Free AIOU Solved Assignment Code 8609 Spring 2023
Download Aiou solved assignment 2023 free autumn/spring, aiou updates solved assignments. Get free AIOU All Level Assignment from aiousolvedassignment.
Course: Philosophy of Education (8609)
Semester: Spring, 2023
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
- 1 What is meant by philosophy? Explain its definitions provided by the different philosophers.
Philosophy of education is a general philosophical study and explanation of every aspect of education. The phrase ‘Philosophy of Education’ is not only a part of philosophy, but also a part of education. It is a branch of axiology as it studies about educational value. Again it is accepted as a branch of education as it is the study of the purpose, process, nature and ideals of education. William K Frankena, the analytic philosopher of education considers it a part of axiology because the philosophy of education questions the aims, methods and all the elements of education related to the moral and social conditions. It is a part of education also when it consists of normative and analytical aspects of education. The problems of philosophy of education are not limited; it does not take a partial view of education. Instead, it comprehends every aspect of educational process. It interprets various areas such as curriculum, context, method, learning, teaching, motivation and others. When the philosophy of education is considered as a part of education, it discusses only an aspect of education, such as educational psychology, environmental education, educational statistics, etc., which are related to different areas and share a very limited ground of education. As a branch of education, philosophy of education is more experimental and practical. But as a part of philosophy, it is a major subject matter of philosophy. It helps in the understanding of not only an aspect of education but of education as a whole. It is concerned with the aims of education and the basic philosophical problems arising in the fields of education. It is a synthesis of educational facts with educational values. The phrase ‘Philosophy of Education’ has been used to replace the phrase ‘Educational Philosophy’. ‘Educational Philosophy’ stands for comprehensive theories of education. It also refers to the general theories which try to deal with education, like metaphysicians deal with reality. But these historical general theories with great merits also had considerable shortcomings. They were often grounded on assumptions not generally acceptable and often adopted without argument. They were seldom based on systematic research. ‘Philosophy of Education’ on the other hand does not elaborate general theories. It is based on analysis and criticism. It deals with every educational problem engaged in everyday educational affairs. In its present analytical mode philosophy of education owes its origin to the analytical work of the British philosophers. The e philosophical method is in essence analytical, clear and critical. It is concerned with such tasks as elucidation of concepts, logical appraisal of different kinds of statements and arguments, validation of theories and justification of grounds of belief and knowledge. Philosophy of education is such an activity performed on education, its concepts, theories, beliefs and arguments. Dr. K.M. Chatty in his paper “Philosophy of Education in the Changing World Order wrote, in the philosophy of education, both philosophers and educators who come together should have a common concern and commitment about the nature of education that is required to uphold the dignity of human beings. They should keep in their mind the different values that go into safeguarding the whole humanity. It is with this broader perspective that both philosophers and educators join together to build a philosophy of education.” Therefore the chief activity of the philosophy of education is to bring out its nature of education and the values which safeguard the whole humanity. D J O’Connor defines the philosophy of education as “those problems of philosophy that are of direct relevance to educational theory.’6 He points out that every educational theory contains moral judgments and that some educational theories rest upon religious claims. This leads him to inquire 1) in what ways, If any, an educational theory is similar to a scientific theory, 2) how ethical judgments can be justified, and 3) whether religious claims are meaningful.
The philosophy of education as an independent study has its own scope and function. The scope of the philosophy of education includes the critical evaluation of aims, ideas and education, analysis of human nature, educational values, the theory of knowledge and the relationship of education and social progress. It seems to perform three functions: 1) speculative, 2) normative, and 3) critical. The speculative function of philosophy of education consists in pursuing and enquiry, forming theory about education, its causes and nature. While doing so it tries to make a survey of the whole field. Normative functions are related to the formation of goals, rigorously the terms and propositions involved in educational thought and practice. Now the question arises, what are the problems ‘philosophy of education’ deals with? In his Preface to Indian Philosophy of Education R.S. Pandey mentioned some problems, which are analyzed by the ‘philosophy of education. Though these questions are regarded as the primary questions for the philosophical analysis of education, however, for every philosopher of education the aim is not the same. They are contradictory in their views regarding acquisition of knowledge, character development, individual development and social development. The philosophers who support knowledge as the aim of education recognize knowledge as power, virtue and happiness. For others either the materialistic development or the social adjustment is the only aim of the philosophy of education. Few of them emphasize on the metaphysical up liftment as the aim of education. But if we show interest only in one side of the development as the aim of philosophy of education, it will be the same as the old story of the six blind men and the elephant. As such, both prescribed certain patterns of education for the gymnastics of the body and music for the soul. Therefore it should be remembered that in determining the aims of education no thinker is exclusively an idealist or a pragmatist. Corresponding to different aspects of life, different philosophies and ideologies are provided and all these ideologies are complimentary rather than contradictory. To emphasize one at the cost of the other “is to see the part and identify with the whole.
AIOU Solved Assignment Code 8609 Spring 2023
2 Define the term ‘Idealism’. Which aims does idealism achieves through education?
Idealism as a school of philosophy believes in mind and idolizes it. This philosophy seeks to explain and interpret man and universe in terms of spirit or mind.
It gives its priority to spirit, which is real and as such the entire universe is the extension of the mind or spirit. Idealism shifts its emphasis from the scientific facts of life to the spiritual aspects of human experiences and activities.
It asserts that material world is not the manifestation of reality. It, therefore, attaches supreme importance to the study of man and his mind. Besides, this school of philosophy places emphasis on the ideas and ideals than the full fact of matter which guides the actions of men in the every aspect.
Chief exponents of this school of philosophy are Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Schophenhawer, Spinoza, Gentile, Froebal, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and R.N. Tagore.
I. Metaphysics or Axiom of Reality:
Idealism believes in mind which is the reality. It goes against the material aspect of human activities, or material aspect is an anti-thesis to the ideal or spiritual, which is destructible in nature. Reality does not lie in it. The ideas or ideals, on the contrary, are external and unchangeable which give form to cosmos. As such, mind is attached a supreme significance by the idealists than the matter.
They illustrate it as “if Newton and Einstein gave us Physics and Shakespeare the best dramas, they were not results of reactions to a physical stimulus but they were the characteristic creations of mind”. The idealists have ideolised the mind beyond everything and advocated the evolution of mind which enables a man to know the truth, goodness and beauty-three cardinal and eternal values of life.
Knowledge through activity of mind, rather than through the senses, is the first article of faith in idealism. For idealists, all knowledge is independent of sense experience, the act of knowing takes place within the chamber of mind.
Idealists believe in the universal mind which is above the human mind and is the source of all human values and goal of all human activities is the realization of this universal mind. Man is conceived as a microcosm within macrocosm. Therefore, spiritual mind is a part of the universal mind.
According to idealists, the real knowledge is the knowledge of self or spirit. Self-realization IS the aim of all activities. Idealism believes in the spiritual nature of man, by virtue of which, man is essentially distinguished from other lower creatures of the universe. But man’s spiritual nature is not something that has been extraneously added to him. It is the very essence of his bring.
This spiritual nature finds its expression in art, culture, morality and religion. Thus in an ultimate analysis, mind or spirit is the essential aspect of this philosophy. Knowledge gleaned through activity of mind is more important than the knowledge received through five sense organs of men.
The ‘Mind’ is active and as such the gateway of knowledge. The highest knowledge is t knowledge of spiritual reality i.e. Brahma Gyan or knowledge of self.
Idealism attaches importance to the higher values of life which are eternal and perennial stand absolute, universal and indestructible Men cannot create these values and they have to over and realize them in their day-to-day lives.
These values are summum bonum of life which represents Satyam (truth), Shivam (goodness), and Sundram (beauty). These values are purely spiritual in nature in their entirety. Truth represents intellectual side.
Goodness moral side and acuity, the aesthetic side of these eternal values which are identical to each other. Beauty is Truth is Beauty; all are embedded which we need to know, for these higher values were true yesterday, are true today and will be true tomorrow. These values are absolute & infallible in nature which sublimes the life in a glorified and magnificent manner.
Idealism: Aim # 1.
The aim is to enable each child to realize soul, recognize his real form and proceed towards self knowledge. Self realization means full knowledge of the self or the soul. Man has a soul. Beyond soul there is supreme soul. Human soul is a part of this soul. Man achieves perfection when he realizes self. So that idealist philosophers have advocated that liberation or nirvana or mukti is the ultimate aim of life.
Idealism: Aim # 2.
Man converts his original nature to spiritual nature where man can realize spiritual values like truth, beauty and goodness in life. One has to enjoy intellectual, aesthetic and moral values through spiritual development of mind.
Idealism: Aim # 3.
Cultivation of Moral Values:
Moral values enable one to achieve perfection in life. One has to express his moral values through all activities in life. Intellectual values solve all human problems what he faces in life time. So that idealism cultivates moral values in order to make life perfect, noble one.
Idealism: Aim # 4.
Conservation, Promotion and Transmission of Culture:
According to idealism aim of education should be related to preserve, promote and transmit culture from time to time, person to person and place to place. Moral, intellectual and aesthetic activities of man help in preserving, promoting and transmitting culture from generation to generation.
Cultural heritage of mankind should be preserved. In addition to this spiritual and moral values not only contribute the human society by promoting culture but also transmit the same to the oncoming generation.
Idealism: Aim # 5.
Development of Physical Health:
Idealist philosophers advocate that education should be religious, moral, intellectual, aesthetic and physical. Emphasis should be given on physical health i.e. sound health through spiritual values. Education should aim at developing child into a complete man with full mental, intellectual, moral and cultural uplift. So sound health provides sound mind where creative values are produced for the well being of human society.
Free AIOU Solved Assignment 1 Code 8609 Spring 2023
3 Compare the curriculum based on idealism with that of pragmatism.
Idealism is a philosophical approach that has as its central tenet that ideas are the only true reality, the only thing worth knowing. In a search for truth, beauty, and justice that is enduring and everlasting; the focus is on conscious reasoning in the mind. Plato, father of Idealism, espoused this view about 400 years BC, in his famous book, The Republic. Plato believed that there are two worlds. The first is the spiritual or mental world, which is eternal, permanent, orderly, regular, and universal. There is also the world of appearance, the world experienced through sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound that is changing imperfect, and disorderly. This division is often referred to as the duality of mind and body. Reacting against what he perceived as too much of a focus on the immediacy of the physical and sensory world, Plato described a utopian society in which “education to body and soul all the beauty and perfection of which they are capable” as an ideal. In his allegory of the cave, the shadows of the sensory world must be overcome with the light of reason or universal truth. To understand truth, one must pursue knowledge and identify with the Absolute Mind. Plato also believed that the soul is fully formed prior to birth and is perfect and at one with the Universal Being. The birth process checks this perfection, so education requires bringing latent ideas (fully formed concepts) to consciousness.
In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each individual’s abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve society. The curricular emphasis is subject matter of mind: literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Teaching methods focus on handling ideas through lecture, discussion, and Socratic dialogue (a method of teaching that uses questioning to help students discover and clarify knowledge). Introspection, intuition, insight, and whole-part logic are used to bring to consciousness the forms or concepts which are latent in the mind. Character is developed through imitating examples and heroes. The purpose of education is to contribute to the development of the mind and self of the learner. The education-imparting institute should emphasize intellectual activities, moral judgments, aesthetic judgments, self-realization, individual freedom, individual responsibility, and self-control in order to achieve this development. In an idealistic education system emphasis should be placed on developing the mind, personal discipline, and character development. A person should be literate and of good moral character. The aim of education is to brings the child as close to Absolute Truth as possible. All of the aims of the idealist as educator find their ground in the conception of Ultimate Reality and the students’ relation to this Reality. In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each individual’s abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve society. More specifically, the school can take a leading role in defining and refining our knowledge of Truth and the Absolute. The school has a responsibility to find and to train future leaders. As will be seen, much of the curriculum for the idealist is based on the study of earlier leaders. Certainly the distinguishing between and the development of, leaders smacks of education for followership (or subservience to the state) is found in the Gentile reforms instituted in Italy in the 1920’s. The school, as one of the social institutions concerned with the Absolute must make judgments as to what is right and what is wrong; thus, one of the aim of education would be to develop morality.
Another aim of education is the maintenance and transmission of the established values of the past. Once we have established that something is good, or true, or beautiful, it is a responsibility of the school to pass it one to succeeding generations. Along with history and biography, the idealist curriculum emphasizes the study of the humanities. Underlying the selection of materials is the concern for selection of subject matter that deals with ideal man and ideal society. Thus, we find the idealists strong in their belief that the “proper study of mankind is man” and interpreting this to mean the history of the human race. Books are the source of this subject matter, the subject matter of ideas. To understand society and life we must study history. To understand man we must study literature and the humanities. The idealist wants to see the entire and absolute pattern of life and, in order to do this, history and the humanities are the most important subjects. The curriculum is based upon the idea or assumption of the spiritual nature of man. This idea in turn leads to an idea of the nature of the larger units of family, community, state, earth; the universe, and infinity. In preserving the subject matter content, which is essential for the development of the individual mind, the curriculum must include those subjects essential for the realization of mental and moral development. These subjects provide one with culture, and they should be mandated for all pupils. Moreover, the subject matter should be kept constant for all. The idealist tradition of subject matter is basically literary and places its primary emphasis on the subject matter of books, especially hose literary pieces considered the masterworks of information about ideas. Because of the idealist’s reliance on the world of the mind, their curriculum calls for little contact with the experiential universe. The idealist educator has little place in his curriculum for field trips and empirical or sensory data. Idealism has been influential in education for a considerable amount of time. It is considered conservative philosophy because of its emphasis in preserving cultural traditions. The strengths of idealism include encouraging thinking and cognition, promoting cultural learning, and providing for character development of students. Teachers are considered valuable parts of the educational process who should strive to provide a comprehensive, systematic, and holistic approach to learning that stresses self-realization. Science today has challenged idealism and brought about challenges to idealistic principles. Science is based on hypothesis and tentativeness, but idealism promotes a finished and absolute universe waiting to be discovered. Idealism has often been linked with traditional religion. The weakening of religion has led to the weakening of idealism as a philosophy. Through Plato’s ruler kings, and Augustine’s emphasis on the monastic life, it has been said that idealism leads to intellectual elitism. In the past, education was considered important for the upper classes of society, marking education as a luxury. Vocational and technical studies were considered good enough for the general public. Idealistic education was considered bookish and lacking relevance. It is argued that the character development aspect of the philosophy involved conformity and subservience on the part of the learner. This type of character development was considered to stifle creativity and self-direction, making students gullible and ready to accept ideas without serious examination. The emphasis on the importance of knowledge and ideas in the idealist philosophy originally led me to believe that much of my philosophy of education included idealistic tendencies. James Madison’s quote that knowledge is power, which sits front and center on my class webpage, seems to agree with this premise. Because I believe strongly in project based education as a way to have students discover and learn new information, I also began to view the idealism in my thinking. However, as much as I value these things and continue to believe in the importance of continually gaining knowledge, the fact that I view science and technology as a valued part of all education, sets me apart from the philosophy. While the idealist considered science and technical studies good enough for the general public, I consider them an integral part of any education. However I do believe in the importance of teaching children to think, for not doing so results in children with book learning and no common sense. Critics of the idealist philosophy of education have been vocal and consistent, and there is, indeed, no lack of arguments opposing the position both philosophically and educationally. Here then is sex of the most common criticisms of this philosophical school.
- Sets Unobtainable Goals
For the educator who is concerned with having the child reach out and grasp the Ideal there are two significant problems. First, if perfection is unreachable there is very little desire on the part of most to become perfect. For the idealist student the goals are often too far away. Second, the idealists have set up a final goal: to know the Ideal and become part of it. This implies a finite tend and as such means that we have a final end in view. It argues strongly against those who take the point of view that man is infinitely perfectible.
- Ignores the Physical Self
The body cannot be ignored. If we try to ignore the body it soon intrudes itself upon us. We do, whether we like the idea or not, react to and fake into our mind an deal with, on the intellectual level, such question as whether or not we are hot, cold, hungry, tired, happy, or sad. We will often give our greatest thought to changing or modifying our physical realm, particularly where we are trying to avoid discomfort. In the classroom the teacher who would forget that the student has a body as well as a mind will soon be faced with discipline problem as youthful spirits react to bodily demands. Thus, to try to separate mental activity from the physical and to try to place Ideas in a realm unrelated to the existent world becomes nothing more than an exercise in futility.
- Deemphasizes Experience
Many ideas cannot have meaning apart from experience. The ideas of heat and cold are not simply logical constructs, but ways of describing certain sensations found only in experience. This is not meant to imply that all things must be rooted in experience. If this were true, we would have great difficulty in dealing with the study of sub-atomic particles, and the whole field of mathematics might well be called into question. But, most ideas do find their roots in experience, and to deny the validity of this experience is to make the universe sterile.
- Leads to Totalitarianism
Some of the critiques of idealism is that is discourages the progress of science and our modern discovery. It also serves as somewhat of an elitist view in that although the classics have merit for use in the classroom, they are not necessarily the choice for all students. To only concentrate on the classic writings is to waste a vast amount of wonderful knowledge that has been gained through contemporary writings and art. Furthermore; creating a society in which students are taught to be docile and accept without challenging those areas held to be absolute could essentially be creating an environment in which students are subservient and quick to confirm. The whole doctrine of idealism may lead to a rigid and often totalitarian social order. It may become the very antithesis of Democracy since it argues that the best equipped for leadership are those who are closest to the Ideal. Plato, in the Republic, sets up a perfect society in which the leaders are the Philosopher-Kings; of the Ideal. Gentile, in twentieth century Italy, provides another example of the dangers of what can happen when the social theory inherent in the idealistic philosophy is put into practice in the ruling of nations.
- Emphasizes Humanities
The idealist philosopher demands that all must conform to the laws which are the immutable working of the Ideal. There is, in idealism, the assumption of a universal morality which will lead to the perfect moral and ethical order. Since much, if not all, of this has an optimistic, humanities oriented outlook, it may lead to a rejection of the whole concept of a technological society which is mechanistic and “scientifically” oriented.
- Overlooks possibility of Error
Perhaps the greatest failing of any philosophical system is that it fails to take into account the possibility that it may be in error. This is especially true of idealism since its truth is immutable and unchanging. Even were the Ideal to change, as long as the notion of the Ideal is accepted as such then idealism has built into it its own verification. One final comment seems called for before moving on to the next philosophical –educational system. Idealism, like many other systems, is dependent at any given time for its definition of truth upon certain spokesmen who would seem to be better able to know the Ideal. This can often lead to conflict as to the Truth of one world system as opposed to another. The whimsical sight of two idealist scholars standing off and yelling at each other, “My Truth is right, your truth is wrong,” is tempered somewhat by the picture of two hydrogen bomb holding despots standing off and yelling the same thing at each other.
Free AIOU Solved Assignment 2 Code 8609 Spring 2023
4 Explain the different forms of naturalism?
Naturalistic philosophy defines life in terms of material and chemical laws and emphasizes the relationship between power, speed and matter as of the nature of casual relationship.
Naturalism is a doctrine which separates nature from God, subordinate spirit to matter and sets up unchangeable laws as supreme.
Naturalism is a system whose silent characteristics is the exclusion of what ever is spiritual or indeed whatever is transcendental of experiences from our philosophy of nature and man.
Naturalism is a term loosely applied in educational theory to systems of training that are not dependent on schools and books but on the manipulation of the actual life of the educated.
Sum Total Meaning of Naturalism:
- Life of man comes out of dead matter which combines both physical and chemical reactions.
- Man has innate and inherent nature.
iii. Man is the supreme and superior most animal.
- The present life is real life for making happy and comfortable.
- Reality of the external nature can’t be changed.
- Change of human life are due to bliss of discoveries of science and inventions.
vii. Matter is the ultimate reality but soul, God, mind. Heaven, Hell, freedom of will, moral values, prayers are illusion.
2. Forms of Naturalism:
Naturalism is of the following three forms:
- Physical Naturalism:
It studies the process of matter of external world. It explains human activities in terms of natural laws and material objects. So external nature has influenced on the life of human being. It emphasizes on physical science.
- Mechanical Naturalism:
Mechanical naturalism has given stress on modern Psychology-Behaviorism. It deals conditioned response and effective principles of learning by doing. This universe is a lifeless big machine but it is man who manipulates the machine through mailer and motion.
For this movement mental activities are required. No spiritual power is required to run this machine as per idealism. This machine comes to move by external stimuli and forces of nature.
iii. Biological Naturalism:
Based on Darwin’s theory of evolution, man has evolved from lower animal by a gradual process of development to present man. Man is the supreme product of this evolution.
Biological naturalism emphasizes that man comes to earth due to influence of heredity and temperament of man which comes from generation to generation through a natural process i.e. in born tendencies. It is based on three principles like adaptation to environment, struggle for existence, survival of the fittest.
3. Naturalism and Method of Teaching:
Following methods are adopted to teach child in naturalism:
(i) Learning by doing ,
(ii) Learning through experiences,
(iii) Observation method,
(iv) Play way method,
(v) Active method,
(vi) Description and
(vii) Synthesis method.
4. Naturalism and Role of the Teacher:
Teacher is an observer. He is a stage fitter who understands the nature of the child. He is the supreme authority who gives reverence to truth. Teacher remains behind the scenes. Teacher is the giver of information, ideas to the students. Nature is the supreme teacher of child.
5. Naturalism and Curriculum:
Curriculum is based on the nature of the child. It lays stress on the subject that is helpful in self preservation. It lays stress on basic science. It emphasizes on natural sciences like physics, chemistry, zoology, botany, mathematics, home science and other science subjects language and literature.
6. Naturalism and Discipline:
Naturalism emphasizes discipline according to natural consequences. Nature will punish the child if he violates laws of nature. The child will be allowed full freedom to indulge in the activities of his choice.
Nature is the school with vast campus. School should be natural and spontaneous field of free activities of children. Nature structures free and desired experience-feeling of self learning. Self discipline develops self learning.
7. Limitations of Naturalism:
(i) It is absolutely based on matter but there is no supremacy of man.
(ii) Aims of education are not convenient. Man comes from lower animal is criticized.
(iii) It neglects books.
(iv) Physical nature alone is not sufficient for providing education.
(v) Child can’t be allowed freedom to hang himself.
(vi) It ignores higher ends in the ending process.
(vii) It is difficult to find a natural setting schools.
(viii) It gives less importance on teachers.
(ix) It ignores to believe spiritualism, God, morality etc.
(x) It goes against society by living outside the society i.e. nature.
(xi) It gives undue emphasis on physical education.
8. Naturalism and Its Contribution to Modem System of Education:
Modern system of education lays emphasis on the freedom, nature, truth, beauty, goodness of the child which is the basic structures of naturalism. Struggle for existence is given much emphasis in present system of education. Child is the central position of education which one can’t avoid it.
Since naturalistic view of life is scientific and true and it regards this central aim of education as the autonomous development of the individual, such ideals should be accepted in the education system of the emerging Indian society.
9. Fundamental Principles of Naturalism:
- Naturalism does not believe in God. Nature is everything. Nothing is beyond it.
- It believes in matters and importance of material world.
iii. Physical and natural principles are supreme and universal.
- There are no ideal or supreme values.
- It is fully materialistic and mechanical attitude.
- It is monistic concepts.
Basic Principles of Naturalism:
- Naturalistic metaphysical:
It deals with reality. Nature is alone real and ultimate aim of life. Man is governed by natural laws. Child is a plant grows accordingly to nature. Teachers remain back who do not interfere on the activities of child. Teacher provides ideal concepts to grow the child plant.
- Naturalistic epistemology:
All knowledge that nature deals is good. It does not believe spiritualism. As per naturalistic, knowledge comes through senses organisation. Besides this knowledge comes from meditation, sadhana. The knowledge which comes from sense organs is real.
- Naturalistic axiology:
God who in heaven is not seen physically. It is purely absurd which is not believed by naturalistic. One can’t think of other world which is not visible that is not believable. Life in present is real. Think of present is valuable. Never think of future, God, Heaven, Liberation etc.
- Natural process of development:
Man has a mind. It develops in a natural process. Mind is nothing but it is the function of brain who controls all our activities. Slow process of development starts from animal to man, man to superman. This process of development is natural.
- Faith in human life:
Human nature is good. Child is born good but the environment makes him corrupt. Child should be educated in the lap of nature. Human nature is nothing but it is the mixture of feeling, thinking, desires, interests, aptitudes, aspirations, instincts etc.
Natural process of development is seen during infancy. Sense development starts during childhood. Acquisition of knowledge and social relationship training are the activities carried out during Adolescence and Adult period respectively.
AIOU Solved Assignment Code 8609 Autumn 2023
5 What are the limitations of natural knowledge? It is of any use to Muslims today?
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy defined as “the study of human knowledge.” Like epistemology TOK involves questioning our sources and the nature and accuracy of our knowledge in the hope that we will develop a more informed understanding of what we know and don’t know. That is, enabling us to become more epistemically aware. It is important because accurate knowledge of our two worlds – the real world and the inner world – correctly informs us of the conditions we must cope with. To know facts is to survive; not to know, or to assess one’s environment wrongly, is to lose the fight for survival. We face two serious epistemological problems.
How can we determine which facts are true?
As human beings living in the 23st Century we are surrounded by a wealth of information but not all of it is trustworthy, so we must find a way to double check fact-claims. We must learn somehow to screen out the fictions but let in the facts. On what criteria can we decide what are facts and what are false claims?
How can we determine which facts are important?
However, it is not enough to simply determine which facts are true, we must also consider which facts are useful. A correct catalogue of the size and shape of every blade of grass on my lawn may well be factually true but it will not be as useful as knowing that my lawn is on fire and about to engulf my house. Given the overwhelming number of facts available to us, what criteria can we use for deciding what is more important, what less? Almost everything that we know originates from four basic sources:
Senses (possibly the most important)
Authority (knowledge from other sources, hopefully experts)
Information from the senses is called empirical knowledge and empiricists believe that the fundamental source of all knowledge is our senses. Our senses are exploratory organs; we use them all to become acquainted with the world we live in. We learn that candy is sweet, and so are sugar, jam, and maple syrup. Lemons are not, and onions are not. The sun is bright and blinding. Glowing coals in the fireplace are beautiful if you don’t touch them. Sounds soothe, warn, or frighten us. Through millions of single sense-events we build a fabric of empirical information which helps us interpret, survive in, and control the world about us.
We have a number of different kinds of senses:
- The objective senses that tell us about the world: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste
- The visceral senses, in our mouths and gut that give us the sense of stomach ache
- The proprioceptive senses, in our muscles that tell us if our fist is clenched or not
- The balance senses, mostly in our ears that tell us if we are … um … balanced
However, our senses present us with a serious credibility problem. Before we start the TOK course most of us are naïve realists people who simply accept what their senses are telling them as the truth … but is there any way we can actually be sure about this? Can we really trust what our senses seem to tell us? Unfortunately the answer must be a reluctant no. Our senses do not give us a “true picture” of the real world; they give us useful picture – a picture that is designed to help us move around, survive in and take advantage of our world. To take a simple example: if you think about it we know that the chairs we sit on are not actually not solid: they are made of atoms which are actually more space than anything else. Yet our senses tell us that they are solid. Why? Because in terms of day to day survival there is no point knowing about atoms: you need to know that a chair will hold you up if you sit on it and that a rock will hurt if it falls on you: a sensitive awareness of the arrangement of the sub-atomic particles of a boulder as it plummets towards you will not do your survival chances any good.
Other people are continual sources of information. Such information, however, is always second-hand knowledge – or third-, fourth-, or nth-hand knowledge. It is all “hearsay.” The farther it is removed from our own personal experience, the more caution we must exercise before accepting a fact-claim. All of our historical knowledge is acquired in this way as is most of our knowledge of the sciences. We can’t experience the past or personally repeat every experiment, so we must trust the specialists and accept, though not blindly, the discoveries they record for us. They key thing with knowledge from authority is that it can be double-checked and the work of scientists and historians is continually being ‘double checked’ as other workers in the same field (even sometimes us in our classrooms) repeat their experiments or investigations. A healthy cynicism of sources, the development of the skills required to check facts and an awareness of which sources are more or less reliable is a good way to ensure that the knowledge we receive from authority is as good as it can be.
Reasoning might be defined as the process of using known facts to arrive at new facts. In this way Reason can help us arrive at new facts or new knowledge BUT only as long as the original facts we put into the process are correct and the process itself is reliable. Imagine you are travelling in Japan and you know that the exchange rate is 200 yen to a dollar, you can easily work out that an 800 yen sushi meal will actually cost you $4. This is new knowledge (you didn’t know it before) but … it only works if your original facts are right (i.e. you’ve got the correct exchange rate and are correct about the cost of the meal) and if the process is right (you can do multiplication / division properly). Reasoning generally comes in two forms: deduction and induction. Deduction is the kind of reasoning usually used in Maths and is the more certain of the two as it involves ‘drawing out’ valid conclusions from previously known facts – e.g. All cats are animals, Jack is a cat, so Jack is an animal. Induction, on the other hand, is usually used in Science and is less certain as it involves jumping from some things you have observed to making universal statements about all things – e.g. I drop this pencil and it falls, so it is likely all dropped pencils (and indeed things) will fall. Notice that both forms are usually dependent on sensation to give us the initial facts or ideas in the first place. The problem with reasoning is that deduction (the most certain form of reasoning) can never teach us anything new because all the information is there in the facts at the start, while induction (the thing that can give us what seems like new knowledge) can’t ever give us anything certain, only things that are likely to be the case.
Although the word intuition has connotations of the mystical or unscientific, when carefully defined it can be considered a source of knowledge. Intuition refers to insights or bits of knowledge which suddenly ‘pop’ into consciousness as our deeper subconscious chugs away working on data that we have collected earlier. We have all probably had the experience where the answer to a question we were previously thinking about but have currently forgotten has suddenly popped into our minds for no reason. This is intuition and, as such, like reason, it too is dependent on our senses to provide the raw material on which the subconscious works. Sometimes intuition seems to be a ‘feeling’. We often say something like “I have the feeling he’s not telling the truth,” without being sure of why. The psychologist Jung suggested that actually this is actually a form of unconscious reasoning where your subconscious picks up on the tell-tale signs of lying (sweating, nervous movements, etc) that are too subtle for your conscious mind to notice and processes them resulting in the ‘feeling’ that this person is untrustworthy. The problem with intuition however, is that most of our intuitions are wrong and they need careful double checking before they are trusted.
- Faith often accompanied by supernatural revelation;
- Racial Memory / the Collective Unconscious – another idea of Jung’s, that we have cultural memories that we can all inherit and share without actually experiencing the thing that caused the memory in the first place;
- Extrasensory Perception;
- Anamnesis (“recollection”) or the remembrance of things from a past life;
- Spiritualism and the Occult, such as Ouija boards, tarot cards, etc.