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How can we recognise when we have made progress in the search for knowledge? Consider two contrasting areas of knowledge.

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"Josip Broz - Tito" High School International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Skopje, Macedonia TOK ESSAY How can we recognise when we have made progress in the search for knowledge? Consider two contrasting areas of knowledge. Candidate name: Number of words: Darja Stoeva 1250 Candidate number: D000897-013 As any decent philosopher will tell you, knowledge is a tricky thing to define. There is an entire branch called epistemology, dedicated to determining what knowledge is and what is knowable, if anything. For the purposes of this essay, let us assume that there is a body of truths that are absolutely knowable, the material world around us being the primary source and depository of truths that is available to human experience. If we take for granted that we can only know what we experience and that what is outside the scope of our experience is outside the scope of our reasoning ability, then it logically follows that seeking out new experiences leads to the increasing of our font of knowledge as a civilization. The principle that motivates humans in groups to seek knowledge is the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain and suffering. It is this principle that led people to invent, explore and expand, eventually building the most advanced colony of organisms that ever was in the history of this planet. ...read more.


The natural sciences rest on the realization that the universe rests upon certain fundamental and unchangeable laws that govern the way in which it functions. New laws can be derived from previous ones, old ones refuted or the knowledge of them improved by the discovery of new ones. Natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, all view the world as fundamentally measurable, describable, quantifiable and knowable. They operate under the assumption that all of existence is a vastly complex system with many subsystems that form the areas of interest of the separate sciences. The progress in the search for knowledge in any of these areas can be easily observed and proven. Physics, which started as a speculative branch of philosophy concerning the nature of the universe, has evolved into an incredibly precise and exact science which deftly describes the laws that govern the physical world. It has analyzed its structure from the smallest particle in particle physics, to the largest galaxy in astrophysics. It has taken upon itself the marvellous task of learning how the mechanism of God's clock functions, leading to many incredible technological discoveries, the most impressive and famous of which is the atom bomb. ...read more.


The second one is objectivist and also claims that it is an absolute value, but a value that depends on general human experience. The third approach, the relativist one, asserts that art is not an absolute value, but rather depends on, and varies with the experience of individual humans. The relativist approach doesn't allow us to appraise any objective kind of progress and therefore we will take the former two in attempting to prove that progress in art has occurred. The humble beginnings of human artistic striving can be observed in cave paintings, unsophisticated as they are, nevertheless showing a powerful motivation in Man to create and document his everyday life, believing in the symbolic power of these representations. Through the various subsequent ages, art is seen to rise and fall in quality with the degree of progress or decadence evident in the respective civilizations, even going so far as going hand in hand with scientific, cultural and territorial expansion. I believe that knowledge-seeking is one of the most fundamental qualities of mankind, regardless of the area in question and that progress here can be undoubtedly observed, and while absolute knowledge of the universe will probably never be attained, it is even more glorious a realization that we will forever have something towards which to strive. ...read more.

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