• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Our senses tell us that a table, for example, is a solid object; science tells us that the table is mostly empty space. Thus two sources of knowledge generate conflicting results. Can we reconcile such conflicts?

Extracts from this document...


THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE ESSAY Title of the essay: Our senses tell us that a table, for example, is a solid object; science tells us that the table is mostly empty space. Thus two sources of knowledge generate conflicting results. Can we reconcile such conflicts? Submitted by Roshan Rai IB Year 2 We have different sources from which we draw knowledge, or at least, what we think we know. But a central question has to be, 'What is knowledge?' According to the Cambridge dictionary, 'knowledge is understanding of or information about a subject which has been obtained by experience or study, and which is either in a person's mind or possessed by people generally'. There are various sources through which we obtain knowledge. While some sources of knowledge are more reliable than the others, it is difficult to say if the concept of an absolute truth could ever be established. How much we rely on those sources depend primarily on how true and valid we think they are. Like many things, truth is relative. Hence, anything, which is true at a given point of time, at a given place, may be surprisingly different in another context. Every piece of knowledge is hence relative, and this relativity in context and approach manifests in what we see as different areas of knowledge. ...read more.


Some of us can certainly see further and hear more clearly than others, but none of us can see as clearly at night as an owl or hear as keenly as an elephant. Had we relied only on perception, we would never believe that concepts like ultrasound could exist. Our senses are incapable of detecting them. We can reconcile the gap between scientific techniques and natural human perception by accepting the limitations of our senses. Language is also a major component that anchors the conflicts in perception. In simpler terms, the labels used for ideas and objects (our language) immensely influence our thinking. Furthermore, changes in the meaning of words can be traced historically and as we often depend on language to provide us with knowledge, the time period that this language dates from is also an important parameter to consider. In time the meaning of the words change for many reasons and we can only be sure of the meaning of a word when we are provided with its historical context as well as its context within a sentence. Several hundred years ago, the word 'lust' meant innocent delight, while now it means something completely different. The entry for 'gay' in the New Oxford English Dictionary has thirteen definitions, the first dating as far back as Middle English. ...read more.


Contrarily, we see objects like cotton as not solid because we think it won't hurt us. In sciences, empirical evidence and experiment (or sometimes hypothesis) is the basis of knowing, while in general life, authority, memory, experience and intuition are important means of knowing. This difference in basis or context or purpose seems to generate conflicts. Nevertheless, there is basically no conflict if we see from a general perspective and recognise the reasons behind the conflict. To conclude it's like the story of nine people where each of them is asked to blind folded touch various body parts of an elephant and guess what the animal was. On being asked about which animal it was all of them answered differently. Though they touched the same elephant, just because they touched different parts of the elephant's body, they gave different answers. The same happens when the means by which we 'know' and the context in which we 'know' are different. Knowing that the purpose, motive and way we approach different areas of knowledge can differ, and accommodating the idea that language can cause conflicts in messages or knowledge, can help reconcile such conflicts. "It seems that the human mind has first to construct forms, independently, before it can find them in things. Knowledge cannot spring form experience alone, but only from the comparisons of the inventions of the intellect with the observed fact". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. What is the role of sense perception in the various areas of knowledge, for ...

    History is completely independent on sense perceptions since it is dealing with the past. Historians study sources and artefacts from ancient times and since they were not there when the sources and artefacts were first created, their perception of them may be different than the ones who created them.

  2. How important are the opinions of experts in the search for knowledge?

    In the end you would write a conclusion and evaluation, where you would include if you proved your hypothesis correct or incorrect, and what variables might have affected the experiment. And if the experiment proved to be wrong, then the scientist would most likely try again and again until the experiment is a success.

  1. Compare and contrast our approach to knowledge about the past with our approach to ...

    This is an advantage that comes with hindsight, although the disadvantage is that sometimes we fall into the trap of believing that if we were in the same position in the past, we would have made the correct decision, thus failing to understand that when living through events, they seem

  2. Free essay

    How is knowledge gained? What are the sources? To what extent might these vary ...

    Education plays a big part in knowing how and skills. An uneducated person may not be good at problem solving or writing an essay. An educated person may be capable of doing them with ease. However, because someone isn't educated they may have skills that an educated person does not.

  1. To what extent can we rely on the knowledge provided by human scientists?

    those reviews as they were criticising him, so he censured the reviews without doing an ethical job. This case tells us that the scientific method in both the natural and the human sciences is vulnerable since some parts of it just rely on trust.

  2. Our senses tell us that a table, for example, is a solid object; science ...

    Many times authors will write things and then he will have an audience that will read his work. What the audience understands might be completely different than what the author intended. He did not communicate anything with them in this case.

  1. To what extent can we rely on our sense perception to interpret knowledge through ...

    earth and afterwards beneath our feet is the reflection of the red fires of hell. This black line in the bottom may also be a symbol of the creatures that live deeper in hell or it could also be all the dark emotions that reflect the tortured souls in hell.

  2. Man Is the animal that speaks, Understanding language is thus the key to understanding ...

    Even so, we can still identify the key characteristics of language which are that it is rule-governed, intended, creative, and open ended. While it is difficult to exactly pin-point the meaning of language, it can be described as a form of communication from one person to another that coherently conveys

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work