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ToK 2018: “We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases” (adapted from JW von Goethe). Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.

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JW von Goethe born on the 28th of August 1749 in Frankfurt Germany, he died on the 22nd of March 1832 he was a German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, critic, and amateur artist and considered one of the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. Knowledge is defined as acts, information and skills gained from experience or education it is a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge is gained throughout life for many different areas of knowledge this includes areas such as Human Sciences and Religious Knowledge systems. This title  expresses a knowledge problem which is the relationship between doubt and trust. Doubt is linked to the findings of knowledge. For people living in the ancient times doubt was placed in the concept of trust, but for people in the modern era doubt is what strives us to look for new knowledge because of our want for certainty about scientific theories and living standards for the modern life.

In human sciences, there is an area of study called Behavioural Economics, this comes from the study of psychology due to its involvement with the decision making processes for economic stakeholders such as consumers and producers. Questions that can be asked about this is what it takes for people to take economic decisions to benefit themselves or their company?  This means that in an ideal world people always make decisions that bring them benefit or satisfaction. In economics, the rational choice theory states ‘that when humans are presented with various options under the conditions of scarcity, they would choose the option that maximises their individual satisfaction.’ 1 This theory is that people will always be faced with challenging choices with benefits to themselves or others as well as harming themselves or others. The decision made will be the best choice for that person at that given period of time, this could be negative or positive. If this person has self-control and is not largely influenced by emotions and therefore knows what is best for themselves. They will be able to see if the costs are greater than benefits vice versa and be able to make an effective decision to benefit themselves. 
Behavioural economics also looks at the psychology and economics needed in order to explore why people make wrong or unfair decisions. Decisions such as how much to pay for a snack, or graduate from school, whether to pursue a healthy lifestyle without smoking or drinking. These are the sorts of decisions that almost everyone makes at some point in their lives. 

As humans feel emotional and get easily distracted, we tend to make decisions that do not lead to the best possible outcome. This relates back to knowledge and doubt as we can make economic decisions, it is possible that in a firm as a firm gets larger and larger the business owners become more specialised in what they do and become more skilful and knowledgeable, as they grow this knowledge they find new ways to look at making their business more profitable and more effective, as these new ways come up, doubt increases with the old methods that they were using, perhaps they were ineffective in hindsight and brought higher costs to the firm, this doubt of not being fully efficient is what strives the firm to adapt and change however this is only possible through the gain in new knowledge to even think about these new methods.

In religion or other systems of belief. There is no way to confirm the existence of God. It is in the areas of knowledge such as Religious systems and Ethics where the truth is mostly up to the individual, community and society on what to believe in and how much to believe in it. Many of the world’s oldest and biggest religious systems have the foundations of their beliefs on ancient written texts or pictures by the authors or artists said to be inspired by a god to write it. Over periods of time, this knowledge has been questioned and put into reform time after time. In response to the doubts, religious people have learned to accept scientific findings and adapt them into their beliefs which has led to the resolution of major conflicts over the past few centuries like myths, fear of the flat earth and superstitions such as humans believing that it was impossible to fly. However some of the conflicts can be about the origin of the Earth and its species, where did lightning come from and the, at the time, controversial birth control. It is interesting to see that as science and the world has evolved and proven the theory of many living things on earth which is therefore showing the increase in knowledge, with this doubt about religious theories appears. This is because many holy books exaggerated and believed in theories that their god created earth however in reality is it proven that it was from the Big Bang, when this knowledge of space was not available to us back in the medieval era religion was believed in greatly and anyone who did not believe in god would be considered a fool. However over time as our knowledge for space, planets and our own earth increased the beliefs and assumptions made by religion were starting to be proven wrong, doubt about weather or not religion is a scam is still widely debated across the world. Either way, scam or not, the theories made in religious literature has been adapted to fit these scientific theories, this proves that even in religion which can be considered as the most important thing for many people in the world has brought doubt among itself through the knowledge gained overtime about Earth and what it is, where it is and how it was made.

In conclusion, we can clearly see that the gain of knowledge effects people’s perspective on their actions and choices in certain areas. As knowledge increases, doubt starts to become a factor. In a business, knowledge about your own firm and the motivation of self interest as you become more specialised and more skilful, you find new ways to run the business in more effective ways which is therefore doubting the old methods used for being ineffective, this pattern of gaining knowledge of the business, finding new ways to do things and doubting the old methods is apparent in every business, without knowledge and the doubt which motivates change firms wouldn’t be able to grow and would most likely fail and go bankrupt. Similarly in religion overtime the knowledge of earth managed to motivate people to question the theories made by religion, they successfully found and proved many claims made my religion wrong, without this gain in knowledge and the want to strive forward humans would have been trapped in the theory of religion, there would be no doubt on the theories made however humans are not like this and question every choice and decision made, this strives them to gain more knowledge and through this knowledge they gain doubt for many theories made and go on to prove it’s wrong and show the real methods for it.

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