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< Back to question What is knowledge? Show more Show less

What does it mean to have knowledge on a subject? Does knowledge exist in a platonic plane, is it dependent on social structures and can humans possess it?

Knowledge is predicated on social conditions Show more Show less

Knowledge cannot be understood on its own and exists only within a certain social context
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Knowledge is dependent on social structures

The way humans understand the world relates directly to the political and social environments that an individual resides under.
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Proponents


Context

Knowledge is defined as "facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject." Knowledge shapes the way people see themselves and their surroundings and can have direct bearing on social, political, and economic experiences.[1] Knowledge is everywhere and follows humans throughout their entire lives. It is imperative to understand where that knowledge comes from and its purpose to critically think about humans' positions throughout history and in the world.

The Argument

Social and political institutions determine what is true, not any objective metric. Within the United States, educational material is determined by the state and federal governments. [2] In Medieval Europe, truth was determined by religion and the Catholic Church. Religious institutions state that education comes from their respective God or Gods. Social and political institutions determine what questions are asked, as well, making the scope of education more limited. The Church, or other entities, choose what to teach and how to teach it. This process of education and truth-making makes knowledge a social matter. No knowledge is naturally understood; it is taught through social constructs over a person’s lifetime. This knowledge may feel natural, but in reality, it may not be.[3] Knowledge is dependent on location, region, government, gender, and a number of other social factors.[4] Different nations have different forms of the same type of knowledge. For example, the United States of America calls the war between Britain and the US the Revolutionary War, whereas Britain calls it The American War of Independence. These two phrases infer different things and change student's perception of the war based on where they are learning about it. The aim of such social constructions over knowledge is to prove control over the knowledge itself or theoretical control over it if the institution wanted to have it.[4] Knowledge can not be objective if it is controlled by people. The biases and ideas of those in power will always bleed into the education system.

Counter arguments

Biological determinists theorize that individual traits and knowledge are based on predetermined sets of biological factors. [3] For example, a child comes out of the womb knowing how to cry and how to eat. Children acquire knowledge through a similar process. Scholars argue that under social constructivism, where knowledge is dependent on social conditions, the relativity of knowledge makes all knowledge equally relevant and probable. For example, a person who believes the Earth is flat would be just as correct as a person who believes the Earth is round, according to critical scholars. [3] If knowledge is subjective and not concrete, that would mean that either person is correct, refuting the credibility of scientific fact. Scholars argue that if all knowledge is based on social conditions, science and fact can't exist. To add, people who believe that knowledge is a social structure discount reality. They discount that knowledge is based on observations of reality, which are not affected by the environment or politics. [3] For example, gravity is not a social construct of knowledge, because the mathematics and environment behind gravity can't be social or political.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knowledge
  2. https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/17/08/when-it-comes-education-federal-government-charge-um-what
  3. https://www.thoughtco.com/social-constructionism-4586374#:~:text=Knowledge%20Is%20Socially%20Constructed,in%20historical%20and%20cultural%20contexts.
  4. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-construction-naturalistic/

This page was last edited on Tuesday, 8 Sep 2020 at 04:57 UTC