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To What Extent Do the Concepts That We Use Shape the Conclusions We Reach? Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1721

Essay

Introduction

Human beings seem to be always determined to define human understanding, and to identify the most correct means of achieving this. Some argue that only logic may be trusted, while others insist that feeling is a way of gaining real knowledge. Connected to this is the need to determine just how each concept may actually lead to conclusions reached, as valid processes. The question arises: is knowledge in place already and only “waiting” to be learned, or do we create the knowledge through the ways in which we arrive at it? This in turn demands appreciating both ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. Those ways are essentially the uses of reason and/or emotion, as the areas include the human sciences, the arts, and ethics. It is then necessary to examine how conclusions are reached, and the following supports that the concepts or processes are critical in what we come to see as knowledge.

Discussion

Before the way in which concepts actually shape conclusions may be understood, it is first necessary to recognize how the two processes function, and also relate to one another. Many believe that knowledge is only possible when the concept of reason is applied, and this is a valid position. When we use logic and reason to investigate areas of knowledge, we are focused on reality and fact. What occurs very often is that we approach issues or problems as matters of absolute reality. This is most evident in how the sciences are treated and because human thinking holds that physics, mathematics, biology, geography, and other subjects are best understood through experimentation, study, and other means of scientifically probing into them as realities.  If human perspective affects how these subjects are explored, it is still believed that the knowledge is “there” and is removed from approaches. What we seek to do is look into these matters with objectivity and pure rationality. The process demands that feeling be set aside, and because emotion of any kind will only influence or corrupt the conclusions waiting to be understood.  It usually happens, then, that human beings trust to the sciences as essentially being realities that can only be known when we accept that they exist as absolutes. Even as we change our conclusions over time, this is only because we are continually investigating and discovering new facts; the knowledge does no change, but our ability to reach it does.

This same process of trying to apply only reason also goes to other sciences, and ones less based on physical fact or reality. For example, criminology is a human science that exists to understand how deviant behavior may be created, prevented, and reformed. This in turn connects to the science of psychology. Even as these subjects reflect behavioral and emotional factors, we still believe that knowledge and conclusions may be established as fact, and through reason. Once again, if there is information we lack, it is only because we do not yet fully understand the nature of what must be a reality. Usually, all human investigation of the human sciences tends to emphasize an objective process because this weakens any feeling or subjective point of view that may “get in the way” of factual conclusion.

Conversely, and even if it is not usually viewed as a widely valuable concept of learning, it is true as well that emotion is a process commonly used to reach conclusions. The variability here is naturally vast; as human beings undergo an endless variety of emotions, conclusions and knowledge arrived at through feeling takes on an equally limitless range. In the knowledge area of art, for example, conclusions inevitably differ, and often strongly. The individual perceiving a painting as meaningful and perfectly crafted exists alongside the person viewing the same work of art and seeing only random and pointless expression. Both are conclusions reached by feeling as the primary process, as the emotional response felt is what decides the conclusion, so each conclusion is valid. Moreover, this kind of opposing “thinking” is seen even among experts in art; if they apply technical knowledge to the process of assessing the art, art itself demands that emotion be the main element in concluding and because art exists to trigger human feeling on some level apart from literal meaning.

In each concept, then, it is seen that the process is in place to reach a conclusion or knowledge, and this is as true of emotion as it is of reason. That emotion-based conclusions more vary does not alter the nature of the process as similar to reasoning. At the same time, however, it is important to understand that human thinking is never restricted to any single process or approach, and no matter the intentions of the individual. It is true that human beings often make efforts to apply only logic to subjects, and even reach conclusions largely unaffected by subjectivity or emotion.  Nonetheless, it cannot be ignored that feeling on some level impacts even these efforts. For example, the scientist seeking to solve a complex equation or explain a physical problem is influenced by his motivation to reach an answer; if that motive is extremely strong, they may easily turn to a solution that is not perfect knowledge. What may happen is that a passable solution is achieved, and one that is acceptable because others also emotionally require a conclusion more than they are committed to absolute knowledge. The same is even more true when emotion is the used concept, because “fact” is not in place and conclusions must reflect individual perceptions and feelings.

This then reveals that, in both concepts, the processes have a great impact on the conclusions. Ways  of knowing are actually also ways of defining knowledge, which goes to establishing ideas of reality.  Certainly, controversial subjects like abortion lead to complex approaches. The ethics underlying the issue strongly combine emotion and reason, and simply because ethics themselves depend upon emotional response as well as logic. For example, when reason is applied, many realities supporting abortion as a choice reflect both logic; a woman may not wish to be a mother or she may be incapable of caring for a child (Kaczor 179). At the same time, emotional views link to strong ideas of what is ethical, so the reasoning supporting abortion as a choice is countered by the sense that the mother’s concerns cannot justly outweigh the value of a potential life. Without question, then, the applied concepts create the conclusion, and no matter what forms it may take.

This being the case, it has been widely acknowledged that conclusions are virtually dependent upon human processes of reaching them. In fact, it is arguable that many engage in ongoing efforts to weaken this factor and more demand that reasoning alone determine knowledge. The problem, however, lies in the irrefutable reality that emotion exists in an endless form of degree, and is usually always in place on some level. A great deal of psychological theory connects emotion to learning, for example, but the dilemma is that this is usually done through a focus on “big” emotions, such as anger, fear, and happiness. The more important reality is that emotion exists, like cognition, in a moment-by-moment form. There is a dynamic to degrees of emotion and it functions alongside of cognitive learning (Graesser, D’Mello 185). The person investigating a physics problem is dedicated to reason but, as in the above example of the scientist, must be emotionally invested to some degree in the efforts, which affects the shape of the conclusion. This may not even be emotion in its most strict or commonly perceived meaning. That is, a sense of satisfaction in believing that a certain path will lead to a conclusion will compel the physicist to make stronger efforts. Even a minor sense of satisfaction, or even mild hope, is emotional, so the course of reaching the conclusion must also shape its ultimate form. In plain terms, human beings are inherently incapable of not being influenced by emotion even when they believe they are functioning only logically, and all knowledge reflects these enormous influences of process.

It may be argued that this is unjust, and because human knowledge is greatly defined by fact and conclusions that have been tested as such over long periods. Knowledge is then not necessarily shaped by concepts, since certain types of knowledge have been identified as reality, even if more emotional processes are questionable as such forces. However, it must be remembered that conclusions do not exist only as knowledge reached by a person or group; they are identified as forms of knowledge because they are accepted as such by others, and this certainly goes to doubting the knowledge as removed from the creating concepts. People, as individuals or groups, tend to enjoy the security of trusting to some types of knowledge, and it is a mistake to not see this as something of an emotional need or response. This then further translates to how conclusions are formed by combinations of reasoning and feeling, and both active and passive. It may be better for humanity if knowledge existed separately from human inquiries into it, but that is an impossible state, and because the nature of humanity is always attaching expectation, emotion, and reasoning to determinations, and these must then shape the conclusions we rely upon.

Conclusion

One reality that exists apart from the discussed processes is that humanity is inevitably influenced by various perceptions, and by an infinite range of reason and emotion being employed together. This being the case, it is never purely correct to state that a fact or reality exists only as such; each one depends upon the highly complicated ways in which it is both developed and perceived, and perception itself, which is human and imperfect, must then affect the form any knowledge takes. Ultimately, the concepts or processes of reason and emotion have a consistent and powerful effect in creating what we come to see as knowledge.

Works Cited

Graesser, Arthur C., & D’Mello, Sidney. The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 57. San Diego: Academic Press, 2012. Print.

Kaczor, Christopher. The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

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