The of some academic disciplines could decrease over time

The quality of knowledge
produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of
historical development of that discipline.” Explore this claim with reference
to two disciplines

 

Topic five explores a number of different assumptions that
first need to be answered in order to be able to explore the topic. .
The first assumption is that “knowledge has quality”. For knowledge to have quality, it must be useful in some way. Quality can be
defined as a standard which is measured
against other things of a similar nature. An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge. Different
disciplinarians engage in subjects in different ways. For example sciences
require testing and reasoning, whereas religious knowledge systems use
historical evidences as well as past knowledge. One idea brought out through
the title is that knowledge
progresses/develops over time. Progress can be defined as a development to an
improved view, in an area of knowledge. In simpler words, an academic
discipline refers to a specific subject such as maths, chemistry or the
languages. The “quality of knowledge” in an academic discipline is different
for different disciplines. For example, in Chemistry, the “quality of knowledge”
could refer to how accurate the
knowledge is to real life. Since data in chemistry is presented in models,
and with advancements in chemistry, these models could change and therefore the
quality of knowledge would increase. Different academic disciplines could also
have different definitions of quality. In my opinion, the topic explores how
the accuracy/usefulness of a discipline
is intertwined with the amount of time spent on it.  My main take from the title was to explore how the quality of some
academic disciplines could decrease over time or increase more slowly over
time, or that academic disciplines see proportional growth.

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To explore the claim
given, I decided to refer to two disciplines, the first of which is the natural sciences. According to our TOK
text book- natural sciences are a branch of science which deals with the
physical world, e.g. physics, chemistry, geology, biology. Discoveries in its
field have helped us to understand better what drives us as human beings, how
our planet has evolved and even what the universe may look like. To prove a theory in the natural
sciences, analysis and proof of the concept usually must be shown. My
second area of knowledge is the natural arts. The arts can be defined as anything
from paintings to different sounds. Knowledge in arts is an understanding or
the presence of an opinion about a piece of art, for the knower. The arts could
be viewed as means to help shape views and beliefs in society. In my
perspective, one believes “what is art” through the use of sense perception as
one can view and interpret it in their own meaning, throughout history. The
natural sciences and the arts are on different ends of a spectrum, as in my
opinion one requires thorough research and testing to come through to a
hypothesis while the arts are based more on a person’s perspectives.

 After thinking about
this, I asked the fundamental question: To
what extent does the accuracy of knowledge depend on the time for which it has
been studied? This brought me to a claim that with time the accuracy of knowledge increases. For this, I am
using the example of spontaneous generation in the natural sciences. For
thousands of years it was believed that life originated from elements rather
than through traditional means of reproduction such as seeds or eggs. This
changed, when Louis Pasteur, used reasoning and tested a hypothesis to prove
that maggots don’t appear on a piece of meat in a sealed container. The
invention of the microscope, further helped to prove this hypothesis as we
could see that rotting occurred due to airborne microorganisms. This shows that
over time, the accuracy of knowledge can change. It also showed me that different
ways of knowing can change the way in which knowledge is acquired. My counter
claim for this is that passage of time
does not make knowledge more accurate.  For this, I will use an example from the arts.
The Mona Lisa painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci is
said to be one of the most expensive and well known paintings. It is believed
to have been painted between 1503 and 1506, and is currently estimated to be
one of the most valuable paintings, as its characteristics still baffle
artists. To contrast this, A painting by New York abstract artist Barnett
Newman was sold for $43.8 million in 2013. The picture was, to say the least –
blue. Through my reasoning I understood that the ‘quality of the two arts had a
large difference with the first one being the better. My second example for
this is an example from history. History
is defined as the study of past events. Most historical evidences are in the
form of scriptures and text. According to historian Marwick, it
is simply inconceivable to try to understand the present without reference to
the events that have brought us here. An
example for this is from my religion of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is a
religion originated in Persia. According to religious leaders and experts, Zoroastrianism
is said to have arrived in India in the 8th century. They are said to all
arrive in one boat and all arrived with the same year. However in the
historian’s perspective this is not true, and they believe that the Parsis
arrived between the 8th and the 10th century. It is thus seen that the passage
of time has created more doubts, and now there is no clear conclusion to how
the Zoroastrians arrived in India.

My second knowledge question is – is
knowledge the result of asking the correct questions through different time
periods? This knowledge question, leads to the creation of
two questions, which ask if knowledge is always deliberate, or can it be an
accidental discovery? This brings me to
my first claim is inquisitiveness coupled with observation of surroundings
leads to scientists asking the right questions. For this, I will be using a
real life example from physics. Physicist Wilhelm Rontgen was working with
cathode ray tubes, when he noticed that there as a picture of his arm left on a
photographic film. Using knowledge and
reasoning, he hypothesised that this way due to an invisible ray from the
cathode tube, and thus the discovery of x-ray came into place. Another real
life situation for this would be the invention of the microwave. In chemistry
we learnt about how the microwave was founded, which was because of someone
using their logic and reasoning. Spencer used to work for a company who
developed microwave radar transmitters during World War II. One day in
1945, he noticed that a chocolate which was in his pocket began to melt. He was
able to conclude that the chocolate was melted due to the water being
evaporated and the fact that vibrations had melted them. He used his personal knowledge to create shared knowledge.

The counter claim for this will be
that scientists don’t always ask questions, sometimes discoveries could be
accidental. For this I will use a real life situation
of Teflon. This idea came to one day, as I witnessed my mother cook on a
non-stick pan. Chemical engineer Roy Plunkett, whose was experiencing immense
anger while trying to invent Teflon in 1938. Plunkett had wanted to make a new
variety of chlorofluorocarbons, when he came back to check on his experiment in
a freezer. When he inspected a canister that was supposed to be full of gas, he
found that it appeared to have disappeared, leaving behind only a few white
flakes. Plunkett was fascinated by these newfound bits, and began at once to
experiment with their properties. His luck allowed him to invent Teflon. My second real life situation would be
the discovery of x-rays which I learnt about through an article I read.
 German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was doing experiments on cathode ray
tubes brighten up from a distance. This accidental discovery lead to the finding
of x-rays. Thus in the end the conclusion can be made that although some
findings are accidental, most of them lead from the thinking, intuition and
logic of scientists. Linking back to the question, this made me think that some
discoveries do not take any time to occur and could occur out of the blue. We
can see that although knowledge is the result of the duration of work on it,
some discoveries occur by accident through time. Linking back, this showed me
that knowledge can be due to change in “luck” throughout history.

Thus
in conclusion we can see that the quality of knowledge produced by an academic
discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development
of that discipline as most discoveries are a result of past experimentations
and past knowledge and that most knowledge helps to create new knowledge. However,
there are instances in different areas of knowledge where the quality could
decrease over time. We can thus conclude that through development and the
proportion to the time spent on it, accuracy or usefulness of knowledge increases.