The Theory Of Knowledge Essay

1671 words - 7 pages

“That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.”

We live in a strange and puzzling world. Despite the exponential growth of knowledge in the past century, we are faced by a baffling multitude of conflicting ideas. The mass of conflicting ideas causes the replacement of knowledge, as one that was previously believed to be true gets replace by new idea. This is accelerated by the rapid development of technology to allow new investigations into knowledge within the areas of human and natural sciences. Knowledge in the human sciences has been replaced for decades as new discoveries by the increased study of humans, and travel has caused the discarding of a vast array of theories. The development of technology has caused substantial growth in the production of knowledge in natural science, which has led to the disproving of a myriad of theories. I believe that old knowledge is often replaced by new discoveries. However, it does not always directly replace old knowledge and may use it as a stepping-stone.

Argument 1:

The use of inductive reasoning in the natural sciences means that, through the scientific method, a general case can be defined from a specific case. This often leads to knowledge being discarded, as the knowledge does not fully describe the general case. One example of this is shown in physics. When we were learning about models of the universe, we learnt about Newton’s model and Olber’s Paradox. I found it particularly interesting how the knowledge was being changed, and what was believed to be true was proven not to be with a simple observation of the night sky. Newton’s model was shown to be incorrect by, amateur astronomer, Heinrich Olber. Olber, through sense perception, was able to see that Newton’s model of the infinity of the universe and the infinite number of stars would lead to a paradox. By looking up at the sky at night Olber wondered why the sky is dark if the number of stars was infinite. Using his sense perception and reason, Olber was able to deduce that Newton’s model must have been wrong if the sky got dark at night.

On the contrary, as the natural sciences being largely based on the perceptions of our environment as well as reasoning, our perception can sometimes deceive us, but is also selective and can be distorted by our beliefs and prejudices. Olber’s observation of the night sky gave him the evidence that there were a finite number of stars, with only observation there is an uncertainty to the accuracy of the paradox and whether this was only true with the way Olber perceived it. Due to the possibility of assumptions in reasoning, for example, using inductive reasoning to explain the darkness of the sky everywhere, by assuming that because the sky is dark at night on Earth it must be so everywhere. However inductive reasoning is flawed as it assumes the observed to be the all the unobserved, and we are therefore making hasty generalisations on the basis of...

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