We know with confidence only when we know little, with
knowledge doubt increases (Adapted from W Von Goethe). Discuss this statement
with reference to at least two areas of knowledge

 

A world of new knowledge is a whole
world of new questions. Knowledge is facts, information and skills that are acquired
through experience or education (Oxford University Press, 2017). Varying levels of
knowledge may bring about the different aspects of doubt and confidence.
Confidence is  the feeling or belief that
one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.  Doubt is a feeling of uncertainity about the
truth, reality or nature of something. In exploration of  how confidence and doubt relate to influence
of  knowledge, the following subsidiray
knowledge questions will be employed;  What extent and type of knowledge is
required to bring about confidence of an idea, Does doubt increase with knowing
more or less and how does knowing more influence my questioning ability, and How
does personal and shared knowledge influence one’s confidence or doubt level? This
will be explored through natural sciences and religion as areas of knowledge
and faith, reason and emotion as ways of knowing in order to assert the idea
that confidence of scientific knowledge is based on proof arising from
reasoning while religious knowledge lends its confidence to faith and emotion.

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The first
knowledge question encountered being “What extent and type of knowledge is
required to bring about confidence of an idea?” brings up a claim that
confidence in an idea is based upon the type and extent of knowledge. Faith in
religion is unquestionably not a choice for many people. Religious knowledge is
based upon one’s faith ingrained in a person at a young age. Being born in a
Christian family, I was taken to Sunday school and taught Christian beliefs and
values with stories from the bible; hence I formed a belief in the Christian
God and worshiped him. The sensitivity of religious knowledge at the time as
well as it being ingrained in me at a young age led to my confidence.  My belief, trust and confidence were built
upon my little knowledge and faith of my religion. At a young age I let faith
decide for me, with belief that my faith was superior.  However with time I realized that the religious
knowledge that I had was commonly shared knowledge with nothing unique leading
me to read into greater depths of the bible in hopes of knowing more.  This was also the time when I had become
aware of my rights and was able to reason to my advantage.  Reading greater depths of the bible started
confusing me as there was lots of information that I neither understood nor agreed
with.  One of the verses that stood out
to me the most was,  “If a man takes a
wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a
bad name saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not
find any proof of her virginity,” then the girl’s father and mother…shall
display the cloth(that the couple slept on) before the elders of the town…If,
however, the charger is true and no proof if the girl’s virginity can be found,
she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her
town shall stone her to death.(Deuteronomy 22:13-21)” (Tarico, 2012).  Before reading such verses I would have never
believed that my religion promoted oppression of women something that I was
against. One of the first thoughts I had was questioning myself on why I would
follow a religion that infringes upon my own rights as female. Increased
knowledge of my religion led to increased doubt with many questions left
unanswered. As a female human being, using ethical reasoning to think beyond
the verses, building my own knowledge about Christianity and evaluating it, I
came to doubt my own religion as a result shying away from it. Therefore in
this case doubt increased only with knowing more.  On the other hand, faith in my religion serves
to control my emotions in times of difficulties. The bible has different
sections which are directed to guide people going through different circumstances
in life. This is such that the bible provides quotes for someone sad, angry,
irritated, etc. The bible finds a way to accommodate people’s emotions
comforting them. When anxious about an exam, I read about anxiety in the bible
and the more I read I get less anxious and more confident. Biblical knowledge
is able to provide comfort and assurance appealing to my emotions which
therefore increases my belief and confidence in Christianity.  By appealing to my emotion, confidence
increases with increased religious knowledge in this case.

The second
question encountered; Does doubt increase with knowing more or less and how
does knowing more influence my questioning ability? In natural sciences
knowledge is taken forward once it has been proven, but never has proven meant true.
In the heat of the moment, confidence level for that knowledge may be high
considering the fact that it can be proven. An idea once proven can be
falsified later putting doubt on that idea. Falsification occurs once knowledge
on the latter has been increased. Observation, reason and experiment makes up
scientific method. When it comes to natural sciences, basic theories are
doubted until proven correct.  Proof acts
as a form of increased knowledge bringing in increased confidence answering all
questions. An example is Boyle’s law which states that “The absolute pressure
exerted by a given mass of an ideal gas is inversely proportional to the volume
it occupies if the temperature and amount of gas remain unchanged within a
closed system.” This is a positive statement that calls for observation,
experiment and reason. At the basic level I doubted it as there is no evidence
shown within the statement itself.  Using
scientific reasoning alongside formulas like = allowed the theory to
be expressed and investigated in order to be proven right. Without proof doubt
existed however with proof, confidence sets in.  Doubt in lies with unproven “scientific” theories
but confidence lies with proven theories with greater knowledge adopted. On the
other hand paradigm shifts also exists especially for sciences where an idea
may be accepted today but rejected tomorrow based on new discoveries and proof.
“Paradigm shift is a very radical
change in the whole structure of a scientific discipline. Kuhn’s paradigm
shifts were inspired by and modelled on physics and its two major revolutions
of the time: The replacements of Newtonian physics by special and general
relativity, and of classical mechanics by quantum mechanics, respectively. (Buhmann,
2015)  Paradigm shifts occur when new knowledge is
gained, with special and general relativity taking over Newtonian physics, it
becomes that confidence will be higher on the newly accepted idea and doubt
reigns in the Newtonian physics. This means that paradigm shifts a result of
increased knowledge may invoke doubt on previously proven theories questioning
ideas people were once confident about. With increased knowledge Newtonian
physics was refuted bringing in doubt. Therefore in this case as knowledge
increased, so did doubt. With increased doubt, people begin to question on the
validity of today’s science.

With the
third knowledge question being; How does personal and shared knowledge
influence one’s confidence or doubt level, implying that with the knowledge
type may influence confidence or doubt. In natural sciences, when personal
theories adhere to the laws of science confidence level increases but when it
doesn’t people begin to doubt it.  DDT
was commonly used insecticide in the 1960’s until Rachel Carson wrote a book
named silent spring which was based on realization that there were no birds in
the spring. She associated this with the widespread use of a chemical named DDT
stating that when birds ate insects sprayed with DDT, they died. This went
against what scientists had previously stated on the DDT effects.  However as Rachel Carson pushed on her
personal theory to the government, scientists became outrageous claiming that
she knew nothing about the chemical filling law suits against her theory. The
negative emotional reactions of anger and frustration from scientists are what
led to increased knowledge of the chemical being carcinogenic. DDT was now not
harmful to birds only but humans as well. Therefore personal knowledge filled
with doubt led to eruption of confident shared knowledge contributing to ban of
DDT. Emotion can guide whether we’re confident or doubtful about a theory. “William
Cookson, an Oxford geneticist, has described how his rivals reacted to his
discovery of a link between asthma-susceptibility and a marker on chromosome
11. Some were congratulatory. Others rushed into print contradicting him,
usually with flawed or small sample sizes. One wrote haughty editorials in
medical journals mocking his logical disjunctions and Oxfordshire genes.” (Alchin, 2006).  When personal knowledge becomes shared
knowledge emotion does play a role in its perception as shown above. With
personal knowledge, confidence is high, but with shared knowledge mixed
emotions set in bringing in doubt.

In testing our confidence or doubt in
knowledge we must often experiment, observe, imagine and relate while creating
a personal significance of the information we gain without disregarding
globally/scientifically accepted laws. Faith and emotion do play a role in
ensuring that confidence increases with increased religous knowledge, however
with reason comes doubt. Scientific knowledge varies between reason and emotion
and with existence of paradigm shifts and proof, perception of knowledge may
vary. Emotion, reason and faith act to play bring confidence or doubt on
increased knowledge on something. Perception of increased also depends on the discipline,
extent of knowledge and way of knowing employed.  Doubt and confidence exists with both little
and increased knowledge depending on the discipline explored and way of knowing
employed.

Bibliography

Dictionary.com. (2017). doubt. Retrieved from
www.dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/doubt
Alchin, N. (2006). Theory Of Knowledge. London: Hodder
Education.
Bia?owolski, P. (2015, 09 05). Concepts of Confidence in Tendency
Survey Research: An Assessment with Multi-group Confirmatory Factor Analysis.
Retrieved from link.springer.com:
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11205-014-0736-1
Buhmann, S. (2015, November 05). PARADIGM SHIFTS IN PHYSICS.
Retrieved from FREIBURG INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES
ALBERT-LUDWIGS-UNIVERSITÄT FREIBURG:
https://www.frias.uni-freiburg.de/en/events/lunch-lectures/former-lectures/lunch-lecture-stefan-buhmann-paradigm-shifts-in-physics
Kristof, N., & WuDunn, S. (2009). Half The Sky. New York:
Vintage Books.
Oxford University Press. (2017, 11 26). knowledge. Retrieved
from oxforddictionaries.com:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/knowledge
Tarico, V. (2012, 03 9). 15 Bible Texts Reveal Why “God’s Own
Party” Keeps Demeaning Women. Retrieved from valerietarico.com:
https://valerietarico.com/2012/03/09/15-bible-texts-reveal-why-gods-own-party-is-at-