The term ‘quality’ in thisessay title refers to the level of accuracy and preciseness of the knowledgethat is produced. Inaccurate knowledge would mean that the information producedconsists of errors, which if gone unnoticed,would only provide a pathway for further inaccurate knowledge to be built uponit. In order to produce knowledge of the highest quality, information wouldhave to be acquired with minimum errors. This essay focuses on the relationshipbetween the quality of knowledge produced in an academic discipline, and theduration of its historical development. The historical development of anacademic discipline would refer to the amount of study that has been done fromwhich valid conclusions have been derived, since the existence of thatdiscipline. I also considered improvements in the strands of knowledgeframework, specifically methodology since it is directly related to theproduction of new knowledge, to be a part of the historical development of anacademic discipline.
The essay title also mentions the duration of development,which is the amount of time the historical development of a discipline hasexisted for. Methodology involves coming up with a process of producingknowledge and making observations. Language could be useful when taking in andtransferring knowledge, while intuition and faith may affect one’s hypothesis.These ways of knowing however, play relatively smaller role in methodology thanreason and sense perception. Reason ismainly used to come up with a methodology and make conclusions whilemethodologies are carried out through sense perception.
As I find senseperception and reason to be the key factors in the production of knowledge, Iwill be looking at how these two ways of knowing in particular would affect thequality of knowledge produced over time. After understanding the essay title, thequestions that arise are: how reliable are reasonand sense perception when it comes to carrying out methodologies to produceknowledge? Does this reliability change as time goes on? The two academicdisciplines used to explore the relationship of quality and duration in thisessay are physics and religious studies. The ability to reason is something thatdevelops over time. This indicates that the quality of knowledge producedimproves as reason develops.
Reason plays a vital role in areas of knowledgethat involve rules and patterns, such as the natural sciences. One such sciencebeing looked at in particular is physics. When it comes to developing andcarrying out a methodology, reason is used to come up with a procedure anddefine results. It can also be used to justify or improve an already existingtheory from new knowledge gained over time. This can be done through hypothetico-deductive reasoning, whereexperimental results are used to strengthen a hypothesis.1 This improves the accuracyof the knowledge produced. For example, the current model of the atom we have today was developed and polished over time. Theinitial theory of the atom was put forth by John Dalton.
His theory was thenimproved upon and changed as new evidence that contradicted the theory wasdiscovered by other physicists.2 This means that thepreviously existing knowledge on the atom consisted of errors. Analogical reasoning was used to identify theseerrors and test new hypothesis, thus providing a better understanding of theatom. This indicates that as historical development increases, more thoroughresearch could be conducted, and errors previously existing in the knowledge ofthe academic discipline could be identified through reason, proving that reasoncan be a reliable method of improving the quality of knowledge over time. It is also important to consider situationswhere reason may not be reliable in the production of knowledge. Inductive and deductive reasoning may sometimeslead to hasty decisions being made. For example, if a theory is proved rightfor one specific situation, it does not necessarily mean that it is applicableunder different conditions and vice versa.
3 In order to gain the wholetruth, numerous experiments would have to be conducted. In physics, there isalso a chance of expectation biases occurring. There were times when I haveconducted physics experiments, where I have disregarded readings that conflictedwith my reasoning and expectations, and only noted down readings that wentalong with my hypothesis. In the discipline ofreligious studies, reason is often used to point out errors and inconsistenciesin the knowledge of religious studies. The duration of historical developmentin this discipline is relatively long, however, the development of theknowledge itself is quite little. Information on religion is mainly passeddown, not produced, over time. Reason issomething that centers aroundjustification and analyzing evidence yeta large proportion of information in religious studies do not have muchjustification or evidence – the accuracy of information is unknown.
In thiscase, reason was not able to improve the quality of knowledge produced. Sincereason alone is not enough to determine quality, a second way of knowing thatlargely affects methodology, sense perception should be looked at. There are many discoveries in the field ofphysics where sense perception gave rise to vast advancements in knowledge. Onenotable discovery includes the infamous apple falling on Newton’s head. We canrelate this to the view of empiricism- the view that all knowledge we havetoday was originally derived from the senses.4 It serves as a base uponwhich more knowledge can be produced. As technological advancement takes placeover time, sense perception in fields of science such as physics can beenhanced. This allows for more precise and accurate findings to be found.
Additionally,sense perception allows us to interpret ancient music and drawings so thatbetter knowledge can be gained in the discipline of religious studies. As theduration of historical development increases, our sense perception can becomemore effective and result in more advanced knowledge produced. Despite sense perception acting as afoundation of knowledge, it can be quite subjective, the knowledge obtainedfrom two people conducting similar experiments may vary. Sense perception mayalso result in what is known as a human error in physics.
This has happened tome occasionally when I have conducted experiments in physics lessons, havingnoted down incorrect readings due to hastily conducting measurements. This hadled to errors in the readings I had obtained. Thus the conclusions I hadderived from the readings were ultimately inaccurate and invalid. Furthermore,sense perception can be selective, when a person focuses more on one aspect ofthe results and let the others go unnoticed, the conclusions made would not beaccurate. Sense perception is also instantaneous; it isused only for a certain period of time before the action that is beingperceived is over.
Due to this, people are likely to forget specific detailsthey have observed as time passes. Information can also be lost as knowledgeobtained from the senses is converted into written or verbal knowledge, somesensory knowledge would be unable to be explained through words. In religiousstudies, knowledge is initially observed through sense perception. It is thenpassed down through art, literature, andconversations. Throughout generations, some of the knowledge is lost, or evenvaried from the original. Because today’s generation is no longer able to see or perceive religious information that isclaimed to be true due to the information being obtained in the past, theinformation may be inaccurate.
The advancement of technology and senseperception has not done anything to provide us further justified true belief inthis discipline. Despite religious studies having a relatively long duration ofhistorical development, there is not much of an improvement in the quality ofknowledge produced. There is yet to be concrete evidence of things such assupernatural aspects provided by sense perception.
In most academic disciplines, like physics,the quality of knowledge can be improved by sense perception and reason as thehistorical development including advancements in technology, identification, and correction of errors inknowledge, increases. Even though there exist exceptions where the quality ofknowledge can be hindered overtime due to loss of knowledge and lack ofevidence in disciplines such as religious studies, I believe that more progressis made than deterioration. Eventually, the existing gaps in knowledge todaycan eventually be filled with further development. The quality of knowledgeproduced by an academic discipline may not be ‘directly’ proportional to theduration of historical development, but quality does increase as the durationof historical development increases to a major extent.
There are other aspects that I haven’t been ableto explore in the essay which include the ways of knowing that were mentionedtowards the beginning of this essay such as language intuition and faith. Thereare also cases where relatively new disciplines such as artificial intelligenceare considered to have knowledge of decent quality. In this case, the statementgiven in the title would not apply. However, some of the knowledge inartificial intelligence is based upon orderived from disciplines of physics, mathematics and computer science. There isa question as to whether or not the duration of historical development of thesethree disciplines should be considered as a part of the duration of historicaldevelopment of artificial intelligence. If it is, then the title statementwould still hold to be true. 1 “What other types of reasoning are there?”Theoryofknowledge.net.
Accessed December 15, 2017.http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/ways-of-knowing/reason/what-other-types-of-reasoning-are-there/.
2 “GCSE Bitesize: Development ofatomic theory.” BBC. Accessed December 15, 2017. http://www.
bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_ocr_gateway/periodic_table/atomstrucrev5.shtml.3 “Deduction & Induction.”Social Research Methods – Knowledge Base – Deduction & Induction. AccessedDecember 15, 2017.
https://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/dedind.php.4 Fumerton, Richard, and Anthony M.
Quinton Baron Quinton. “Empiricism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. July22, 2016. Accessed December 15, 2017.