David Quinn wrote:Jupiviv is right, actually. Absolute knowledge is indeed defined to be knowledge that is necessarily true in all times and places. It isn't something which is merely true in somes places and not others. It isn't contigent upon the arisal of a particular set of circumstances, or the appearance of particular empirical evidence, or the adoption of a particular perspective, or the consensus of a particular number of people. It is necessarily true for all circumstances, perspectives, and people. It is a form of knowledge that cannot be falsified under any circumstances whatsoever.
The fact that this different type of knowledge exists dawned on me at about 5 years of age, when I realized things like 2+3=3+2=5 would always be true and that it was impossible for anyone to change that. I can still recall the monumental impact this had on me. At the time, everything seemed to be subject to change, seemed to be controlled by grownups, or at least by someone else. No one had made this type of statement true, and so no one could make its truth go away or diminish it. No one had control over it. And now that I knew it, I felt the power of that knowledge. I began looking for other things that hit me with the same feeling of certainty. I was drawn to mathematics from then on. I found that feeling to be telling over the course of my studies. If, for example, I labored over a calculus or physics problem until I reached a solution, and that feeling of certainty did not strike, my results were sometimes in error. But when it did strike, it seemed as if I never was in error. As David points out, most "knowledge" is not absolute. Correspondingly, most knowledge never gives me that feeling of certainty that a rigorous mathematical proof does.
One treats these different types of knowledge differently, I find. Once one has made the necessary effort to acquire the absolute kind of knowledge, no further effort is required. One may recall the knowledge or not recall it; however, if it is ever recalled, its truth is immediately as clear as clear can be. For any other type of knowledge, if circumstances cause it to be recalled, there remains the immediate task of ascertaining if the knowledge, not being absolute, is true in the given circumstances.