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3. Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts. Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

Gabrielle Willis May 2014 Word Count: 1555

Willis 1 Throughout my life, I have taken for granted the organization and factualness of knowledge, the information and skills acquired by people through personal experience and teaching. Knowledge is more than a systematic organization of facts; it is a conglomeration of truths that are only accepted as fact for the moment. Knowledge cannot absolutely be systematically organized because of the overlap between the different areas of knowledge, like math and the natural sciences, and the prevalence of the ways of knowing, such as reason and language, in the areas of knowledge. Also, knowledge will not always be fact because new evidence can easily disprove current knowledge in the natural sciences. Organization of knowledge is the first part of the quote that must be discussed. Organization is defined as the structure or arrangement of related or connected items. To what extent can knowledge be organized? Knowledge cannot absolutely be organized in a systematic manner, because the current system is not appropriate, and organizing knowledge in a precise, categorical manner can cause certain connections between the different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing to not be recognized by the knower. Currently, knowledge is organized into different areas of knowledge without clear definitions of what material falls into which subject, causing severe overlap between the different areas of knowledge. In my life, I have often used mathematics in the natural sciences, and vice versa. In chemistry class, we learned about how to calculate reaction rates for first and second order reactions. I recognized that we were using derivatives in order to find the reaction rate, and while chemical reactions are included in chemistry, a natural science, derivatives are a part of calculus, mathematics. This involvement of mathematics in chemistry made me begin to realize how often the different areas of knowledge overlap with each other. The overlap between the areas of knowledge shows how the current way of organizing knowledge does not clearly define

Willis 2 how information is divided into different subjects and how knowledge cannot be absolutely organized. The categorical manner in which knowledge is currently organized can cause certain connections between the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge to remain unrecognized by the knower. Reason pervades both mathematics and the natural sciences. In both mathematics and the natural sciences, knowledge is understood and used in a logical manner. In the natural sciences, the scientific method is used, and in mathematics, theorems and equations are used. The knower may fail to realize that theorems, equations, and the scientific method are all simply different ways of using reason, because of the division between the natural sciences and mathematics. The lack of connections being able to be recognized go completely against the definition of organization as stated earlier, thus knowledge cannot be completely organized in a systematic manner because it is difficult to avoid such overlaps between the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. Similarly, language plays a large role in both mathematics and the natural sciences, although that fact is sometimes lost because of the disparity between the different areas of knowledge as established by the current way of organizing knowledge. Language is a means of communicating ideas from one knower to another. In the natural sciences, language is used in lab reports to convey to others the findings of an experiment and the method those results were obtained. In mathematics, language is used in the same manner, to show the outcome of mathematical operations and the steps are shown to allow others to repeat the process and confirm results. Many people fail to recognize mathematics as using language because language is typically thought of as needing letters and words, when in fact, language can be expanded to include any means of communication, including numbers. Because mathematics is often not seen

Willis 3 as a language, the connection between how language is used in the natural sciences and mathematics is unrecognized. Both language and reason share the problem of not being recognized as being prevalent in many areas of knowledge and consequently, knowledge is not easily organized systematically. The loss of connections and unrecognition of overlap between ways of knowing and areas of knowledge point out a fatal flaw in the modern organization of knowledge. Knowledge cannot completely be organized, so knowledge is simply a conglomeration of truths. An accumulation of truths with no attempt to divide the knowledge into different areas would be much more effective in avoiding any problems with overlap between the different areas of knowledge. An amassing of truths would also force connection to be made between the ways of knowing and the different areas of knowledge. The other part of the quote that requires attention is the claim that knowledge is an organization of facts, focusing on the factualness of knowledge. Knowledge does not always remain fact, which brings up the question: what constitutes certainty of knowledge? Certainty of knowledge is composed of the amount of evidence there is to prove and disprove a piece of knowledge, where evidence is defined as the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or untrue. What is considered knowledge is constantly changing based on the evidence put forth for or against a piece of knowledge. Throughout elementary school, I learned the planets in our solar system through the acronym My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizza, but kids in elementary school today are being forced to use a different mnemonic device, because Pluto is no longer classified as a planet on the same level as the other planets in our solar system. Pluto was considered a planet for many years, but the International Astronomical Union determined it

Willis 4 did not meet the new requirements to be a planet and was instead demoted to being a dwarf planet (Inman.) Watching Pluto change in classification is a great example of how knowledge is not eternal fact, because evidence can come forth to disprove a truth at any time. Therefore, knowledge is not considered fact continuously. Alternatively, some people would rightly claim knowledge must be fact to fulfill K=JTB, Knowledge is Justified, True, Belief; and be knowledge. While this counterclaim is true, there are qualifiers being made. Knowledge is true and fact, until new evidence comes forth to disprove the knowledge. Until the time when a conflicting theory or disproving evidence arises, knowledge remains true and certain, and continues to fulfill K=JTB. A historical example of changing knowledge is the use of bloodletting as a common cure for most ailments, until Dr. Pierre Louis conducted an experiment in the 19th century that severely discredited phlebotomy as a cure for pneumonia (Greenstone.) From as early as 1000 BCE in Egyptian society, bloodletting was a predominant medical treatment, but the new evidence brought forth by Dr. Louis brought the efficacy of phlebotomy into serious question (Greenstone.) The invalidation of bloodletting shows how a piece of knowledge can be considered fact for a prolonged period, but new evidence can easily prove the knowledge to no longer be fact. Considering that new evidence can come up at any time to disprove a piece of knowledge, some would argue that if everything is simply thought of as transient knowledge, nothing is certain as a consequence and there would be no knowledge without any certainty. This counterclaim simply states one extreme of the implications of my argument. While I do challenge the certainty of knowledge due to the facility with which new evidence can disprove current knowledge, I do not claim that knowledge should not be taken as truth for as long as

Willis 5 there is sufficient evidence to support the knowledge. Part of the value of knowledge lies in its ability to give people certain facts on which to base their lives and opinions. For instance, the assumed factualness of knowledge permits students to believe the information in their textbooks and complete assignments and record answers that are deemed with correct or incorrect. Without that certainty, students would not be able to do these assignments because any answer to any question would be questionable and learning would be much harder. Similarly, people assume the factualness of knowledge in order to learn and complete tasks in their lives. Therefore, people must acknowledge that no knowledge is set as fact for all of time, and accept knowledge as fact until proven otherwise. Evidence for or against a piece of knowledge, which constitutes certainty of knowledge, often arises to disprove knowledge that is currently held as true. Consequently, knowledge is not fact, but temporary truth. Classifying knowledge as temporary truths would allow for evidence to be brought forth and change what true knowledge is without invalidating K=JTB or causing mass hysteria because nothing is true. Hence, knowledge is not a systematic organization of facts, it is a conglomeration of temporary truths. Knowledge cannot absolutely be systematically organized, because of the overlap between areas of knowledge and because of lost connections between the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. Knowledge can also not be considered perpetual fact because new evidence can arise to disprove current knowledge. The implications of the arguments are that the areas of knowledge are not good ways of organizing knowledge and that knowledge cannot always be taken as complete, everlasting fact, but also that people cannot question whether all knowledge is certain when going about everyday life.

Willis 6 Works Cited Greenstone, Gerry. "The History of Bloodletting." BC Medical Journal. BC Medical Journal, Jan.-Feb. 2010. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <http://www.bcmj.org/premise/historybloodletting>. Inman, Mason. "Pluto Not a Planet, Astronomers Rule." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 24 Aug. 2006. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060824-pluto-planet.html>.