Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Theory of knowledge
What are the methods of the historians and how do they compare with other methodologies: First of all, we have to know what is the definition of history: It is a branch of knowledge dealing with past events, political, social, economic, of a country, continent, or the world. It is an orderly description of past events. It is also a train of events connected with a person or thing. Secondly I will define what is a method. It is 1) a system, orderliness, 2) it is a way of doing something 3) doing things with 4) it is a science or study of something. The differences between the facts of the past and historical facts: We all know, or think we know, what a fact is: a reliable piece of information, something we know to be, in the common sense meaning of the word Ã¢â¬Å"trueÃ¢â¬ . We also know, or think we know, what an historical fact is. Give examples. These are facts, definite pieces of historical knowledge, close perhaps to the natural scientific knowledge the nineteenth century historians wanted to use as their model of knowledge. But these facts are only the start of history, only the foundation on which history is built. History is not the facts of the past alone but the processing of these facts into a coherent, meaningful interpretation of the past with which these facts are concerned. Ã¢â¬Å"History is the interpretation of these facts, the processing of them into a narrative with causes and effects.Ã¢â¬ These facts, these pieces of information about the past are important to historians. Historians must be certain of their accuracy, must have confidence in their integrity before they can confidently interpret them for their contemporaries. Historians collect their facts from whenever they can. Certain historical facts, mostly those obtained from archives, may be collected directly by historians themselves. Historians can visit public records offices or churches and examine historical documents directly. Epigraphy is an interesting example of such a discipline. It is the study of ancient inscriptions: letters and words and symbols, chiselled, moulded or embossed on stones. E.g.: the Rosetta stone: it is an inscribed stone found near Rosetta in northern Egypt in 1799. History is a selection: Historians make history by selecting facts and processing them and it is the processing that creates history. History has been described as an enormous jig saw with lots of bits missing. Historians try to create the missing pieces. They can only do this by selecting from all the information available to them. What evidence we have for this comes, of course, from the people in the middle Ages who wrote about their own lives and times. And the people who wrote about their own lives and times in the middle Ages in Europe were monks and priests. Imaginative understanding is an important part of an historian's skill, but imaginative understanding varies from historian to historian. They have to imaginatively understand the minds of the older people. The only way they can do this is by using their own thought processes. Historians recognize that to portray history is impossible. They cannot really be sure of the motives of the writers of the archive documents. Ã¢â¬Å"The past can only be seen through the eyes of the presentÃ¢â¬ . Historian should present their records of the past. Ranke and his fellow nineteenth century historians believed that not only was it possible to present the past Ã¢â¬Å"How it really wasÃ¢â¬ but they also believed they were doing exactly that when they wrote their history books. The historian's job was to collect together a proven body of facts and present them to the readers. Is history a unique area of knowledge? We have seen that natural sciences, mathematics and logic, and the social sciences have distinctive areas of knowledge. Can a similar claim be made for history? YES of course it can be made!!!!. One way of answering this question is to look at the work of historians. As we do this, we should ask ourselves the question Ã¢â¬ What do historians do that scientists, mathematicians and social scientists do not do?Ã¢â¬ !!!!!. Four different stages exists: 1) Recording: Some scholars collect records and preserve evidence from the past. If we stick to our definition of historians as interpreters of facts these scholars are not historians in our sense of the word. They are archivists and curators, collectors and preservers. E.G: Nothing is moved until photographs are taken, measurements made and meticulous records compiled of everything that is there and exactly where it is. That is the work of the historical researchers who record and preserve evidence from the past. Every objects is recorded and, as far as possible identified. The historical knowledge these Historians have is no different from the knowledge of natural science: it is empirical and of course objective. Give example of the titanic. 2) Assessment: These historians asses the evidence they have, compare it to other similar evidences that might be available and come to the conclusion that Holden's room are indeed a unique historical event. 3) Reconstructing the past: Having assessed the evidence and accepted its importance, historians now have to use it, to infer from it and to reconstruct the past. They use evidences. Historians also are interested in reconstructing beyond the obvious. They attempt to reconstruct the values of a wealthy youth 100 years ago. 4) Interpreting: Historians ask themselves questions. They might compare the artefacts with other atifacts for instanceÃ¢â¬ ¦ Historians' ways of knowing are distinct. They record, assess, reconstruct and interpret in a way that others scholars do not. Historians continually reinterpret the events of the past and reappraise them for each new generation. Historical sources: Primary and secondary sources: The problem with the past is that it has passed. It has gone. The idea of all time past, and present, running parallel is intriguing but until we have the technology to explore other times in reality, we have to explore the past through what the past has left us, through the multitude of artefacts surviving from times past. Historians use what they term PRIMARY SOURCES as their main access to the past. Secondary sources are also available: these are sources of information provided by other historians. Primary sources are the bedrock of history. They include every conceivable type of documents: maps, treaties, churches and temple records, imperial archive documents, letters, legal records, diaries, newspapers, catalogues and even bus tickets. They can be formal or informal, private or public, serious or frivolous. Primary sources also include artefacts. Unlike science, say, history is often criticized for serving no purpose. We are unable to learn from history, it is argued, either because precisely the same circumstances as in the past cannot arise again in future, or because if sufficiently similar circumstances did arise, we would not be able to act differently. In the natural sciences we have both statements of immediate observations, reporting for instance the outcome of an experiment, and general laws from which we can derive predictions. These two kinds of statements are justified in quite different ways: observational statements by perception. The evidence, not necessarily written, which historical research is based on are the Ã¢â¬Ësources'. Sources need not be items that go back to the time in history which is being studied, but can be texts written since then about that time: the former are called primary, and the latter secondary sources. There are two main questions that must be asked regarding primary sources. The first of these concerns their authenticity, or genuineness. Suppose that we have, for instance, a painting of a particular historical event; then the painter may have added or omitted certain details to please his customer, or to make it a better painting, he may not have been there himself and have used incomplete accounts, the painting could even be a later forgery, and so on. The other question concerns their completeness. We must bear in mind that the material available to us has already been systematically selected, in a variety of ways: we tend to know more about the upper classes of the societies we study, because it is largely their doings that were recorded, while we find many ruins in some parts of the world, little remains of the wooden structures that were more common elsewhere, and so on. On one side there are those who hold that historical explanation must be like the scientific explanation of an event: to understand an historical event, we must have a general, or Ã¢â¬Ëcovering' law, so that from this law and a description of the historical situation we can deduce that the event would happen. For even where history is capable of being objective, there are problems with the Ã¢â¬Ëevidence' it is based on, as we have seen: the sources available may not be authentic, and they will certainly be incomplete. And to the extent that history is (necessarily) subjective, i.e. a matter of the position from which it is written, historical accounts or explanations are liable to the problem of bias, i.e. partiality, tendentiousness or even prejudice. The historian cannot be objective about the period, which is his subject. In this he differs (to his intellectual advantage) from its most typical ideologists, who believed that the progress of technology, Ã¢â¬Ëpositive science' and society made it possible to view their present with the unanswerable impartiality of the natural scientist, whose methods they believed themselves (mistakenly) to understand. For much of the time that history has been written, the work of the historian was not thought to be particularly problematic Ã¢â¬â as long as he had the right intentions, he would just try to discover the truth, and Ã¢â¬ tell how it really was.Ã¢â¬ The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice. History, then, is not, as it has so often been misdescribed, a story of successive events or an account of change. Unlike the natural scientist, the historian is not concerned with events as such at all. He is only concerned with those events, which are the outward expression of thoughts. Ã¢â¬ ¦ Theory of Knowledge Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher and a mathematician who is generally recognized as one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He, like many other people was searching for proof and evidence of us- people being rational animals, whose thoughts and actions are reasonable and sensible. Reason is a way of knowing in which we build up explanations by refining independent ideas and theories in order to reach a logical conclusion or in other words we use reason to decide whether something is correct or wrong. Through observations and experiments we can prove by reason if our hypothesis was right, and by this broaden our knowledge horizons. Reason is present as much as in everyday choice making, as it is present in science, mathematics and other areas of knowledge. However reason is not always the most useful way of knowledge, for example in music and arts, as we are not robots and we also rely on our emotions and perception. So how can we gain truth by reason, when there are so many different opinions and emotions involved? Reason can help us gain knowledge, but only to a certain extent and therefore it has its strengths and weaknesses, which I am going to discuss in my essay. In science logic and reason are said to be the core element to get a valid conclusion, but there are some contradictions and exceptions to this general judgment. For example in biology, we use reason and logic to make a hypothesis, and then through several experiments or observations, we can obtain a valid and logical conclusion, which will support our hypothesis. As an example, a biology class, had to run an experiment to find out the presence of glucose and starch in two different food solutions. In two test tubes A and B, two different food solutions, which are unknown to the students, are found. The class divided into four different groups and each group had to add chemicals such as iodine for starch and benedicts solution for glucose to find out, in which test tube was each solution. If starch was present the solution had to turn from blue to black, and for glucose it had to change from blue to orange. Group 1, was successful and their one solution turned to black, proving that it has starch in it and the other turned orange demonstrating that it has glucose. Group 2 however, had a negative outcome, as both of their solutions did not change color, therefore showing that it has none of the solutions present. One of the solutions of group 3 turned green, instead of orange, therefore contradicting the hypothesis and the whole theory. By this example we see that logic and reason, has its own uncertainties and doubts. Reason can sometimes obscure our knowledge if we see something, which contradicts our initial theory. This logic is quite similar to perception, as we need to use our five senses- see, hear, touch, taste and smell to acquire a rational verdict. In music and art, I think that reason as a way of knowing has both advantages and disadvantages. We cannot express our opinion on a piece of music or a piece of art without bringing up emotion and perception. A composer cannot write music without any feelings, same as an artist cannot paint without inspiration through his senses. A piece of music however requires some basic reason. For example if a composer needs to write a concerto for a violin, he will not write a concerto for a piano, and no other instrument than a violin can replace it. This is very basic reason, but we can see that it is present in creative arts. I am an IB Art student and I know that reason has little to do with it. Making art is based mostly on emotion and on the way we feel or what we think at a certain moment. Art comes from the heart, and reason is only present when we need to know which two colors for example make purple or what do we need to do to make a canvas. Add reason Another demonstration of advantages and disadvantages of reason is present the case of superstitions. In many cultures superstitions make up a lot of beliefs that are carried throughout generations. For example it is said that it is bad luck to go forward of a black cat has passed your way. Even though I have never heard anyone claim that he or she has bad luck because of a cat passing his or her way, I would still rather prefer to avoid it, as I was brought up with this and I actually started to believe in it. Even though there is no scientific prove of this superstition and common logic experience says that this is not true, most people would still avoid it. Therefore reason can be very objective, in a way that it can differ from different cultures and dissimilar beliefs. Mathematics is the one area where reason plays a fundamental part. Reason is the basis on which mathematics is founded. Before any mathematical theorem can be taken as true, it must be backed by a reasonable mathematical proof that shows, that the answer got is correct. This type of empirical, reasonable verification shows that of all the areas of knowledge, mathematics uses reason the most. In mathematics, an answer is either wrong or right. There is no midpoint in mathematics. Without reason, all mathematical arguments would naturally fail, and so if a mathematical statement cannot be fortified with reason, the statement should be rejected. Mathematics is the only area of knowledge where every statement must be backed up by reason. Reason itself is not enough to explain such things as the origins of the universe, or right and wrong, and so reason can and should be complemented by other sources of knowledge. Reason can be used when the sense misinformed us. For example when you put a straw in water senses tell us that the straw is bent, because it looks like it, but through reason we deduce that the straw is straight. Therefore reason is more reliable than our senses and is used more effectively. For the conclusion, I should discuss whether in the end our knowledge can be obtained purely by logic and reason, or it needs the support of human emotion and perception to give us reasonable comprehension of our existence. Ã¢â¬Å"Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason,Ã¢â¬ - this is a quote by Oscar Wilde. I agree with him as I think that emotions and feelings often overtake reason, as we are more driven by our desires, fears and passion than logic and rationality. I think that pure reason cannot exist without other ways of knowledge, and has its strengths and weaknesses. Reason is valid when it is not contradicted by anyone, but can we call something rational knowledge when someone disputes it? Reason within its domain is very reliable, as for example in mathematics, you can be almost one hundred percent certain that something is true, and this is the main strength of reason. I think that in all the other areas of knowledge, reason has many weaknesses. Reason always needs input from another source and therefore can only be reliable as its source of data. In the arts, in the absence of inspiration, no great work can be done, however reason is present in the mixing of colors and proportion and so on. Science without any data has no use of reason, and is therefore unreliable. My conclusion to this essay is that reason always needs input from another source and therefore can only be reliable as its source of data. Theory of Knowledge How do we acquire our knowledge? DonÃ¢â¬â¢t we acquire our knowledge through our senses? We know something is round because we have seen it and we have touched it. A blind person can distinguish a sphere from a cube, because of the sense of touch. But can a blind person really know what the difference between green and purple are? Maybe, but it might be a hard one to explain because you cannot really explain what light and dark is if a blind person has not really seen these differences. The eyes might not be the true organ of sight but in my opinion it is one of the necessary things needed to acquire knowledge. But what is sight? What is knowledge? According to the Oxford Dictionary sight is defined as the faculty or power of seeing, and knowledge is information and skills acquired through experience or education. The definition of sight from the Oxford Dictionary did not connect it with the word knowledge for knowledge helps us to describe the object that we are seeing. For example, if we look at an object with our eyes without any knowledge of what is being perceived, the object that we are seeing will be just an unknown object to us. The object being perceived does not contain that much meaning to it for the lack of knowledge. So is knowledge really the true organ of sight? It is to some extent for we cannot fully comprehend what we see if we did not have the previous knowledge to describe what we see and without seeing I think it makes it a little bit harder to acquire enough knowledge to fully describe what is around us. Can knowledge be only achieved by seeing? How do blind people acquire their knowledge without their eyes? I think they gain knowledge by experience, touching and hearing. They learn things differently than people who can see because they probably create their own images of what we see. It is through knowledge of what they have experienced that they Ã¢â¬Å"seeÃ¢â¬ what is put infront of them. For us who can see and have been seeing in our life time gain knowledge from what we see and what we have experienced. All these contribute to us gaining knowledge of the world. Perception, defined as the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind. This plays a vital role in some subjects rather than others because some just require more understanding than the rest. It is important to understand what you learn before practicing. In short, our senses do give us to a certain extent knowledge and this works together with the sense of perception. Theory of Knowledge How do we acquire our knowledge? DonÃ¢â¬â¢t we acquire our knowledge through our senses? We know something is round because we have seen it and we have touched it. A blind person can distinguish a sphere from a cube, because of the sense of touch. But can a blind person really know what the difference between green and purple are? Maybe, but it might be a hard one to explain because you cannot really explain what light and dark is if a blind person has not really seen these differences. The eyes might not be the true organ of sight but in my opinion it is one of the necessary things needed to acquire knowledge. But what is sight? What is knowledge? According to the Oxford Dictionary sight is defined as the faculty or power of seeing, and knowledge is information and skills acquired through experience or education. The definition of sight from the Oxford Dictionary did not connect it with the word knowledge for knowledge helps us to describe the object that we are seeing. For example, if we look at an object with our eyes without any knowledge of what is being perceived, the object that we are seeing will be just an unknown object to us. The object being perceived does not contain that much meaning to it for the lack of knowledge. So is knowledge really the true organ of sight? It is to some extent for we cannot fully comprehend what we see if we did not have the previous knowledge to describe what we see and without seeing I think it makes it a little bit harder to acquire enough knowledge to fully describe what is around us. Can knowledge be only achieved by seeing? How do blind people acquire their knowledge without their eyes? I think they gain knowledge by experience, touching and hearing. They learn things differently than people who can see because they probably create their own images of what we see. It is through knowledge of what they have experienced that they Ã¢â¬Å"seeÃ¢â¬ what is put infront of them. For us who can see and have been seeing in our life time gain knowledge from what we see and what we have experienced. All these contribute to us gaining knowledge of the world. Perception, defined as the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind. This plays a vital role in some subjects rather than others because some just require more understanding than the rest. It is important to understand what you learn before practicing. In short, our senses do give us to a certain extent knowledge and this works together with the sense of perception.