Defining knowledge has been a long quest for philosophersfor centuries together. While a specific definition of knowledge still doesn’texist, it can be said that a specific set of information can be agreed to beknowledge if the statement is true, can be justified and the person believesthat the statement is true1.Robust is an adjective that signifies something that is complete, strong andimpenetrable2,therefore robust knowledge can be defined as a specific set of knowledge that iscompletely developed and substantial from every perspective and agreed by a majorityof the desired population. But a question that can be raised from this premise iswhether agreement is an essential feature of robust knowledge? The relationshipbetween consensus and disagreements and “robust knowledge” in specific is difficultto define. Agreements can be defined as a uniform perception of thoughts andopinions.
The antonym of this, disagreement, is also responsible for formingrobust knowledge since it improves scope for further development of thatknowledge. Equity is a concept that is often used is the field offinance. But the term can be appropriate with respect to the relationship thatis formed between agreements and disagreements. The terms equity by itself canbe defined as the concept of being impartial of fair.
3 This thought process led me to form myknowledge question: To what extent can equity be considered anecessary factor required for consensus and disagreement to form RobustKnowledge? I intend toexplore the relationship between consensus and disagreement with the use ofhistory and the natural sciences as my areas of knowledge and faith, reason andintuition as my ways of knowing. Before moving on to the relationship between the relationshipbetween consensus and disagreements, one has to have an elaborate idea as towhat robust knowledge is and the factors that affect the development of robustknowledge. Whilethere are a number of factors that might affect the development of knowledge,while looking into the root of the formation of robust knowledge in specific,intuition has been known to play a key role. This led me to form my firstclaim: Intuition can be key for thedevelopment of robust knowledge. The conscious mind is said to be responsible for most of ourthoughts. But it is also said that our unconscious mind is responsible forintuitive thoughts. Intuition can be defined as being able to understand aconcept through instinct, without involving reasoning as a whole. Intuition isonly present when there is an amplified connection or involvement in that areaof knowledge.
Intuitive thoughts can therefore be defined as thoughts that areunderstood by one, without the need of proof or reasoning. An example of thisis Kekulé’s discovery of the structure of benzene. It is believed that Kekulémade one of the most important discoveries of his time through a dream. Whilechemists of the time were trying to understand the structure of benzene, thestructure entered Kekulé’s mind through a dream where he saw a snake bite itsown tail and the snake was made of atoms. Kekulé woke up and had discovered thestructure of benzene. After further research, it was shown that Kekuée’sstructure was accurate.4 One of the most common thoughts that can arise afterconsidering the claim is how can the knowledge acquired through intuition berobust if it has no scientific proof, because without this proof it would bedifficult to evaluate the knowledge, without evaluation and perspectives, thisknowledge cannot be considered as robust knowledge. This premise led me to formmy first counterclaim, reason plays animportant role in the development of robust knowledge.
Without reasoning, it would be extremely difficult tounderstand different perspectives. If everything that was put forward wasaccepted, there would be no development in any knowledge in general. Tounderstand this, an example of Albert Einstein’s theory of the static universe5.Many scientists believed that the universe was an everlasting constant andAlbert Einstein was the representative with a significant amount of work donein the field of static universe, but scientists started to reason out how theuniverse cannot be constant and is ever-changing and expanding and thereforereason, used as a way of knowing, helped develop robust knowledge. While it is important to maintain the relationship betweencomplete consensus and disagreements, there have been instances where completeconsensus or complete disagreements have been required to Robust Knowledge. Thiscomplete consensus or disagreements was essential at the period of time. Thispremise led me to form my second claim, completeconsensus or disagreement is required at times to form Robust Knowledge.
Dating all the way backto sixth century BC, the geocentric model6of the universe was a widely recognised theory amongst scientist in theseventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The geocentric model of the universedescribes earth as a stationary sphere at the centre of the universe aroundwhich the entire universe, that is the sun the moon and the stars, revolvedaround in a day. Although this theory was later disproved due to manyinconsistencies in the model it was still a widely acclaimed model throughoutthe world in that time period. All astronomers had a mutual consensus upon thismodel and could have also been defined a robust knowledge during that era as bythe definition and our understanding of robust, the model was applied by manyscientists and it was used widely across the world ranging from northern Europetill the Mediterranean. It was due to the complete consensus amongst theastronomers that the geocentric model is valid and undeniable is what made thetheory considered and used as robust knowledge of that time.There is a subtle relationship that exists betweenagreements and disagreements, both of which help form robust knowledge. Ifthere is a complete agreement with respect to a specific area of knowledge, thescope for development is cut off at the root.
But if there is a completedisagreement with respect to a specific area of knowledge, there is a delay inarriving to a specific set of knowledge. Sometimes, this delay may cause adisturbance and the knowledge may never be completely developed. Both theseelements play an intricate role is forming robust knowledge but it can bequestioned whether there is a relationship between them which can be used totitle a specific set of knowledge as robust knowledge. It has been established that complete consensus anddisagreement cannot lead to the formation of robust knowledge. For substantialknowledge to exist, there needs to be scope for further development and a senseof consensus amongst people in that specific field.
This thought led me to formmy counterclaim: Equity needs to bepresent between consensus and disagreement to classify any knowledge as robustknowledge. One of the most popular religions practiced in India is Hinduism whichhas always been open to criticism from its origin. Hinduism is believed to bean ancient religion and one of the most common practices amongst Hindus was theSati system7.
This practice involved the voluntary or forceful sacrifice of widows, by jumpinginto the pyres of their dead husbands. This practice was widely popular aswidows were shunned in the society and following the death of their husbands,all the earthly possessions of the husband were to be inherited by the widow.Due to the lack of status of widows in the society, the possessions weredesired by the direct family of the husband and therefore this was a method to excludethe widow. While this practice consumed the life of many women, of all agegroups, including children from the age of 6-7, as child marriage was anothercommon practice in India, it was never shunned or looked down upon. The peopleof India followed this practice because of the faith they had in theirreligion. But the practice was termed illegal when the British took overGovernment control of India. The British considered this practice as suicideand murder and tried to abolish it as much as possible.
Not all Hindu practiceswere banned, only a few that consumed the lives of others and while there wererevolts, the people of India came to realise the reason behind the new law. Theknowledge acquired by the making of the law is considered to be robustknowledge as it is conceived by the citizens that is inhumane to force someoneinto suicide or murder. Based on all the claims and counterclaims mentioned above we can seethat robust knowledge cannot be developed in one clear way but there are infact multiple ways of knowing as well as areas of knowledge that help us developrobust knowledge. Robust knowledge arises from both consensus and disagreement,there is no universal pattern of consensus and disagreement but both affect theattainment and classification of robust knowledge for without consensus thereis no way for us to accept any type of knowledge and without any disagreementthere is no wat for us to prove that it as robust.1http://www.philosophynews.com/post/2011/09/22/What-is-Knowledge.aspx2https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/robust3https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/equity4http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art19119.asp5https://phys.org/news/2014-02-einstein-conversion-static-universe.html67