Tuesday, August 15, 2006

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience” Discuss the implication of the statement.

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience” Discuss the implication of the statement.

Experience, it is obtain when a person goes through a certain event. Therefore experience will give rise to empirical knowledge or a posterior knowledge. This is because knowledge that is obtained experience must first be observed through sense and perception first, then processed and justified. Knowledge, to set the context straight, would be justified truth. This means that true knowledge can only be obtained through truth and belief.

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.” This statement implies that without experience, no one is able to obtain knowledge. An example of knowledge through experience would be knowing that a naked flame can burn and cause harm to yourself after observing the naked flame burn someone, or yourself.

It is a statement disregards the existence of a priori knowledge, which the knowledge is obtained to pure reasoning alone. After all, the knowledge is not obtained to experiencing it, but by reasoning it to be justified truth.

Infants tend to grab onto things that they can touch. What makes them do it? Is it because they feel safer, more secure, with something to hold onto? But this will imply that the infants believe that grabbing something will bring security. They have no prior knowledge that doing so will protect them, so why are they doing it? Could it be that we are born with innate knowledge? Or is the human body “wired” to do such things? If it can be proven that humans are born with knowledge, the statement will no longer hold true.

In science classes, students are made to conduct experiments after experiments, to record all their findings and to evaluate their results. Students are made to experience these experiments to gain the knowledge that mixing certain reagents will give that result or that higher the mass, the greater the velocity it will travel down a slope. Teachers make their students practice math questions so that they can get used to the questions, observe patterns, formulate ideas and hopefully do better in their examination. These teachers believe that through experiencing doing the question is more effective than just reading about them. And this belief would be gotten from past observations that students that practices do much better than those who do not. The statement will used as a dogma if it holds true and there students will be made to experience to gain their knowledge.

Another implication of the statement is that second-hand experiences and third-hand experiences will not build up one’s knowledge although it may alter his perceptions. Second-hand or third-hand experiences are ultimately not one’s own experience, but someone else experiences. But even in first-hand experience, the observation is subjected heavily to sense-perception errors and personal interpretation. With second-hand experience, it will complement the first-hand experiences with multiple points of view, improvements and so on. Second-hand experience will give rise to new knowledge. Would this be true if the statement is held as an absolute?

Classic condition or associative learning, as described by Aristotle, is when two things commonly occur simultaneously, the appearance of one will bring the other to mind. The statement where no man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience will explain this phenomenon. After one has experience the occurrence of two things at once, over and over again, he will associate the appearance of one with the other. This is a typical empirical observation that has become “knowledge” or just a belief to that one person alone. Ivan Pavlov has conducted experiments on classic conditioning and the results all agree with each other. A traumatic experience can also condition the mind in such a way that similar events will cause fear into the observer.

Edwin Hubble observed a peculiar event going on in the outer space. He observed that galaxies are actually moving away from each other and the velocity the galaxies are receding from one another is proportional to the distance they are from each other. Through his observations, Edwin Hubble came up with the equation, V=HD, where V is the velocity the galaxies are receding, H is a constant and D is the distance between the galaxies. Without Hubble’s observations, or experiences per se, this equation would not hold water anymore. This is empirical knowledge being formed. This knowledge is then used to support the Big Bang Theory by Georges Henri Lemaitre, a physicist and an astronomer.

Georges Henri Lemaitre, through reasoning and mathematics concluded that the universe started as a singularity. Reasoning and mathematics are typical forms of a priori knowledge. This is another example that would be disregarded if the statement holds through.

Therefore, “No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience,” is a statement that cannot be held as an absolute although it has it basis in many things. It can be improved by saying that knowledge can also be obtained through reasoning alone.