Sunday, February 26, 2012

Theory of Knowledge Essay

Theory of Knowledge Essay

Theory of Knowledge: To understand something you need to rely on your own experience and culture. Does this mean that it is impossible to have objective knowledge?

There are so many discussions upon existence of objective knowledge and what is it in reality. Some say none of facts, statements, and ideas could be one hundred percent objective and true for everyone. Others insist that there are facts, which are proved and thought to be true for everyone, no matter what are their views.

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There are different definitions of the objective and subjective knowledge. Objective knowledge could be referred to objective reality. It appears to be objective if a fact of objective knowledge exists. And it exists, no matter if someone perceives this fact or not. If there is a pen in the bag – it is there even if none will look inside of that bag and will not see the pen inside of that bag. Some scientists insist that objective knowledge could be found only through empirical science and it should be based on hypothesis testing models that can be repeated by any researcher (not depending on their background). For example, if a person will raise a hand with a pen and let it off, it will fall down. And no matter who will conduct this kind of experiment, the same thing will happen. Subjective knowledge is the kind of knowledge, which a lot of researchers refer to one’s knowledge. The idea about the same thing will differ from person to person, and it will be different from the objective knowledge. Among some philosophers, there is an opinion, that the distinguishing feature of the subjective knowledge – is that it is direct and immediate; it appears in the experience of only concrete individual. Most of people use subjective knowledge, judgments, conclusions, etc. Foe example, it would be a subjective knowledge for a girl to think that if she will break up with a guy, she will be lonely for the rest of her life. There is no evidence, no confirmation that this is what will happen and if someone will try to repeat same actions they will have different outcome.

Where does the knowledge come from and what is its’ nature? There are still debates over this question. Among philosophers there were two main points of view – internalism and externalism. Externalists thought, that the truth and a real, existent knowledge lies outside of the psychology of the person, who is gaining this knowledge. And in order for a person to gain knowledge, the facts have to come up in a right way and they are outside the mind. Internalists were sure, that the nature of knowledge is internal. If there would be no ability to percept and operate with knowledge, there would be no knowledge. Also there were two main points of view on the sources of people’s knowledge – empiricism (our knowledge is primarily based on experience) and rationalism (our knowledge mainly based in reason). Modern scientists and researchers trend towards the empiricism, but ideas of rationalism are considered as well. Knowledge without experience, with certain exceptions of trivial semantic and logical truths, is impossible, according to the empiricism. Rationalism is stating that there is knowledge, which person can get without any experience. For example, mathematical and logical thinking truths could be found without checking it on practice, without experiencing it. Another thing rationalism states – is that knowledge cannot be formed by experience by itself. Two persons can experience same aesthetic object and come up with contradictory views on its ugliness or beauty. Also we do not observe causation. It is not in the reality, but in our mind, because of thinking processes we get understanding why one vent causes another one. It is in our mind we have understanding that a pen falls, because a person holding it let it off.

Psychologists and other researchers of today give their ideas on nature of the knowledge. On their opinion if some kind of knowledge, perceived by several people, will be influenced by their background and experience, at the end the knowledge they will recall, will differ from each other and from what really was perceived. This is how subjective knowledge comes out, when a person passes knowledge through own visions, experiences and prism in general. As we can see own experience and culture, the way we were brought up plays a significant role. It forms the way of perception and processing of information and data received. That is how there is no monosemantic view on world, love, friendship, human being origin, etc. For example, there are cultures, which function as a close system. Among such there are tribes from Amazon woods. Their knowledge, as all of us know, differs a lot. Another example is that in Cuba pluralism of ideas known as a negative process. At the same time most of people in Europe, USA, etc are sure that one idea or view cannot represent position of each person. And these are not individual differences. Vast majority of people in these two societies thinks so. Where do they get this way of thinking? There is an answer – they get it from their parents, from their community, from the way they were brought up. Relativism states that each of us can evaluate polysemantic situations only grounding on our previous experience and from the position of our culture. If people was brought up in the certain culture, they will be sure, that the way they think – it is the right way, the true one. If men from Islamic world had been persuaded from the childhood that women have to do all chores, they will insist on women doing it, no matter who will tell them that women in other countries do not necessarily have to do it. The same situation with the way they dress and act. We have different knowledge presented in different cultural surroundings.

But we should take a close look on the ways we getting knowledge, how we find out information and knowledge, what becomes an obstacle on the way of someone to posses it, and what makes it easier. In order to gain any knowledge and to process data all of us use language (verbal and written). In knowledge formation it appears to take a significant place. It makes it easier to pass knowledge, to make it more clear and accessible. Most distinguishing experiences and knowledge gained could be passed on to other people of the community or society very easily exactly through language. Every day we communicate and pass some kind of knowledge to each other. Written knowledge is passed from one generation to another. The same great impact makes perception process. Perception processes play roles of tools, which help to transform knowledge from the external world to the internal world of the certain person, to his or her mind. Deaf and numb people do not have as much opportunities in gaining knowledge and information. They are limited in possessing certain patterns of knowledge. Another component of gaining knowledge are emotions. They play a significant role in several ways. First of all the way we feel give us confirmation or denial of theories according ourselves and things which are positive or negative for us. Another way - when we observe someone’s emotional reactions, we can possess knowledge about this person or group of people, to understand reasons and consequences. And the last, but not least – when we lack emotions our perception processes change for the worse. It is called emotional deprivation and in this state person is not able to think clearly and consciously get knowledge or critically evaluate it. What also often drives people to get knowledge, to search for it – is a wish to know the reason. Sometimes there is evidence for existence of the certain reason, sometimes there is not. In the cases when there is evidence, which are clear for everyone, it would be objective knowledge. In the cases, when reason is on the level of hypothesis or just someone’s point of view – it would be subjective knowledge, which is thought to be true only by one person or be the certain group. Without rational, logical thinking and reasoning empirical knowledge would not be definite. 

As we can see there are so many factors, which influence everyone’s knowledge. Just to make an accent on them, they are - culture, experience, language, perception processes, rational thinking, emotions, individual psychological peculiarities (such as memory, intelligence, way of thinking and much more). These are the greatest factors, but there are a lot more of them. And they do influence polysemantic knowledge we gain. And that is the point, when a person turns to beliefs, taking into consideration only one side of the knowledge about the object or situation.

But at the same time there is knowledge, which is objective and exists no matter if someone perceives it or not. If an apple is red it is red, not depending on any previous experience, cultural background, color blindness, etc. Objective knowledge exists and it is such, which can be proved through empiricism or rational logical judgments by any person with any background. To summarize all said above, experience and cultural background do influence knowledge, but there is objective knowledge, which can resist to these subjectivity factors and stay just the way they are in the real space.  

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