How do you know what you know? What do we actually know? What do we assume we know?, These are some of the many questions that arise whilst exploring the vast possibilities of the information that humans process within themselves throughout their lives. Understanding that each individual has their own specific thought process and how they approach certain situations, in most cases our inner conscience and reasoning makes us believe that the information we interpret and the methods we follow to acquire information is often correct. When an additional information is placed upon us, we wish to ignore it as our minds think that ignorance is bliss and we want to keep living our life the way we know how to.
Exploring the TOK essay title itself which expresses that we are more comfortable when we know little and given the opportunity to inquire further and gather additional knowledge, our doubts increase while our confidence decreases, we can understand that this setting brings back an old knowledge problem of the combination between Doubt and Trust. Further exploring doubt, we use our ways of knowing: Reason and Intuition. While doubt is directly linked to the search of knowledge, it has also lead to the understanding that in our time and era, doubt is more of a foundation from which we begin our search for knowledge due to the addiction we have for certainty about things that we know/don’t know. Confidence itself is a term that is subjective to each individual. Understanding that confidence uses the combination of many ways of knowing such as reason, intuition, memory etc; confidence is uncertain given that when we process knowledge, our ways of knowing play an essential role in how we interpret the piece of information we have laid in-front of us and how we wish to believe it is the truth.
It is a form of self assurance that combines our inner intuition with reasoning that processes the consignment of knowledge into believing that the existing amount of knowledge that processes the knowledge itself is correct. Referring it to as tunnel vision where we only see the light at the end (Our un-modified perspective) we can understand that given our perspective, we are constantly intrigued to prove ourselves right because it is reasonable to us. Looking at the question from a historical context, the ancient greeks or the Latins did not have “Doubt” as the starting point of thinking, but “Doubt” had been an additional element that would help deduce what is good and what is not, and what the purpose of the thought is. A Question like “How can one become a good human being?” Had risen, but in our world today today the “Goodness” of something is determined by what value it holds and how useful it is for us. While the term “Value” may play a proportionate role in deducing, it is just another term humans have created which does not have an actual numerical/factual value to it.
Under the Area of Knowledge: Human sciences, Economics is doubted and builds curiosity within us to validate information because even though Economists are specialists in their field and their interpretations date back to an extended past period, there’s more than one perspective into the piece of knowledge they are expressing. For example in Economics if we look at a Keynesian theory, it suggests that capitalism is a decent system. People earn money from their work in a good economic system.In a capitalist society, business entities pay labor to work and the labor in turn spend money on the system making the capitalist machine work.
Businesses employ and pay people to work. Then people can spend their money on things they want. On the other hand, Hayek (Hayekian Theory) promoted the idea that private investment, rather than government spending, would promote sustainable growth. Both of these can be considered as shared knowledge, this is because there is more than one right answer/point of view to making the economy more efficient and sustainable. The general understanding is that there is a scarcity of resources, these perspective in human sciences help solidify the arguments economists make to evaluate the various theories in economics in both the short and in the long run. Considering that both Friedrich Hayek and John M Keyes are famous economists in our world, we will temporarily validate their expression of thoughts that want to steer the markets or set them free in order to fine tune the economy due to their high caliber.
But however, doubt will continuously increase within us because unlike mathematics where there can be only one answer to the calculation, in human sciences: economics there can me more than one right answer. Hence the theory of another Bangladeshi economist named Muhammad Yunus, he believed that the monetary supply of Bangladesh had faced shocks due to the biased approach of lending more to men than women. His theory of stabilizing the economy had been to give out micro loans to the women in order to help increase the living standards of those living in poverty as well as provide them with the opportunity to be an entrepreneur in the domestic market at first and then the foreign market.
In our world today there are uncountable approaches and an extended list of theories that can be followed to stabilize and improve the conditions of the economy, hence our intuition plays a game with our inner conscience and makes us *Doubt* any piece of information/knowledge that is placed in front of us as there is a large variety of perspectives and thoughts in answering the question of “How to improve the economy?”, which is why we know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases As another Area of Knowledge, Mathematics works as a counter to the perspective formed when human sciences are taken into account. In comparison to human sciences, mathematics builds a strong trust within us due to its distinctive characteristics of it being straight forward, either a right or a wrong answer. Understanding that Mathematics can be relied on because it is a purely logical system, we don’t doubt the information placed in-front of us due to inductive reasoning because inductive reasoning involves the supply of truth that leads to a conclusion and Mathematicians do not have the liberty or possibility of finding a different answer from the algorithms and formulas that express the answers. Mathematics is a greatly relied on because it relies on proof. Thus we do not think deeper whether the piece of knowledge is valid or not as the caliber of mathematicians and the intensity of finding the right answer to formulas and algorithms give out the assurance of its validity.
A prime example of a math formula that we trust is the X and Y Equations in which there can only be one value to the X or to the Y. If the equation states 2x + 1 = 5, we single out the x value and think what numerical value multiplies with the 2 in order or be added to the 1 for it to be the final answer of a 5. There is only one answer to this question in mathematics hence even if it is told by our high school math teacher or a university level math professor, we use reason and intuition to make sense of what piece of knowledge is being processed and in most cases we do not doubt it. When there can be only one answer to the equation/formula/algorithm, we instantly assume that either the answer is right or wrong. There is no explanation in there being a different possible answer because in order to meet the end value there can only be one outcome.
A general perspective of being confident shows that a person is well grounded and has a strong personality whereas that assumption is most likely to be wrong. Our minds oversimplify when it needs to cope with the difficulty of situation. While we struggle towards result, the moment we get to understand that and define the core of a problem, our mind tends to reason with limited knowledge to satisfy it’s understanding. Even though it seems logical and reasonable for us to trust mathematics and not doubt it as we are not experts in maths, another aspect that should be considered is mathematical fallacy. This means that similar to human sciences, mathematics also has an aspect that is doubted. Mathematical fallacy is the incorrect result that is concluded to through the apparent correct and specious reasoning of the incorrect data/results.
This means that even though there can be one answer to a formula or an equation, when it is inquired further from the various calculated approaches of mathematicians of the previous centuries vs our century, there are potential wrong answers if not completely wrong answer. For example, if we are answering the equation ( a ) = ( b ) or 1 = 2, we understand that 1 cannot equal to 2 & ( a ) cannot be equal to ( b ), 1 can only equal to 2 if another variable representing a number is multiplied with 1 and ( a ) can only be equal to ( b ) if it is multiplied with a variable that cancels out the ( a ) and singles out the ( b ). In interpreting that we know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases, we can fully understand that due to the lack of knowledge within us for the fields we do not specialize in, we will always use doubt as a tool for inner satisfaction of processing into the correct knowledge that we trust. Additional information given to us simply goes through the process of reason and intuition to be processed and in most cases brings us out of our comfort zone.