Knowledge is a critical component of every human being. It is through knowledge that one can exist amid daily challenges that emerge from his or her immediate environment. However, the worthiness of the knowledge acquired by an individual is centered on how it aids in his self-preservation, survival, solution to mysteries and problems or a combination of the aforementioned factors (O'Brien, 2006). How the knowledge applies practically grows its inherent value that is treasured and appreciated by an individual.
In order to appreciate the value of knowledge, it is prudent to focus on how it is acquired. The first method which mostly occurs naturally to all of us is experience or observation. Observation entails seeing or rather witnessing new events or phenomena that provide new information that was not formerly possessed by an individual. In many instances, acquiring knowledge by observation requires action or memorizing of the observed phenomena (Rescher, 2003). The second method of acquisition of knowledge is logic or reason. It centers on taking knowledge as information through logical mechanisms and the inferring it. For instance, in many scientific studies data is ascertained through observation and experimentation as the key logical inferences (O'Brien, 2006). Within reason, theoretical constructs are postulated to propose an alternative way of thinking. Another form of knowledge acquisition is modeling. Through modeling, a scenario sometimes enables a hands-on viewpoint in order to learn new ways of doing something (Rescher, 2003). This approach is usually used in explaining the mental process of an individual and how it relates to the rest of other components within the real world. They also inform one’s behaviors. Modeling as a method of knowledge acquisition is seen to incorporate reasoning, cognition, and decision-making as critical processes.
The aforementioned methods of acquiring knowledge can be critical in determining the value of knowledge. This is particularly when the knowledge acquired is linked to achievement, cognitive ability and success. The knowledge produced or acquired indicates a strong link between worth and value individuals attribute to knowledge (O'Brien, 2006). The difficultness associated with the acquisition of knowledge can ascertain the value of knowledge (Rescher, 2003). The effort employed by an individual equates the mental frame and value he associates the information with. A good example is in computer programming (O'Brien, 2006). The process of computer programming involves intricate processes that only a qualified individual or a patient person can manage to tolerate. A computer programmer must go beyond what he knows conventionally in order to attain new knowledge which will enable him or her bring forth a product that is differentiated or unique. The research and time that he or she commits to this endeavor that may end up futile or not, brings about much value and appreciation of the end-knowledge acquired (O'Brien, 2006).
The knowledge that has been difficultly acquired creates value to individuals involved in its acquisition. It thus suffices that the value of the knowledge is directly proportion to the individual involved in its acquisition (O'Brien, 2006). Scientists, for instance, have continued Nobel awards to the amount of time they invest in establishing new knowledge and facts for the betterment of mankind. This reverence cannot exist without individuals understanding the tedious process that entails the acquisition of the said information (Moser & Oxford University Press, 2002). A good example is Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb. He had made over ninety attempts in arriving at the invention. Each attempt presented new information which was unknown to the world and to him. The ninety attempts made him an authority and a respected scientist to date. The over ninety attempts equated the rigorous process he subjected himself in order to establish information which would be critical in making his invention a success.
In some cases, gaining knowledge requires concerted efforts that culminate in sharing among peers and others. The process of sharing creates a platform for interjection of information and its aggregation. It also allows room for synthesis and synergy which is fundamental in ensuring the end product is valuable (O'Brien, 2006). In comparison to knowledge possessed at a personal level, shared information brings in divergence and opportunities of forging hybrid outcomes. Many people deem the shared information is easier to arrive at as compared to personally acquired information (Wray, 2002). This may not be so. Shared information brings with it weight that can be validated by methods and procedures of inquiry. The said procedures are precipitated by a set of beliefs, norms, practices and values in a broader and bigger socio-cultural context. In the domains of mathematics and sciences, the art of sharing knowledge is critical and is characterized by vigor. It follows process and method, be it validation, peer review, analysis, evaluation, proof or evidence. This goes on to show that shared knowledge is valuable if its processes are anything to go by (Moser & Oxford University Press, 2002). However, for shared knowledge to stand out in value is less riddled with problems associated with personal knowledge. These limitations center in communication. Shared knowledge thus ought to incorporate reason and language that can effectively be discerned across different generations and masses.
However, difficulty in acquiring knowledge does not necessarily equate to its value or utility. The nature of knowledge is founded on the basics. It is o the basics that more knowledge is established (Wray, 2002). With time an individual’s knowledge grows. This is understood as the base effect, a theory in economics. This theory postulates that as the base of information or something, the rate of its increase declines. A good example is the learning a new language. It is true that one understanding the basic nouns, one gains knowledge in new nouns fast. However, the fluency decreases as one accumulates more knowledge. This is because it takes more time to absorb the additional knowledge. This shows that the argument regarding the value of knowledge is biased as it tends to disregard the acquisition of basic knowledge which is the key reason behind the acquisition of new knowledge that an individual builds up with time.
The value of information can also be based on its simplicity. Some aspects such as people, sceneries, life that are usually experienced are valuable. The fact that they arouse strong feelings and mystery, their value may be high. Sometimes immersing too much effort in acquiring information does not necessarily translate into valuable information (O'Brien, 2006). A good example is researching certain things which can easily be understood by simply debating or observation. The value of information can also be denoted by whomever who is disseminating it (Wray, 2002). A professor, for instance, is an authority in a certain academic area. The professor may not experience any difficulty in accessing this information which is also equally valuable and not mediocre as compared to that drawn from a layman. Einstein, for instance, was well versed in physics and mathematics but not humanities. This means that he may find or experience difficulties when asked questions in areas he lacks sufficient experience.
The value of knowledge is subjective and thus cannot be based on the acquisition process. Studies indicate a task is executed in accordance with one’s mental frame and attitude. To some accessing and arriving at certain information may be tedious but it does not essentially mean that their effort equates the value of the information (Moser & Oxford University Press, 2002). Others may pursue an easier route which may translate to valuable information or knowledge. It is similar to common sense which may not be common as many think. What one may deem common or not worth grasping, may be something another deems rare and keen to know. The value of knowledge is thus subjective and cannot be boxed into a category or static position.
In conclusion, the value of knowledge can effectively be determined through a subjective lens. The argument should thus delve into the correctness of the knowledge rather than value. The value should be attached on the correctness of information or knowledge. Correct knowledge should be appreciated not from whom it emanates from. It does not matter that the information is from a professor or a toddler; instead what matters is its correct value. Sometimes valuable information is stumbled upon by accident or unexpectedly. This notion highlights that it does not matter the process that the information was reached. At the end of the day what counts is the practicality, utility, and correctness of the information.
Moser, P. K., & Oxford University Press. (2002). The Oxford handbook of epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
O'Brien, D. (2006). An introduction to the theory of knowledge. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Rescher, N. (2003). Epistemology: An introduction to the theory of knowledge. Albany: State University of New York.
Schlick, M. (2012). General Theory of Knowledge. Vienna: Springer Vienna.
Wray, K. B. (2002). Knowledge and inquiry: Readings in epistemology. Peterborough: Orchard Park, N.Y.
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