Tok Essay Example (The Roles Played by Reason and Imagination in at Least Two Areas of Knowledge)
Both imagination and reason have great role in such fields as physics and history taken for an analysis. In fact, imagination is believed to be central for history and not so important for physics. Further studying and researching has shown that this is not completely correct to think so. Moreover, one of the greatest conflicts of the Western civilizations was the problem of reason and imagination. I presume that the role of certain reasonable factors in most of areas depends on the essence of the investigated field of knowledge. For example, the role of reason in history is more important than the same in art. In the field of natural sciences, such as physics, human beings frequently use their feelings and sympathies rather than proclaim the supremacy of reason in relationships and human affairs.
Albert Einstein commented the process with the help of which he developed his theory of special relativity. He stated:
A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But, thinking it through afterwards, you can always discover the reasons which have led you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it. Intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience (qtd. in Fraser-Thill).
Therefore, experts use the method of combination the imagination and reason for their studies, breaking the stereotype of perceiving history and physics only as the logical disciplines.
To prove a great role of a reason in history, we can refer to the works of the most prominent historians of last century that investigated a diversity of historical problems and issues. For instance, Albertini's The Origins of the War of 1914, Nevins' Ordeal of the Union, Adams' History of the United States are regarded the greatest works in this area. These scholars accumulated facts, stated them, put them in sequence and, thus, made it possible for an average citizen to understand the logic of historical events. Though, it has to be said that modern universities produce such valuable archives as aforementioned ones. It became obvious that history can frequently be the source of ideologization. In such a situation, historians do not produce or apply for the help of vivid and legal documents as sources of history. They just use their imagination, which is not really pertinent for highlighting and analyzing the events of the past ("Age of Reason").
Eventually, I think it is something that modern history lacks. The 18th century was the Age of Reason. The movement of those times rejected to believe in miracles, mysticism, religious ideas, and superstitions. It was full of pursuit of knowledge, observing the universe, inventing new fields of knowledge. In the times of Earlier Enlightenment, historians were free to analyze independently all what happened on certain territory and were able to hold and express their own opinions in the way they wanted to. Particularly, a thinker from Germany Immanuel Kant defined the concept in this way:
Enlightenment is the liberation of man from his self-caused state of minority. Minority is the incapacity of using one's understanding without the direction of another. This state of minority is self-caused when its source lies not in a lack of understanding but in a lack of determination to use it without the assistance of another ("Age of Reason").
Hopefully, the earlier best traditions will revive at least for history.
Another point is the meaning of the imagination for history. In the XX century, a philosopher Collingwood stated that all the historical knowledge of people was grounded mainly on the imagination of the latter. Nevertheless, his response was only addressed to positivists who argued that history has to be based only on the scientific theories. Carl Hempel gave his explanation of the meaning of explaining the event. To understand an event and its causes in history, scholars usually just reference the set of necessary information and sources. On the contrary, he supposed that History is not the subject to be understood with the help of the narrow historical terms as it is not a theoretical model. His held an opinion that a historian has to imagine the event and be able to see it through the eyes of certain figure and engage his fantasy. Only in that way he can gain the full understanding of the events (Gagandeep).Therefore, the importance of the imagination is a controversial version of this scientist's position. The point is that the prevailing theory has always stressed that historians should analyze sources and debate over them to explain the problem from different points of view.
Frankly, I believe that the only way to solve this dilemma is to synthesize these two methods of analyzing the events and comparing the events with a personal opinion and how could it be.
Thus, it seems clear how we ought to act when analyzing the events of history. In the same way, it is necessary to look at the problems from the scientific perspective. Scientific disciplines usually take reasoning as the main way to prove the righteousness of a particular statement, formula, or salvation of a problem. For sciences, we apply the inductive method of investigating almost every time. Experiments are such examples. When an experiment is made again and again, and it shows the same outcome, a scientist will use it as an evidence for his theory. Nonetheless, exceptions still can take place. To prove it, we can see that Newton's laws of motion were not fully investigated, and Einstein was the first to research their problem. It occurred that these laws were useless in occasion with bodies that moved with high speed. To achieve this outcome, Einstein had to use his imagination as it would not be possible without considering the issue from various positions (Levin, 2006)
What is more, natural sciences use inductivism. It states that flow of reasoning goes from particular to general. However, additional tools for the cognitive process are perception and language. While observing, a scientist directly uses reasoning. One draws hypotheses and assumptions depicted by the use of physics' terms. These hypotheses are supported with current knowledge of scientist and further experimentation. With the help of experimentation, one is able to generalize a law through the result and then come to a theory ("TOK Essay").
In physics, we can see a lot of topics that demand involving the ability to imagine something or even create something new using imagination. Not always it is available for us to look with our own eyes on the mechanisms of work which are investigated by physics. Additionally, not everything in the world is invented. Such fields are quantum physics, studies about the universe, and molecules just to list a few.
This is the way in which imagination can be used in various sciences, no matter what its subject is. All people discover problems with the help of their imagination, then applying it to arguments that can be used. As Albert Einstein has aptly noted, "Imagination is simply abstract, yet powerful" (qtd. in Fraser-Thill). Here, it is important to advocate to methods by which scientists can get together reason and imagination. With the help of observation, a physicist notices any result, and with the help of imagination, the results will fit in a certain model. For example, the modeling of space within a particular place is an idea (imagination works). Imagination itself is a sub-process of the human thinking systems, which are bound to the university and based on some physical processes simultaneously. It is irrational to believe that imagination of any process will be outside of the current list of physical laws. In these conditions, we can only imagine the outcomes of the specific theories and experiments. For instance, a physicist can assume that gravity is attractive while considering in the area of classical mechanics. Hence, a mind of any scientist can imagine the following:
- What would it be if the gravity has been repulsive?
- What if it would not exist?
It is superstition that physicists should ignore their imagination. Most people are confident that physicists ought to save their status quo and their ideas are to fit some set rules and expectations from other individuals. Physicists are not limited with what they were taught or what they have already known or they just do not want to go ‘outside of the box'. On the contrary, I will agree with Einstein. Imagination is really more important for a physicist rather than for historian (Ryn).
Another problem is that physicists use their creative mind rather than the mind of physicist is applying criticism. Every time when anyone tries to put something new and fresh into the science, one is ‘shot down' by one's colleagues that just do not want to recognize something new in the science ("Physics and Physicist").
Nevertheless, there are two big trumps in the hands of such creative scientist, and these are their advantages:
- Scientists can intend numerous things in modern life as there are so many phenomena that we know now and did not know before. Most of the facts in physics were invented in last centuries. We can improve the system and current laws of physics since we live in the world of highly developed technologies. Besides, there are so many things we have to discover. We cannot always admit our own boundaries of mind or already existing laws and ideas.
- The second thing is that practicing physicists study new things and do not study something that is already verified. They research something that is unknown yet, and questions they set cannot be answered by someone at once ("Physics and Physicist").
To conclude, it has been evidenced that it is useful for both historians and physicists to engage their imagination and fantasy into the process of exploration. While making hypotheses for the physics theories, scientists use imagination to make the result fit for a certain model. On the other hand, historians can apply reason and logic to bound together events and find the specified legitimacy. Obviously, creativity and reasoning are two opposite means that help scientists in different fields create something new when they are put together.
- "Age of Reason – What Was the Age of Reason?" AllAboutHistory.org. AllAboutHistory.org, 2007. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
- Gagandeep, Bhatia. "Physics and Limits of Human Thought." www.fqxi.org. FQXi, 2008. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
- Fraser-Thill, Rebecca. "3 Life Lessons from Einstein." Working Self. N.p., 2010. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.Levin, Kevin. "On the Importance of Imagination in Historical Studies." cwmemory.com. N.p., 2006. Web.3 Feb. 2014.
- "Physics and Physicist." Blogger, 18 Oct. 2006. Web. 3 Feb. 2014. Ryn, Claes G. "Philosophical Reason: Historical, Systematic, and Humble." www.nhinet.org. National Humanities Institute, 29 Jul. 2010.Web.3 Feb. 2014.
- "TOK Essay: Art Is Based on Emotion, Science and Mathematics on Reason." chunkee.edublogs.org. WorldPress, 2011. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.