TOK: Autobiography of the Knower: Describe seminal moments in your own history of knowing.

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Naman Kanakiya 9/1/07

Theory of Knowledge (Dr. Richardson)

Autobiography of the Knower

My life has been a whirlwind of changes in belief. For instance I remember that when I was young, I used to believe that Santa Clause existed. I assumed that since I had seen Santa Clause, that someone gave me presents every year and that everyone else believed in Santa Clause, he must exist. Unbeknownst to me, I had already taken a stand on inter-subjectivity at that time. However there came a time when I caught my parents in the act. My beliefs were shattered. All my reason and my perception had betrayed me. I then came up with a stance, a stance I hoped I would never forget. The stance was not to fully believe in anything.

This stance was verified and strengthened when various people told me they had surprises for me. At the beginning I would believe and hope that it would be something big, like a new video game or a new soccer ball.

Over time though, most of the surprises turned out to be pointless stuff and for the second time I came up with the conclusion to never fully believe in anything. School tried to eradicate that belief from me, but it failed and actually strengthened my beliefs. They did this through subjects like the Sciences and History. In any science subject that I would study, there would be constant revision and refining of what was actually happening. In History, it was impossible to know anything for certain, because of the bias and censorship. However, what changed and strengthened my beliefs the most was and is a class called Theory of Knowledge.

The class challenged me to look at things from many perspectives. It defined my previous belief, and temporarily changed my into skeptic which is a person who believes that the world may or may not exist and that if it does exist, it may or may not be the way it seems to you. The class made even made me a solipsist for one day, as I could not prove that anything existed. However I came to the conclusion that there is no point of being a solipsist, for even if the world does not exist, I am still trapped in my mind. Thus I changed my belief to a skeptical view and inter-subjective view. It made me think about what I actually believe and whether it was knowledge or not

I believe in many things. But now I can't prove that they are knowledge. I believe that my parents love me, but how can I prove that? It is an emotion, something which can never be charted on the planes of knowledge. I also believe that what I am sitting right now is a chair. I have my perception which tells me it is there. The laws of Physics tell me it's there; my reason tells me it there. Therefore according to my knowledge it's there, but I can't prove it's there. However, life would be difficult if I question if I questioned everything that I believe exists. So I just believe that it's there.

However the same is not true with knowledge. Through the class, I figured out that there are only a few things which can be called knowledge. Those things which have come to my head so far are: 1) I (or my mind) exist, 2) The Laws of Mathematics, and 3) The world exists (it might be in my dream, but it still exists). Everything else is subject to my doubt. Of course I believe in it, but it is not knowledge to me. I believe this to be the case with many "knowers."

I am partly an individual knower and more of a community knower. I believe that everyone exists and they are not just in my head, so I think that I am a part of a huge community of knowers. However I can't prove they exist, so I am also an individual knower. There are some things as a knower which I have to know, and other which I have no desire to know. I wish to know all possible aspects of the information I take into my brain. One thing that I don't wish to know is if the world really exists or not. I am happy the way it is (of course there are major flaws, but it is ok to live in) and I would not be able to do anything anyways if I found out that it did not exist.

My views have changed over time, yet my essential view has survived the passage of time. It is a mixture of skeptism and inter-subjectivity. It is to believe everything within ration, yet know nothing.