Anti-intellectualists in epistemology argue for the thesis that knowing-how is not a species of knowing-that, and most of them tend to avoid any use of the notion “knowing-that” in their explanation of intelligent action on pain of inconsistency. Intellectualists tend to disprove anti-intellectualism by showing that the residues of knowing-that remain in the anti-intellectualist explanation of intelligent action. Outside the field of epistemology, some philosophers who try to highlight the nature of their explanation of intelligent action in certain fields, such as ethics, tend to classify themselves as intellectualist simply because they appeal to the notion of knowing-that in their explanation. In a word, the idea of knowing-that is harmful to the anti-intellectualist explanation of intelligent action, whether from an insider or outsider perspective. In this paper, I argue that these tendencies are unjustified because they are based on an unclear conception of anti-intellectualism. I shall use Gilbert Ryle’s anti-intellectualism as a paradigm with which to describe anti-intellectualism and to illustrate why the notion of knowing-that is not harmful to but is, on the contrary, beneficial to the anti-intellectualist explanation of intelligent action. If my explication of Ryle’s anti-intellectualism is correct, then most anti-intellectualists in the literature blindly worry about the notion of knowing-that, most intellectualists fire into the wrong flock, and some philosophers outside epistemology mischaracterize their own position.
KeywordsIntelligence Skill exercise Skill acquisition Aptness Ryle
I would like to thank the members of the “Virtue: Epistemic and Moral” Project at Soochow University, in particular Yiu-ming Fung, Michael Mi, and Hsiang-min Shen for helpful discussions on the material of this paper. I am especially grateful to Cheng-hung Lin and Ernest Sosa for their encouragement and support through so many years. All errors are mine alone. This work is sponsored by the National Science Council (NSC 102-2410-H-031-027-MY3 and NSC 101-2632-H-031-001-MY3).
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