How can we trust the knowledge that is based on the NS?
When trying to formulate a conclusion about the level of confidence in knowledge based on NS there are instances in support of each argument. However, it can be agreed that even if we are now confident in some theories, it will have taken many years to reach this conclusion; indeed people will have had to doubt other theories – for example that the sun orbits the earth – to reach the point today where new research only further increases confidence. Thus, we can agree that increased knowledge, does increase doubt.
History is another area that could be used to explore the veracity of Goethe’s statement. I would like to consider the role of propaganda and indoctrination, as this would seem to substantiate the idea that that the less knowledge we have, the more we can believe in it.
Throughout history, the degree of understanding that humans have on particular topics has undoubtedly changed by means of the advancement of knowledge. However, instances throughout history reveal that, even when people knew very little of a situation, they acted with confidence – for example the participation of Germans in the holocaust. From 1933-1945, Germany was ruled by Hitler and the Deutsches Reich – a regime operating by means of persecution and fear. Hitler and his Nazi party wanted to ‘improve’ Germany by such practices as eugenics, refining the genetics of the remaining population, and ethnic cleansing. Hitler’s regime concentrated on indoctrinating the country’s young – Nazi ideology and anti-Semitism through censorship of all forms of information; books, school curriculum and propaganda. This method of spreading propaganda and glorification of the regime was paralleled through the armed services, into which all men were required to enlist at 18, where fanatic commitment to Nazi ideology was enforced. In addition to this was the terror – the ever-present threat of trial, severe punishment or death if you adopted any other point of view.