Take A Zhance Banner

Winter 2001
Spring 2000
Fall 1999
Winter 1999
Fall 1998
Spring 1998
Fall 1997

[S00, #5] [Home] [W01, #2]

©2001 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Feb-10-2001

Please email me for comments, corrections, or suggestions.

What You Know, Part I

©2001 Zhan Huan Zhou, Winter 2001, Issue 1

The first class I had this term was at 9:30am for Philosophy 100. I didn't want to get up at 8:30am. I had been out late the previous night, slowly sipping bubble tea with some friends. But I made it to class on time, early, in fact. The first year arts students seemed confused in this part of campus. They were standing outside of DWE 3517 presumably because it was locked or there was a lecture occurring so I joined the crowd of unrecognizable faces in the hallway. To kill time, I peered across the hall and peeped inside DWE 3516 where I recognized fellow classmates. It was a fourth year electrical & computer engineering class dealing with communications and some other foreign concepts to me. I later found out it was E&CE 412. That still meant nothing to me. At about 9:28am, the door to DWE 3517 magically, opened and the students streamed inside. Apparently, neither had the door had been locked nor was there an ensuing lecture. No one even tried to open the door. Quite annoyed, I walked into the class searching for a seat and any recognizable faces. The professor handing out the course syllabus was younger that I had anticipated. He wasn't the professor at all, he was the teaching assistant. He informed us that Professor Holmes was not available today, but we should read pages 335 to 338 of the textbook. That was it for the class. I woke up early for nothing. What a waste.

I hadn't bought the textbook yet, but I knew that some were available at the used bookstore. I decided not to buy the book, but to read those four lousy pages in the used bookstore instead. Oddly enough, pages 335 to 338 of the textbook corresponded to Rene Descartes' "First Meditation." He brings into question what we know for certain. He comes to the conclusion that we really don't know much for certain. Last term, I had already decided to write about knowledge for my Winter 2001 installments of "Take A Zhance." The idea was sprung from young a man by the name of Michael McMillan.

Not a renowned philosopher, Michael McMillan is a fellow fourth year computer engineering student who brought forth a supposition about knowledge. Though not as profound as Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum," (better known as "I think therefore I am,") Mike puts forth the following four easy to understand postulates about knowledge corresponding to each academic year we are in university:

  1. In first year, "You don't know that you don't know"
  2. In second year, "You know that you don't know"
  3. In third year, "You don't know that you know"
  4. And finally, in fourth year, "You know that you know"

In a clear example, the first year students seemed confused about how to use a doorknob to enter the room during the first day of philosophy class. I had also by fourth year learned that textbooks are not always necessary for classes so I waited to buy them when I found out that I actually needed them. In the meantime, I used the used bookstore to read Descartes while Chapters.ca was delivering my books at a much lower price than the UW bookstore, yes, even the used books.

As I get wiser in fourth year, there are certain things I've realized as I progressed. For the next four articles in my final term as a writer for the Iron Warrior, I will examine each of the four postulates in turn per issue. Hopefully this series will help you find out what you know.