Can knowledge be produced in history?

While there are a myriad of problems faced by historians, knowledge can still be produced. Discuss this claim. Certainty in historical knowledge is often hard to come by because of the problems inherent to history as an area of knowledge, but this does not necessarily mean that knowledge itself cannot be produced. It is true that a lot of history goes unrecorded and thus cannot be known with certainty. Many sources are also lost indefinitely or damaged beyond repair, further limiting the scope of knowledge production. Hence producing accurate knowledge in history is problematic and…Read more …

Why study history?

Seven reasons to study history, ranked (1 = most compelling; 7 = least compelling) Augustin Thierry: knowing about history makes us more patriotic and bolsters our sense of national identity. (7) Arthur Marwick: history represents a society's memory; a society only understands itself by understanding its own history. (5) R. G. Collingwood: history allows the human to understand his own nature, and thereby what defines him; the only way to know about human nature is through the study of what humans have done in the past. (4) G. R. Elton: the study of…Read more …

Historic Recurrence

"History can be studied as a whole and we can see the recurrence of certain patterns in it." Discuss this claim. The idea of historic recurrence and things repeating themselves in history is not foreign to Western philosophical thought. The concept itself is quite simple: similar events should take place under similar circumstances, so given time certain historical events will resemble others. A commonly cited example of recurrence in history is the idea of 'Russian Winter' contributing to the failure of multiple military campaigns against Russia. Both Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and…Read more …

Human Science vs. Natural Science

Here is a link to the class activity. Our research tasks are at the bottom of the document.  Both the natural scientist and the human scientist will not be 100% confident of their conclusions. The natural scientist will have analysed samples of volcanic ash from various locations but will be aware of possible sources of error, such as the fact that the chosen locations may not accurately reflect the true distribution of the volcanic glass. This will especially be the case if he finds that the concentrations vary greatly for different locations. He must…Read more …

Math: Discovered or Invented?

Platonism vs. Formalism Here is the link to my presentation on mathematical platonism vs. formalism. What do you make of the term ‘a useful fiction’? To which AOK(s) do you think this idea may also apply? ‘A useful fiction’ is definitely not an oxymoron. Just because something is fictitious does not necessarily mean that it is not useful. For example, mathematical knowledge is based on axioms, which are logical assumptions upon which all other deductions are based. For this reason it could be argued that mathematical knowledge is a form of fiction. But…Read more …

Math Scope

What is the difference between a conjecture and a theorem?  A conjecture in math refers to a hypothesis, a proposition that is believed to be true but has not been formally proven by logic. The twin prime conjecture, for example, postulates the existence of an infinite number of prime numbers that differ by two. A mathematician by the name of Yitang Zhang published an influential paper in 2013 proving a related theorem, which rekindled people's hopes that a proof would soon be found, but as of now the conjecture remains unproven. A theorem,…Read more …

Art and Beauty

Do you think that theories such as the elements and principles of design or the Darwinian explanation of art proposed by Dutton mean that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder? The claim essentially boils down to whether beauty should be considered an objective or subjective affair. I believe that there are reasonable arguments for both stances. The two are often presented as mutually exclusive although I think that is not necessarily the case - some manifestations of beauty are objective while others I feel are more subjective. One possible argument…Read more …

What is art?

Unlike the arts, science tells us something valuable about the world. If by valuable we mean testable, empirical knowledge that can be used to invent and innovate, then the value of the arts as an area of knowledge is limited. Science clearly reigns supreme in this domain of human ingenuity and technical innovation. Objectivity and universal applicability are two key features that make science so powerful, and this is precisely why a lot of practical issues can be solved using the tools that it provides. For example, for decades humanity searched for a material…Read more …

Science vs. Pseudoscience

It is unsurprising when we hear that experts in Art can’t always agree what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ Art. We might say that the distinction between what ‘is’, and what ‘is not’ art, is not always clear. Similar to the question of what is art, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is also not clear.  Analyze this claim. The distinction between science and pseudoscience seems clear at first glance. I think it's because most of us have an intuitive understanding of what science is, and what it is not. When I looked through today's presentation…Read more …