This series of essays has been rewritten from a Master's thesis defended at Temple University in 1970.

The Philosophical Foundations of Human Cognition

Prologue (updated from 1970)

©2004 Edward G. Rozycki, Ed. D.

edited 12/16/17

For Google (and other) web-rankings
of this article go to


(Section I) --------------



knowa and knowe

The Truth Condition

Enabling a Knowledge Claim


Epistemically Fundamental Verbs

Direct Reference

Epistemic Substitutes and Epistemic Sources

The Possibility of Illusion


Section Endnotes



(Section II) ------------


Contrasting 'recognize' and 'identify'

Recognition and Recall

The Primacy of Recognition

Conflicts of Recognition and Identification

Is Cognition Recognition?

Section Endnotes

(Section III) ------------


Confrontable Characteristics

Recognition Equivalence

Goodman's Identity Theory

Systematizing the r/e-class

Goodman's Theory Continued

Knowing What a Thing Looks Like


Dimension of Individuation

Section Endnotes

(Section IV) ------------

PART 4: Continued

Multi-leveled Individuation

NIE's and Classes

Physical Objects as NIE's

The Act as NIE

Following a Rule

Recognizing Reconsidered

Goodman's Theory -- Conclusion

The Application of Concepts

To Conclude

Section Endnotes


Daß ich  erkenne, was die Welt
im Innersten zusammenhält.
--- Faust, Goethe

Research of all kinds rests on the assumption that we can distinguish between what we know and what we might just merely believe. How is this distinction to be practically understood? Why are some methods preferable for acquiring knowledge? On what basis do we justify our claims so as to develop and maintain a community of practice?

The undertaking of this thesis was to explain how we come to know what a thing is, i.e. how we can justify claims to know that a particular X is a Y where Y is a class concept, or that a particular X is Z , where Z is a unique individual. What is required, then, is both a theory of knowledge and a theory of identification. Parts 1 and 2 present a theory of knowledge. Parts 3 and 4 present and elaborate on a theory of identification. So as to engage the reader's interest for what is a rather circuitous expository route -- and perhaps a sense of disbelief-- I will present as enticement some of my major conclusions:

a. presumption is the foundation of knowledge; and corollary to this

b. The epistemological status of the truth condition in the generally accepted analysis of S knows that p is this: The truth condition is (and must remain) a presumption.

c. Cognition is recognition, involving two distinct modes.

d. To know that X is a Y is to acknowledge it to be such, justifying such a performance via reference to some sensory capacity - ultimately - in the context of certain presumptions. (Vygotsky is a Platonist: natural categories are recognition-equivalence classes -- very special kinds of fuzzy sets, so to speak.)

e. We do not "apprehend truth" via the senses, because we do not "apprehend truth" at all.

Although I have not drawn his conclusion in the original of my thesis, it would seem to follow from some of my conclusions a through e that a necessary condition for the existence of an entity is a community of performers, i.e. agents with a communication system. What this seems to indicate is that the very notion of existence is logically dependent on or presupposes the notion of agent. One must admit that this is an interesting thesis, even if wrong.

The theory of knowledge presented herein is not subject to the skeptic's assault; the theory of identification has the perhaps intriguing outcome that the characteristics of a particular object or event are of secondary importance in establishing its identity, e.g. pattern recognition at the stimulus level may not be relevant to classification.

For the aesthetician I have provided a characterization of the ontological status of a work of art. Nelson Goodman's reasoning on this issue is shown to be flawed due to ambiguities in his notions of identification and recognition.

Now, if this presumptuous introduction has not aroused in the reader a certain kind of "philosophical aggression," I am perplexed. The least one can expect of one's colleagues is to be disabused of one's illusions.

--- EGR