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

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Introduction

IB Diploma Programme Examination session: May 2009 Utahloy International School of Guangzhou (IB code 001847) Theory of Knowledge Essay Title No: 8 "To understand something you need to rely on your own experience and culture. Does this mean that it is impossible to have objective knowledge?" (Number of words: 1600) Submitted by Xiang Wang (candidate no. 001847- 030) Table of Contents Introduction..............................................................................................3 Body....................................................................................................4-9 Conclusion............................................................................................10 Bibliography..........................................................................................11 Introduction Objective knowledge can be achieved even our experience and culture have been affecting us. However, it can only be achieved in certain areas of knowledge such as natural sciences and mathematics because the knowledge in these two is discovered. Other areas of knowledge are invented by us so objective knowledge can not be achieved in these areas because they are bias during the invention process. Knowledge can be defined as justified true belief, which means that if what we believe is true, and then we claim it to be knowledge. We choose our beliefs, in other words, we justify the information we get to be acceptable or unacceptable, if the information is acceptable, we believe it and claim it to be knowledge. Reliability is the key to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable justification. For example, if a person tells you babies can not walk when they are born, you will accept that because you experienced this process, and others believe the same, therefore it is reliable. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, a person's culture is also affected by experience, and I believe that there is first experience which then created culture. So is it impossible to have objective knowledge? Objective meaning impersonal and unbiased, so we have to consider things in relation to the object instead of our perspective. I believe there is a possibility that objective knowledge can be achieved because some knowledge already stands, for example the Sun rises from the North and sets in the South, such knowledge although does require observation which is experience, but this knowledge is discovered instead of invented. Therefore, I believe that knowledge discovered is objective and inventions are subjective. Knowledge is divided into 7 areas but objectivity can only be achieved in two regions: mathematics and natural sciences. Mathematics can be defined as the search for abstract patterns, which means mathematics is discovered, therefore objective knowledge can be achieved. For example every even number is the sum of two primes and it is known as the Gold Bach's conjecture. Although Mathematics can not achieve absolute certainty, they are discovered through observations and reasoning. For example the statement 1+1=2 stands by itself because it is a fact which we discovered. What if someone proves that 1+1 does not equal 2? ...read more.

Conclusion

Different cultures have different definitions for what is good and bad. For example, in western cultures eating dogs are not allowed because some of them think dogs are the closest friend to human. However, as a Chinese, I think if we are allowed to eat beef, pork, and chicken, so why are we not allowed to eat dogs? Since both cultures have different interpretations towards some aspects, therefore ethics can not be objective because it varies from culture to culture. Different cultures have different religions and direct us to do things differently. For example, both Christian and Buddhist indicated that killing is not acceptable but in Buddhist, believers are not allowed to eat meat because killing animals is forbidden, whereas in Christian meat is not banned. Since everyone is born under a certain background, we have different religions or beliefs which cause us to have different perceptions, and therefore objective knowledge can not be achieved in religion. Conclusion Overall, we do need experience and culture to know, but even though they are affecting us consciously and unconsciously, objective knowledge can still be achieved because some knowledge are statements where sta means stand so they exist even if we don't discover them. Referring back to the question "...is it impossible that objective knowledge can be achieved", and since we can never achieve complete certainty so impossible can never be achieved so there is a possibility which objective knowledge can be achieved. ...read more.

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