Essay Sample: The Concept of Certain Knowledge

2021-07-14 10:59:45
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From a young age, children are brought up to follow the canons and beliefs of their parents and teachers without any questions whatsoever. This implies that people have an affinity for understanding knowledge, whichever they are immersed into overtime. In this case, there arises a distinction of what certain or sure knowledge is to the people. According to the text, certain knowledge is that which is clear and impossible to doubt since it does not have any inherent errors and neither is it deceptive to people that have it. Certain knowledge is that which cannot be questioned since anyone that tries to prove it false may be given counter-arguments that prove it true beyond any reasonable doubt. An example of certain knowledge is the fact that there are seven days in a week and 12 months in a year. Personally, I believe, without any shred of doubt, that there cannot be 6 or 8 days in the same week, and at the same time, a year cannot contain more or less than 12 months. Considering that I have a calendar and I have learned this in school and also been taught to believe in the cycle by my teachers and the society at large, I do not have any reason to doubt the number of days in a week.

Consequently, from my understanding of the concept, certain knowledge, can only by that which we have been taught to believe. On top of that, there must be a large number of reasons to make one hold onto such beliefs and ensure that it is void of any errors that can lead to a misleading conclusion. As a result, anything that can be argued against and proven to be otherwise could not be defined to be certain knowledge under any circumstance since it is not true for all.

Necessary and sensory beliefs

Certain knowledge has been identified as the knowledge instilled by parents and teachers and proven to be certain and devoid of errors. Certain knowledge is supported and/or disapproved by either or both sensory and necessary beliefs. Sensory beliefs are those attained from sense-data and self-evident truths. These beliefs are usually self-evident, persuasive and straight to the point in most of the cases since it gives insights into complex matters leading to the creation of data. In fact, sensory data differs from necessary beliefs since the beliefs appear to be visible things perceived through the senses of an individual. Sensory beliefs are usually challenged or compete with the necessary beliefs. For instance, according to Al Ghazali, when one is in a state of dreaming, it is more real at that time, hence disperses the necessary beliefs currently in place. Besides, other sensors, for instance, sight, tend to influence our perception of knowledge and what comprises of the knowledge that we have. On the other hand, necessary beliefs are attained from the learning knowledge such as medicine and writings, which people tend to know due to the necessity of the scientific status.

Sensory belief is attained from sense-data got from various sources. Al-Ghazali does not rely on sense-data since it is prone to misconceptions and errors that may miscue the actual reality. For instance, he states that sight may lead to one concluding that an object is moving, however, eventually, it may be proven to be moving gradually and imperceptibly, proving that the sensory data could not be relied on to provide certain knowledge.

Necessary beliefs

In as much as sensory beliefs can also not be used to form a basis for certain knowledge, it does not imply that necessary knowledge is also not refutable. Al Ghazali states that on some occasions, our necessary truths tend to get challenged by intellectual truths. The intellectual truth may manifest it as the new truth and form comprehensive truth that cannot be doubted since it is irrefutable. In fact, the only difference that arises leading to people making a different conclusion about knowledge or the truth depend on the situation and how the truth is manifested to the people.

Al Ghazali explains that the only way for such truths to hold for a person would be in the situation where it is well demonstrated, and in the context of the first principle, which unless admitted may become impossible to demonstrate. Generally, this confirms the argument that knowledge is only true depending on the present state of the individual going through the perception of the truth, as shown by the distinction of when one is dreaming and when awake. The truth, when one is awake, is much more evident since and one may accept the reality they have come to know as necessary, whereas, this may not be the reality when asleep since the truth at that moment is as perceived. However, eventually, the necessary truths and certainty of knowledge will always be as a result of the totality of thought on a matter. Thus, lack of it could imply that the knowledge is not believed after all.

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