Perspectives On The Definition Of Knowledge

1483 words - 6 pages

“That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.

Just like a child whose perception of the world defines where he fits in changes as he gets older as a result of the numerous adversities and criticisms imposed on him, so do the norms of what is accepted as knowledge today, as new ideas and discoveries are made. To what extent is knowledge provisional? Or to what extent is knowledge subject to change/ modification? Looking at history and natural sciences, we will understand how knowledge is arrived at in the different areas of knowledge and how it evolves over time or discarded when subjected to scrutiny and cultural beliefs. To set the foundation from which one may explore the extent to which knowledge is provisional in areas of knowledge such as history and the natural sciences, we must first know the meaning and types of knowledge.
One may simply ask in a deeper sense “what is knowledge?” There have long been several controversies in regard to the definitions of knowledge however, although there may not be a completely correct definition, there are some conditions that a definition must meet in order to be accepted. The conditions are as follows: there must be a firm belief towards something in order to be considered as part of knowledge; the belief must in fact be true in the sense that it exists and has applications in our daily lives; the belief must also have a valid justification. If all the three conditions above are met, one can claim to have arrived to the point whereby something can be accepted as knowledge. Therefore in this case, the definition of knowledge that is used is Plato’s definition of knowledge that is “Justified True Belief”. It would be sensible to know more about the types of knowledge that exist in order to further understand what ‘knowledge is’. The first type of knowledge is personal knowledge which is the knowledge that we claim to have or claiming to be familiar with something such as knowing a person. The second type is procedural knowledge in which one claims to be able to do something such as kicking a football. These two types of knowledge collectively can be described as opinions based on individuality. The third type of knowledge is rather different as it is the knowledge of facts and is known as propositional knowledge.
History is the analysis and interpretations of a systematic collection of facts of the human past in order to understand the changes over time. One may ask as to how historical knowledge may be arrived at by the historian. The systematic approach behind historical knowledge is as follows: the historian first attempts to gather as many facts as he/she can about the past. From there on, the historian analyses the facts at the same time filtering out the indisputable facts upon which he/she may come up with a theory. The question is to what extent is historical knowledge subject to...

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