TOK EssayQ.Over time knowledge has become more accurate. Discuss his statements withreference to two areas of knowledge Itis possible for several people to state that knowledge does become accurate andalso the opposite. However, they might not exactly be referring to accuracy butinstead may be misunderstanding the term “accurate” all by itself. Before that,we need know what “knowledge” is.
“Knowledge” refers to the acquaintance withfacts, truth or principles 1. What is”accurate”? If something is accurate it could be used as a model or a referencefor something because it is free from error or defect 2. This made mearrive at my knowledge question. “Whatare the issues that arise in the progression of knowledge over time?” Indifferent areas, knowledge gained and the accuracy can vary due to differentway of knowledge production. Hence the accuracy of knowledge would also differfrom one area to the other which. The accuracy may differ due to difference inideologies and thought processes of authorities. In some cases knowledge mightnot be accurate but if that piece of knowledge is well reasoned for the factsknown to us, it can be well accepted in the society.
For example, Mathematicscan be more accurate since it is less interpretive as compared to History whichis based on interpretations made from facts present. Looking back in time atour ancestors, I concluded that the thought processes have changed and havebecome more refined. Hence, I referred to History as one of my Area of knowledgesince I wanted to compare the ideologies of the authorities in the past and thepresent. The first claim ofthis essay is, Mathematics is one of theonly subject which has the least ambiguity and highest accuracy in theknowledge produced.
Mathematics is very directive and leaves no chances ofambiguity or in other words, there is no scope of interpretations. This causesthe facts produced in Mathematics to be highly acceptable and backed withreasoning. It is known that calculus was discovered few thousand years ago butonly taken into serious considerations in the 17th century3. It has been observed thatthere has been no sign of neglect towards calculus since then. However, therehave been modifications in calculus to meet with the current generations’needs. Calculus has evolved over time and been used in areas of Mathematicswhich would be impossible without it. For examplecalculating the exact acceleration of an object requires knowing the exactposition of the object at a given time.
Moreover, without calculus there wouldbe many areas of mathematics undiscovered and we would not have been able toprogress any further. The evolution calculus began with the shaping of a newera. Mathematicians started to discover new applications of calculus to enhancethe pre-existing concepts and patterns.
This in return makes the knowledgeproduction in mathematics accurate as it not overthrown the old system but onlyadded onto it and refined it. It is widely acceptable and no scope for adifferent answer. It is simplistic and straightforward in terms of arriving atan answer. Having investigated calculus in school, I have never trulyquestioned the accuracy of mathematics until now, truly realising its worth. However, Mathematicscan also be counterintuitive in certain cases. This brings me to my firstcounterclaim of the essay, Mathematicsis not entirely accurate even though the knowledge produced in Mathematics isreasoned and backed by facts. Even though mathematics is based heavily onfacts and reasoning, there are several cases in which lack of sufficientexploration has caused production of highly counterintuitive solutions and insome cases, nearly impossible. Mathematics can become highly complicated andmay not be understood by a layman.
This causes a lack of acceptability in thesociety as no one knows what to truly believe. There are different way to solvethe same problem. However, irrespective of the method, the result is always thesame but that is only the case for problems that are commonly asked and havehad years of research behind them. Although, this is not the cases for problemswhich have not been the centre of research for as long as the common problems.For example, the famous problem that several mathematicians stumbled upon.
Thesum of natural numbers up to infinity. 4 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … + ? =? This seemingly easyquestion is often overlooked. Intuitively, the answer should be a very largenumber which has countless digit. Nonetheless, the answer is shockingly as follows: Although there havebeen several proofs that the above conjecture is true, when tried to prove bymathematical induction, a method I recently learnt in school, it does not givethe above solution. However this has been proved by the Riemann Zeta function.
As a matter of fact, this result has been used widely in areas of physics tolearn more about quantum mechanics and string theory.5 My interest inquantum physics made me question the reliability of the result above as it canbe proved by one method and be completely superficial and non-calculative byanother. This in return reduces the accuracy of results produced as the levelof reliance on certain claims in mathematics can overpower the fact that theambiguity is being overlooked.
Thus it can be said that knowledge inMathematics becomes accurate to an extent On the other hand,knowledge in history is produced by interpretations. History is not necessarily accurate in terms of the true facts but issufficient enough to give some insight about the possibilities. Historiansinterpret possible occurrences based on the artefacts and evidences found. Itis this relevance and acceptance of the interpretations that determines theknowledge produced in History.
The Indusvalley civilisations was one of the most advanced civilisations and hasprovided in-depth detail about the era before Christ in the Indiansubcontinent.6There have been various manuscripts and sculptures excavated that have providedhistorians with promising ideas of the roots of the modern Indian and Pakistanicultures and traditions.7 On the other hand,although there are promising interpretations about how the civilisationflourished, there is still uncertainty about the declination of thecivilisation.
There have only beentheories and no concrete evidence for the end of the civilisation. 8 Even afterthousands of years of evolution and advancements and differences in mind-setsand technologies used by archaeologists, there are certain questions remainedunanswered which question the accuracy of knowledge. Hence, the interpretationsmight not be entirely accurate but are sufficient to give a possibleexplanation of the past. On the contrary, the accuracy of the knowledge produced inhistory may reduce over time. It is possible for the interpretations ofhistorians change over time as the thought processes of various generationsdiffer from one another creating an ambiguity in the knowledge produced.
As ofnow we know more facts about the World War than the Stone Age. This is becausethe World War is a recent event in the timeline as compared to the Stone Age.This arises due to the availability of resources. Since World War is morerecent there are more available facts regarding the war. The duration of theStone Age is a very rough estimate 9 whereas historianshave more precise knowledge of the World War.
The ruins and available sourcesof knowledge deplete over time enabling areas of ambiguity reducing the scopeof absolute surety. In the case of the War, there is ample evidence to give insightinto what would have happened. This can also be verified since many of theWorld War survivors can help verify and validate the facts making it moreaccurate with which, it can be concluded that knowledge produced in History maynot be necessarily accurate and even if it is, it would not stay accurate dueto the dynamism of ideologies of people from different generations and culturalbackgrounds. It needs to be keptin mind that accuracy itself is a dynamic term depending on its scenarios.There can be various instances where knowledge may be prone to ambiguity yet beaccurate due to the acceptance and the usage of the piece of knowledge. Theaccuracy is determined by how close it can get to the actual facts, yet factsare determined by interpretations and reasoning. Hence there are some questionsthat remain unanswered such as who could possibly determine what is or could beclassified as accurate since the accuracy differs from one area of knowledge tothe other.
The production and perception of knowledge creates a divide in theusage of the word “accurate”1 www.dictionary.com/browse/knowledge 2 www.dictionary.com/browse/accurate 3 https://www.math.uh.edu/~tomforde/calchistory.html4 http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999math……9178L5 https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/105635/which-values-of-the-riemann-zeta-function-at-negative-arguments-come-up-in-physi 6 www.ancient.eu/Indus_Valley_Civilization/ 7 www.ancient.eu/Indus_Valley_Civilization/8 https://www.boundless.com/world-history/textbooks/boundless-world-history-textbook/early-civilizations-in-the-indian-subcontinent-4/the-indus-river-valley-civilizations-23/disappearance-of-the-indus-valley-civilization-103-13207/ 9 www.ancient.eu/Stone_Age/