The term cognition
is used to refer to the process or act of knowing. It covers all mental processes and experiences involved in knowing which
are: perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, reasoning, and judgment.
1.2 HUMAN MIND
The human mind
works like a computer in acquiring, processing, storing, and retrieving information all under the guidance of an inner spiritual
The term science
in used to refer knowledge relating to the physical world based on observation and experimentation.
1.4 TERMS RELATED TO KNOWLEDGE
There are other
terms used in connection with knowledge such as: wisdom, insight, opinion, speculation,
certainty, remembrance, awareness, evidence, truth, and world-view. There are many forms of knowledge: knowledge of
human life, knowledge of animal life, knowledge of the earth, knowledge of the seas and the oceans, knowledge of astronomy,
knowledge of agriculture, knowledge of numbers, knowledge of counting, knowledge of addition, knowledge of multiplication,
knowledge of subtraction, and knowledge of division, and knowledge of the Creator.
1.5 TERMS RELATED TO LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
There are terms that are associated with lack of knowledge: ignorance, doubt, speculation,
whims, and falsehood. Lack of knowledge is called ignorance. Ignorance can be simple when the person knows he does not know.
It is compounded if the ignorant person is not aware of his ignorance. The term ignorance has been used to refer to a state
of ignorance with respect to specific information or explanation. This state of ignorance could be temporary ending with the
acquisition of the missing information or explanation. The term has also been used as an attribute of a person who may have
some moral reason for ignorance.
The extreme form of doubt is an unformulated doubt. A formulated doubt is better than an unformulated one and involves several alternatives but
the human does not have the ability to tell which of them is valid or true. Speculation is doubtful and uncertain knowledge that is at a higher level than doubt. A higher level of speculation is when a human has strong inclination to believe a supposition
to be true but this does not reach the level of absolute certainty.
2.0 CHARACTERIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE
2.1 SUPREMACY OF KNOWLEDGE:
supremacy over everything else. Knowledge is the basis for leadership. Those who know are a grade higher than those who do
not know. Possessing correct knowledge is a virtue.
2.2 GRADES OF KNOWLEDGE
grades of knowledge. Certain knowledge is the highest grade. It is certain with no doubts and represents finality. The next
grade is empirical knowledge. This is based on observation by human senses that are not perfect. Scientific empirical knowledge being based on human observation using imperfect sensory organs and interpretation
by imperfect human intellect cannot reach the level of absolute certainty. We therefore call it empirical certainty. In most
scientific measurements the level of absolute certainty cannot be reached. In medical work treatments are based on evidence
that is classified as at a high level of speculative truth but not absolute certainty because a higher level of certainty
cannot be reached.
2.3 EVIDENCE-BASED KNOWLEDGE:
must be evidence-based. Those who make claims or allegations are challenged to produce their evidence.
2.4 VARIATION IN AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE:
is potentially wide and is continuously expanding. The limit of knowledge is with the Creator. An individual or community
can only know a little bit of the knowledge and must have the humility to know and acknowledge that there is a lot that is
not known. There is a difference in knowledge (quantity and quality) among humans as individuals and as communities. Some
humans know more than others. Many do not know. A few individuals possess very deep knowledge.
2.5 OWNERSHIP OF KNOWLEDGE:
Any human knowledge
is public property. Knowledge is not property that can be traded. It is a common
property of all and those who have it must disseminate it to others. Payments made to teachers and researchers are not in
exchange for the knowledge they have; they are for the purposes of maintaining them and their families so that they may concentrate
on research and teaching. It is unethical to hide or try to monopolize knowledge.
2.5 DEVIATION FROM KNOWLEDGE
It is obligatory
to act according to knowledge. Knowledge is always the source of strength and leadership if used well and with good intentions.
Deviation from the truth represented by knowledge is severely condemned. It is better to get knowledge and understanding than
to follow blindly. Blind following contradicts true knowing.
2.6 KNOWLEDGE AMONG NON-HUMANS:
Knowledge is not
confined to humans. Spiritual beings (angels and jinn) have limited knowledge. Living animals also have some forms of knowledge.
We have no textual or scientific evidence for existence of knowledge in plants or micro-organisms. Our thinking is that knowledge
does not exist in plants or micro-organisms because they lack purposive and pre-meditated action. Purposive action is found
only in humans, animals, and spiritual beings.
3.0 THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
3.1 DEFINITION OF EPISTEMOLOGY:
the science of knowledge. It is the study of the origin, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge. Epistemology is a major
branch of philosophy. The aim of epistemological studies is certainty.
3.2 SCOPE OF EPISTEMOLOGY
to deal with several philosophical questions. Epistemology is necessary to understand
phenomena because reality is different from appearance and perception is different from knowledge. Epistemology seeks to establish
whether a claim is true and what evidence can be used to prove it.
deals with sources of knowledge. Knowledge may be innate or learned, rational
(based on reason) or empirical (based on sensory experience), based on faith vs based on reason. Epistemology also deals with
the concept or an idea and how it relates to knowledge.
be of ‘what’ and of ‘how’.
Propositions about knowledge can be a priori (exists before experience) vs. a posteriori (based on experience),
analytic vs synthetic, tautological (restating the same thing in another way) or significant (new and additional information),
logical vs factual, acquaintance (based on personal experience) vs. description (transmitted knowledge), description vs justification,
certainty (true) vs knowledge (the known may be true or not true).
4.0 SOME TERMINOLOGY USED IN EPISTEMOLOGY
A concept is a logical entity used
in logical or philosophical analysis and to aid understanding. Concept formation involves sorting human experience and ideas
into classes or rules. Concepts are abstract as contrasted to concrete classification based on sensory input. In practice
humans mix the abstract and the concrete in usual classification of things. Humans can learn concepts instead of working them
out for themselves. Concept formation improves with age from childhood but declines in late age. Language is a very important
tool in concept formation and development. Computers can be programmed to form concepts (ie make classifications according
to some rules).
Paradigm is a term used by many people
to convey different meanings. It is generally used to refer to a thought pattern in a discipline of knowledge. Paradigm shifts
occur when new discoveries or explanations bring about new patterns of thought
is reasoning from the part to reach conclusions about the whole or from the specific to the general or from the individual
to the universal. It is the method used by empirical science.
Deduction is reasoning
starting from premises to reach conclusions with the conclusions necessarily following from the premise. Deduction has also
been defined as reasoning from the general to the specific of from the universal to the particular.
is staying on the path of truth and not being swayed by whims and desires
5.0 RELATIVITY OF KNOWLEDGE
5.1 THE GENERAL CONCEPT OF RELATIVITY
The concept of
relativity has caused much confusion both in social and natural sciences. What needs to be emphasized is that some knowledge
and some facts are absolute and do not change by time or space. Other facts change when the frame of reference changes. Relativity
refers to this change of facts with the change of the reference frame. Thus for complete description of a physical fact, the
frame used must be defined. The problem facing contemporary epistemology is that nothing is fixed or is absolute. Everything
is relative and changeable. In such a flux there is no meaning to the concept of truth.
5.2 RELATIVITY IN PHYSICS
In physics the
term relativity refers to differences in measurements by different observers who are in motion relative to one another. The
special theory of relativity states that the speed of light will be the same as measured by different observers. The general
theory of relativity asserts that physical laws are the same for all observers.
6.0 PROBABILITY OF KNOWLEDGE:
6.1 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN SENSES
The concept of
probability concretizes the limitations of human senses. Knowledge based on human senses is approximate. The aim of scientific
research is to increase the probability of truth but cannot reach perfect truth. No scientific fact is absolutely right or
6.2 PROBABILITY OF TRUTH
Each has a calculable
probability of being correct. The higher this probability, the nearer it is to the truth. The probabilistic nature of knowledge
arises out of limitations of human observation and interpretation of physical phenomena. The challenge to intellectuals is
to relate the concept of probability to the concept of grades of knowledge mentioned before.
7.0 PAST AND FUTURE OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
7.1 FAILURES IN HUMAN KNOWLEDGE:
There have been
periods in human history when humans deviated from the correct ways of getting knowledge and therefore lived in ignorance
and superstition. Neglect of empirical observation and experimentation led to deficiency of empirical knowledge. Failure to
use their intellect properly deprived humans of full understanding of empirical knowledge.
7.2 THE FUTURE:
Rapid growth of
the corpus of human knowledge in the past 150 years is several-fold the growth of knowledge since the start of recorded human
history. This momentum is likely to continue into the next century. It could slow down or stop altogether when human mistakes,
social or physical, lead to destruction or drastic change of the ecosystem and human social organization as we know them today.
History is full of examples of previous civilizations that attained a high degree of scientific and social sophistication
only to fail and fall later.
8.0 SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE: GENERAL CONCEPTS
8.1 ALL KNOWLEDGE IS FROM THE CREATOR
It is a cardinal
principle that all knowledge is from the Creator. Humans can get it in a passive way from revelations or in an active way
by empirical observation and experimentation.
8.2 INNATE AND ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE:
Humans have some
knowledge even before birth. A human baby has limited in-born knowledge that is mostly needed for the intuitive and instinctive
biological functions needed for survival at that tender age. Most human knowledge is learned. The learning can take place
at the level of the individual or the community.
8.3 THREE SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
and empirical observation of the universe are the three major sources of acquired knowledge. Humans throughout history have
quenched their thirst for knowledge from all the three sources. In terms of quantity, empirical knowledge comes first. In terms of quality revealed knowledge comes first. There is close interaction and inter-dependence
between revelation, inference, and empirical observation. Reason is needed to understand revelation and reach conclusions
from empirical observations. Revelation protects reason from mistakes and provides it with information about the unseen. Reason
cannot, unaided, fully understand the empirical world.
9.0 ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE
TO GET KNOWLEDGE
enjoined to get knowledge of essential things. Every man or woman is obliged to get the minimum essential knowledge to be
able to live in society. Some knowledge is individually obligatory whereas the other
is communally obligatory
Seeking to know
is an inner human need that satisfies human curiosity. Seeking knowledge is a life long process from birth to death. Knowledge
must be sought wherever it is even if in far-away lands.
ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE
Some humans have
the ability to study and get knowledge from its primary sources. These are obliged to get knowledge and in turn teach it to
ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE
Most people, however,
do not get knowledge directly from its sources. They have to follow others who have the knowledge. The process of following
has both positive and negative aspects. For those unable to get knowledge, following is required. They however cannot follow
blindly. They must ascertain that those they follow have correct knowledge from the valid and primary sources.
9.5 METHODS OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE
Humans are given
tools for getting knowledge from its sources. The most important are the sense organs that enable humans to get knowledge
from experimentation or observation of the universe. The intellect is also a tool of getting knowledge from revelation and
empirical observation. A few people have a controversial idea that it is possible to get knowledge without use of senses or
The learning can
be the result of observation by the sense of vision and the sense of hearing. Learning can also be by use of intellectual
/ logical operations or the result of teaching. Humans learn from transmitted knowledge or experience. They can also learn from their own empirical experience and the interpretation
or understanding of that experience. Transmitted knowledge can be from revelation or from past history and experience. A lot
of knowledge about social interaction is learned passively.
10.0 EMPIRICAL OBSERVATION AS A SOURCE
10.1 THE UNIVERSE IS A SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE
The universe or
cosmos around humans is a source of knowledge. Humans were given senses to enable them get empirical knowledge from their
10.2 THE CONCEPT OF CAUSALITY
The concept of
causality underlies most knowledge obtained by empirical observation. Simply stated
this concept asserts that there is a material cause for every physical event that a human observes. He may be or not be aware
of the cause but can not deny its existence.
11.0 INTELLECT AS A SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE
11.1 INTELLECT AS A TOOL OF KNOWLEDGE
Intellect distinguishes humans from other living things on earth. It enables them to understand and correctly interpret
the sensory perceptions. Intellect is so important that its misuse or under-use are
severely condemned. Intellect can be a primary source of knowledge in a few instances like mathematical knowledge. In most
cases the intellect is not in itself a primary source of knowledge. It is a tool that enables humans to generate deeper knowledge
and understanding from the primary sources: revelation and empirical observation. Reason can be looked at as a series of intellectual
11.2 INTELLECTUAL PROCESSES INVOLVED IN KNOWLEDGE
often referred to intellectual process is that of thinking. Thinking is closely related to empirical observation using the
human senses. Thinking can be by looking. Humans are ordered to look at the cosmos and at themselves. Humans are enjoined
to think about creation and its signs. Understanding is part of the thinking process. The thinking process can be extended
backward in time by thinking about history and the lessons garnered from it.
11.3 DEDUCTIVE and INDUCTIVE LOGIC
intellectual processes can be deductive or inductive. They are used either in parallel or in sequence depending on the problem
being tackled. Induction tends to dominate in the sciences.
11.4 INTELLECT and GUIDANCE
In a natural state
the human intellect is enough to lead to guidance. It can lead to misguidance if there are corrupting influences in the environment
or in the individual. Correct knowledge is the truth. Human observation and interpretation can be biased away from this truth
by human desires/inclinations.
12.0 CONTROVERSIAL SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
There is lack
of unanimity on the following as additional sources of knowledge: inspiration, intuition, instinct, geomancy, and dreams,. The controversy
is not whether they are sources of knowledge but whether they are sources independent of the three mentioned before.
be inspired. It seems that humans before birth receive knowledge about right and wrong by inspiration. Inspiration however
cannot be a basis for enjoining or prohibiting actions. Inspiration cannot be accepted as evidence in law. The results of
inspiration are not always consistent. We however cannot deny the possibility of some humans being inspired.
is most likely part of empirical knowledge that is stored in the human subconscious and is retrieved and used on given occasions. Humans and animals have instinctive knowledge at birth. For example nobody teaches
a newborn how to suck at the mother's breast. Animals rely more on instinctive knowledge than do humans. Humans have less
need for instinct because of their highly developed cerebral cortex that has more flexibility in facing and solving problems.
Geomancy is a discredited science today. It assumes ability of a human to adduce knowledge of a person’s character
by incomplete observation for example looking at a person’s face and deducing what type of character he has or what
experiences he has gone through. This is an unscientific approach that could lead to wrong or even dangerous conclusions.
There is no empirical proof of its validity as a source of knowledge.
Views about the
truth of dreams fall into two extremes. Materialists deny dreams whereas others believe in them and spend efforts interpreting
them so that they can rely on them as sources of knowledge, guidance, and information. The truth is between the two extremes.
13.0 INVALID SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
13.1 TRUTH BY COINCIDENCE
Magic & sorcery,
astrology, foretelling, and other forms of superstition are not sources of true knowledge. They may lead to correct and verifiable
facts but only by chance and coincidence. They most often lead to wrong and misguiding facts.
The term sorcery
is used to refer to use of magical tricks with additional psychological conditioning that can lead to real psychological effects
in people who believe that they are victims of sorcery; there are no effects on those who do not believe the superstition.
Magic refers to
use of tricks to create visual or other types of illusions. The uninitiated may be misled into believing in the existence
of supernatural power because of the illusions.
Astrology is the
magical forerunner of the modern science of astronomy. Astrologers pretend to predict events in a person's life by studying
the movement of stars.
an invalid source of knowledge because the future cannot be known with certainty. The most that can be done is forecasting
the future based on available empirical evidence.
14.0 CLASSIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE
14.1 CONCEPT and PURPOSES OF CLASSIFICATION
be classified in different ways. Cross-classifications are possible. Below are given several criteria of classification that
can be used. We can not say that one is better than the other. What matters is the purpose behind the classification.
14.2 ON THE BASIS OF THE METHOD OF ACQUISITION
INNATE AND ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE
is inborn. Acquired knowledge is acquired post-natally. Knowledge of good and bad is innate in humans however they can be
confused. That is why acquired knowledge is needed to guide them in the gray areas. Acquired knowledge can be from revelation
or from empirical observation. The two sources of acquired knowledge reinforce the innate knowledge as well as reinforce each
A PRIORI and A POSTERIORI KNOWLEDGE
A priori knowledge
is knowledge not based on experience whereas a posteriori knowledge is based on experience. Innate knowledge is part of a
ON THE BASIS OF SOURCE
RATIONAL and TRANSMITTED
was classified as transmitted knowledge which includes revelations and non-transmitted which includes empirical observation
and rational reasoning
be classified as knowledge of the seen and knowledge of the unseen. Humans know
only the seen. They do not know the unseen. The unseen can be absolute or relative.
Humans cannot in any way know the absolute unseen except through revelation. The relative unseen is something that is
knowable by humans by taking certain measures. For example the contents of a closed box are unknown by a human but when the
box is opened, the contents can become known. It is however deceptive for a human to claim with certainty and affirmatively
to know the contents of a closed box if he has no evidence through the senses.
14.4 ON THE BASIS OF LEARNING and USE
ON BASIS OF OBLIGATION
It is obligatory
for women and men to get knowledge. This obligation differs for different types of knowledge. Some knowledge is considered
a collective obligation. Other knowledge is considered individual obligation.
ON BASIS OF UTILITY:
be useful. There is no concept of knowledge that is not useful but is harmless. Knowledge that has no immediate or foreseeable
use is considered harmful. Sorcery is for example harmful knowledge. All correct knowledge is useful. However even useful
knowledge can turn harmful is not used properly.
ON THE BASIS OF APPLICATION
be basic or applied. The distinction is sometimes more theoretical than real.
14.5 ON THE BASIS OF NATURE, CONTENT,
ON BASIS OF LEGALITY:
of knowledge are legal and are encouraged. For example study of medicine and science are legal pursuits. On the other hand
study of sorcery is illegal because the knowledge is harmful. Between these two clear extremes are disciplines that are good
or bad depending on how their knowledge is used. Study of the chemistry of ethanol is legal if it will be used for industrial
purposes. It will rapidly become illegal if it will be used to make beer and other alcoholic drinks.
ON BASIS OF SUBJECT MATTER:
Sciences can be
divided into the biological & physical. Biological sciences study living things: animals, plants, and micro-organisms.
Physical sciences study inanimate things: the earth, water and the seas, astronomy, mathematics, agriculture. Some disciplines
are methodological without a coherent and substantive subject matter for example epidemiology and mathematics. Other disciplines
are substantive for example clinical medicine.
15.0 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE: INNATE LIMITATIONS
15.1 LIMITED KNOWLEDGE
Human knowledge in all spheres and disciplines of knowledge
is limited. Humans know some things and not others. Humans do not normally reach the full capacity of knowledge because of
other limitations. One of these limitations is failure to exert themselves to the maximum in the search for knowledge.
15.2 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN SENSES
Human senses can
be easily deceived. Human vision is limited. Human senses of hearing, smelling, tasting are relatively insensitive and some
animals have more acute senses.
15.3 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN INTELLECT
has limitations in interpreting correct sensory perceptions. There are basic limitations in the neurochemical functions in
the brain. Humans also have a limited data-base of prior knowledge to be able to interpret all new knowledge correctly.
LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE: THE UNSEEN
16.1 TYPES OF THE UNSEEN
know the unseen. The unseen can be absolute or relative. The absolute, such as the day of death is known only by the Creator.
Humans have no access to absolute unseen except through revelations. The relative unseen can be known by some people in favorable
time and space circumstances and not others or can be known if special and appropriate instrumentation is used. The whole
purpose of scientific research is to roll back the field of the relative seen. The relative unseen can be contemporaneous,
ie things that exist at the moment but which are unknown. It may be in past or historical events. It can be in the future.
16.2 THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
Humans can operate
in limited time frames. The past and the future are unknowable with certainty. Both are part of the unseen. The only true
and valid source of knowledge about the past is revelation.
17.0 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE:
CHANGES & TRANSITIONS
in a limited speed frame at both the conceptual and sensory levels. Ideas cannot be digested and processed if they are generated
too slowly or too quickly. Humans cannot visually perceive very slow or very rapid events. Very slow events like the revolution
of the earth or its rotation are perceived as if they are not happening.
17.2 CHANGE OF MATTER-ENERGY
has discovered that matter and energy are interchangeable. One form of matter can change into another form just as one form
or energy can change into another.
18.0 OTHER LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
18.1 RETENTION OF KNOWLEDGE
Human memory is
limited. Knowledge acquired decays or may be lost altogether. Humans would have been more knowledgeable if they had perfect
DISTORTION OF KNOWLEDGEKnowledge may be distorted by the processes of its acquisition. Human senses and intellect are limited
and may therefore lead to distorted knowledge. Knowledge may also be distorted by personal whims.