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
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
Asst Professor of Educational
Roll no: 7
I B.Ed English Optional
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
validmeansof gainingknowledge,butonlyif the individualistrulyanauthorityon
the subject.Thus,we needtoquestion“authoritative”sourcesof knowledge and
developanattitude of scepticismsothatwe do not blindlyacceptwhateveris
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.
Apparemment, vous utilisez un bloqueur de publicités qui est en cours d'exécution. En ajoutant SlideShare à la liste blanche de votre bloqueur de publicités, vous soutenez notre communauté de créateurs de contenu.
Vous détestez les publicités?
Nous avons mis à jour notre politique de confidentialité.
Nous avons mis à jour notre politique de confidentialité pour nous conformer à l'évolution des réglementations mondiales en matière de confidentialité et pour vous informer de la manière dont nous utilisons vos données de façon limitée.
Vous pouvez consulter les détails ci-dessous. En cliquant sur Accepter, vous acceptez la politique de confidentialité mise à jour.