Tok External Assessment Essay - Knowledge Gives Us a Sense of Who We Are.” to What Extent Is This True in the Human Sciences and Ethics

1924 Words Jan 26th, 2014 8 Pages
“Knowledge gives us a sense of who we are.” To what extent is this true in the Human Sciences and Ethics?

Socrates once said, “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge” [1]. In similar vein, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know” [1]. A great Indian master, Nisargadatta Maharaj once quoted, “To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not” [2]. What were Socrates, Emerson, Nisargadatta hinting at?

Is there any such thing as ‘knowledge’ and if so, can this knowledge ever give us a sense of who we are? Is there one concrete sense of ‘who we are’ that persists all throughout our lives or is our sense of identity a montage of
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The circmstance might not be in control but the ability to react and act accordingly is a reflection of who one is. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do” [7]. In that sense, our repeated actions, even if initially not part of who we really are, if repeated long enough, will get amalgamated into our core sense of who we are.

Apart from actions, language too has an important role to play in giving solidity to identity. Language influences and gives rise to a sense of belonging because language is itself a universal medium of communication in exchanging ideas. In turn, cultural knowledge from generations is passed down to the next generation in local dialects. With the development of different societies, different cultures and languages integrate into a deeper part of humans. All in all, over time, such cultural acclimatization forms one’s sense of identity. Even though, the cultural idiosyncrasies defined through diverse language interpretations are subjective, as part of a race, tribe or group in society, the language used is objective, unaffected by the growing circumstances of humans. Therefore, although humans are a specific species of animals, social and cultural knowledge gives us a larger sense of who we are as collective bodies. But does this Cultural and language identity, give one a sense of who one really is? Isn’t it wise to first understand what is this ‘sense of identity’ that we are applying this knowledge to ?

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