Monday, 7 April 2008

Knowledge is possession

Benjamin, in his Trauerspiel essay, argues that philosophy 'ought to be conceived as the representation of truth, not as a guide for the acquisition of knowledge.' Truth for Benjamin is unarguable; knowledge, on the other hand, precisely arguable, dependent on the consciousness that apprehends it. 'Knowledge is possession,' he says. Its very object if determined by the fact that it must be taken possession of--even if in a transcendental sense--in the consciousness.'

But possession can be inflected a number of ways. An object that we possess exclusively (a jewel, say) would be a poor model for 'knowledge'; and when we consider objects that we possess individually-in-common we stumble into the briarpatch of copyright. Can knowledge be copyrighted, in an attempt to transform collective apprehension into a single, unitary scientific truth.

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