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In order to limit any ambiguity in the proposed topic, the word “knowledge” must first be defined. By textbook definition knowledge is “justified true belief”, but what does this definition really mean? Knowledge is understood through personal experience and reflection, and is thus composed of three main elements: truth, belief, and justification. We consider truth to be beyond reasonable doubt; if we know something to be true, we are certain of its validity.
Since we are fallible beings, we can never be completely certain that something is true, although in comparison to belief, truth is much more definitive.However, in order to make a knowledge claim, one must not only assert truth, but must also believe in the claim. This belief must be supported by adequate justification, in order to reduce the level of uncertainty associated with the claim. For these reasons, truth, belief, and justification are key elements of knowledge. It is necessary to establish these definitions prior to addressing the issue of preconceived knowledge.
Points of view are derived from previous experiences and past knowledge.
This acquired knowledge is a valuable component which contributes to the formation of our unique characteristics. From this individualization stems our personal ethics and morals which take root from our upbringing and surrounding external environment. We consider our morals and ethical beliefs before making decisions, and thus, we are acknowledging our personal points of view. Does it then make sense to neglect our opinions in the pursuit of knowledge? Should we completely disregard all previous knowledge and reasoning when embarking upon new knowledge?
The purpose of a knower’s journey is to attain a holistic understanding of the world around them, by building upon personal experiences and applying this knowledge in everyday life. A knower’s point of view is therefore a crucial asset in the pursuit of knowledge, as one must reflect upon personal beliefs in order to make decisions corresponding to previous knowledge. For example, while one may simply consider the medical advantages of cloning, if preconceived thought is not acknowledged, unethical decisions could prevail.
In such a case, a knower’s point of view, beliefs, and morals must be conceded in this quest for knowledge. Considering the possibilities of potential abuse of technology is an essential step when considering such a dilemma. A knower must rely upon previous knowledge and personal points of view before coming to a definite conclusion. It may be argued that due to evident biases formulated by these points of view, personal opinions may become detrimental to one’s pursuit of knowledge. While this may be true to some extent, preconceived knowledge cannot be completely disregarded in the journey of a knower.
The process of interpreting information, and thus attaining new knowledge, must in some way build upon previous knowledge, thus enhancing the knower’s perspective as a whole. At the same time, biases formulated by personal opinions can undoubtedly obstruct a knower’s ability to objectively regard new knowledge. For instance, a history teacher must face the challenge of presenting information to students in such a way where personal point of view does not influence the knowledge being passed on.
While this ultimately may be inhumanly possible, the teacher’s personal opinion is a potential obstacle to the student’s pursuit of knowledge. Regardless of how certain one may be that his or her point of view is correct, teaching in an unbiased manner is essential in order to give students a fair opportunity to compose their own points of view. However, if one were to argue that for this reason, a knower’s point of view is definitely an obstacle to be overcome, we must analyse this thought even further.
Primary sources, a source of information created at the time under study, are often bias information from a certain individual’s view point. As a learner and knower, it is our responsibility to utilize our own personal opinions, based on past knowledge, to determine whether or not the primary source is accurate in its claims. Therefore, our personal points of view, which emanate from our knowledge, are truly beneficial in our quest for knowledge. A true leaner has the skill to make use of what they currently know, and apply such knowledge in their journey of expanding what they know in the world around them.
For example, as a young musician, I studied music history and harmony as part of my piano examination requirements. At the time, I felt as though I was learning useless information that I would never be able to apply later on in life. It was only years later, when I began to learn how to play the saxophone, that I truly began to appreciate the countless hours I had spent studying for my history and harmony exams. My understanding of rhythmic concepts and the origin of various musical eras made learning the saxophone much easier, and all the more enjoyable.
Using my previous knowledge, from which I had generated personal opinions towards music, I found my former understanding to be definitely beneficial in my musical journey. Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience. ” As a learner, knowledge is most meaningful when attained through personal experiences. The point in which one is able to individually relate to knowledge based upon personal experience is the point in which true knowledge is achieved. Students in particular are subjected to new knowledge everyday, and thus as learners we realize the importance of firsthand experience.
For example, school field trips are among the most effective ways of exposing students to new knowledge; personal experiences and real life interactions are undoubtedly more influential than classroom textbook reading. In science classes, the purpose of investigating experiments in the laboratory is to learn scientific material through personal experience. Everyday of our lives we use our personal experiences and points of view to our advantage in our journey in the pursuit of knowledge. As human beings, we all have different points of view, which make us unique in the way we approach life.
If we did not express our personal opinions, and venture away from conventional means of thinking, we would never discover our misconceptions, or improve upon our new discoveries. Today we live in the twenty-first century, often referred to as the technological era, largely due to the achievements of those who chose to consider their personal points of view in their pursuit of knowledge. Justifying one’s belief in order to prove it as true knowledge requires furthering one’s point of view, and thus, personal opinions are assets in the quest for knowledge.
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