TOK - Does all knowledge require some kind of rational basis?

Topics: Religion, Faith, Truth Pages: 5 (1674 words) Published: October 12, 2013
The knowledge issue presented in this question promotes the examination of the relationship between knowledge and reason. The question being explored is if reason is the only basis upon which knowledge can be constructed. The term knowledge is broad, but under the perimeters of the knowledge issue, it means to have certainty on a certain topic. This knowledge refers to the creation of certainty about an ambiguous situation. It can be the product of critical thinking about any of the “ways of knowing,” or it can be certainty about personal situations. Knowledge is not truth but certainty. Certainty is a personal position and this is one of the major perimeters of the knowledge issue. Rational basis (i.e. reason) is a way of knowing in which one compiles historical information about similar situations in the past, and extrapolates to find certainty. In my exploration of this knowledge issue, I will refer to all areas of knowledge, and to the area of self awareness. I will refer to reason, and emotion to expose the elusive truth behind this question. What I will explore is the idea that knowledge doesn’t have to be formed on a rational basis, but it can be formed using belief. The most common form of believe is religion, and this represents “public” belief. It is seen less, but “personal” beliefs exists, and they show how powerful the way of knowing is.

Belief is the most powerful way of knowing, because it can cloud any logical arguments, and reason holds no weight in comparison. The problem with belief, is that most people don’t have the conviction to truly believe. A belief can and often does contradict the knowledge that others have, and it is for fear of standing out, that beliefs are killed early, in many. A belief can lead to letdown if not actualized, and the best beliefs are seen as ludicrous, because most people don’t think they possible. People learn to kill beliefs early. An example of how strong a belief can be is religion. The reason religion has survived is because it has become normal. There is nothing outstanding about being religious, so there is no social repercussions to fear. When religions are challenged, the strength of beliefs are demonstrated. Often bible stories which feature miracles, like Jesus turning water to wine, are challenged because there has been nothing in the recent past which rationally leads people to believe the stories are possible. People use reason to try to disprove the stories in the eyes of religious people. They use their knowledge of science and their knowledge of history (both are based on the observations of situations, and the extrapolation of the findings to gain certainty) to prove how, since it hans’t happened recently, and there isn’t a chemical reaction which could produce wine from water, the act is impossible, and the story is false. Despite these rational arguments the religious people’s knowledge is unfazed. This is because their belief overrides any rational thought. Their need for certainty of God or the everlasting, requires that they believe stories that aren’t imperially supported because religion doesn’t allow the two to be separated. In the case of beliefs, knowledge doesn’t have to be based on reason.

The strength of religious belief is hard to counter, but whether the belief is unconditional or based on logic is debatable. Almost every religion tells stories of prophets or godly interventions and actions, such as in the bible. Many people also have personal stories, or have heard personal stories, about a spiritual power. My father’s friend, as a child, was terminally riddled with cancer. In a dream, he was in a crashing plane and he heard the voice of what he thought was God. It said that he had to turn off a number of the lights in the cockpit before the plane crashed. He did. When he next visited his doctor, all of his cancer was gone. These stories may be due to selective attention, and the invalid attribution of...
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