" For some people science is the supreme form of knowledge. Is this view reasonable or does it involve a misunderstanding of science or of knowledge?"
Theory of Knowledge Essay
QINISELA HOWARD VUNDHLA
“ For some people science is the supreme form of knowledge. Is this view reasonable or does it involve a misunderstanding of science or of knowledge?”
Different people hold different beliefs on certain scientific concepts or other areas of knowledge. These scientific beliefs are mostly affected by our certain past experiences or tremendous discoveries and other great inventions.
Of course we obtain some of the best knowledge from applied sciences but it certainly is not the supreme form of knowledge. To one person science might be the supreme form of knowledge whereas on the other hand it may slightly involve a misunderstanding of science as a whole or knowledge. First to begin with we need to clarify what is meant by the term science and knowledge. Basically science is the study of the natural world through observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanations or in simple terms the branch of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method. So there is a general link between science and knowledge. So what is knowledge? What do we mean by knowing something?
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Before we answer these questions about the nature of science and knowledge we need to ask some more questions like:
- What is knowledge?
- What are human beings capable of knowing?
- How can we justify our claims to knowledge?
- Are there limits to human knowledge and if there are, what are they?
Knowledge is the state or act of knowing or familiarity or understanding gained through experience or study. Therefore to know something means you cannot possibly be mistaken. To balance up the statement I would not really say science as supreme form of knowledge is unreasonable but people need to consider that there are other forms of knowledge, which also play a very central role in our everyday lives. Some of these include religion and art, which I will explain in details later on. Personally science is one of the great modern forms of knowledge. I believe so because of the progress science has led to and this rate of progress is also striking when compared to other areas of human endeavour. We need not to deny that there can be and has been progress in fields such as literary criticism, philosophy, history and sociology even though some of these areas are related to science.
May events in the past have made people to believe science is everything and the supreme form of knowledge? These kinds of people perhaps have limited understanding of different areas of knowledge. Some people are not aware of other forms of knowledge around them. They are too ignorant. Some of the reasons why some people would believe that science is the supreme form of knowledge are because of the tremendous scientific progress achieved in the past. These inventions include, cars, planes, televisions, telephones, computers, electrical appliances of all kinds, anti-biotic, x-rays, astronomical journeys and it has allowed us to make repeated observations about nature in controlled conditions (experimentation). We are dependent on these things in our everyday lives. Although our understanding of the world through science has advanced further in the past centuries, that should not be the reason of misunderstanding knowledge and being mislead by science. This view of science being supreme is not really a misunderstanding of science or knowledge but a rather lack of understanding and accepting different ways of knowledge. Therefore science can be some sort of knowledge based on true assumptions with support of evidence. So when we talk about the success of modern science we perhaps have in mind its ability to make reliable predictions. But in many areas the accuracy and precision of scientific predictions is truly astonishing. For a example astronomers can predict to the second when future solar eclipses will occur and chemists can describe with great precision the consequences of mixing a given combination of chemicals. All of this is pure science, no doubt.
We also need some knowledge from other areas . These may include art, history and religion. These fields do not mostly consist of scientific concepts but they have been helping us for the past centuries. History allows us to learn from the past and not repeat mistakes. It also gives us the ability to respect beliefs, understand culture and appropriately act wherever we are. We have to leave in a society full of scientific, cultural, historical and religious needs. History is the most relevant material of an individual and a society to analyse because it allows them to benefit from previous experiences.