What is the difference between propositional and acquaintance knowledge? It seems that acquaintance knowledge deals with sets of propositional knowledge - both known and unknown sets of propositional knowledge:

  • (Example from the unknown set) - "I may know the president of Japan, but I may not know in what position he sleeps."
  • (Example from the known set) - "I know the president of Japan, and I know his age"

I've imagined acquaintance knowledge as a nebula and propositional knowledge as one of it's atoms. We know some atoms but some of them - for one reason or another - are not known.

Is my interpretation plausible?


Are you using the terms in a Russellian sense, or in light of the later literature on the subject?

In Russell's formulation, there is a difference between (on the one hand) things you know first-hand, through direct experience, like the color of your shoes, and (on the other hand) things you know inferentially, or through other indirect means, like the fact that George Washington was the first President of the US.

However: this easy division gets muddied fairly quickly when we look at the process of perception more carefully, and attempt to analyze the epistemological problems entailed.

The SEP article on the subject does a nice job of laying out the terrain.

  • Oh, sorry for the late answer, I got ISP problems, but I took that from this book. – Red Banana Jul 30 '12 at 1:49
  • Is acquaintance knowledge less legitimate than propositional knowledge? I've felt that while reading about that. – Red Banana Aug 1 '12 at 16:52

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