Teacher. Divine Ahadzie: Where do you get your source of knowledge? A scholarly reflection
As human beings, we make decisions every day based on certain sources of knowledge and these tend to define our behavior and personality.
These sources of knowledge are also essential in defining our source of vision and wisdom. This suggests that we are an embodiment of the origin of our sources of knowledge.
What then are these sources of knowledge? Well, they can be categorized into six main areas as shown in an academic textbook by Kreuger and Neuman (2006) titled “Methods of Social Research……”. These are; authority, tradition, media myth, personal experience, common sense and then SCIENCE.
Here readers will notice that SCIENCE as a source of knowledge is in “caps” and I have done so for my own emphasis. Space will not permit me to discuss each source of knowledge exhaustively. However, what is obvious is that much of what we claim to know about the world and life is often based on stories that our parents, people in positions we admire, such as religious leaders, opinion leaders, teachers and/or our peers have told us.
According to Kreuger and Neuman, when we believe something is true simply because someone in position says so, then we rely on authority as a source of knowledge. In this context, knowledge derived from tradition and/or religious doctrines could also be considered as emanating from authority.
For example, the eminent history professor Thomas Noble of the University of Notre Dame wrote in his published lecture notes on The Foundations of Western Civilization: “Religion has served as an awe-inspiring attempt to begin to systematize knowledge about the natural world”. So, once upon a time, religion actually served as the basis for defining our understanding of earth and life, but the paradigm shifted when philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle began laying the groundwork for religion. science becomes the way.
Information obtained from published materials such as books, magazines, and now social media can also be considered to be from authority. Similarly, we can obtain knowledge from what is called media myth. This is when we are tempted to use information obtained by repeatedly watching movies, movies and reading tabloids etc. Sometimes it may reflect reality, but more often than not it may also be misleading and/or exaggerated for entertainment and promotional purposes. Indeed, nowadays, social media could also be used to propagate a media myth, if the sources of information are not properly verified.
We also learn a lot from our personal experience and practice. However, people can exaggerate their personal experiences to make them appealing when in fact the reality is not the same. The reverse can also be true, influencing people to suppress information about their experiences for their benefit.
Common sense is a basic knowledge that we are all supposed to have as human beings. For example, it is common sense that if you put your hands in boiling water, you will burn yourself. In Ghana, many of our “so-called wise sayings and/or proverbs” can also come from common sense. The problem with these wise sayings is that they can also be contradictory and lead to what Kreuger and Neuman call “illogical errors”. That is, you can get a wise saying supporting one point of view and another opposing it at the same time.
Now back to why I emphasize SCIENCE. In academia, we consider science to be different from all sources of knowledge because unlike others, it is evidence-based and subject to diligent, logical and systematic observation and data, and neutrality . While we are not suggesting that these other sources of knowledge should be dismissed outright, the problem is that they can be severely limited compared to science. Above all, they tend to be dogmatic, rooted in belief, and fixed as science admits opposing viewpoints and the superiority of evidence.
In Ghana, even though the mantra is on science and technology for national development, public discourse and implementation suggests that we still cling to dogmatic sources of knowledge as sometimes it is not unclear which sources of knowledge motivate the public. policy and implementation.
In practice, it may seem that religious and traditional sources dominate discourse and decision-making, given the enormous influence and public patronage over science. Tradition and religion can always be “useful” sources of knowledge, but it is also true that knowledge from these sources can be questionable, unsubstantiated, and much has never been substantiated and is just hearsay. say or result from prejudice.
Yes, there could be many sources of knowledge out there. Nevertheless, we need credible sources of knowledge to create people of vision and wisdom. The reality is that science, including logic, is now akin to the progress of modern societies and we have proof of it everywhere. While this position is obviously considered questionable by some, from an academic perspective it is established and well-founded.
We can still continue to cling tightly to the beliefs of other sources of knowledge, but let’s remember that we are defined by the sources of knowledge on which we depend, whether on an individual, collective or national level. It also defines the progress we make as a society.
In closing, let me point out that although this article was written from an academic perspective, it is important to dispel a misconception. Science is not only done in academia but can be practiced at all levels of society because ultimately it is about finding solutions to societal problems through diligent, logical and systematic means.
The writer, Professor Divine Ahadzie is a researcher at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and also an academic blogger.
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