Doubt is the key to knowledge, which is a Persian proverb, has its own meaning and connotation. From an individual viewpoint, doubt materializes as the state of observance amid skepticism and certainty. Often, doubt permits any apparent notion to be questioned. It invokes one to instigate an inquiry besides compelling given truths to be reviewed.
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These allow for improved reconsiderations, thus advancing expansions of knowledge. The process continues till individuals establish grounds that they are contented with. This paper seeks to discuss the degree at which doubt has been exhibited to be the key to knowledge. It concerns two vital knowledge areas namely history and natural sciences.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines science as a knowledge system that covers the operations of either the general laws or general truths as acquired and confirmed via the scientific techniques and oriented to the experimental physical world phenomena. Via the historical course, science is perceived as a substantiated and confirmed way to gain knowledge by way of conducting experiments. The scientific community regards this as a decisive means of deriving facts from the unknown, thus establishing actualities.
In fact, scientists strongly disapprove and doubt the ensuing ideas till sufficient evidence that supports them is provided. Should we therefore conclude that knowledge in science is provisional and consents to falsification? Certainly, any theory having adequate logics stands a chance of falsifying the standing knowledge that was hitherto held. Hence, I sincerely trust that science is actually provisional through doubt.
Science primarily evolves by virtue of the abstract or perhaps the contingent unsolved postulates that scientists endeavor to establish and define their connotations. Such hypotheses are experimented by means of scientific techniques and every constructive deduction that is drawn will thereafter be established as a theory.
Basically, any theory that is apprehended as scientific knowledge tends to remain in that status till they become doubtful and questioned. This occurs when new explorations and experiments is such areas opposes the questionable theory. Scientific history ascertains that knowledge descends from identical courses.
Early Mesopotamian studies showed that Earth was a domed flat disk. It was till Magellan Ferdinand had a confirmation that the globe was sphere-shaped in the fifteenth century subsequent to his fruitful circumvention of the world (Rosenberg 2004, p.163). In spite of the infinite reproaches, debates and libels made against his observation, Galilei Galileo disapproved the endured concept that the earth was the epicenter of the world.
Therefore, unless proved otherwise, scientific theories and experiments provided knowledge and that knowledge is continuously augmented through experimentations and tests. This means that, although these scientific methods are considered to represent the laws of nature, new theories and methods are continuously being discovered to challenge the existing laws. Hence, gaining new knowledge is an incessant process proviso doubt still persists in the status quo.
There ought to be certain suppositions and allusions that make my opinions to remain real. The principal postulation is that for doubt to be effective in unraveling any scientific knowledge, one has to remain being in doubt till verified by germane scientific proof or trialing upshots. The evidence or results can either be on the side of or against the proposition.
The method used to test the controversial theory must be universally acknowledged by the whole scientific community or else any significant result of the research may not be recognized. Therefore, any method used to test any scientific theory has to remain definite or certain. In the contrary, the research method should not be ambiguous or debatable as might finally prove to be destructive to the attained knowledge.
Doubt only is incapable of developing new scientific theories. But it is very important in the verification and defense of hypotheses into theories and concepts into scientific laws. Though most scientific theories and laws contribute to the development of knowledge, some remain incapable of proving with sufficient logic that they are knowledgeable and they must be recognized as such (Urdahl, 1917).
Since science is continuously updated via revolutionary discoveries, most scientists seem to be unaware that the laws or theories cannot be proven. This is because no one can tell whether the theory or law in question is inconceivable natural truth. This causes scientists to continually be in doubt by proving other bodies of knowledge fruitless and futile.
For example, the theory of black hole is yet to be proven. Nevertheless, some of the perceived theories concerning the black hole maybe right, but given that they cannot be verified, cosmological scientists maybe spending senseless energies in generating novel concepts rather than directing such energies in attesting that such a concept is actually right (Wald 1992, p.62). The untiring doubt might give rise to the dismissal of the right concept causing the weakening of knowledge.
Nonetheless, some theories or laws have proven to hold true and therefore does not need further experimentation, hence conceived as the truth. For instance, the fact that the earth is going round the sun cannot be disputed. Thus, even though doubt contributes to the scientific progress and knowledge, it has limits that might be disadvantageous to knowledge advancement
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As random house dictionary asserts, history is a division of knowledge that deals with events that happened in the past. These events may be relating to specific society, period or particularly to the human race. Akin to science, the study of the past is to certain level a draft to knowledge. Interpretations of events relating to the past by historians may be different depending on the historical evidences gathered (Urdahl, 1917).
This means that the interpretations are susceptible to changes as new evidences relating to the event continue to emerge. In similar way, totally different opinion can be deduced from new material. This confirms the occurrence of doubt within the historical studies. Knowledge from historic actualities is deemed to be the veracity as vindicated by the amassed proofs and chronological inquiry, yet similar knowledge can be rejected by newfangled facts that are perceived to be valid. This dislodges the hitherto held truth.
Historical revisionism is a branch of the historical academic field that studies the conventional opinions on historical evidences, intentions and processes of making decisions connected to historical events with an aim of revising and reinterpretation (Miller et al. 2010, p37).
Revisionist historians always have an aim of reinterpreting the largely accepted views through doubt. Generally, revisionist historians have doubts on the accessible confirmations alongside the suppositions that are acquired from such facts. Hence, they go beyond ordinary study to uncover new evidences that could have been subsumed.
These new evidences could either way approve the former made conclusions or challenge the status quo by presenting it as historically false. In the process, they draw new conclusions that may be perceived as being legitimate historical knowledge until proved untrue by new evidences.
For instance, during the war in the Arabian Gulf, the US defense approved the deploying of forces into Saudi Arabia. They used satellite photo evidences that Iraqi was gathering its forces in the Arabian Desert to organize for an imminent invasion (Harvey 2001, p.136. Thru that spell, the United States was considered useful for the imperative part it assumed in the protection of Saudi-Arabia from the Iraqi belligerence.
However, no one questioned the authentication of the satellite photos, thus there was no doubt about them. But St. Petersburg Times, came across two satellite photos from one of the Soviet profit-making satellites with indications of the absence of Iraqi military anywhere near the purported area.
This new evidence changed the previously held view and the American motives became questionable. The old evidence was historically proven false, thereby increasing the doubts of American motives. As a consequence, new theories were formulated to explain the real intentions of the American military. Some gave suggestions that Americans modified the satellite images to suit their reasons for deploying troops to protect their international interest, in this case the oil import source.
The demonstrations indicated how revisionists doubting of any historical evidence can lead to the discovery of new evidences that can support the claim or disapprove the claim (Gkotzaridis 2006, p.193). In the process of analyzing the new evidence, more accurate conclusions are made and in the end they contribute to development of new historical studies knowledge.
Afore augmenting knowledge advancement, doubt might alter and make genuine chronological knowledge fallacious. The process of illegally distorting historical facts is known as negationism (Hephaestus Books 2011, p.288).
Negationism materialized when the Japanese battle offenses were revealed when WWII was occurring. The story of Nanking assault was an archaeologically famous incident for the Japanese militia involvement in heartless undertakings like burglary, manslaughter and mass assault committed on the Nanking occupants.
Albeit Japanese government admitted the legitimacy of the historical evidence during the event, they have all a long modulated the scale of the committed atrocities through the criticism of Chinese death toll estimates. Japanese government accused Chinese authorities of engineering statistics accredited to Nanking bloodbath.
The Japanese publications comprising of primers studied in schools deliberately excluded these carnages. This deliberate exclusion contributes to the distortions of true historical facts. Because of the presence of disputes surrounding war crimes that was committed by the Japanese militia, it is quit hard to determine the truth on either side (Hephaestus Books 2011, p.289).
As a result, the solution rests on the historical evidence that is commonly accepted. In this instance, it is quite clear that both historical distortions together with denials of historical realities contribute to the deterioration of knowledge. Hence, doubt cannot with certainty be recognized as the basic source of knowledge as claimed.
Nonetheless, pertaining to history as field of knowledge, it cannot be denied that doubt plays a vital role as a supporter of knowledge that is gained from historical studies. With doubting incapability, historians are imbued in facts and ideas that had already been established.
These established facts and concepts can easily be challenged through thorough research and application of new methods for establishing evidence. Therefore, history to some range is impermanent and devoid of doubt, the prospective knowledge will endure being debatable and fairy-tale.
To conclude, given that knowledge has been verified to be far-reaching and abstruse in the historic and systematic grounds, it becomes very difficult to judge doubt and its capabilities so that they can accurately emerge as fundamental to knowledge execution. Nevertheless, through appropriate researches and studies in these knowledge areas, this paper has taken a stand that to a greater degree, doubt is central as well as essential factor in determining knowledge.
Gkotzaridis, E 2006, Trials of Irish History: Genesis and evolution of a reappraisal, 1938-2000, Routledge, New York, NY.
Harvey, B 2001, Russia in space: The failed frontier? Springer, New York, NY.
Hephaestus Books, 2011, Historical revisionism (negationism, including: Mein Kampf, Holocaust Denial, Institute for Historical Review, Ma Lik, Miguel Serrano, Memory Hole, Israeli-Palestinian History Denial, Japanese War Crimes, the Two Babylons, Ernst Nolte, Neo-Stalinism, Hephaestus Books, London, UK.
Miller, FP, Vandome, AF & McBrewster, J 2010, Historical Revisionism, )lpha script Publishing, Bückeburg, Germany.
Rosenberg, MT 2004, The handy geography answer book, Barnes & Noble Books, Bellevue.
Urdahl, HH, 1917, The key of knowledge: A simple treatise comprising the phenomena of mind and of matter, combining psychology, physiology and sociology in scientific philosophy, Portland, Or.
Wald, RM 1992, Space, time, and gravity: The theory of the Big Bang and Black Holes, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, UK.