How Humans Gain Knowledge

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How humans gain knowledge has always been the point of interest as far as theory of knowledge is concerned. Apparently, humans know much about different things or phenomenon in their environment due to a vast collection of methods of inquiry that utilize numerous ways of knowing. There is a network that interlinks various ways of knowing which in turn help in construction of knowledge in multiple areas of knowledge. The most common areas of knowledge are mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, ethics, and religious and indigenous knowledge systems. According to theory of knowledge, network is all about how elements of knowledge are shared so that they can be utilized by humans in their endeavors. It is through network that various areas of knowledge are interrelated. Just like various areas of knowledge work in conjunction with each other during the process of gaining knowledge, so is the ways of knowing. It can therefore be contended that ways of knowing do not work in isolation; but rather as a network in order to enhance the flow and acquisition of information which is a crucial element in gaining of knowledge.

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Natural science and History constitute a wide range of the areas of knowledge that play an integral role when it comes to gaining of knowledge. The common ways of knowing that are associated with these two areas of knowledge are emotion, faith, imagination, intuition, memory, reason (rationalism) and the sense of perception. According to the research, ways of knowing, which is all about acquisition of the knowledge by humans in their surroundings, cannot work in disjunction. This insinuates that one area of knowing is not sufficiently enough to acquire the information as well as understanding various aspects in either history or natural sciences. Studies in either natural sciences or history reveal that the network that exists amongst different ways of knowing enhances deeper understanding. Understanding and eventual gaining of the knowledge depends on the links that exist among different ways of knowing. This can be attested to the fact that sharing of information (knowledge) via various ways of knowing provide varying perspectives as well as methods that are imperative when it comes to gaining of knowledge.

In both history and natural science, intuition and reason work in liaison. Reasoning involves the application of logic or rationale in gaining of the knowledge. In natural science, humans depend on the reasoning to acquire knowledge (Kim 2). They use the cause, explanations and justification when presenting different findings in the natural sciences. In these instances, the humans use their power of mind to think and eventually form their logical judgment. It therefore intimates that reasoning is integral in gaining of knowledge especially in natural sciences. Rationalism, which is all about the use of logical thinking or reasoning to come up with decisions that are considered to be right outlines the structure of the natural sciences. However, reasoning alone as a way of knowing is not enough. It depends on the assistance of other ways of knowing to complement it. For instance, reasoning will depend on the power of the intuition in order to realize deeper understanding of facts in natural sciences. Intuition constitutes the use of instincts together with innate knowledge in understanding various aspects in humans environment (Kim 2). The use of instincts as well as innate knowledge is crucial in decision making, an aspect that embodies reasoning as way of knowing in natural sciences.

Sense of perception is also another way of knowing that cannot work in isolation. Its efficiency is only realized when other network of ways of knowing is fully implemented. As an area of knowledge, History depends largely on the sense of perception. History involves the study of the past through the past records. Apparently, the historical knowledge is drawn from the historical and cultural context (Heydorn and Jesudason 33). History is not only an area of knowledge but also the framework of knowledge. This alleges that history has been essential when it comes to shaping the framework of knowledge overtime. As a way of knowing, sense perception supports the ideals of knowledge that are outline by history. The prowess of sense perception is extensively applied in anthropology. Numerous experiments are made in the field of anthropology in order to come up with crucial facts regarding a given history. Some historical knowledge can be shared through the use of paintings. Such knowledge can be gained through seeing, which is part of the sense perception.

History concentrates on the past events that are recounted through utilization of the past records. Sense perception on other hand enables humans to know some phenomenon through what they see or perceive. The use of sense perception in history as a way of knowing puts much emphasis on the utilization of sense in gaining of knowledge (Heydorn and Jesudason 37). Through this way of knowing, humans will use their senses and memory to perceive and understand the past events. However, sense perception needs cannot work in disjunction: it needs to import some elements of knowledge from other ways of knowing. For instance, the sense perception way of knowing needs to borrow some concepts of reasoning when trying to gain knowledge. The sense perception needs to apply logic when making perceptions about the past events as outlined in history. The relationship between sense perception and reasoning only serves to highlight the existence of a network amongst the ways of knowing.

Language is also another way of knowing that attests how gaining knowledge compels each area of knowledge to use a network of ways of knowing. In both natural sciences and history, language is adequately used as a way of knowing. Language acts as the reference and focal point in gaining of knowledge since majority of concepts are explained or interpreted with the use of natural languages. When explaining historical concepts, language is heavily used. In this instance, the use of language can be in a form of oral, written or all forms of communication that use language to pass the message (Theory of Knowledge 3). Individuals are able to listen and read historical concepts that been presented with a particular language. The methods of seeing, writing, reading and listening which are predominantly used in language as a way of knowing depends on other elements of knowledge. For instance, the aspect of listening is interlinked with sense of perception. Seeing of drawn and decorated paintings enhances the understanding of the historical concepts suggesting that language cannot work alone in the process of gaining knowledge but it has to import some concepts from other ways of knowing.

In history, language also goes hand in hand with reason and faith. The historical knowledge are believed to be true since they are drawn from written facts. The humans have total trust and confidence that the historical knowledge they gained is true (Theory of Knowledge 4). They trust historical concepts communicated to them via writings, recordings or paintings. This approach indicates how language and faith as ways of knowing are working in conjunction in history, one of the areas of knowledge. If faith (believing that everything written is true) is detached from the history, language alone cannot facilitate the gaining of historical knowledge. For historical knowledge to be effectively delivered or gained, there must be the sharing of methods and concepts of the ways of knowing that are essential in the construction of various areas of knowledge.

In natural languages, language also creates a concrete network with other ways of knowing in order to enhance gaining and delivery of knowledge. Natural sciences are empirical in nature since its factual knowledge depends on the experiments. The scientific knowledge gained from the natural science is delivered with an aid of scientific language as well as scientific jargons (Martin 205). For instance, the scientific researches carried out require extensive reports that have to be written and presented in scientific language. The preferred scientific language is expected to use terms and expressions that depict scientific meanings. At this juncture, it is depicted that rationalism (reason) is sharing its methods of knowledge with language in natural sciences. The experiments carried out require analytical skills. Part of the analytical skills used are observation (seeing) in order to draw conclusions from these scientific experiments. The element of observing or seeing indicate that language also needs the methods of sense perception in order to facilitate the gaining of knowledge.

Generally, it is clear that ways of knowing interact with each other in various ways during the process of constructing knowledge as well as formation of knowledge claims. Any simple claim of knowledge will assemble a network of ways of knowing to support it. It can therefore be concluded that, In gaining knowledge, each area of knowledge uses a network of ways of knowing.


Heydorn, Wendy and Susan Jesudason. Decoding Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma: Themes, Skills and Assessment. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Kim, Oliver. "What are the Four ways of knowing? ." TOKTAK (Talking about Theory of Knowledge) (2009): 1-3. web.

Martin, Karen. "Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being and Ways of Doing: a theoretical framework and methods for Indigenous re-search and Indigenist research." Journal of Australian Studies, (2003): 203-214.

Theory of Knowledge. "Language." Theory of Knowledge (2014): 1-5

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