TOK: Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?
Before diving straight into the question, it is essential to define the nature of “truth” itself. How do we determine if one statement is true or not? Is truth genuinely knowable?
One, truth is objective. It can be proved.
According to Plato, true knowledge is something real, permanent, and everlasting. Truth must be true to everyone and free from one’s beliefs. Take my age as an example. I could say I’m 79 years old. Or 400. Or 2. Out of all of these numbers, what is the truth? 17. The concept of age is something real, permanent, and everlasting. It is a standard numerical language designated by everyone, which means it is true to everyone; therefore, it’s the truth.
Two, truth is subjective. Subjective truth would be based on a person’s perspective, feelings, or opinions.
Take this statement as an example: “My favorite food is chocolate.” It is neither right nor wrong, yet it still is the truth. Based on all of my experiences, I have become a person who loves chocolate. The root of the knowledge was formed by the inputs, like senses and perception. Therefore, everything we know is subjective. All truths are subjective.
To answer the question, I would yes, some ways of knowing are more likely to lead to truth than others, but it all depends on how you would define truth. Ways of knowing will often interact with each other to form what we consider truth—for example, language and memory. To learn or understand a language, you must know and memorize how to process, comprehend, and speak the language. To be more specific, you must remember how one word is spelled or used, then apply it to your sentence, which can connect to other ways of knowing, such as intuition. After the stage of memorizing, you will know intuitively know when and in which order to use the word.
When the truth is defined as a universal and objective statement, ways of knowing such as perception and reason would be more likely to lead to truth. For example, math is all about facts. Thus, mathematical rules such as division would rely on deductive reasoning to lead to an accurate conclusion. In deductive reasoning, the general pattern is observed, and it looks explicitly into a particular case. There is a 100% certainty, though nothing new is learned. Though it can be argued that if the general pattern observed is inaccurate, then the smaller argument is incorrect as well, it is essential to note that the process involves making assumptions based on supported ideas.
But on the other hand, if the truth is defined as an unknowable statement, ways of knowing such as emotion, faith, and intuition would be a more effective way to find the truth. Unlike the objective truth, this case applies inductive reasoning to come to its conclusion. Inductive reasoning looks at a particular subject and assumes the general pattern. It is usually seen in science when scientists hypothesize one specific phenomenon and thus come to a conclusion based on the results. Furthermore, as mentioned above, truths like “I love chocolate” can be unknowable. Still, it is the “unknowable truth” based upon my emotion and intuition. I have decided to feel love for chocolates; thus, the statement is true. Neither of the empirical data nor mathematical formulas can support the statement. Only the ways of knowing as emotions can lead to the conclusion that I love chocolates.
In conclusion, I think that some ways of knowing are more likely to lead to truth. It is a matter of how you define “truth.” Objective truth? Then sense perception and reasoning it is. But subjective truths would lean more towards ways of knowing, such as emotion and intuition.