I KNOW: A Human Universal

Anna Wierzbicka

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter argues that a philosophical account of human epistemology needs to be complemented by a linguistic one, informed by analytical and empirical experience of cross-linguistic semantics. The author outlines such a complementary account, based on many decades of empirical and analytical research undertaken within the NSM (Natural Semantic Metalanguage) approach. The main conclusion is that KNOW is an indefinable and universal human concept, and that there are four “canonical” frames in which this concept occurs across languages, the most basic one being the “dialogical” frame: “I know,” “I don’t know.” The author contends that both the questions and the answers concerning the “epistemology for the rest of the world” need to be anchored in some conceptual givens, derived neither from historically shaped Anglo English, nor from the European philosophical tradition, but from a more reliable, language- and culture-independent source; and the author shows how this can be done.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEpistemology for the Rest of the World
    EditorsMasaharu Mizumoto, Stephen Stich and Eric McCready
    Place of PublicationUnited States
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780190865085
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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