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International Baccalaureate: TOK EssayExamination Session: May 2018″The quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline.” Explore this claim with reference to two disciplines. ?Subject: Theory of KnowledgeWord Count: 1600Before exploring the question, unpacking a few of the terms is key. Discipline in this context, refers to a branch of knowledge within an area of knowledge. The title is essentially asking to analyse the claim that there is a strong correlation between the quality of knowledge within a discipline and the amount of time it has existed. This prompts several questions including: What characteristics are attributed to “quality” in attainment of knowledge? How is “quality” significant in attainment of knowledge? How does historical development affect the quality of knowledge in academic disciplines? Is knowledge only validated with the use of evidence and data? Natural Sciences and Human Sciences are the areas of knowledge that will be covered in this essay. The discipline within the Natural Sciences that will be analyzed in this essay is biology and for the Human Sciences, psychology is the discipline that will be analyzed.
Some ways of knowing that will be used in this essay are reason and faith.In this essay quality can be defined as the standard of something measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something (Oxford). An increase in quality of knowledge means there is an increase and advancement in knowledge within the discipline. It can also be linked to technological progress, such as increased efficiency and social progress, such as economic prosperity and a higher quality of life. Quality includes characteristics like being accurate and reliable while making major advancement within the discipline. Generally in the Human Sciences quality knowledge is knowledge that has been proven to be correct with planned methodology behind it.
The “quality” of knowledge ensures that theories and scientific models are validated based on the degree of acceptance in the scientific discipline and how long the models have been experimentally tested. Knowledge claims gain credibility over a duration of time and as evidence gets collected, the explanations are shown to be more powerful compared to the alternative options after examining the evidence. For the explanations, quality is achieved when there is a reduction in doubt over a long period of time through trial and error. Essentially doubt leads to the attainment of knowledge and therefore to reduce doubt means to have more knowledge.
Psychology is a discipline in the human sciences that has developed new knowledge, technology, and methodologies over time. The development of psychology is directly proportional to its historical paradigm shifts. Around 1879, Wilhelm Wundt and his students created the first paradigm shift, who then later founded a field of psychology commonly known as structuralism. Their aim was to discover the basic elements of conscious experience. They believed that there were two categories in conscious experiences i.
e. objective sensations and subjective feelings. Objective sensations consisted of sensations such as the five senses, while subjective feelings comprised of feelings such as emotional responses and mental images (sense perception). For example, a person can use objective sensations to recognise an orange by noticing its texture, taste, color, and shape but the subjective feelings could be applied recalling how they felt after consuming the orange. However, unlike Wundt, William James, the founder of functionalism, believed that experiences cannot be broken down. Functionalism derived from structuralism, however they each had their differences. Functionalists investigated how mental processes help organisms adapt to their environments and functionalism involved behavioral observation in the laboratory, as well as introspection.
However, soon both structuralism and functionalism, were eliminated due to their inefficiency and incompetence. For Psychology to be recognized as a natural science, statistics and facts were required, and that simply could not be proven by structuralism and functionalism. J.B Watson,the founder of behaviorism, believed that while functionalism was crucial in the evolution of psychology, behaviourism was essential to classify psychology as a science. This was revolutionary for the evolution of psychology, as it had now been looked upon as a science, due to the fact the progress could now be recorded.
This quality of knowledge within psychology has evolved over time with several paradigm shifts, as each shift was built on another by the help of new technology, eventually increasing the quality of knowledge to where psychology can be called a science. When researching for a counterclaim, I was not able to find any eureka moment in Human sciences. This may be because human sciences generally use deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is a logical process, where a conclusion is based on the concordance of different situations that are assumed to be true. Deductive reasoning is used in order to interpret qualitative data into saying something specific about the society.
On the other hand, observations about human behaviour can be made independent of the scientific method. I can support my claim by a theory supported by Sigmund Freud, a renowned psychology recognized for his work on the theory of psychoanalysis. This theory emphasizes on how unconscious motives and internal conflicts determine human behavior. There are three stages in this theory, a) the ID – this is responsible for instincts and pleasure seeking; b) the superego stage, responsible for when we try to follow rules of society, and lastly c) the ego, it mediates between the two according to the demands of reality. Freud’s theory strongly believes that experiences occurred in childhood have a strong correlation with one’s current personality. The main issue with psychoanalysis theory from a scientific standpoint is that it is not testable, and perhaps therefore not admissible. Freud arrived at his conclusions based on conversations he had with his patients, rather than using any experimental methods.
His work was highly valued and is still acknowledged, but has not shown to be as effective in actual practice as more modern, science-based methods of therapy show to be more effective and can be recorded (Dvorsky). Freud’s psychodynamic theory was unsuccessful and despite there being no role of any scientific method, knowledge, even though of a low quality, was still produced. Currently the primary objective of psychology is to study behaviour, however, there isn’t any requirement that methodologies need to be used to observe behaviour, meaning anyone can observe behaviour, although one has to acknowledge that the behaviour being observed is not of high quality. Looking at both arguments, I believe that in psychology, the quality of knowledge is directly proportional to the duration of historical development.However, there are certain things that are discovered at moments and do not require any sophisticated methods and prior knowledge. Trial and error, and the passage of time is not always required when forming new knowledge. For example, in Biology, when Robert Hooke discovered cells in 1655, he was exploring different objects through the microscope he had built. An object that had caught his attention was a thin slice of cork wood, he had found thousands of tiny rectangles on the object (Grayson).
This sudden moment of realization had helped Hooke discover biological cells, the base of all organisms. There was not much time taken in discovering this key piece of knowledge that can be thought of as a paradigm shift as it was a revolutionary realization and has helped the discipline move forward. A possible explanation why there are so many eureka moments occur in natural sciences can be because inductive reasoning is used rather than deductive reasoning. The quality of knowledge here is not proportional to the amount of time taken as this theory was not based off any methodologies, it was discovered within a short period of time, and the quality of knowledge is very high.
Biology is a discipline within the natural sciences, and has been a discipline much longer than psychology, therefore implying that since the duration of this discipline is long, the quality of knowledge is higher. An example of a paradigm shift within this specific discipline, was Darwin’s theory of evolution. For hundreds of years, people had believed that species were designed and created by god, and that every animal’s form had not changed since the beginning of time, as they were designed perfectly. This is another example of inductive reasoning. Darwin went out and collected evidence for his theory that all species can change and new species can arise from previous species through the form of natural selection (Sulloway). The theory of evolution was a paradigm shift as it was a significant change in theory, and was a huge breakthrough in it’s discipline, he had come up with this theory with planned scientific evidence.
Darwin’s theory is high in quality of knowledge, and there was planned scientific methodologies used in order to come to conclusions, therefore the quality of knowledge is proportional to the duration of the historical development, this is an example of deductive reasoning. Natural sciences cannot exist without the presence of faith, everything is correct until proven wrong by using data, observation and inductive reasoning. Therefore, scientists must rely on faith for the acceptance of theories that have not been falsified. Over a long duration of time, biology has evolved as a discipline, scientists discover knowledge that is found by analyzing the best available evidence while rejecting evidence that does not help improve the discovery of knowledge to correction and improvement upon discovery and thus always moving towards “quality.” In conclusion, different disciplines have different definitions of quality and can be achieved in different ways. For most disciplines, quality of knowledge is proportional to time, however there are cases where there have been incidents, when eureka moments occur in natural sciences, while still maintaining a high quality of knowledge. This is important to know as people usually think that disciplines that have had more time and effort spent, the quality of knowledge is higher, however it is not the same in every area of knowledge as eureka moments do occur with a high quality of knowledge.
Works CitedDvorsky, George. “Why Freud Still Matters, When He Was Wrong About Almost Everything.” io9, io9.
Gizmodo.com, 7 Aug. 2013, io9.gizmodo.com/why-freud-still-matters-when-he-was-wrong-about-almost-1055800815.Grayson, Brittany. “December 2017.” Discover Magazine, 12 July 2007, discovermagazine.
com/2007/jul/the-7-most-exciting-moments-in-science/.Noe, Adrianne. “The Hooke Microscope.” Www.the-Scientist.com, 1 Nov. 2007, www.
the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/25576/title/The-Hooke-Microscope/.Sulloway, Frank J. “The Evolution of Charles Darwin.
” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 1 Dec. 2005, www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-evolution-of-charles-darwin-110234034/.”Quality | Definition of Quality in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/quality.