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Is it possible to justify the different ways of knowing?

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Introduction

´╗┐TOK Essay 1/2011 Question: Is it possible to justify a hierarchy of different ways of knowing and, if so, on what basis? Name: Valerie Ng Suying TOK group: P1b (Mr Eric Lau) Index Number: 21 For many generations, humans have learnt to attain knowledge through many different ways including reason, sense perception and emotion. Reason is the way in which truth can be ascertained by thinking and the process of reflection alone (SOTA TOK Lecture 1). Sense perception is the awareness or apprehension of things by sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and emotion, is any of the natural instinctive affections of the mind which come and go according to one?s personality, experiences and bodily state: a mental feeling (New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). These ways of knowing have their own advantages and shortcomings and often lead to different new knowledge for a given environment or data set being considered or examined. Over time, humans have come to realize that the acquisition of knowledge can be made more efficient and effective if these ways of knowing are applied in a more structured manner. ...read more.

Middle

On the contrary, the one who is color-blind may see that the color has changed to say, purple instead of blue. Therefore, knowledge derived from sense perception is often not as precise. In spite of reason giving us a plausible and logical conclusion, there is a problem of induction where it is based on assumptions and sometimes prone to fallacies like hasty generalization. For example, in the area of mathematics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), Premise 1: 0 has the property F. Premise 2: For every number n, if n has the property F then n+1 has the property F. Conclusion: Every number has the property F. The conclusion in the above example may not necessarily be true, but it nevertheless illustrates that the inductive reasoning process requires the examination of observations, ideas, outcomes and events, in order to find common themes to reach a unified conclusion (mindtools.com). In contrast, data is derived solely from the senses in sense perception, at times introducing bias in the process. Further, despite the shortcoming of induction, a reliable and accurate conclusion can still be achieved, given that one can easily state the exception to the universal statement or conclusion. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hence, emotion can easily mislead and impede a person from deriving at reliable and accurate knowledge. For example, valid scientific data cannot be obtained entirely through feelings or instincts. The same can be said about mathematics where emotions cannot be used to solve an equation or to prove a theorem (weblamp.princeton.edu). Conversely, sense perception, to a certain extent, could bring about a more reliable and accurate knowledge compared to emotion. Perception in some ways can be reliable if majority arrived at the same information using their senses, though this may not always be the case. In summary, though these ways of knowing work interdependently for one to obtain knowledge, they differ in their ability to provide consistent and precise knowledge. Emotion is heavily influenced by one?s belief, culture and religion, which may render it unreliable and inaccurate. Our senses have limitations, thus restricting us in attaining Knowledge as well. Reason however, provides a logical process that enables us to assimilate the information that is gathered through emotion and perception, thereby allowing us to decide whether the information is reliable and accurate. Hence, it can be concluded that it is indeed possible to justify a hierarchy of the different ways of knowing according to the criteria presented above. ...read more.

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