“That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.
Nowadays, due to for example technological development, every day can bring us a new knowledge. Something that yesterday was unthinkable, today turned into reality. Does that work in the opposite way? Does knowledge from hundreds of years ago is still considered as truth? Does knowledge have a period of validity? I found it very interesting considering the fact that most people believe in everything what famous scientists say. They are learning things, which are written in books or newspapers and they consider it as truth. But how do we know that something is truth? There are various of theories which are created every day and overturned after few days or even hours. While thinking about all knowledge theories, one question is coming to our mind, how do we know that previously accepted knowledge is timeless, and when it is accountable to be inverted as new thinking emerges? On those questions I will try to answer in my essay. To accurately answer the question posed in the task, areas of knowledge to which I am going to relate my work are history and human sciences.
Technological development which was mentioned before allowed us to verify whether created theories are true or false. Theories from which we obtains our knowledge are changing constantly. Some of them could be overturned after they were assessed as unreliable. Such assessment can be done due to development which we already obtained. However, technology can also be used to improve the reliability of such knowledge. As an example of such theory I will use biological cell theory. In 1590, Hans and Zacharias Janssen invented a microscope under which in 1665 Robert Hooke firstly discovered cells, the basic units of structure and function of all living organisms. There was not many informations about this new discover. For years, scientists have expanded their knowledge about cells and they are doing it even now. Thanks to technology, now we know almost everything about cells. How they replicate, what they contain inside of them. The theory has been improved so this is still considered as reliable knowledge. Another example of improvement in sources of knowledge could be found in physics. In ancient Greece, Democritus discovered the smallest unit of matter – atom. Due to many various experiments performed till now, theory about atom has changed many times and it is still not over. Scientists are always looking for new informations, therefore they are collecting new knowledge. From this knowledge new theories are created and then, by new technologies those are considered as true or false or improved.
Another example of knowledge which was discarded after a long time is psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a method of understanding and treatment of human psychology and the theory allows to explain the different social and cultural phenomena. It was begun in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by the Viennese physician Sigmund Freud. For many years, psychoanalysis was considered as the best method of treatment of mental disorders based on assumptions psychoanalytic theory. It assumes that the primary cause of the symptoms is unconscious memory, which involves strong emotions, resulting in a traumatic situation. Goal of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic method is to restore the consciousness of those memories. Critics of psychoanalysis as a scientific theory argue that it cannot be verified experimentally, so it cannot be classified as science, but only to literature, pseudoscience or para-science. In addition, many authors believe that Freud in many places falsify his observations to confirm his theory. Karl Popper took example of psychoanalysis as a theory unfalsifiable, and therefore unscientific. Unfalsifiable of psychoanalysis can be represented by the following example. A person smokes a cigar. Psychoanalysis claims that in this way this person satisfies his oral needs. If this person confirms, it would constitute proof of the veracity of the claims of psychoanalysis. If, however, deny that the reasons for the denial of that to be found in ignorance and denial. Thus, it also confirms the truth of the claims of psychoanalysis. Except Freud, there are many other psychoanalysts. As an example I will use Alfred Adler. Alfred Adler was an Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist who found school of individual psychology.
Different case in point how knowledge can be discarded we can find in case of penicillin. It was the first antibiotic found in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. Firstly, it was considered as the best known to humanity treatment for almost all the diseases. The mechanism of action of penicillin as antibiotics by blocking the activity of bacterial enzymes. It lend a hand to a lot of people with their diseases and sufferings and it brought a great success to scientists which found it. They even got the Nobel Prize in 1945 for inventing penicillin. However, after a few years when penicillin was on the market, many people started to complain on side effects of penicillin. It turned out that a lot of them are allergic to penicillin and therefore they have huge problems with their health. Some people even had anaphylactic shock after first dose. Moreover, users of penicillin were complaining from fever, chilling, profuse sweating, cyanosis or hypotension. These facts have rejected the recognition of penicillin as the best antibiotic and therefore knowledge that penicillin is the best antibiotic was discarded. Nowadays due to technology we have much better kinds of antibiotics. Many of them are antiallergic and therefore may be used by all people suffering from different diseases.
Except science, knowledge changes also on historical ground. It mainly refer to revisionist historians. History we learn is changing all the time, as revisionist historians change things so as to fit the truths more likely than it is. As it is known, history is always incomplete. There are many facts about we do not have a clue or we don’t know why something happened. Thanks to revisionist historians, old theories are in fact changed into the new ones, which are considered as better and therefore more accurate truth of the world is created. In this case, old theories are not discarded, but evolved to adjust to the flow of time and new informations possessed. Therefore, theories created by earlier generations are accepted but changed in future to fit the truth more likely. This brings us to consensus that even though a few years ago something was considered by historians as truth, today due to technology and revisionist historians it may be considered as totally different.
As we can see, nothing stays forever on our planet. Everyday everything changes, new knowledge is discovered and new theories are created. World is constantly evolving and brings us new technology by which we can discover new informations and therefore knowledge. Psychoanalysis, discover of penicillin, cell theory, revisionist historians and discover of atom are all an examples of how can knowledge change due to the passage of time and technology development. Taking this into consideration, the statement mentioned in the subject “That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” perfectly represents the idea and speed of development of modern world. Even though today we think that something is true and different theory is unacceptable, in few years or centuries it could be discarded or evolved into the new theory.
Courtney from Study Moose
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