracked by the details, the entry does say that the formalized Tripartite Analysis of Knowledge presented at the beginning is what was first articulated in the 20th century. But that claim also cites two references, which we could follow up on if needed.

    (Incidentally, I'm also not holding up analytic philosophy as the ultimate intellectual pursuit. It has many problems just like any other field.)

    Haha. I think analytical philosophy is one of the few things in philosophy that is true. True in the metal sense. Or real. Real in the hip-hop sense.

    I guess I'll follow you over this cliff. Are you a logical positivist? What view of truth? I'm a Brandom-style pragmatist and a fallibilist.

    I know you are sort of kidding, but I also don't know what it means to say that analytic philosophy is "true". "Analytic philosophy" includes so many approaches and positions that I'm not sure how you can make any general claims about it.

  • @John said:

    @sfast said:
    Haha. I think analytical philosophy is one of the few things in philosophy that is true. True in the metal sense. Or real. Real in the hip-hop sense.

    I know this is at least one of the must funny things I have ever heard about analytical philosophy. Funny in the laughing-out-loud sense. Or hilarious. Hilarious in the Monthy Python sense.

    My definition for a lot of 20th Century analytical philosophy is belly-button staring and having little practical relevance for society or individuals at all. Armchair philosophising of the first order. Ivory tower business about problems only relevant for philosophers themselves. But luckily, there are some exceptions. But in such matters I am happy to agree we disagree. Here, the risk we all run is to succumb to bias and prejudice as well when it comes to our preferences for a philosophical style or method.

    I get your point and in the sphere of university I share your oppinion. I mean that the method of analytical philosophy only. I treat my clients weekly reports as philosophical text that reveal (or hide) propositions and logical structures. This is just one layer of my analysis but an important one.

    The saying "Anything could follow from a inconsistency" (don't know the exact translation, but you get me?) is true for the value structure of people that they are presenting as diary-esque reports. Inconsistencies are my bread and butter to pinpoint the problems and hint at solutions.

    I think the problem comes from the practice that philosophers are philosophers only at this point. I don't think that any person should be paid by the tax payer (which means forced by the monopoly on the use of force) to just do some philosophy. It leads to ivory tower behavior as demonstrated by the uselessness of most philosophers.

    @sfast said:
    Can you give me an example of a good onboarding?

    Or did you mean to ask about whether I have seen a good example of onboarding in books on methods or such things?

    Yes. :smile: Examples of good onboardings in books.

    @cobblepot said:

    @sfast said:
    (1) Standard analysis does not mean that it is accepted. But most of the time, at least in Germany, it is the starter point.

    Yes, it's the starting point, but then you have the Gettier problem, and you need a way to solve it, so it's not the ending point.

    I think the Gettier problem is some ivory tower thing. Knowledge is about certainty. If you construct a thought experiment in which you as an outsider know that something is wrong you are missing the point that nothing can be outside of the world. This thought experiment deviates in a core trait of the domain in which knowledge is interesting: General uncertainty.

    That is the reason why it is such a big deal in epistemiology but nobody else cares. Only philosophers care what absurd thought experiments are cooked in the philosophical ivory tower. Everybody else knows that we want truth and you go there by justification. Even philosophers are just acting as if knowledge was some mystery. When they leave the ivory tower they act like anybody else.

    It is like thinking of a unicorn. Just because you can name a fictional creature does not makes it real. And to think of a Gettier Problem does not make it relevant to the real world.

    (2) The dictionary is wrong. The first formulation of propositional JTB I know is found in Meno (Plato). I don't know if the passages are named the same in English. In German it is 97e-98a. Sokrates states that true belief is a lower form than episteme which adds justification. (It is just not formalised)

    Well, I suppose we don't want to get too sidetracked by the details, the entry does say that the formalized Tripartite Analysis of Knowledge presented at the beginning is what was first articulated in the 20th century. But that claim also cites two references, which we could follow up on if needed.

    If they really mean the formalised Triparte I'd be disappointed. Why shouldn't it important to a proposition if it is formalised even when it means that there is no substantial difference?

    (Incidentally, I'm also not holding up analytic philosophy as the ultimate intellectual pursuit. It has many problems just like any other field.)

    Haha. I think analytical philosophy is one of the few things in philosophy that is true. True in the metal sense. Or real. Real in the hip-hop sense.

    I guess I'll follow you over this cliff. Are you a logical positivist? What view of truth? I'm a Brandom-style pragmatist and a fallibilist.

    I know you are sort of kidding, but I also don't know what it means to say that analytic philosophy is "true". "Analytic philosophy" includes so many approaches and positions that I'm not sure how you can make any general claims about it.

    Haha. I miss the -ism-Game. But to be honest. I have no general position. This could make me a general pragmatist?

    I do not think that philosophy is such a big deal. It is just becoming good with language to its core. It is a tool that is rarely put into practice. Therefore, most of it is untested.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast said:

    @cobblepot said:

    @sfast said:
    (1) Standard analysis does not mean that it is accepted. But most of the time, at least in Germany, it is the starter point.

    Yes, it's the starting point, but then you have the Gettier problem, and you need a way to solve it, so it's not the ending point.

    I think the Gettier problem is some ivory tower thing.

    You realize that you defended yourself in the last post by citing Plato, right? Like, you actually found the exact textual location in the dialogues and cited it. So even if you don't live in the Ivory Tower, it seems that you visit there sometimes. :smile:

    If your focus is on solving problems pragmatically, then whether or not Plato said something is 100% irrelevant. You sort of have to decide whether you want to defend abstract logical propositional structures (some ivory tower thing) or talk about actual situational implementation of knowledge work (which can use abstract claims about knowledge and learning only as analogies to actual people in actual situations, not as proof of claims that are true for everyone). Or, you have to make the balance you are striking explicit so people know how much you are actually claiming is true in general rather than specific to certain people, topics, or projects.

    Knowledge is about certainty. If you construct a thought experiment in which you as an outsider know that something is wrong you are missing the point that nothing can be outside of the world. This thought experiment deviates in a core trait of the domain in which knowledge is interesting: General uncertainty.

    I don't follow this logic. Although I am also skeptical of thought experiments, they are not invalid simply because they are thought experiments. The Gettier examples are valid challenges about real-world situations. Other people's thoughts are part of the world, and those thoughts can be correct or incorrect, and my description of those thoughts as knowledge or non-knowledge is part of the world also.

    Let's say that in the real world my friend says, "You should wear a facemask all day to lower your risk for coronavirus." When I say that I am usually working alone in my office and thus don't need to wear it there, my friend says, "That doesn't matter. Facemasks transform air into magic antiviral gas." Does my friend know that wearing facemasks, even when alone, decreases the chance of getting the virus?

    • The belief is true. I touch my face a lot and wearing a facemask when alone would prevent me from touching my mouth and nose as often with my potentially contaminated hands.
    • The belief is justified. My friend works at a hospital, where everyone wears facemasks all day, and correctly assumes that hospital workers generally follow good medical practices.
    • So my friend has a justified true belief, but many people would say that he does not in fact know that facemasks reduce risk, because his belief is based on an absurd premise about magic gas.

    I do not have 100% certainty about my friend's thoughts because of course they could be lying to me or joking with me, but I can be highly confident that I am correctly interpreting the words that I hear them say. And the Gettier problem still exists here.

    That is the reason why it is such a big deal in epistemiology but nobody else cares. Only philosophers care what absurd thought experiments are cooked in the philosophical ivory tower. Everybody else knows that we want truth and you go there by justification. Even philosophers are just acting as if knowledge was some mystery. When they leave the ivory tower they act like anybody else.

    I completely agree with you that people act all the time as if they know things even when they have lots of uncertainty and they do so because they need to live in the world. But I don't agree with you that people's actions are based on justification leading to certain degrees of confidence that drive those actions, nor do I believe that forming any kind of knowledge structure based on linking atomic facts in a ZK will significantly affect that behavior (other than in terms of writing about their beliefs). Most justifications people give for their beliefs are created after the fact and only when people are pressed to communicate them to others. Most of the time we just go around doing stuff without generating reasons or justifications.

    It is like thinking of a unicorn. Just because you can name a fictional creature does not makes it real. And to think of a Gettier Problem does not make it relevant to the real world.

    But can't I similarly say that just drawing a graph of a knowledge structure on a Zettel doesn't make it true, useful, or relevant to the real world?

    I guess I'll follow you over this cliff. Are you a logical positivist? What view of truth? I'm a Brandom-style pragmatist and a fallibilist.

    Haha. I miss the -ism-Game. But to be honest. I have no general position. This could make me a general pragmatist?

    I hope it's clear that I'm not asking about -isms as a game or to rally some group identity. It's just that if you are going to make strong claims about the nature of knowledge and the usefulness of a certain method for reading, building, and communicating about knowledge, it's easier to do if I know what you think these concepts mean.

    Part of this honestly might just be some terminological differences which are made worse by the fact that I do not speak any German. I think that when you say things like there are three levels of evidence in a ZK I am just reading that as a more literal and absolute statement then you might intend it. If your focus is really just pragmatic usability, I would've expected wording more like "one possibly useful way of categorizing notes in a ZK is..."

  • @cobblepot said:

    @sfast said:

    @cobblepot said:

    @sfast said:
    (1) Standard analysis does not mean that it is accepted. But most of the time, at least in Germany, it is the starter point.

    Yes, it's the starting point, but then you have the Gettier problem, and you need a way to solve it, so it's not the ending point.

    I think the Gettier problem is some ivory tower thing.

    You realize that you defended yourself in the last post by citing Plato, right? Like, you actually found the exact textual location in the dialogues and cited it. So even if you don't live in the Ivory Tower, it seems that you visit there sometimes. :smile:

    As I always say: Judge from a state of competence. I didn't found the exact location but remembered it. :wink:

    If your focus is on solving problems pragmatically, then whether or not Plato said something is 100% irrelevant. You sort of have to decide whether you want to defend abstract logical propositional structures (some ivory tower thing) or talk about actual situational implementation of knowledge work (which can use abstract claims about knowledge and learning only as analogies to actual people in actual situations, not as proof of claims that are true for everyone). Or, you have to make the balance you are striking explicit so people know how much you are actually claiming is true in general rather than specific to certain people, topics, or projects.

    Knowledge is about certainty. If you construct a thought experiment in which you as an outsider know that something is wrong you are missing the point that nothing can be outside of the world. This thought experiment deviates in a core trait of the domain in which knowledge is interesting: General uncertainty.

    I don't follow this logic. Although I am also skeptical of thought experiments, they are not invalid simply because they are thought experiments. The Gettier examples are valid challenges about real-world situations. Other people's thoughts are part of the world, and those thoughts can be correct or incorrect, and my description of those thoughts as knowledge or non-knowledge is part of the world also.

    Let's say that in the real world my friend says, "You should wear a facemask all day to lower your risk for coronavirus." When I say that I am usually working alone in my office and thus don't need to wear it there, my friend says, "That doesn't matter. Facemasks transform air into magic antiviral gas." Does my friend know that wearing facemasks, even when alone, decreases the chance of getting the virus?

    • The belief is true. I touch my face a lot and wearing a facemask when alone would prevent me from touching my mouth and nose as often with my potentially contaminated hands.
    • The belief is justified. My friend works at a hospital, where everyone wears facemasks all day, and correctly assumes that hospital workers generally follow good medical practices.
    • So my friend has a justified true belief, but many people would say that he does not in fact know that facemasks reduce risk, because his belief is based on an absurd premise about magic gas.

    I do not have 100% certainty about my friend's thoughts because of course they could be lying to me or joking with me, but I can be highly confident that I am correctly interpreting the words that I hear them say. And the Gettier problem still exists here.

    That is an awesome example because it shows the problems of such a method. If you construct such a thought experiment and you have such an intuition you have at least two options:

    1. The thought experiment as a model is inaccurate. It does not share the key attributes with the entity it tries to model.
    2. The intuition is wrong in the first place. Our intuition is wrong and we should modify it.

    I argue that the Gettierproblem is invalid because it deviates from the world in at least one key attribute: Certainty. You make it certain that the "knower" is wrong which is never the case in the real world. We act as if.

    Even, if we accept it. The intuition entails that the justification has something to do with the truth of the belief. The Gettierproblem is just a special case in which we have JTB without the J has something to do with the T. In the analytical school, I had to argue now that the JTB has to be expanded with some condition that the J has something to do the T. But then, I'd be pulled into the ivory tower game. :smiley:

    That is the reason why it is such a big deal in epistemiology but nobody else cares. Only philosophers care what absurd thought experiments are cooked in the philosophical ivory tower. Everybody else knows that we want truth and you go there by justification. Even philosophers are just acting as if knowledge was some mystery. When they leave the ivory tower they act like anybody else.

    I completely agree with you that people act all the time as if they know things even when they have lots of uncertainty and they do so because they need to live in the world. But I don't agree with you that people's actions are based on justification leading to certain degrees of confidence that drive those actions, nor do I believe that forming any kind of knowledge structure based on linking atomic facts in a ZK will significantly affect that behavior (other than in terms of writing about their beliefs). Most justifications people give for their beliefs are created after the fact and only when people are pressed to communicate them to others. Most of the time we just go around doing stuff without generating reasons or justifications.

    I wouldn't write people off so quick. I think that many of the reasoning is opaque to most of us for a good reason. But in my experience, people are often suprisingly sharp.

    It is like thinking of a unicorn. Just because you can name a fictional creature does not makes it real. And to think of a Gettier Problem does not make it relevant to the real world.

    But can't I similarly say that just drawing a graph of a knowledge structure on a Zettel doesn't make it true, useful, or relevant to the real world?

    I am not quite sure what you mean.

    I guess I'll follow you over this cliff. Are you a logical positivist? What view of truth? I'm a Brandom-style pragmatist and a fallibilist.

    Haha. I miss the -ism-Game. But to be honest. I have no general position. This could make me a general pragmatist?

    I hope it's clear that I'm not asking about -isms as a game or to rally some group identity. It's just that if you are going to make strong claims about the nature of knowledge and the usefulness of a certain method for reading, building, and communicating about knowledge, it's easier to do if I know what you think these concepts mean.

    No, and even if it is about some identity thing. I think it is fun. At least in philosophy. (What is happening now in the public sphere is just annoying and I am waiting for everybody to calm down).

    I hope my English is not butchering the content: I think many positions need to be made compatible. The best example to me is the Trolley Dilemma. You can make all kinds of variation and you'll get different intuitions. That is not gonna help other than create empirical-psychological insights. Or you can apply an ethic and solve the problem. A utilitarian would push a deontologist would not. If you want to modify your position when it does not match your intuition your are not doing ethics but trying to rationalise your feelings. But in reality we want to be both. We want the good with the right means. We don't want to kill few to safe the many. But we neither want to kill the many to spare the few. We want both. That is why movies tend to avoid such a dilemma. Sometimes, the hero makes the decision to push but then some lucky incident saves the pushed person or something like that. As humans, we concentrate on the fault if there is any.

    Part of this honestly might just be some terminological differences which are made worse by the fact that I do not speak any German. I think that when you say things like there are three levels of evidence in a ZK I am just reading that as a more literal and absolute statement then you might intend it. If your focus is really just pragmatic usability, I would've expected wording more like "one possibly useful way of categorizing notes in a ZK is..."

    I am quite a disagreeable person. I think that is partly because of my temperament. But many things I write are quite analytical and therefore I think my confidence is justified.

    The three layers of evidence for example. They are there if you want it or not. You can make it explicit like I suggest to do it. Or implicit. But there will be always the actual data that are underlying the creating of Zettel, the interpretation and the interpretation of the interpretation.

    (And my English is not good. But I think Christian can attest, that I am as assertive in German.. :trollface: )

    I am a Zettler

  • I'm going to break the response into two responses so people who are not interested in the Gettier problem can skip to the other important issues, which are discussed in the post below. You made a bunch of comments about my thought experiment but I'm just not following what your terms are referring to. See below:

    @sfast said:
    That is an awesome example because it shows the problems of such a method.

    What problems? Of what method?

    If you construct such a thought experiment and you have such an intuition...

    What intuition are you referring to?

    ...you have at least two options:

    You have two options for doing what?

    1. The thought experiment as a model is inaccurate. It does not share the key attributes with the entity it tries to model.

    A thought experiment is not intended to be a model. A thought experiment is an experiment. The independent variable is whatever differs between unproblematic real-world situations and the problematic situation described in the thought experiment, and the dependent variable (i.e., the data or outcome that you get) is your intuition about how to best understand the situation described. If you think that a thought experiment aims to accurately describe the real world as it usually is, you have misunderstood the purpose of a thought experiment.

    1. The intuition is wrong in the first place. Our intuition is wrong and we should modify it.

    What is the intuition that you think is wrong in the first place?

    I argue that the Gettierproblem is invalid...

    The Gettier problem cannot be valid or invalid. An argument can be valid or invalid.

    ...because it deviates from the world in at least one key attribute: Certainty. You make it certain that the "knower" is wrong which is never the case in the real world. We act as if.

    How does "the Gettier problem" deviate from the world? I was pretty clear that in my specific example I was not assuming any certainty. Read it again – I do not make it certain that the knower is wrong. I did this on purpose to avoid your counterargument.

    The intuition entails that...

    The intuition that what? That my friend doesn't know that I should wear a facemask when alone?

    ...the justification has something to do with the truth of the belief.

    No, the intuition does not entail anything like this (at least if you are using "entail" in a logical sense). The intuition suggests that the JTB account doesn't adequately capture what most people think of as knowledge.

    Do you agree that the JTB account doesn't adequately capture what most people think of as knowledge? Or are you saying that it does adequately capture it?

    The Gettier problem is just a special case in which we have JTB without the J has something to do with the T. In the analytical school, I had to argue now that the JTB has to be expanded with some condition that the J has something to do the T. But then, I'd be pulled into the ivory tower game. :smiley:

    Well, the bottom line is this: you are claiming that knowledge is JTB. Most people when told about examples like the one I gave say that knowledge is not JTB. You can define knowledge any way you like. You can say that knowledge simply means belief if you want – but if you are hoping to explain what the concept of knowledge means to most people, and do so in a way that is useful to others, you need to give an account of what most people think of as knowledge, not just arbitrarily define it in a way that you like regardless of how other people think about it.

    Discussion continued below!

  • @sfast
    @cobblepot
    I completely agree with you that people act all the time as if they know things even when they have lots of uncertainty...

    I wouldn't write people off so quick. I think that many of the reasoning is opaque to most of us for a good reason. But in my experience, people are often suprisingly sharp.

    I'm not making any kind of a claim as to how intelligent or sharp people are, I'm saying their intuitions and explanations about why they do what they do are usually wrong. Your view (and the conventional wisdom) that people act for the reasons that they give is simply not supported by the evidence. I assume your view is based on intuition and personal experience. If you would like to know the truth about the matter, I'm happy to point you to some sources. :smile:

    But can't I similarly say that just drawing a graph of a knowledge structure on a Zettel doesn't make it true, useful, or relevant to the real world?

    I am not quite sure what you mean.

    You can create a note with a graph of a so-called "knowledge structure", and say that it is useful to have such a graph even if it does not apply in every circumstance. But without evidence that this graph is applicable to certain experiences and actually provides benefit when applied to those experiences, others really don't have a good reason to be convinced. Since you are writing a book that implies that people will benefit from listening to your perspective about knowledge work and process, I would assume that you would want to give people a reason to believe your claims are true.

    I hope my English is not butchering the content: I think many positions need to be made compatible. The best example to me is the Trolley Dilemma. You can make all kinds of variation and you'll get different intuitions. That is not gonna help other than create empirical-psychological insights. Or you can apply an ethic and solve the problem.

    Empirical psychological insights are important because they describe how the world actually works outside of one person's mind alone. Applying a black and white criterion onto a messy, non-black and white world only "solves" the problem by providing consistent logic in one person's own head. Whether it works for other people is where the problem comes in.

    Part of this honestly might just be some terminological differences which are made worse by the fact that I do not speak any German...

    I am quite a disagreeable person. I think that is partly because of my temperament. But many things I write are quite analytical and therefore I think my confidence is justified.

    I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if you happily embrace the persona of a disagreeable, (over?) confident person with a "take it or leave it" attitude about your ideas, then I won't stop you! :smile: But I do encourage you to look at this as an opportunity to learn rather than just an opportunity to teach. I am!

    The three layers of evidence for example. They are there if you want it or not. You can make it explicit like I suggest to do it. Or implicit. But there will be always the actual data that are underlying the creating of Zettel, the interpretation and the interpretation of the interpretation.

    This is the problem: you seem to think that the three layers of evidence are just a fact about the world; they are "there" whether people agree with you or not. But of course they are not "there" in any real sense; they are conceptual structure you are using to describe a world that can be described in innumerable ways. Maybe someone else thinks there are four layers of evidence, or two. There are not just many wrong ways to describe the world, there are also many equally valid ways. The question is not whether other people accept the reality about evidence structures that you have analytically identified as true and are now in a position to explain to them. There are many contrary descriptions that are also analytically justifiable. The question is whether your description of knowledge, knowledge work, and writing helps people actually produce useful writing.

    This may be an anticlimactic conclusion for our interesting conversation on this topic, but my take away here is this: you have a way to describe layers of evidence in ZK that you think is useful, and you are teaching it to others who may also find it useful. That's great! When I started creating Zettels, that structure did not seem to apply to my topics and writing projects. For you, the structure does work when you write about philosophy, but for me, it is not working. So hopefully if others find a similar challenge (like @John ) they can either explain to me how to think about the kind of sources I am taking notes on using a three level knowledge structure, or they'll have some suggestions on another way to do things that will help me be more productive. I look forward to your response!

  • I am shortcutting a bit. It is too much time to translate my thoughts in this strange language "English"

    Gettier

    How does "the Gettier problem" deviate from the world? I was pretty clear that in my specific example I was not assuming any certainty. Read it again – I do not make it certain that the knower is wrong. I did this on purpose to avoid your counterargument.

    Yes, you are. "That doesn't matter. Facemasks transform air into magic antiviral gas." is what the friend said. That is invoking an intuition of falseness.

    The central problem of Gettier is that creates a knower who is definetely right: The observer who is learns about the Gettier thought experiment. He has the advantage of an outside observer. The problem of knowledge is that there are no outside observer. Anytime, you create an thought experiment you create an outside observer by creating the example as an authorial narrator by which you are changing the very trait of the real world that creates the problem of how to know things: You are creating transparency where you need opacity.

    Next answer is coming. But not today.

    I am a Zettler

  • Maybe this is a crazy idea but you could beta test the book. Sign up ever how many folks you need to give you feedback, let them read it and help answer the questions. Give them a private forum for discussion and give feedback. Works well for software. Could this concept be applied to a book?

    Behind this thought, is here all you will get are opinions and suggestions. Which may be helpful but how would you know what would work well unless it was tested and QA-ed.

    I am sure you would get more volunteers then you would need.

    Just ignore me if this not realistic or too absurd.

    Not unrealistic or absurd in the least. It will be done in that manner. My last book was written like that and I am expanding the scope beta-test. :smile:

    @sfast This is what the author of Mastering Vim Quickly: From WTF to OMG in no time did. I participated in his beta test for the book. He would email snippets of his manuscript for evaluation during his writing process.

    :wq

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