The Importance Of Knowledge

1384 Words 6 Pages
Register to read the introduction… The natural sciences are very much paradigmatic in nature. As outlined by Thomas Kuhn, the natural sciences are revolutionary as opposed to “normal”; Kuhn argues that in “normal science”, scientific progress is limited to the scope of the current paradigm itself. Revolutionary science deals with paradigm shifts, in which there is a change in the basic assumptions of a scientific theory. Paradigmatic thinkers, however, are often disregarded and brushed off due to their dynamic views. For example, the earth was thought to be flat for was widely accepted until Pythagoras introduced a spherical model. How do we come to a conclusion about what knowledge is accepted and what is discarded, then? If enough people believe something, does it become knowledge? It certainly seems to behave that way in …show more content…
To what extent do we accept and discard knowledge based on its utility to our own understanding of the world and its utility to our profession? A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Mike Brown, the astronomer whose team was responsible for the demotion of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. He talked about how the discovery of Eris, a dwarf planet greater than Pluto, provided the International Astronomical Union with enough reason to properly define what a “planet” was. While it is shared knowledge, even this shared knowledge has a different meaning for different individuals. Growing up, Pluto was always instilled in my head as the ninth planet, so it definitely was a bit jarring when suddenly Pluto was just not a planet anymore, but this knowledge does not change the way I approach things in my everyday life. The demotion of Pluto and the subsequent redefining of a “planet” is a lot more significant to Brown, who helped change this shared knowledge. For Brown, whose research revolves around the paradigms of his area of study (astronomy), this knowledge is more valuable and more useful because of the way it will influence his work and the work of others in his …show more content…
“Discarded” insinuates that it is gone forever, while “revised” is less final and more systematically progressive. In the natural sciences, Dalton’s atomic theory and the model of the atom has undergone many revisions. One of Dalton's postulates discusses the indivisibility of atoms, but we know today that atoms are made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons, which in turn are made up of even smaller elementary particles like quarks and leptons. Similarly, the atomic model has changed multiple times; electrons were thought to be free floating until Bohr proposed his orbital model. In this case, not all previous knowledge was discarded. Electrons are clearly still part of the atom, but part of the model has instead been modified to fit the

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