Human beings make sense of what is going on around them through the eight ways of knowing. The eight ways of knowing are sensory perception, reason, memory, faith, imagination, intuition, emotion, and language (Pollock 11). The ways of knowing apply to the acquisition of knowledge in various areas of knowledge. The areas of knowledge are history, natural sciences, human sciences, mathematics, religious knowledge systems, indigenous knowledge systems, the arts and ethics (Pollock 11). Each area of knowledge helps us to acquire knowledge of certain aspects of the world. In gaining knowledge, each area of knowledge uses a network of ways of knowing that facilitate the acquisition of knowledge.
The purpose of human sciences is to research, discover facts about and report the findings on the nature of humans as a group, or as individuals. In attaining the stated objective, human sciences strive to do so in a scientific and focused way. Despite the much that has been found out about humans, there is still a lot about people that is yet to be established. Human beings remain a difficult race to understand.
The methodology employed in research into humans may seem sophisticated and advanced. However, the question still lingers as to the extent to which human beings can be studied scientifically. One challenge that faces human scientists is biased from both the researcher's perspective and the object of research's perspective. For instance, it is not easy for anthropologists to fully understand and appreciate the different knowledge that exists in different communities due to linguistic bias or their personal biased cultural memories. Human Sciences include Anthropology, Human Biology, Business Studies, Criminology, Demography, Media Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
Psychologists work to gain an understanding of human behavior. In their pursuit of this knowledge, a broad variety of methods are employed in investigating how and why people feel, think, speak, react and behave as they do. The human being is a complex creature, and as stated earlier, it is not easy to study people due to limitations such as bias on the part of the researcher and the subject.
Psychology is a broad field with many branches. These branches use different methods of research to acquire knowledge. The knowledge obtained in psychology enables us to gain an understanding of the human being's way of thinking and behavior. For instance, Pavlov in his experiments using dogs established the theory of classical conditioning. Pavlov used a combination of ways of knowing that led to the development of psychology as an area of knowledge.
In acquiring the desired knowledge, psychology as a part of human sciences employs the application of ways of acquiring knowledge. From the experiments, statistics, and mathematical calculations can be used to show the behavioral characteristics of a sample. However, in arriving at this knowledge, it is important to avoid hasty generalizations even based on statistics. In cases where interviews or questionnaires are used, care is taken to avoid inaccuracy. The language used in an interview or questionnaire to make an inquiry is a major determinant of the viability of the outcomes. Using closed questionnaires leads to a high risk of introducing bias to the results of an inquiry. In addition, the expectations of the researcher may have an impact on the products of research.
Personal Bias in Acquiring Knowledge in Psychology
For instance, when conducting a study on popular radio stations and the reason for their popularity in my town, I was more enthusiastic in the interview process when a participant replied that one of my favorite stations was also theirs. The interview is a method of acquiring knowledge that makes use of various ways of acquisition of knowledge. Where the interviewer has a personal bias, then the interview faces the risk of biased results that are an inaccurate representation of the knowledge to be gained.
History as an Area of Knowledge
According to Cooper, history is correctly defined as study of the past. This definition is important to avoid the common misconception that history is simply past events. Past events by themselves do not make up history. However, the study of the impact of past events is considered history. For past events to be significant, their impact must be understood, and thus history is developed. Coopers definition is important for the study of knowledge and ways of acquiring it. History constitutes knowledge and getting this knowledge requires the use of ways of acquiring knowledge. For instance, if I were to visit a historic site, I would employ sensory perceptions to observe and understand the remnants of the past events that took place at the site.
Barnes argues that knowledge is built on interest. In the same vein, the development of knowledge is directly related to the level of interest in it. In the case of history as an area of knowledge, interest in history spurs the development of knowledge in history. For instance, my desire to understand the culture of people living in the Amazon rainforest leads to the employment of ways of acquiring knowledge to attain the desired knowledge. In this way, history as an area of knowledge uses a combination of the various ways of knowing to establish the sought after knowledge.
Marwick argues that an understanding of history is necessary for maximum use of the present and future times. History as an area of knowledge provides information that is useful in creating an understanding of various aspects of the world. To obtain the knowledge that history contains, a combination of various ways of knowing is used. This relationship further indicates that for areas of knowledge to be developed, there is need for incorporation of ways of knowing. Charles Darwin, one of the most prominent supporters of evolution, traveled around the world studying by observation the flora and fauna. In his study, Darwin employed ways of knowing to create an understanding of the origin of the species on earth and the development of living things over time.
From Darwins perspective, an understanding of the origins of the earth can be put forward. The knowledge that amounts to a history of life on planet earth can be obtained using a combination of various ways of knowing to gain knowledge. In the same way Darwin used areas of knowledge and ways of knowing to gain knowledge, I could dig into my familys history and gain knowledge to create my family tree. The history of my family is an area of knowledge that can be explored using ways of knowing. The knowledge gained can be used to create a family tree that showcases the generations as far back as information can be obtained.
History can be considered a special area of knowledge because by understanding the past, the present and the future can be exploited better. The knowledge gained from history has a great impact on the past led to the present, and the present determines the future. For instance, in my academics, knowing that I have been failing a certain subject is important. Armed with the knowledge of my past in that subject, I can take measures to improve the present that will have a positive impact on the future.
Knowledge is a wide field that can be broken down into various areas. The areas of knowledge are history, natural sciences, human sciences, mathematics, religious knowledge systems, indigenous knowledge systems, the arts and ethics. These areas of knowledge have ways of acquiring information that contribute to the development of the particular area of knowledge. Using the ways of knowing individually or as a combination leads to development of the areas of knowledge. Subsequently, development of the areas of knowledge leads to understanding of various aspects of the world.
Barnes, Barry. Interests and the Growth of Knowledge (RLE Social Theory). Routledge, 2014.
Barnes, Barry. Scientific knowledge and sociological theory. Vol. 2. Routledge, 2013.
Bochner, Arthur P. Coming to narrative: A personal history of paradigm change in the human sciences. Vol. 14. Left Coast Press, 2014.
Cooper, Hilary. History in the early years. Routledge, 2013.
Lamberts, Koen, and David Shanks. Knowledge Concepts and Categories. Psychology Press, 2013.
Marwick, Arthur. "The Fundamentals of History." (2001).
Schank, Roger C., and Robert P. Abelson. Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding: An inquiry into human knowledge structures. Psychology Press, 2013.
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