The traditional TOK diagram indicates four ways of knowing. Propose the inclusion of a fifth way of knowing selected from intuition, memory or imagination, and explore the knowledge issues it may raise in two areas of knowledge. Our whole life is a continuous process of gaining information. This information is our basic knowledge about the world. It is coming in different forms, from different sources. And it is vitally important to store this information, in order to understand your own present. That is why I think people have a memory. My personal interpretation of memory is similar to a log-book. My experience is the notes I am writing in my life journey. Like memories, many of notes will eventually vanish, other will stay forever.
But, is it possible for memory to function as a way of knowing (WOK)? Can I use my memory to gain knowledge about something? In TOK, I used to think that we cannot gain knowledge through memory, as it depended on WOKs as a source of knowledge. Memory is interpreted as storage for the gained knowledge and experience. However, is possible for WOKs themselves be depended on memory? My life, views and tastes are result of my past experience. So, it can be said that our reasoning is coming from analysis of previous experience and memory. In this essay, I will exploit reliability of memory as way of knowing and issues it may rise in areas of knowledge (AOK).
We are living in building up our memory. It changes and vanishes like paintings. My first issues about memory were consisted in area of art. I thought how I our knowledge of the past influencing view on art? In the past, Shakespeare wasn’t famous in England. Only after decades his name became known to whole England, and now, he is standing among the greatest writers of all time. Same thing with me, I remember how I read Shakespeare poem once and I didn’t know who he was. It meant I didn’t have knowledge about him, so when I read it I didn’t like it that much. I thought it was too simple. However, when I studied about his past, his works and poems in school, my opinion about him changed.
I updated my memory, thus knowledge about him and it changed my perspectives about his writing. Now when I see one of his poems, I automatically make a reason about this poem as a good piece of work before actually reading poem itself. So, can it be considered that memory is central WOK in art? What kind of connection between WOKs and memory? For example perception, e.g. seeing by itself is nothing than just lighting is interacting with eye. Use of memory helps to verify these “pictures” and classify them. Thus, our experience of the past helping us to understand the present. But, can we use memory as source of knowledge? For example, sculpture or drawing in art. Painter should have some information about an object that he wants to draw, as for making sculpture you need to memorize body forms.
From all WOKs, reason is mostly depended on memory, as we can’t make decisions without using our past memory. Here is another issue arising. How somebody can propose knowledge claims without using a memory? Can I make a logically correct reason without using previous information that already stored in my head? This is a tricky part about memory being a WOK. It is assumed that memory is depended on other WOKs and knowledge stored in memory gained by traditional WOKs, e.g. perception. However, use of these four WOKs imply help of memory, we always use our previous experience in understanding present. Memory is connecting new knowledge to information from our past experience, so items are stored in relation to each other and their meaning coming from the knowledge which they are associated with.
This is why for instance thinking about ocean, fish, danger and blood automatically pops shark into my conscious mind. Better example for that claim will be Gestalt Theory. It is based on pictures of different shapes which are forming different elements or things. Whole process is depended on point of your personal view, mainly memory that will trigger from seeing those forms. Famous example of this theory will picture of young lady and old woman. Both of images are correct, but knowledge we get from these shapes are different. It shows significance of using of memory. We see different relations to our memory, thus different pictures. Brain is not interested in storing exact copies, it interested in storing information and it distils and organizes this information for future use. We continually update information in circles. But, sometimes it creates bags in our brain.
Example for that will be testimony; there is a lot of evidence of false decisions in courts. Memory influenced by our eyewitness and WOKs is giving us incorrect information. By now, I assumed memory as a depended element of gaining knowledge. But, can role of memory be considered as independent source of knowledge, while other WOKs are depending on it? Consider this knowledge claim. Good example for that can be shown in Human science area. Specifically in performance of football player on TV program called “Tested to the limit”. This player was tested in four categories: body strength, mental ability, technique and skill.
In mental ability category, the coach was asked to give a corner kick to the player. However, as soon as the coach’s foot touched the ball, the lights went out. Player had to stroke in darkness. So, in TOK terms it meant that football player should use only his experience in order to make a reason of the ball flight and succeed. His basic sources of knowledge like perception and language were eliminated. Thus, his memory played a key factor. However, I questioned myself “How football player can use his memory to reason without any precondition for using his past experience?” Memory wasn’t his initial source of knowledge. In the beginning, perception was used e.g. he saw how ball was kicked. Reading the body language and subconscious analyze of the ball flight is a result of memory which was triggered by perception. It shows how closely WOKs are interacting with memory.
Although, it wasn’t initial knowledge, memory took role of basic source of knowledge. Reason was fully depended on memory experience, and produced as result of memory process. Football player succeeded, his subconscious ability has come from thousands of practice hours which filled his mind with so many permutations of game to tap in to. It is a same as you studying another subject, like learning a new language. You are basically building up experience, learning basic rules of grammar and vocabulary. Thus as you become more fluent in a language, you don’t think about it as much.
Same with football player, his vast experience gives him inability to intuitively read the game. I could say memory and experience his main weapons in football. To conclude my essay, it is important to evaluate position of memory in theory of knowledge. As I said before, memory is very tricky concept, it is hard to tell, are the WOKs depended on memory or reverse. In my opinion memory is not a WOK.
However it is already included in each of traditional WOKs, as it is playing role of connecting bridge between them. Memory is overlaid on top of each other. So, things you learnt make past information you remembered look little bit different. Our memory explains knowledge we gain and relates it to our experience. Role of memory is vital, but its power stored in its ability to be storage of our knowledge and experience, because these elements are base of our life.