Tuesday, December 5, 2017

More on omniscience

In an earlier post, I argued that the definition of omniscience as knowing every truth and believing nothing but truths is insufficient for omniscience because an omniscient being would also be certain, and knowledge of every truth does not guarantee certainty of every truth.

Here’s another thing that the definition leaves out. Normally, when we say that someone knows or believes p, we are talking about non-occurrent knowledge. We say things like: “Alice knows the atomic number of carbon”, even while Alice is not thinking about carbon. However, I think an omniscient being—one that enjoys the perfection of knowledge—will need to have occurrent knowledge of all truths. Moreover, the omniscient being will need to always be attending to every piece of that knowledge to a maximal degree. (It is not a perfection in us to attend to everything we think maximally, because for us attending to one thing often excludes attending to another. But that’s due to our imperfection.)

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