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The Meaning of Quality of Knowledge

Question:

Discuss about the Quality of Knowledge and Theory.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is one of the compulsory subjects in the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is an international educational foundation and that was established in 1968. IB proposes six essays and students have to choose one essay title and explain it in the interdisciplinary manner (Woozley, 2016). However, each essay title should explain in a generic cross-disciplinary ways about knowledge and the essay should be answered considering the issues elevated in the essay title and students’ need to reach in conclusion about it. The essay should explain putting forward the claims and the counterclaims. It should link the knowledge issues to the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge.

The title of the essay claims, “the quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline.” Here the first assumption is that knowledge embraces a quality. Here the meaning is that the knowledge has qualitative value and the essay will try to answer the qualitative value of the knowledge. In order to gain quality to the knowledge, knowledge should be useful and purposeful in ways or the other (Lehrer, 2015). To prove the first assumption, some examples has been provided, which can also justify the first claim. The example could be taken by application of the common sense. In medical science, with the progression of the discipline or simply in the discipline, the quality of knowledge exists and it is valued. Qualities even could be defined as values that should be given to the things, which are considered as useful. Medical science or the knowledge of the medical science is useful to us and it has great value in our life. However, the knowledge of the medical science has quality. 


From another subject area, the first assumption could be defined by the means of Indigenous knowledge system. The indigenous knowledge system has quality as the knowledge system has some usefulness. One could gain knowledge while studying the indigenous knowledge system as it gives opportunity to know about the indigenous culture and this is the area from where one could identify the quality of the indigenous knowledge system.

The implied assumption of the essay title is that the knowledge develops or progresses. Knowledge progresses with time. With advancement of time, the knowledge produced from any academic discipline accumulates information. Lots of research works were done in the particular academic discipline otherwise it was impossible to progress (Alchin and Henly, 2014). For example, in the advancement of Interdisciplinary studies of various fields of history, sociology, political science and anthropology, cultural studies, which has been stared from 1964 in centre for contemporary cultural studies or The Birmingham School has added new perspective towards the knowledge system of different disciplines and has helped them to progress in this way (Buehl, 2017). However, the above example could touch the idea of the advancement of the academic discipline with the historical development of that discipline.

Argument in Favor of the Claim

The second assumption could be taken from the last partition of the essay title, which is the duration of the historical development. From this assumption, it is clear that historical development needs time. Naturally, any kind of development takes long time. However, the total time taken by the development of the history of any discipline is directly proportional to the quality of the knowledge from that discipline. With the development of time while creating history of any discipline, knowledge is added to that discipline for the advancement. The knowledge should be valuable in nature otherwise; it would be not possible for advancing or progression of that discipline.


For example, two disciplines have been taken to prove the essay title. However, before this, the concept of academic discipline needs to know. Academic discipline is the branch of knowledge, which is researched and taught as the branch of higher education system. Here, the areas of knowledge would be taken into account as academic disciplines are history and ethics and the ways of knowing would be reason and language.

History as an academic discipline uses some narrative structure that could examine the past. History as an academic discipline also analyzes the sequences of the past events. However, while doing so the discipline could determine objectively the sequences of causes of an event and provide different perspectives of the same event. Studying of the discipline is very old in time. Evidences could be found that in the ancient Greek culture, people would study and write events of their past. Herodotus, who was the Greek historians from 5th century B.C, is considered as the ‘father of the history’ within the western tradition. The ancient influences have helped to develop the discipline into its various forms and manners (Tonkin, McDonald and Chapman, 2016).

With time the discipline has developed. Many studies and researches have taken place within the discipline. The discipline what we study in contemporary time, is wide ranging in nature. However, it has taken lots of time to evolve and it has evolved over the century. Many historical evidences have been discovered with time and time has itself created history. The modern study of history could include the study of specific region, certain thematic or topical investigation of history. Now in this time, history is one of the major disciplines within the university curriculum. On the contrary, the quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline, can be refuted easily because there are infinite ways which do not prove the direct proportionality and the counterclaim can be supported with the argument that it is very difficult to quantify quality of knowledge. For instance, some academic disciplines like philosophy has existed since several years, but the quality of knowledge produced by philosophy did not create tangible benefits. This example clearly provides evidence to the fact that quality of knowledge is not always directly proportional to the historical development of an academic discipline. To support this counterclaim, examples of new discipline like psychology can be considered which has several tangible benefits for society and enhances our lives.  There are also many assumptions involved in the statement, for instance, it has been assumed that knowledge has a quality, but it is unclear what is the meaning of quality related to knowledge.  If quality is measured in terms of usefulness of the academic discipline, then it can be counterclaimed that there are many academic disciplines which are relatively new yet have more tangible benefits than academic disciplines that have existed since several years (Lehrer 2015).

Examples from Different Disciplines


Therefore, the essay title is applicable for the development of the academic discipline of History. As an academic discipline, the subject History, which produced the quality of knowledge is directly proportional or has contributed to the historical development of that discipline. With time, the discipline has evolved and with the evolution the quality of the knowledge has been broaden. The purpose, understanding, themes, methods in history have evolved with time. In the past, the discipline was narrow. The historical approaches were limited. However, with time, the perspective has evolved and it has added value to the knowledge system of history. 

Similarly, with the development of ethics as an academic discipline, it could be said that in the past, the discipline was limited to particular region like Jewish ethics or Greek ethics. However, the division is still present, but the areas of the ethics are broadening up. The ethical division in the discipline is divided into Western and Eastern ethics. The ethics as a discipline of study was originated in the ancient world like, Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, Icelandic Eddas and Homer’s Illiad. These ancient poems portrayed a set of values that suited with the valor of the strong leaders of small ancient tribes. It was the most ancient evidences of the ethical practices of human being. However, with advancement of time, the ethics as an academic discipline has evolved. It has incorporated the natural law of ethics, Kantian ethics and Utilitarianism. In the twentieth century, there were many debates regarding the nature of the ethics (Dewey, 2016). The ethical views ranged from moral realism, which states that the moral truths are all about mind-independent realities. The modern views of evolutionary ethics state that ethical practices depend on the ways of the human being that lead them in the evolutionary process. The Universal Declaration of the Right Wings asserts the universal and moral rights of humans to the education, life and other basic needs. The ethics after the world war two has changed into the basic existential reflections of the purpose and meaning of life. It leads the ethical approaches based on the situation and private interaction. After the 1970s, the discipline has enlarged its wings to business, biology and environmental sciences. However, now the discipline has evolved in business ethics, bioethics and environmental ethics (Dewey, 2016).


However, the essay title is applicable for the discipline of the ethics. The quality of knowledge produced by the academic discipline of ethics is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that particular discipline. The historical development of ethics was started in ancient time. From that time, this discipline has evolved. The evolution has provided benefit to the knowledge system of ethics. The time in which the academic discipline has evolved, has enriched the quality of knowledge in that discipline. However, it is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline.

The evolution of these academic disciplines like, history and ethics incorporate the philosophy. It should be kept in mind that the historical development of the discipline of history and ethics add value to those disciplines. With the historical development, these disciplines should add value or enrich their quality and that should be directly proportional to the quality of knowledge.

The counterclaim could be proved by the example that carries the sense of lost in time. Then the claim quality of knowledge is directly proportional to the duration of historical development would be challenged. Greek fire and Damascus steel are the two technological innovations whose secrets are lost in time. Thus, from the perspective of discipline of technology, the following example is not fitted in the title claims.

It can be concluded by stating that the essay title the quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline and this statement is applicable to any academic discipline. The essay has proved it with example of academic disciplines like history and ethics.

References

Alchin, N. and Henly, C., 2014. Theory of Knowledge Third Edition. Hodder Education.

Buehl, D., 2017. Developing readers in the academic disciplines. Stenhouse Publishers.

Dewey, J., 2016. Ethics. Read Books Ltd.

Lehrer, K., 2015. Theory of knowledge. Routledge.

Tonkin, E., McDonald, M. and Chapman, M.K. eds., 2016. History and ethnicity (Vol. 27). Routledge.

Woozley, A.D., 2016. Theory of Knowledge: an introduction.

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