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Tok Essay 2014 Grade A Level 7 Student Revision
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"That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow." Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.
To what extent can knowledge progress over time and does the nature of knowledge influence its progression? For instance, across Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) like the natural sciences and the ethics knowledge may progress differently. This is partially because in each of these AOKs the definition of knowledge slightly differs. The quote by using the word "sometimes" takes into account different possibilities, yet implies that knowledge is not always discarded. To explore whether knowledge accepted today is discarded tomorrow it is important to specify what "knowledge" means in the context of specific AOKs. In the natural sciences "scientific knowledge" may be defined as information that has been found to be valid through empirical evidence and rational deduction and has not yet been disproven. The nature of knowledge may be described by its establishment: It is established through various ways of knowing (WOK). First the scientist uses sense perception to observe his natural surroundings, then using creativity and imagination he could question how a specific natural phenomenon occurs. The natural scientist then aims to find an answer to the question through inductive and deductive logical reasoning, by setting up a hypothesis and finding supporting evidence. Other natural scientists may then come to know those findings through language and replicate them to strengthen prior knowledge or research may result in opposing evidence, potentially leading to the replacement of the old theory with a new one. Thus, the nature of the natural sciences influences its progression. Knowledge in the natural sciences aims to discover permanently valid objective laws of nature. Yet, can a theory be permanently valid? For instance humankind has learned long ago how to make fire and this knowledge has remained permanently valid. However, we have used this knowledge to develop new inventions like fuel, factories, or the Bunsen burner that we use in biology class. Thus, the natural sciences aim to make valid discoveries but since research is ongoing knowledge in the natural sciences changes over time instead of being "discarded".
It is the provisional nature of scientific knowledge that sets up the basis for the way that it progresses: previous knowledge is questioned and shaped, rather than "discarded", to form new scientific knowledge. The latest findings of natural sciences are then regarded as scientific knowledge accepted today while the older findings are one step in the process of acquiring this knowledge. For example in my science class I learned about Leucippus and Democritus, 5th century BC (Timeline of the Atomic Bomb), who were the first to develop theories on atomism, forming the foundations for knowledge developed by Newton in the 17th century and following various scientists that again developed this knowledge further (History of the Atomic Bomb). In such cases, knowledge may still be accepted as being valid, yet is perceived as limited since more extensive knowledge has been built upon it. However, this is assuming that scientists knew about the previous scientists' work. It may have been unlikely such knowledge existed when we consider scientific research in a time before communication between scientists around the world was possible. Oftentimes the buildup of knowledge is possible by enhancing WOK, as with the stethoscope that enhances auditory sense perception. From the above it can be seen that in the natural sciences knowledge accepted "today" is modified rather than discarded - even if a previous scientist found knowledge that could be falsified, it may have led later scientists closer towards a valid model. In contrast, it could be claimed that a paradigm shift, where a former valid theory was totally abandoned and replaced by a different theory, shows that knowledge in the natural sciences can be discarded. An example of an old theory being replaced by another, since contrary evidence was found, can be taken from my IB biology class where we learn about Mendel's law of independent assortment that widely changed the understanding of genetics. He proposed that alleles of genes located on different chromosomes assort independently from one another, creating genetic variety. Before Mendel, people often believed that the characteristics of parents were equally blended in the offspring. However, the paradigm shift may require some time to be accepted by the general public, as this depends on factors like perspectives, culture and beliefs of people, as well as pre-existing assumptions that had
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Bahena 1Alejandra BahenaMr. FarrellTheory of Knowledge 116 November, 2016To what extent does the way of knowing utilized in Mathematics differentiate it from the NaturalSciences?Our society has subdivided knowledge into smaller categories to provide ease in understanding the world around us. Boundaries between these categories, or areas of knowledge, use specific criteria as a standard to distinguish them from each other and are, usually, said to be artificial due to the lack of clarity between them. What criteria is taken into account when placing knowledge in categories? What separates knowledge into areas of knowledge is the predominant way of knowing each area uses to obtain their information. A clear example of this is the distinction between the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. In this essay, I shall attempt to portray how sense perception is extensively used in the Natural Sciences while reason is used in Mathematics. To what extent does sense perception influence conclusions in the Natural Sciences? In the Natural Sciences, the most utilized way of knowing is sense perception because crucial steps in the scientific method including testing the hypothesis and analyzing results, require the use of our senses. Without the use of sense perception, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gather data about the natural world. For example, in my Chemistry class last year, after mixing different unknown samples we observed a change in color and the formation of a cloudy and aqueous product, the division was clear because it went from being a single-phase mixture to a double-phase mixture. If it was not for our senses, predicting which samples precipitated would have been impossible for us. Our senses were an efficient way of knowing