Theory of Knowledge Essay

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TOK essay 3rd draft February 1, 2009

Topic:
“In expanding the field of our knowledge we but increase the horizon of ignorance” by Henry Miller. Is this true?

As people continue thinking and working all together this world will continue changing and escalating to something else. Evolution is accompanied by new innovating ways of thinking, working, solving and writing thus expanding our field of knowledge. From the early stages until the last stages of life we are introduced to many things that are new to us and because of them we form a constantly evolving perception of this world. We are exposed to many ideas and cultures that lead us to question our previous beliefs; we have an innate need to understand and this quest for knowledge reveals that we don’t really know many things.

People as human beings have the tendency to use their critical thinking abilities and their ethical values and beliefs to seek a new way of living and understanding. A person does not always accept things and facts as they ’appear to be’ but tries to develop rational theories that explain how things ‘really are.’ He constantly tries to understand and interpret the world and himself. There are so many questions we have when we look at our world and perceive the complexities of it, especially when our life evolves around and depends on it. In our quest to understand, we have developed sciences natural and social, studies that try to analyze, explain and predict our behavior, our world and our universe; we have developed technologies through which we are constantly running and trying to simplify and control things and events in our life. We try to explain the complicated phenomena of our feelings and emotions through studies in ethics, religion, and philosophy etc, so we are able to derive some knowledge out of it and solve difficulties concerning them to make our lives easier. But life is not easy to understand. Many factors affect it and the more we try to understand and interpret culture, religion, language, logic, emotions, reason, morality and perception, the more we realize how much there is to know.

We criticize, judge and try to justify what we observe according to our existing knowledge and if there is something that we do not like we sometimes try to change it or alter its main paradigms to fit our own beliefs and values, we shift the meaning of fundamental studies using fallacious thinking so we are content and scientifically (pseudoscience) or religiously (heresies) justified. There comes a times though when we actually change because the hard core of our knowledge which is the source of thinking has significantly shifted because of the revelation of new ways, new ideas, new philosophies, and deeper understanding and this is called evolution. As a result we expand the field of our knowledge. The main problem is that not all of us are at the same level of awareness; we have differing degrees of ignorance. Feeling inadequate, we still pursue new knowledge. When we are first introduced to something in a new field for the first time we realize that an entire field existed that we knew nothing about, we are acutely conscious of our ignorance: for example, a young person who knows all about current music and thinks he knows quite a few things about music for the first time hears a beautiful piece of classical music and discovers there is an entire world of music he barely knew existed. And as the music itself is an expression of an entire reality or era, he realizes there is an entire civilization and culture of which he was ignorant. This is an example of what Socrates meant when he said « Έν οίδα οτι ουδέν οίδα» which means “the more you know the more you realize that you don’t know.” It’s like opening a door to a room you did not know existed and discovering an entire new realm that can change you mentally and psychologically. With every new experience - a...
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