NetworkEpistemology (ThoughtStorms)

Started thinking of this as a new umberella term for a number of ideas :

There's an assumption going round that, like it or not, knowledge is managed within a network of social connections. "Knowing how to find stuff is more important than knowing stuff" goes this network centric view. Hence understanding the nature of the network of communications is the key to managing knowledge.

There's also the Popperian intuition that increasing the number of people conjecturing, and talking, and therefore criticising each others' conjectures is the way to "grow knowledge".

So communications technologies become knowledge management and knowledge growing technologies. Information is "any difference which makes a difference" (who said this?) So plugging together more, and more diverse viewpoints, is better.

Well, I'll buy that for a dollar ....

But on this page, I want to step back and be more sceptical. Let's take a proper philosophical / epistemological perspective on this and see what we can say about it.


Must compare : ConspiracyTheories. There I'm wearing my NetoCracy hat, doing a more ContinentalPhilosophy style historical speculation about epistemology in the sense of what society takes as "justifying" knowledge. Hence, under feudalism it was religion (divine revelation), under capitalism it was human reason. Maybe under netocracy it's the "right" ntwork structure.

Of course, when I wear my CriticalRationalist hat, I'm a lot more sceptical. But then being a "dividual" or "mobilist" means you can hold contradictory opinions on different wiki pages. :-)

SocialOriginOfGoodIdeas suggests that good ideas come from "brokers" between social clusters. See also OnCreativity

TricksOnWikipedia finds that Wikipedia is more susceptible to trolling than Reddit because of its editorial structure.


I wonder about the idea of networks and the traditional epistemological idea of justification. In a justification tradition, knowledge is a network of reasons for beliefs. But what does this network nature imply? For example, are beliefs meant to be fully connected? If not, we can be irrational (as indeed psychological experiments demonstrate - WassonSelectionTask). Could justificationists have a notion of rationality defined in terms of non-fully connected networks? What sort of networks?

Wikipaedia on Social Epistemology :

*Social epistemology is essentially the study of what significant contributions are made by various social mechanisms to our gaining of knowledge or other epistemically valuable qualities (e.g., justified, warranted, or rational belief). *

Tribe discussion :

What relation with LearningNetworks?

Connectionism in learning :

See also :

CategoryEpistemology, CategoryPhilosophy, CategoryNetworks