Essay on Limitations to Our Common Ways of Knowledge

Essay on Limitations to Our Common Ways of Knowledge

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Being humans, we are inherently curious creatures, ever ready to learn something new. In order to survive in and learn about this world, we normally use the four conventional ways of knowing: emotion, perception, reason, and language. From traditional definitions, we know tools are things used to shape, form, or finish. The above quote by Abraham Maslow can be applied to the pursuit of knowledge. In the TOK context, we can make interesting discussion about the limitations of our ways of knowledge, and the advantages and disadvantages we might face by using a select combination of them.
As discussed above, over-reliance on a single way of knowing can almost never lead us to a wholesome and unbiased rendition of the truth. It is very difficult to learn anything by using only one way of knowledge. Each way of knowledge correlates with at least one other; it cannot be used alone. For example, a person who is overly logical and, hypothetically, devoid of emotions will still need to have access to the world through perception to learn anything. He cannot use his logical mind if he has no data to work with. To climb higher on the tree of knowledge, if this person can now communicate with other people via language, he can add their discoveries and experiences into his pool of data. Yet, he cannot do this if he has no sense of perception; without sensory perception, he cannot read, write, or hear any language.
In my opinion, we can apply Maslow’s quote to the pursuit of knowledge in the context of not using all four ways of knowing, eventually leading to an undesirable method of gaining knowledge from our environment and interactions. If we look at this quote from the standpoint of the theory of knowledge, we can assume that Maslow was ...


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...in our bodies to help us study and survive in our world. Yet, when used in imbalance and without check, they can turn dangerous, providing us with a misconstrued version of knowledge. To reinterpret Maslow’s quote, if we begin to rely heavily on one way of knowing as opposed to an effective combination of them, we will eventually reach a point where that ‘tool’ will just not work on the problem, yielding a faulty result. In a few areas of knowledge, some ‘tools’ play a larger role than others; however, those other ‘tools’ still have a part to play in discovering the truth. Our ways of knowing rely directly on our mentalities; an imbalanced mentality will lead to imbalanced use of our ‘tools’. The best thing we can do in order to maximize the validity and actuality of our knowledge is to consciously strive towards learning how and when to use our ways of knowing.





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