Can you explain the process of acquisition of knowledge?
Acquisition of knowledge is the process by which we not only learn facts, but also form opinions, harness emotions and employ judgements. Goethe’s statement expresses that we can only have confidence when we know very little – we don’t know what we don’t know. The word “confidence” originates from the Latin word confidere, which means “to trust”, “to believe in”1. Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, agreed: “To know is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” Goethe further extends this by saying that the more we learn about something, the more we can accept that there is more to know and more to learn – we can see that the knowledge we have is only the beginning of a journey of further discovery. In order to consider both sides of Goethe’s statement, I will explore its credence through the areas of natural science and history. I chose this combination because science is considered to be a discipline of fact and reason; whereas history is often seen as more subjective, due to its foundation often relying on recounts and observations made by people at the time.
One of the ‘main’ knowledge questions raised in NS is: is our knowledge comprehensive and absolute (is our confidence justified?) or does it simply raise more questions? The NS does rely on imagination in creating ideas which have led to theories and the knowledge we have of the world around us today. The basis of research within NS is intrinsic to the pursuit and development of knowledge as it is based on some level of doubt in the existing knowledge on a specific topic; the imagination inspires scientists to find out if there could be more to know.