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The Different Ways of Knowing: Something That Is True and Something That Is Believed To Be True


In any Standard English dictionary, we can found the word “Knowledge” has got three different meanings, but all are quite interrelated in some aspects. The meanings are “awareness or familiarity gained by experience” (Rossett 242) or “a person’s range of information” (Harrison 407). There are different ways of knowing anything. Truth, belief, experience, and many other aspects are interrelated in the way of knowing something.

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The phenomenon called “scattering”

At the very beginning of our discussion, we can take an example. When one looks at the sky on a general day the sky looks clear and bright. One can take it for granted that the sky is blue. But if the same person looks at the same sky on a rainy day, he will find the sky dark. Then what is the real color of the sky? Our experience says that on a summer day the sky is clear and bright, but on a rainy day, due to the presence of rain clouds, it becomes dark in comparison. If we look through with the help of physics, we will know that the color of the sky is blue because of the phenomenon called “scattering”. Due to the absence of the Sun the rain clouds make the sky appear dark during the monsoon. Here in this case a scientific fact helps us understand a regular natural phenomenon.

Aspects about the ways of knowing

In the discussion of the ways of knowing, we can discuss several aspects of the ways of knowing. Let us start our discussion with the aspect of “belief” as a way of knowing. During ancient times it was believed that the Sun moves around the Earth. The decision-makers in the Western World readily believed in this statement. When Galileo discovered the fact that “the Earth moves around the Sun” the statement contradicted the earlier statement and he faced dire consequences. But later on, it was discovered that Galileo was right. In this case, the belief was wrong and later it was modified by a scientific fact to give the truth. The Earth always moves around the Sun, but it was believed otherwise. The prior knowledge of Galileo and some other philosophers of that time ultimately were taken as a universal truth (Lehrer 155).

To know, the argument in any subject is one of the most convenient ways to find out the truth. The gradual development of knowledge is only based on argument. Here at this point, we can deal with a very newly discovered phenomenon. Camel can sustain for several days without taking a single drop of water. In the 20th Century, scientists believed that the camel stores the water in its hump for future use. This was a widely accepted fact. But nowadays the fact is scientifically altered. Now the scientists discovered that there is a unique phenomenon that happens in the camel’s body when it drinks water. The Red Blood Corpuscles of the camel increase three times their original size and stores the water that it drinks for future use. Maybe this fact will also be modified in the future, to give us a more convenient solution. In this case, the analysis ultimately extracts the truth. Here one can easily say that the validity of any statement lasts only until anyone derives a more correct scientific statement.


Observation is another way to know about many things. Edward Jenner discovered the antidote to smallpox, which was one of the most feared diseases in the World during the 19th century. Jenner was a surgeon, and he noticed that the milkmaids who had suffered from cowpox (another type of pox, but not as dangerous as smallpox), were immune to smallpox. This hypothesis later was scientifically proved by him. An immense number of lives were saved by this discovery, which was derived from the acute observation and lateral thinking of Dr. Jenner.


Experience is also a big aspect of knowledge. A merely inconsequential incident that may happen on a day-to-day basis adds up to a person’s experience and makes him more knowledgeable. Experience is one of the most important factors of axiom. The perception of a singular person gets better with more experience (Armstrong 276). There are countless areas of knowledge. Some of the very popular areas are physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences. Sir Issac Newton was one of the most prolific scientists of the Renaissance era, who discovered theories of Gravitation, and the famous Laws of Motion. It was said that one day, Newton saw that an apple dropped from a tree. This very common incident gave birth to a question in the mind of Newton and he then discovered the law of Universal Gravitation. Here observation, combined with scientific experiments combined to give humankind one of the most celebrated scientific inventions of all times (Hogan 55).


The same is true about racism. There is a belief that there is an absolute truth in the concept of racial supremacy. It can be stated that it is very peculiar to consider racism as an ideology, racist or cultural conflict views, where humans are separated into various groups in the belief that some people are superior because they belong to a particular ethnic or national group. It could be summarized that racism is the result of having negative judgments, beliefs, and feelings towards certain identifiable groups. Particularly in the field of education, this tendency has developed into both educational and financial discrimination at the same time. In a general sense, it can be stated that racism is fuelled by different aspects like low education, unfavorable economic condition, the social structure that is inclined towards a specific religion or cult, and most important of all ill-fated political motivation as in the case of Middle East. It is the belief of evil that is operational in this case and not the actual truth.

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Social Sciences

Social Sciences are a regular developing part of Science. The development in the fields of social studies has come by different means of knowledge, like scientific experiments, observations, discussions, beliefs, and like that. Empirical statements, analytical statements, metaphysical statements are a part of any social science discussion.

The argument is one of the most important factors in social sciences. Let us deal with one very interesting part of social sciences, the Extinction of dinosaurs. This event is called the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event and it is estimated that it occurred almost 65.5 million years ago. Scientists theorize that at this time there were some catastrophic events like asteroid impacts and the rise in volcanic activities, and the earth’s temperature rose. Recently, scientists proposed that the Multiple Impact theory is more appropriate as the cause of the destruction of the dinosaurs. Deccan Trap volcanism might have resulted in carbon dioxide emissions which would have increased the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere (Fuller 223).

These theories are still now a part of the discussion, and arguments will go on until the scientists propose something really strong as evidence. Only those facts can make the question solve. There are two contradictory theories of Darwin and Lamarck about evolution, and both are equally important to understand the evolution of animals. Contradiction is also an important factor in knowing a subject thoroughly.

In political science, another very important stream of social sciences there were regular discussions about the correct form of government and the discussions still goes on, and with the changing human characteristics, this will be a long time discussion (Cortada and Woods 117). However, the existing truth sometimes contradicts the results of the discussion.


The theory of knowledge consists of a lot of factors and the correct blending of all the factors can only help one to understand a subject in a better way. One has to also keep an open mind about the recent developments on the subject to keep himself up to date about it. Only then the successful accumulation of knowledge happens as the validity of any knowledge only lasts until some new development on the subject happens. If the new statement is strong then the earlier becomes the weak statement and becomes obsolete. Observation, analysis, facts all together makes the subject of knowing quite satisfying altogether. It helps to distinguish the common perception and the correct scientific fact.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Henry. Study is hard work. London: David R. Godine Publisher, 2001.

Cortada, Walter and John Woods. The Knowledge Management Yearbook 1999-2000. NY: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000.

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Fuller, Robert. Wonder: from emotion to spirituality. London UNC Press, 2005.

Harrison, Rosemary. Employee Development. Auckland: Orient Blackswan, 1992.

Hogan, Karl. ‘Exploring a process view of students’ knowledge about the nature of science’, Science Education, 84.1, (2006): 51-70.

Lehrer, Keith. Theory of knowledge. NY: Routledge, 1999.

Rossett, Allison. First Things Fast: A Handbook for Performance Analysis. Ed. 2. NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2009.

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