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As human beings, we justify knowledge in different ways to prove as valid. However, the validity of some types of knowledge can be justified in two ways: acceptance of knowledge without any evidence to support the truth and acceptance of knowledge only by evidence. Knowledge, an aspect to all things that keeps everything else together, can be obtained through perception, reason, and language, and proven through the categories of knowledge including mathematics, science, and history. Frequently, we justify knowledge through perception because of its convenience. In the given situation such as this quote, what we accept as valid and what we justify to be knowledge is based on how it affects our lives through order of importance.
If a man were to tell a person that there are 300 billion stars in the sky, that person will be more inclined to believe him. This is simply because it is knowledge that does not play an important part to human life and to know the exact number of stars in the sky is not appealing to everyday life. In addition, since the number of stars in the sky cannot be easily counted by the naked human eye nor does technology that has served humans today, which can only generate the approximate count, we will readily accept that there are 300 billion stars. The verification of this knowledge is hard to validate, and to simply accept this knowledge as truth is justified, because it is knowledge that does not have an immediate affect on the person.
On the contrary, if an outside source tells a person that a bench is wet, the person will have to touch the bench to validate the knowledge. It is a common belief to “see to believe.” For humans, it is second nature to verify truth and knowledge by means of personally proving the knowledge for themselves. People often refer knowledge through the use of the human senses, which include touch, hear, smell, see, and taste. In this case, the person would want to touch the bench to appease his curiosity.
Why does the person want to touch the paint on the bench, and not count the number of the stars in the sky to prove the validity of the knowledge? It’s simple: a person would rather have access to the object of which they are able to test. To obtain the knowledge on whether or not the bench has wet paint, a person can conveniently sit on the bench. If the person feels the wet paint or gets paint on his clothes, the person will know that there’s wet paint on the bench. The curiosity is satisfied, and the person will have the paint marks on his clothes and on his finger to prove the knowledge.
Although the knowledge of whether the bench has, or does not have wet paint may not be important to the person itself, the knowledge plays a part in the person’s life has an affect on the person’s life. The main aspect to consider about this knowledge is that it can be easily proven and any person can conveniently prove, or disprove the knowledge. A person cannot go through life without knowing if the bench has wet paint, primarily because the person had the means to prove the knowledge. Nevertheless, the knowledge has an affect on the person and thus, a confirmation needs to be addressed in order to appease the mind.
However, the knowledge pertaining to the number of stars in the sky creates problems in the ways of knowing. How can we know for sure the exact number of stars in the sky? If an outside source were to inform a person that there are 300 billion stars in the sky, that person will believe him. Furthermore, if another outside source informed that same person that there are only 299,999,999 stars in the sky, the person will also believe him. The person will accept both truths because he has no means of proving or disproving the knowledge. In fact, he could care less because the knowledge does not affect him in anyway. To disprove or prove the knowledge addressed to him is inconvenient and thus, both truths are accepted.
The same concept can be applied to the different categories of knowledge. In mathematics, for example, a teacher can tell his student that 2+2=4. The student will not have any doubt with the knowledge simply because the teacher can prove his claim by showing him with pencils. Although mathematics is merely an invented science made to appease the knowledge that occurs in nature, it has given humans a certainty. The knowledge of mathematics that is presented to many individuals at an early age is accepted as truth, because it has been able to satisfy the claims that humans have pertaining to nature. Mathematics does not convey any particular knowledge about the world but merely points out the coincidences and patterns that are observed in nature. If a person claims that 2+2=5, one can easily disprove the knowledge with the basis of the applied mathematics used in everyday life. Thus, mathematics is an accepted truth because it has posed as a convenience for humans.
Likewise, the field of sciences has given humans a sound concept of truth and knowledge. Through the scientific method, theories can be proven or disproved according to the results of the experiments. For example, Newton’s Third Law of Motion has been proven over and over again to be reliable. Therefore, no one really questions the validity of this knowledge because of its sound creditability. A person will have no problem proving the theory because every experiment proved the validity of the theory and hence, every reaction results in an opposite and equal reaction. Other theories such as Newton’s Third Law of Motion have been accepted as truth and a person can easily confirm the validity of these concepts.
Furthermore, history has given knowledge a clouded perspective to which individuals are left to decipher truth for themselves. A person cannot verify the validity of a certain event in history because he did not witness the event himself. However, by looking through primary sources of individuals who have encountered that event, a person can grasp a subjective view of the situation. The problem with history is that the individuals who have documented the accounts of a certain part of history have a very biased perception. As a historian, one must not give into the opinions of the individuals and give an objective report to the given event. It is difficult to accept the knowledge of history because of the multiple views of the events. If an outside source told a man that the Americans have treated the Filipinos with the same respect as they paid the French and the British, that man might or might not accept the knowledge. Since man is uninformed about the historical events between the US relations with the French, British, and Filipinos that has prompted the person to make the comment, he might or might not accept the truth because he has no means to back the man’s claims. The truths may or may not be prioritized, depending on how it affects the individual. Therefore, as prisoners of learning the truth about the past, the validity of knowledge in history is obscure and is up to the individual to accept the biased truths.
In conclusion, the types of knowledge present different outcomes for the process to justify the knowledge. Knowledge that is far-fetched such as the number of stars in the sky is accepted as truth because a person has no means to justify the knowledge and acknowledges the given fact as truth. In contrast, knowledge that can be easily proven such as touching the bench to see if it has wet paint and counting the number of pencils to see if 2+2=4, is justified by means of experimentation. As observed by the behaviors of humans, knowledge that affects lives directly will provoke curiosity and therefore, an approach to satisfy the curiosity is executed. The knowledge that does not have any immediate affect in humans is often ignored and is readily accepted as truth without any means of justification. By order of importance, humans categorizes knowledge with truths that will affect their lives the most as a priority to truths that are not going to be applied in their lives as ignored knowledge.