The Other I

March 4, 2011

How do we know what we know?

Record-breaking bomb dog Last week a British soldier who worked with his sniffer dog to find and de-fuse road side bombs was killed by a sniper.  The pair had saved the lives of thousands and were inseparable.  When his master was killed, the dog was unhurt.  But he went back to the camp, crawled into the tent, and died of a massive heart attack.

Did the dog die because his master had been killed?  It is easy to believe.

The things that our two dogs knew were amazing.  When we called the vet to put down our oldest Kuvasz, Suli, we took her younger companion, Dugo, to stay with a neighbor several blocks away.  When we bought him back home, he did not look for Suli, something that had never never happened before.

It’s not just dogs and fish and dolphins and monkeys.

For thousands of years, philosophers have puzzled over how we humans know what we know.  I don’t claim to know the answer.  But I am convinced that we often know things we don’t know we know, or have any idea of how we know them.

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