Knowledge is among the most important areas of philosophy and yet philosophers are still not able to produce a generally accepted analysis of knowledge. Our midterm asks us to identify something we know about knowledge and since, after the many years knowledge has been analyzed, there is still many correct ways to view knowledge, I will share how I view it. I tend to lean towards an empirical view on knowledge – one where knowledge is primarily based on experience. With that in mind – this is how I believe we gain knowledge:
Knowledge is created through the communication of our experiences.
- If communication is influenced by our experiences,
- And if experiences are shaped by our communication,
- And if knowledge is our interpretation of our experiences,
- Then communication and experiences allow us to gain knowledge
Evaluating premise 1: Communication is influenced by our experiences
Since we were born, we have been learning to communicate by other people and things around us. We spend the first years of our lives building the foundation of our communication, as we absorb what we hear and see. We watch how our parents and other people communicate and react to their surroundings. Humans communicate through verbal and non-verbal actions – talking and body language. When children try to speak, that is them recreating the sounds they have heard around them. When children smile or frown, that is them recreating the expressions they’ve seen people make. Humans learn socially and through trial and error. Experiencing making mistakes when speaking and making mistakes when using body language help us develop these communication skills. Although we may know how to move and cry before seeing/experiencing someone doing those things – it is only because they are things humans are preprogrammed with. What we do experience is other people reacting to our signals of distress and we learn to communicate with them by their actions.
Evaluating premise 2: Experiences are shaped by our communication
Think about it – speech, language, and communication play a vital role in our lives. Our ability to communicate help us learn, form social relationships, express feelings, and participate in everyday activities. We’re able to do so many things because we learn how to communicate as soon as we’re born. Everyday we’re able to come and learn at school because we understand what our teachers are saying. Even when we have no clue what they’re talking about, we know that we can raise our hand and ask questions using our communication skills. This experience we gain by learning in school, from kindergarten – university, help form the rest of our lives (as we have formed relationships with multiple people, helped us get jobs, etc.). Being able to communicate with friends and family in different environments allow us to create experiences. In the future we may not remember what we talked about at that specific place, but we will always have that experience of going to the mall, a concert, someones house, or a track meet (of course I had to include that). Without these communication skills, it would make it hard to form these experiences. We would have trouble talking to people, doing necessary things, travelling, etc.. Our ability to talk to people using language and body language influences our experiences – also limiting them too.
Evaluating premise 3: Knowledge is our interpretation of our experiences
The first two premises concluded that experience is gained through communication and that communication is influenced by our experiences. So how does knowledge fit into this? Since I have an empirical view of knowledge, I think knowledge is based on experience. For example: in honour of winter and the snow let’s say it was -2 degrees Celsius outside – but you didn’t know this. To learn how cold it is outside you could do two things:
- You could talk to someone nearby and ask them what the temperature outside is or look it up on google. This is an example of using communication to gain knowledge. By asking a person you use your verbal abilities and by searching it up on the internet you use your non-verbal abilities. And from your experience of being exposed to different temperatures allows you to determine how warm/cold it really is.
- You could physically go outside and feel how cold it is. This is an example of using experience to gain knowledge. The process of going outside and reacting to the weather is a way of experiencing the cold temperature.
Of course we learn how to communicate through experiences so technically experience is the main building block of knowledge, but they both contribute to the process of gaining knowledge.
Who (which theories) help you explain this:
I agree with Immanuel Kant in that all knowledge begins with experience and without experience no knowledge takes place as “experience is the initiator of coming to posses knowledge”. And how knowledge starts with our senses and from there we take it further – to understanding and even reason.
also s/o to Mr. J for helping me form my premises with my jumbled ideas
So for my personal experiences I’m going to talk about track and field (what a surprise right!!!!). This year was the first year I was able to do 400m hurdles. Let’s just say it didn’t go as well as we hoped. I love the workouts we do in practice because we never do the full 400m with hurdles – like we’ll do multiple 250m hurdles reps at the longest. That may make practice a little better, but it also made my first race a little difficult because I didn’t know how I was going to react to the full 400m and what it was going to feel like. And let’s just say it sucked. 400m hurdles is one of the hardest races and even knowing that before racing didn’t make it any better. You’re probably just waiting for me to stop talking about track and get to the point so here it is: even though I had been told by both my coach and teammate, who races the 400m hurdles, how it was going to physically hurt and it was a mind over matter situation – I didn’t really know what the full 400m with hurdles was actually going to feel like until I experienced it. And this is an example of knowledge through the senses; you don’t really know the full extent/truth about something until you experience it yourself.
ps. for anyone that was wondering the time didn’t end up being terrible but it actually feels like you’re going to die (fun!!!)