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Sources of knowledge

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Sources of knowledge

  1. 1. TOPIC : SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE Knowledge is habitually defined as a belief that is true and justified. The philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief". Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experiences or education by perceiving, discovering or learning. On comparing knowledge and wisdom, knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information and wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge and experiences into insights that deepen one’s understanding of relationships and the meaning of life. Education is really a means to discover new things which we don’t know about and increase our knowledge. Hence, it is important to provide effective teaching-learning experiences by means of constructing productive curriculum. There are three important foundation of education - Ontological (related to the nature of knowledge) Epistemic (related to theory of knowledge) and Axiological (related to values). Of these three, epistemic foundation is the most fundamental one. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It deals with knowledge as a universal matter and aims to discover what is involved in the process of knowing. As such it belongs for the most part to the critical or analytical aspects of philosophy. TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE AND THEIR SOURCES Philosophers have traditionally maintained that there are two types of knowledge from two entirely different sources. 1. Experiential knowledge or a posteriori knowledge : it is the knowledge through experience ie. seeing something, hearing about something, feeling something. The Latin term a posteriori literally means knowledge that is posterior to – or after experience. The view that experience is the primary source of knowledge is called empiricism. John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume are the important empiricists. 2. Non-Experiential knowledge or a Priori knowledge : It is the knowledge which does not come from experience, but perhaps instead is supplied from reason itself, such as Submitted to Dr.Rages John Asst Professor of Educational Psychology GBCTE Submitted by Ashisha Sadanandan Roll no: 7 I B.Ed English Optional GBCTE
  2. 2. logical and mathematical truths. This is called a priori knowledge, which, from Latin, literally means knowledge that is prior to experience. The view which says that our knowledge is essentially knowledge of universal and that these are known by the mind and not experience is called rationalism. René Descartes, Benedict Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz are its main followers. Sources of Experiential (a posteriori) knowledge  Perception: Perception involves that which can be perceived through the experiences of the senses. Each of our five senses is like a door to the outside world; when we throw them open, we are flooded with an endless variety of sights, sounds, textures, smells and tastes.. By seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting We form our composite of the world around us.  Introspection: it involves directly experiencing our own mental states. Introspection is like a sixth sense that looks into the most intimate parts of our minds, which allows us to inspect how we are feeling and how our thoughts are operating. For e.g.: If I go to my doctor complaining of an aching back, she'll ask me to describe my pain. Through introspection I then might report, "Well, it’s a sharp pain that starts right here and stops right here." The doctor herself cannot directly experience what I do and must rely on my introspective description. Like perception, the problem with introspection is that it is not always reliable. When surveying my mental states, I may easily falsely describe feelings, such as mistaking a feeling of disappointment for a feeling of frustration. Other mental states seemto defy any clear descriptions at all, such as feelings of love or happiness.  Memory: Memory is like a recording device that captures events that one experience more or less in the order that they occur. This recollection itself constitutes a new experience. Again, the problem with experiential knowledge through memory is that it is not always reliable. All of the sources mentioned so far are internal sources. They are “internal” in the sense that they involve our own interpretation of experience. But there are two “external” sources, which utilize the interpretation of others. These are  Testimony : Testimony relies on others to acquire knowledge and communicate it to us. Some deny that testimony can be a source of knowledge, and insist that beliefs gained through testimony must be verified in order to be knowledge.  Authority : Whenwe accept whata respectedorfamouspersontellsus,we are gainingknowledge viaauthority.Aswe were growingup,ourparentsprovidedus withinformationthat,forthe mostpart, we didnot question,especiallywhenwe were veryyoung.Inschoolswe gainedknowledgefromteacherswhomwe viewed as authorityfigures. Acceptingthe wordof an authorityfigure maybe a reliableand
  3. 3. validmeansof gainingknowledge,butonlyif the individualistrulyanauthorityon the subject.Thus,we needtoquestion“authoritative”sourcesof knowledge and developanattitude of scepticismsothatwe do not blindlyacceptwhateveris presentedtous. Sources of Non-Experiential Knowledge  Reason : Non-Experiential knowledge is the knowledge that flows from human reason itself, unpolluted by experience. Reason is the central source in acquiring knowledge of these types. We presumably gain access to this knowledge through rational insight. Knowledge viarationalisminvolveslogical reasoning.Withthisapproach, ideasare preciselystatedandlogical rulesare appliedtoarrive ata logicallysound conclusion. Rational ideas are often presented in the form of a syllogism. For e.g. : All humans are mortal; I am a human; Therefore, I am mortal. Science as a source of knowledge : Gaining knowledge via science, involves a merging of rationalism and empiricism. Scientists collect data (make empirical observations) and test hypotheses with these data (assess themusing rationalism). Hypothesis is a prediction regarding the outcome of a study. Hypotheses are stated in such a way that they are testable. In science, the goal of testing hypotheses is to arrive at or test a theory— an organized systemof assumptions and principles that attempts to explain certain phenomena and how they are related. In addition to helping us organize and explain facts, theories help in producing new knowledge by steering researchers toward specific observations of the world Some Other sources : Apart from these sources there are some other sources of gaining knowledge, but opinions vary regarding the reliability of these sources. They are : Intuition: It means that we have knowledge of something without being consciously aware of where the knowledge came from. Often people say things like “I don’t know, it’s just a gut feeling” or “I don’t know, it just came to me, and I know it’s true.” These statements represent examples of intuition. Sometimes we intuit something based not on a “gut feeling” but on events we have observed. The problem is that these events may be misinterpreted and not representative of all events in that category. Tenacity : Gaining knowledge via tenacity involves hearing a piece of information so often that one begins to believe it is true, and then, despite evidence to the contrary, cling stubbornly to that belief. This method is often used in political campaigns, where a particular slogan is repeated so often that we begin to believe it.

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