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Knowledge Is Never Just There

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The belief in a world governed by natural law has meant that our ideas of good thinking have increasingly turned toward formalizable schemes, suitable to support ideas of consistency, accuracy, and disembodied clarity. The idea that thinking might be a bodily thing hasn't been much appreciated among philosophers of this tradition. Yet, we shall pursue this line of thought in this paper. It is suggested that knowledge is not something we have but something created in the very moment of use. The same goes for other essential concepts such as for instance causality. Causality is seen as a human bodily experience (not just a psychological phenomenon, as Hume said, and not a transcendental condition of human existence, as Kant explained). Causality is an experience, and from this fact follows that the Newtonian world must be turned upside down. The laws of gravity are not something "out-there" but something "in-here".

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  1. If I haven’t yet persuaded you of this, I suggest you listen to Kris Hammond, professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University (


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Correspondence to Jesper Hoffmeyer.

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The exposition given in this paper is based on discussions in my recent Danish book (Hoffmeyer 2017).

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Hoffmeyer, J. Knowledge Is Never Just There. Biosemiotics 11, 1–5 (2018).

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