Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Susan Rivera
Last updated: June 23, 2019
The wording of the question has intrigued me;”We Know” made me think about the knowledge I have gained in my life, andimposed the following question on me “How did I come to know this Knowledge”.
The question then states two statements. The first one connects littleknowledge with confidence and the second one connects increasing knowledge withdoubt. The words “Knowledge” “Confidence” and “Doubt”have intrigued me more.
Knowledge can be really hard to define; however, it isrecognized as “a true, justified belief.”1It is worth mentioning that even this definition can be unreliable because youcan have a true, justified belief and still lack knowledge. Confidence iscertainty, and we are certain when we believe something is true.
So, certaintyis the level where doubt does not exist.2Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty which often leads to more questions; it isthe broad line between knowledge and Ignorance.3I always thrive for more knowledge, but I have never asked myself whether thisnew knowledge is making me more certain or more doubtful about my beliefs. So,I want to focus on whether more knowledge leads to more certainty or doubt.This essay is going to argue that the more knowledge we gain, the moreconfident we are. I will explore this claim using examples stemming from Naturalsciences and Religious Knowledge system as AOK and reasoning as a WOK.
The world we currently live in is developing,and we are receiving more knowledge than we have ever received before.Currently, human beings are leaning more toward a general method of inductionwhich is characterized by its specific paths and methodology.4This is resulting in more “contextual certainty” which is considered to be thehighest level of confidence.
Of course, we have different degrees of confidencein our knowledge because we have different amount of evidences supporting aspecific thing. Evidences can come in different forms and we evaluate them withthe knowledge that we have up to day so that we can understand how reliable theevidence is and whether the conclusion we have made can be doubted or not. So,the more knowledge we are receiving produces more evidences and betterunderstanding and evaluation of these evidences; this leads to a higher levelof confidence in our knowledge until we reach the certainty levels where doubthas no place. Natural sciences is “the study of phenomenon ofthe physical universe.
“5Science provide us with facts; It is reliable, objective, self-correcting andcan be tested. Evidences in sciences are based on logic and reasoning. So, theknowledge that science gives us is reliable. Science is able to achieve thisthrough the unique methodology of the scientific method which is based onobservation, information generalization, theory and explanation.6Take for example the atom.
In the beginning itwas believed that when you rub a piece of amber with fur, the electricityproduced is a result of the amber and not atoms. However, as science was developingmore evidences started to appear which enhanced our understanding that it isnot the amber that is producing electricity but it is smallest particles in amatter called atoms. Evidences was collected using the scientific method byJohn Delton that proved that all matter consist of atoms.7More knowledge started to appear which provided evidence that atoms containelectrons.8And then experiments were done which provided us with more knowledge and evidencesthat have lead us to the current assumption that atoms are certain and true.Atoms have been justified by evidences obtained from scientific method andinductive reasoning.
So, the more knowledge we know the moreevidences we have which enhance our understanding of it, and it help us reachcertainty. Now we are confident that the atom is something true because itcan’t be falsified by any new knowledge we will gain in the future; it is true,proven and certain fact. However, I have always thought that there mustbe something missing. How can we be certain about the knowledge we have if wedo not even know everything, and if we are certain that we know everything, whydon’t we stop seeking for knowledge? So,I realized that some people argue that science is indeed uncertain because therelationship between knowledge and reality can never be found. The moreknowledge we have means more evidences which is making us uncertain because itmeans that there is even more knowledge to be discovered.
This has led to anepistemological theory called Skepticism.9Skepticism basically refuses knowledge and says that we know nothing if we donot know everything, and of course science does not know everything soaccording to this theory scientific facts are worthless and shows a very lowlevel of confidence despite some evidences that we may have. For example, myfavorite theory in physics is the “string theory” which states thatultimate element of matter is small vibrating strings, but the problem withthis theory is that it left me doubtful because the more knowledge I acquired,the more I realized I will not be able to verify it.10The more I knew, the less I knew. Thevibrating strings are so small that you will need a HadronCollider the size of a galaxy to see it, so for practical reasons the knowledgeI have gained left me in doubt and law level of confidence.
11It is true that science can’t provide us withall the knowledge in the world, but it provides us with a level of confidenceand certainty with the current knowledge we have through the evidence providedfrom inductive reasoning. . Doubt examines all our knowledge, and isinherited in the humankind constitution. When we have little knowledge, we aregoing to be confident of the knowledge we have because we know so little thatwe can’t even doubt it. So the more knowledge we have will trigger us to thinkmore and question more; this will increase our doubt.
However, the relationshipbetween knowledge and doubt is not linear. it is a cubic relationship in whichlittle knowledge will be associated with little doubt, and as knowledgeincrease doubt will increase until a certain point when we reach the levelwhere we have gained necessary information to take a stance about a specifictopic. Then, as knowledge increases, doubt decreases and thus we become moreconfident.I have come to support the above claim based ona personal experience that I have encountered with religion. As a person whogrew up in a very religious Muslim community, I have had little access to anyknowledge related to religion other than those provided by the mosque. So therewas no place for doubt.
This is why I thought that I am confident in what Ibelieved in. However, after living in an international boarding school, I wasexposed to a plethora of information and knowledge, the more knowledge Istarted to acquire, the more I started to question my beliefs. I keptquestioning my beliefs until I was convinced by reasoning and justificationthat what I believed in is wrong. Now, the more knowledge I receive reassure methat the decision I have taken is the right decision. However, at the same time many people mightargue that the more knowledge we acquire the more melodious questions are imposedon us. So, the relation between Knowledge and doubt is linear in which whenknowledge increases, doubt increases. For example, the more knowledge that Ihave gained made me more doubtful rather than confident of my beliefs. Forexample, I have learned that the origin of man is apes which made me questionthe origin of apes.
I learned that apes evolved from amphibians which evolvedfrom a cell which evolved from polymers which was created from dust, but then Iasked myself where did dust came from? It came from the universe, but then wheredid the universe come from? A question that I could not find an answer for. Iwas not convinced with this answer and made me think that there must have beensupernatural powers that made this universe, but I was not able to prove thatthis is right. So, in this case the increasing knowledge that I have gainedlead me to more doubt. Thus, at the end I have come to a conclusionthat more knowledge will definitely lead to more doubt.
However, whether thisdoubt will lead to a certainty or not depends on the nature of the knowledgeand the questions that we are dealing with. Knowledge is a valuable thing that shapes ourunderstanding of the world, and it is vital to understand the sources of thisknowledge and how we came to know this knowledge. We as human beings always seek betterunderstanding of everything around us, and this curiosity has made us developand evolve to reach the current globalized world with immense amount ofinformation. We do not know everything in the world, but we know that, with thehelp of science and inductive reasoning, the knowledge we currently have istrue and justified beliefs. We will always discover new information because wewill always doubt, question and research, but this increasing knowledge willmake us more confidence of the knowledge we have.
No wonder, that doubt willmake us feel confused and uncertain but it will eventually make us realize thatthe knowledge we have, supported by evidences, will make us more certain thanever. 1 “Theory Of Knowledge » The TripartiteTheory Of Knowledge”. 2018. Theoryofknowledge.Info. AccessedJanuary 25 2018. http://www.theoryofknowledge.
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Com.Accessed January 25 2018. http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Certainty.html. 3 “The Importance Of Doubt, AskingQuestions And Not Knowing”. 2012.
Singularity Weblog. AccessedJanuary 25 2018. https://www.singularityweblog.com/the-importance-of-doubt-asking-questions-and-not-knowing/. 4 Craig, Robin. 2018. “Science, Doubt, AndCertainty”.
SAVVY STREET. Accessed January 25 2018. http://www.
thesavvystreet.com/science-doubt-certainty/. 5 Ways of knowing, Woolman, M. (2006).
Waysof knowing. Melton, Vic.: IBID Press. 6 Ways of knowing, Woolman, M.
(2006). Waysof knowing. Melton, Vic.
: IBID Press 7 “History Of The Atom”. 2018. Absorblearning.
Com.Accessed January 25 2018. https://www.absorblearning.com/chemistry/demo/units/LR301.html#JohnDalton.
8 “History Of The Atom”. 2018. Absorblearning.Com.
Accessed January 25 2018. https://www.absorblearning.com/chemistry/demo/units/LR301.
html#J.J.Thomson. 9 Klein, Peter.
2001.”Skepticism”. Plato.Stanford.Edu. Accessed January 252018. https://plato.stanford.
edu/entries/skepticism/. 10 “The Official String Theory WebSite”. 2018. Superstringtheory.Com.
Accessed January 26 2018. http://superstringtheory.com/. 11 Smith, Caspar. 2010. “Russell Stannard: We Can’tKnow Everything | My Bright Idea”. The Guardian.
AccessedJanuary 26 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/sep/12/russell-stannard-my-bright-idea.