“Achievement”, “success”, “triumph”, all these words are very positive to an average human. They indicate the epitome of accomplishment and is a state of mind that we can say generally every human hopes to reach. But on what basis or standards do we judge this success? As a student of the International Baccalaureate Diploma, I can safely assume that my standard of judging the quality of work is by grading it. This means that I have used an already existing form of evaluation and ranking to judge a situation.
I could be mislead by this, and the means of judging can be widely opinionated. But my assumption is that my IB grades will hold be a large factor in determining my “success” or “achievement”. Hence I will assume that by getting the highest grades for my Extended Essay, I would, in my opinion, have achieved the “best” results. In order to make a decision for a completely unbiased and well thought out extended essay question, I will have to use the four ways of knowing to evaluate different situations.
By using the four ways of knowing; Language, Perception, Reason and Emotion, I will be able to lay out my knowledge, evaluate how reliable, accurate, and unbiased it is, and then confidently say that the decision I have made on my Extended Essay Question is the “best” choice for me. I will look at all four ways of knowing individually. Language serves as our most primary form of communication in this day and age. If two people do not speak the same language, it is extremely difficult to get convey knowledge between them and any attempt can run the risk of misinterpretation.
It would be hard for us to imagine a school or any way of transmitting knowledge without the use of language as language is itself a medium through which we acquire knowledge. But, language itself cannot always independently affect knowledge. For example, if a man who speaks only French were to meet a man who speaks only german, even though they cannot effectively communicate, they can both rely on other sources of interpreting information to gain the same knowledge.
The smell of cheese, the colour of the sky, the sound of rain, I have chosen these examples as they show us that without language as a barrier, we can use our senses to gain knowledge as well. Language by itself, just limits to what extent we can interpret the knowledge, and how we communicate that knowledge. If language did not exist, communication would be a tough ordeal. Although, language does have its restrictions.
When I study Spanish text in my Spanish class, I can say that I gained some knowledge, using language as a medium. But when I studied the same text translated into English for my English class, the knowledge that I received was quite different from the original. Hence I could safely say that some knowledge has got affected by translation, in which case, language has served as a limiting factor for knowledge. This is why I will have to use all my sources of information for my extended essay from the same language, i.
e. English. This will, to some extent ensure a degree of reliability of my information. The next “Way of Knowing” is Perception. When I touched a hot iron, I burnt my finger. Now, from this experience, I know that I should never touch a hot iron again as I will experience the same unwanted feeling of pain. This is a very basic example that stems around the concept of “Empiricism”. Empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence, especially sensory perception, in the formation of ideas.
Relying solely on perception is assuming that all knowledge can only by acquired by observable facts. I can confidently assume that my wallet is black, that the road is hard, and that the inside of my house is fairly spacious. But to my friend, my wallet may appear to be dark blue, and the inside of my house is small. This stems from the fact that this type of knowledge, due to its reliance on senses and observation, is opinionated, and that this knowledge will vary from person to person.
Then how reliable can this information be? And, to what extent is this information acquirable to us?. For example, if we cannot observe any extra terrestrial life in our known universe, can we assume that there is no extra terrestrial life except on earth? If a dog can hear sounds of lower frequencies than humans, but humans cannot hear these sounds, do these sounds really exist? As humans our senses can also be easily tricked. Optical illusions are a great example of misleading information.