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TOK Essay 3

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Introduction

"Doubt is the key to knowledge" (Persian Proverb). To what extent is this true in two areas of knowledge? To answer this question we must first find the amount of doubt being questioned. "To what extent" of the amount of "doubt" is very ambiguous as doubt cannot be measured in a scale. Do we doubt all things? Or are we merely curious? And is doubt really the way to achieve knowledge? The word "Key" is a powerful metaphor which can lead us to believe that either doubt is one of the methods of achieving knowledge, or that doubt is the way to achieve all knowledge. Does doubt only help us achieve knowledge or can it also hinder us on our path to knowledge? To make up for these uncertainties and to answer this question, we can state the question "To what extent can knowledge help us on our path to knowledge and in what ways can it hurt us?" In this method we can truly analyze how doubt can help us achieve knowledge as stated in the question, but also allows us to view the negative side effects of doubt. ...read more.

Middle

As shown in the question, doubt is required for knowledge as the Proverb states, however complete doubt will not give you knowledge, and it will hinder you on your path to knowledge. Mathematics is a subject where the least doubt can be found, however even mathematics is not perfect and it can be incorrect. For example there may or may not be a prime number tomorrow that proves Gauss's theory as incorrect, therefore we must be open to new ideas, but we must also trust some things simply because they are. A man who spends the rest of his life on this theory can never find knowledge as numbers never end. Reason can be used to portray the amount of doubt we can have. It is not reasonable to believe in all things that have not been proven, but it is also not reasonable to spend the rest of one's life disproving a theory. Therefore the extent at which doubt can help us on our way to knowledge is so long as it creates equilibrium. A subject where doubt can be expected is History. As history is a subject based on not only reason, but also language we can expect the faults of both ways to knowledge to appear when studying the subject. ...read more.

Conclusion

The way someone says "The holocaust was unreal." Can be interpreted in completely different ways in itself, it may either be seen that the individual believes the holocaust was fiction, or that the holocaust was a terrible act. Like reason, language can have doubt as well. Due to faults that can arise by both ways of knowing, doubt is necessary and we cannot fully trust something. As shown before and as an answer to the title, doubt is necessary for knowledge in history, however we still cannot trust every aspect of the subject. Questions must be asked to find truth but there are certain aspects of history that must simply be believed. Therefore, to what extent is doubt the key to knowledge? Doubt is necessary on our search to knowledge as long as we are open to new opinions that may contradict prior beliefs, we must not only be open but we must also accept certain things as they are. We need to ask question about things that are in our control, not things such as proving the Gauss theory or disproving the holocaust, and this will help us on our search to knowledge. Sources: 1) Prime Number theorem, mathworld.wolfram.com. 2) Holocaust Denial; jewishvirtuallibrary.com ...read more.

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