Sources of Knowledge || Comparative Social System

Sources of Knowledge:

Each of us possesses a great deal of knowledge. We know about ourselves; we know about the world around us; we know about abstract concepts and ideas. Philosophers have often wondered where this knowledge ultimately comes from.

Of course, we learn a lot of things from books, from the media, and from other people. To process information from these sources, however, we must already know many things: how to read, how to reason, who to trust. To learn these things requires yet more knowledge. What, then, is the most fundamental way of acquiring knowledge?

There are two competing traditions concerning the ultimate source of our knowledge. These are:                                                   



Empiricism: Empiricists hold that all of our knowledge is ultimately derived from our senses or our experiences. They, therefore, deny the existence of innate knowledge, i.e. knowledge that we possess from birth. Empiricism fits well with the scientific world-view that places an emphasis on experimentation and observation. It struggles, however, to account for certain types of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of pure mathematics or ethics.


Rationalism: Rationalists hold that at least some of our knowledge is derived from reason alone, and that reason plays an important role in the acquisition of all of our knowledge. There is clearly a limit to what we can learn through abstract thought, but the rationalist’s claim is that reason play a role in observation, and so that the mind is more fundamental than the senses in the process of knowledge-acquisition.

Knowledge is power. There are different sources of knowledge. The following are some of the major sources of knowledge:

Ø Perception — that which can be perceived through the experiences of the senses. The view that experience is the primary source of knowledge.

Ø Reason — Reason can be considered a source of knowledge. The reason is higher than instinct and is found only in human beings. It collects facts, generalizes, reasons out from cause to effect, from effect to cause, from premises to conclusions, from propositions to proofs.

Ø Introspection — knowledge of one’s self that can be found through internal self-evaluation.

Ø Memory: — Memory is the storage of knowledge that was learned in the past — whether it be past events or current information.

Ø Testimony — Testimony relies on others to acquire knowledge and communicate it to us. Some deny that testimony can be a source of knowledge, and insist that beliefs gained through testimony must be verified in order to be knowledge.



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