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Theory of Knowledge

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"Knowledge gained through direct experience is powerful but problematic." To what extent do you agree with this statement

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Theory of Knowledge

  1. 1. TOK ESSAY -Rishi Knowledge Gained through Direct Experience is Powerful but Problematic Knowledge gained by people takes different paths, such as direct experience or education. Knowledge refers to a justifiable true belief gained from education or experience. Notably, direct experience refers to knowledge gained via immediate sense perception. On the other hand, experience refers to the practical contact with a fact or observation of an event that results in a genuine knowledge claim. Powerful is something of great force, effect, or potency, while problematic knowledge refers to ideas which are open to debate or associated with doubt and makes it difficult to comprehend. Although knowledge gained first-hand is mostly undeniable and significant because it is derived by being physically present. Sometimes it generates doubt and difficulties explaining to others. This paper will explore the extent to which knowledge gained via direct experience can be problematic yet powerful using two areas of knowledge; history and natural science. Moreover, the paper will utilize memory, reasons, and sense perception to further dissect the prescribed title. Natural science investigates the natural world using scientific methods such as observation and testing hypotheses. Reason and sense perception play a fundamental role in generating knowledge for scientists. Reason refers to the application of logical deduction when making a valid conclusion. All knowledge in science must be subjected to scientific methods of inquiry to validate the claim. At the same time, I was doing my physics experiment on the science law of buoyancy that enables ships to float on water. I discovered an interesting phenomenon
  2. 2. that became part of knowledge gained from direct experience in the sciences. For instance, I found out that when an object is immersed in water, one can determine the object's weight by calculating the volume of the water displaced. Therefore, the experiment maintained a positive correlation between the object and the water volume change, which was a powerful insight. Notably, knowledge derived from science applies logical positivism to avoid falsification or any form of anomaly. My direct experience was based on controlled experiments and obeyed all the principles of simplicity to produce correct results. Notably, I had followed all the procedures according to the scientific method of inquiry. Therefore, I believed that the results derived from the experiments were correct. However, while writing my findings according to my science textbook. I was surprised to notice that my experiment was based on hasty generalization and became problematic as the results differ from volume of water displaced. Archimedes' principles state that the upward buoyancy force generated by an object dipped in the fluid, either completely or partly sunken, is equivalent to the weight of the fluid displaced by the immersed object. Although the science experiment was done under controlled conditions, I failed to consult Archimedes principle which would have guided the validity of my results. However, I discuss my findings with my teacher, who informed me that I needed to first consult Archimedes' principle for guidance in my experiment. Therefore, I realize knowledge gained through direct experience can be problematic and unreliable. Nevertheless, I established the difference between direct knowledge and knowledge derived from an experienced expert and a chemist book support. To some extent, knowledge in natural science gained from direct experience can be genuine and not problematic. Most people believed knowledge gained from the streets is reliable compared to other sources of knowledge. Sense perception and reason are the primary
  3. 3. sources of knowledge that help people generate genuine knowledge claims in natural science. For instance, the food test experiment for our biology class back in 10th grade showed that students gain powerful knowledge from direct experience, especially in science. I received all the required reagents and unknown food labeled A in a test tube to identify the type of food present. I had to employ logical deduction to investigate the presence of lipids in the unknown test tube as part of knowledge gained through direct experience. The procedure requires that I add a small amount of ethanol in a test tube containing the unknown food. This test does not require burning the reagents since ethanol is highly flammable and can cause an accident. Notably, knowledge gained from direct experience is based on value judgments and empirical evidence. There was no formation of white precipitate after shaking the mixture, meaning the unknown food did not have fats a powerful knowledge gained from direct experience. The second experiment tested the presence of proteins, also referred to as a biuret test in natural science terminology. I put a small amount of biuret solution containing copper sulphate and sodium hydroxide, a change from blue to mauve or violet colouration proves the presence of proteins. This shows the extent to which knowledge gained from direct experience is powerful. The final experiment entails testing the presence of starch which is the iodine test. I added some drops of iodine solution to the unknown substance, and the colour changed from orange to blue black, indicating starch in the unknown substance. I took these results to my biology teacher and discussed my experiment results. It turns out that my results were accurate, which helped me gained powerful knowledge from direct experience in natural science. Therefore, direct experience can be used to gain powerful knowledge that is genuine.
  4. 4. Historians record past events that significantly impacted humans, such as the World Wars, Civil War, and significant revolutions in the world. These historical events are essential for humanity because they remind them of the past struggle to make the world a better place to live. Memory plays a major role in generating historical facts; it allows the human mind to retain critical data and recreate past experiences when needed. Historians can create a story from direct experience instead of relying on secondary sources that are always full of bias and lies. For instance, the history of the American Civil War of 1860 can be derived from direct experience. A historian may seek out information about the Civil War by going to the country's southern part and conducting candid interviews. There are few people still alive who witnessed the conflict, and others took part in the fights. These people form a critical historical primary source of information that could help historians understand and record the event of the Civil War. History explores both sides of the coin to avoid hindsight bias and changing. Notably, the history of the Civil War started from growing tension between the south and northern states over the fate of slavery, westward expansion, and state's rights. History records that the north wanted an end to slavery while the south, which relied on slave labour in their large plantation, refuse to abolish slavery. These incidents occurred hundreds of years ago, and people with such information can give erroneous data due to old age, which comes with impaired memory. This is a major challenge of knowledge gained from direct experience especially when memory is involved. Therefore, deriving historical knowledge from direct experience about the Civil War can be problematic. A historian may get distorted data from a veteran who often experiences PTSD also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, resulting in impaired judgment.
  5. 5. To some extent, a historian can generate genuine historical records from direct experience. For instance, a historian may be interested in recording the secret life and traditions of the Khoisan people from South Africa. Instead of relying on secondary sources available in books, websites, and museums, one can immerse themselves in the culture to record history. Direct immersion provides powerful knowledge from direct experience as the historian can interrogate every part of Khoisan tradition. History records that the Khoisan people live in the Kalahari Desert and still practice their old traditions. The Khoisan live a simple life with hunting and gathering, providing their source of food and livelihood. They do not wear official clothes but stick to their traditional attire. However, the South African government is trying to control their lives by denying them the right to hunt. They still maintain and practice their ritual and dancing traditions. All this information can be derived from immersing oneself and experience the culture of the Khoisan people. In the process, a historian would derive a genuine knowledge claim that is certain from learning about the strength and weaknesses of their Khoisan tradition, which modern writers often ignore. Although creating historical facts is time consuming and expensive, it proves that knowledge gained through direct experience is the most powerful. The historian can be taking record of every discovery concerning the Khoisan traditional practices. This form of research is based on the historian's direct observation or experience in the new culture. Thus, there is little to no chance of recording inaccurate information. Therefore, we can argue that knowledge derived from direct experience is powerful and not problematic. Knowledge creation takes different paths such as direct experience, learning from others, and reading books. Direct experience refers to knowledge gained from practical contact with the event. For instance, my chemistry class experiment on electrochemistry showed that an
  6. 6. increased temperature directly correlates with the voltage produced. My direct experiment proved problematic for failure to explore other sources of knowledge. However, the biology experiment was perfect, proving that direct experience is powerful and not problematic sometimes. On the other hand, historians trying to generate knowledge from direct experience can be problematic. Trying to interview witnesses of the Civil War can be unreliable since most of them are old and experiencing senility. Nevertheless, a historian can derive powerful knowledge about a particular tradition by immersing themselves in the cultural practice. Direct immersion of research into the Khoisan tradition would create a genuine, reliable, and powerful knowledge.

"Knowledge gained through direct experience is powerful but problematic." To what extent do you agree with this statement

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