Epistemology

Ah, how do you further dissect something that is already in your head and in others’? It’s quite the same as looking at yourself in the mirror and trying to look at others looking in the mirror as well – its uncomfortable, it’s abstract, and it takes a whole lot of thinking to get around the fact that we’re thinking about the knowledge our thinking is part of and where it comes from.

Epistemology and its doctrines are not new to me as they were present throughout college and graduate studies. I have come to a realization that different epistemological dimensions of learning depends on the discipline itself. Back in graduate school, our knowledge in demography and population studies are highly empiricist and positivist because we deal with demographic data and quantitative analysis. In this sense, a person has the ability to learn and apply demographic concepts and analysis with much effort over time. Certainly, basic demographic concepts and sub-concepts under migration, fertility, and mortality form the complex network of knowledge under demography, but the knowledge of its practical application comes as isolated concepts because of its empirical nature (i.e. regression, correlation, chi-square, odds-ratio, etc). Certainly, demographic data is assumed to be generalizable to the larger population and hence statistical analysis can prove the probability of an assumption to be true yet in some aspect it is relative because there are always outliers that do not fit in with population.

Moving from my personal experience and analysis of my discipline to the epistemological dimensions of learning, I believe that an individual must have the ability to control his learning (with no limited ability) and knowledge is a complex network of concepts. I think it would then depend on the nature of the subject matter whether the speed of learning is quick or a gradual acquisition over time and if knowledge is fixed or relative.  For example, once basic concepts are learned in mathematics, it can automatically lead to faster processing of more advanced concepts. Additionally, mathematics is a universal language and can be translated into reality. In contrast, history and other subjects that are built upon human experience require more time for learners to be able to construct, co-construct, and understand the concepts behind relative knowledge (it may not be true because it is socially constructed).

 

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