This returns us back to the title that states that we know with confidence only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases.
The argument of this essay is that it contradicts the quote, it is sure that this quote may apply to a small number of Areas of Knowledge but in the majority of Areas of Knowledge, we know with confidence when we know all of the question’s aspects and with more knowledge doubt decreases. The central knowledge debate essentially plays between two perspectives: the one that believes that more knowledge is obtained when the truth is found and the perspective that believes that the truth exposes the complexity and the consequences of the issue that is being explored. Both of this perspectives will be researched in two different AoKs: Natural Sciences and History. In both of this AoKs methods will be examined that both History and Natural Sciences use and which path researcher should go in order to reach confidence in each of these two AoKs. Therefore, the point of this essay is to find an answer to this matter: What does it mean to know with confidence in Natural Sciences and History?Natural SciencesIn Natural Sciences doubt leads to more research, which means that it also leads to new findings.
The uncertain feeling towards some existing theories leads the scientist to do research about it. The traditional picture of the scientific method, which is known as inductivism, is consisting of five main steps: Observation- scientists begin by observing and classifying the relevant data. Hypothesis- researchers then look for a pattern in the data and formulate a hypothesis.
Experiment- they make a prediction, which is being tested by an experiment. A good experiment should be controlled, measurable and repeatable. Law- if scientist’s experiment results confirm their hypothesis, then they may have discovered a scientific law (a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met).
In case the hypothesis is not confirmed by an experiment than researcher needs to reformulate their hypothesis or to make more observation or data collection. Theory- researchers may develop a theory which explains and unifies various laws in terms of some underlying principles. A good theory explains why the laws are the way they are and provides a focus for further research.
This process of extracting knowledge from the data collected allows scientists to claim that they know something with confidence.A good example for this process will be the Plate Tectonics Theory: Alfred Wegener. Wegener realized that the continents drifted around as early as 1912. He doubted the fact that the continents that we know today were in the same positions for millions of years. He made an observation by cutting the world map in pieces and matching them to form an ancient continent Pangea. Wegener than formulated a hypothesis that continents drifted from each other long time ago.
Then Wegener made an experiment: he went to Africa and South America in order to prove that on both sides of these continents were they were supposedly matching together there are living similar species of same animals. Wegener then gathered his data and formulated a statement that all the continents once were together but after millions of years they drifted away from each other and emerged on the positions which we now may observe. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists put the pieces together in a comprehensive theory of plate tectonics, which means that scientists have thrown the hardest tests on Wegener’s hypothesis.
Wegener’s hypothesis passed all the possible tests it became the Plate Tectonics Theory. This example proves the idea that more doubt leads to more knowledge and confidence. But Plate Tectonics Theory also proves that in Natural Sciences we only know something that cannot be yet disproven.
From the stated above it can now be evaluated that we can know with confidence in the Natural Science AoK only when we have tested all our assumptions with experiment and then formulated a law from the data collected. That law can then be tested by scientific community and if it can be repeated to show the data that proves a hypothesis, then it becomes a theory. In the area of Natural Science knowing little means lacking in knowledge, therefore, doubt is a key to acquire knowledge in this AoK. Though, scientist that proved his hypothesis and it became a scientific law, in the Natural Sciences sphere, cannot be one hundred percent sure that his law will be actual for all times because of paradigm shifts or development of technologies in Natural Sciences we only know something that cannot be yet disproven. Hence, knowing little does not mean knowing with confidence in Natural Sciences; with knowledge doubt decreases. It is not the same as in History, where knowing with confidence means checking numerous historical sources in order to know with confidence why and what something happened in the past.History History is defined as a study of the past but it will be more accurate to say that History is a study of the present traces of the past. In trying to reconstruct the past on the basis of the evidence, one of two problems may arise: we either have too little or too much evidence.
When we study the distant past, the problem is usually that of too little evidence. A real danger in such a situation is that we misinterpret the evidence that exists, and jump to conclusions that are not justified by it. This hasty generalizations may become an obstacle on a one’s path to confidence in History as an AoK. There are also things in History that cannot be known with confidence: diaries and historical observations made by a single person. These sources cannot be fully trusted because their authors are humans that decide not only what to write down, but also how to describe what they have seen, and how to shape the stream of events into a coherent narrative. knowing little does not mean knowing with confidence in History, consequently, with knowledge doubt decreases.
The second problem is that we need to make qualification about the nature of history. History is not a record of everything that happened in the past, but is concerned with only the significant events of the past. Once we start talking about significant events we run into a problem of to decide whether or not an event is significant.
This can lead to bias that will be translated on our own thinking that will then be biased, therefore, we will think that we know with confidence when, in fact, we know a biased flow of historical events that does not include side-events that were the foundation of a main and well-known effect. In going beyond our preliminary characterisation of history as the study of the past, we have mentioned evidence and significance. A third important feature of history is that it is concerned not simply with describing the past, but also with explaining and understanding it. History is more than just a catalogue of important dates and events; and although a historian may need to devote considerable energy to establish what happened, this is usually a prelude to trying to understand why it happened. While some events may be exaggerated or described in emotional language, others may be played down or completely ignored. Which will lead to a mis completion of a historical record from that author’s side, therefore, readers will not be able to get an overview of a historical event with all causes, perspectives, facts, evidences and sides, which are crucial for the understanding of what happened and why it happened in History.
While most of us would probably agree that the past cannot be changed, when it comes to the question of whether or not history is objective, there should be made a distinction between the past and our knowledge of the past. Elton’s argument may show that the past is objective, but it says nothing about our knowledge of the past. Such knowledge is problematic because we can know the past only by reconstructing it on the basis of evidence that exist in our time. Evidence may be ambiguous and prejudice can be common, therefore, society might have serious doubts about the claim that historical knowledge is more objective than scientific knowledge.
In order to understand History’s methodology we need to look on how historians write history. Historians commonly distinguish between primary sources and secondary sources. A primary source is one that is written by someone who was there at the time, while a secondary source is a later, second-hand account of what happened. For example, Julius Caesar The Conquest of Gaul (100-44 BCE) is a primary source because it is Caesar’s own account of the wars he fought. On contrary, Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1737-1794) is a secondary source because it is a much later reconstruction of the fate of the Roman Empire. Secondary sources are usually containing much less valuable and even biased information dragging readers away from the main points of a historical event that may be also important and necessary when it comes to understanding “why” and not “how”.The person may not believe about the fact as he did not see the event by himself. There is a saying said that, “seeing is believing”.
By seeing, then only the person would believe. But, as History is the story about the past, the person could not move the time backwards. Therefore, the person can only start searching for the information through the historical books, journals, and other related materials and historical sources to get a better understanding about the event and to understand the chain reaction of events that made this event to really happen.ConclusionDoubt regards to knowledge can be discussed in different perspectives, for example, there is Natural Science and History.
From a biologist’s point of view, for instance in the study of evolution, the more knowledge you get the more facts you acquire, therefore, you can disprove or improve previous theories by finding missing links or contradictory evidence. On the other hand, a historian can argue that with more facts on one specific case you will have only more knowledge debates with different perspectives to consider. This will, eventually, lead to a situation when researcher needs to be unbiased in his evaluation of his research on a particular historical case study. In historical context of the Georgian Five-Day War (2008) case, various historical sources are doubting even today on who started the war and why. With more facts that were revealed to public it was in a way difficult to understand who and why started the aggression because all three sides of that conflict had their own goals which they were pursuing in this conflict. This links back to the idea that with more knowledge doubt decreases because historian will know about all sides of Georgian War conflict, which later will help him to establish why the conflict began.
Doubt interacts with different Ways of Knowing in different AoK’s: in the Natural Sciences and History, it is both the reasons and logic which spark a conflicting emotion. Doubt holds the key to our better understanding of not only what surrounds us but also who we are.In conclusion, through careful study and research on these two Areas of Knowledge, this essay presents the stand that doubt, to a large extent, is an indispensable and important factor as the key to knowledge. Word count: 2251BibliographyCertainty and Doubt, By Gary Hart, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-hart/certainty-and-doubt_b_3926690.
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