Forms of Understanding


Forms of Understanding: Knowledge can be categorised based on distinct kinds of concepts and meanings involved and processes of valida...

Forms of Understanding:

Knowledge can be categorised based on distinct kinds of concepts and meanings involved and processes of validation and justification. Each involves its own kind of ‘critical thinking’, its own way of verifying and authenticating knowledge, and its own kind of ‘creativity’. 

Mathematics has its own distinctive concepts, such as prime number, square root, fraction, integer and function. It also has its own validation procedure, namely, a step-by-step demonstration of the necessity of what is to be established. The validation procedures of mathematics are never empirical, never based on observation of the world or on experiment, but are demonstrations internal to the system specified by an appropriate set of axioms and definitions. 

The Sciences, like the systems of mathematics, have their own concepts, often interconnected through theories, and are attempts to describe and explain the natural world. Concepts include atom, magnetic field, cell, and neuron. Scientific inquiry involves observation and experimentation to validate predictions made by theory (hypotheses), which may be aided by instruments and controls. Formalisation into theory and model building can sometimes involve mathematics, but it is only with reference to obser vations and not to mathematical accuracy that truth is tested. The attempt is to furnish a narrative that in some way ‘corresponds’ to reality. 

The Social Sciences and Humanities have their own concepts, for example, community, modernisation, culture, identity, and polity. The Social Sciences aim at developing a generalised and critical understanding of human beings and human groups in society. The Social Sciences concern themselves with description, explanation and prediction in the social world. The Social Sciences deal with hypotheses that are about human behaviour in collective living, and their validation finally depends on the observations made in the society. With regard to the process of knowledge formation, Science and the Social Sciences are almost identical. But there are two differences that are of great relevance in curriculum planning. First, the Social Sciences study human behaviour which is governed by ‘reasons’, while nature is governed by ‘cause and effect’. Second, the findings of the Social Sciences often raise issues of ethics and desirability while natural phenomena can be understood, raising ethical questions only when they enter into the domain of human action. 

Art and aesthetics have many words in common, such as rhythm, harmony, expression and balance, though giving them new senses or new ranges of application. Art productions cannot be judged against reality or investigated for ‘truth’. Although there is ample scope for subjective judgement in art, it is also possible to educate the artistic imagination to critically assess what is good and what is not. 

Ethics is concerned with all human values, and with the rules, principles, standards and ideals which give them expression. In relation to action and choice, therefore, ethics must be conceded primacy over each of the forms of understanding. Ethical understanding involves understanding reasons for judgements—for what makes some things and some acts right and others wrong—regardless of the authority of the persons involved. Furthermore, such reasons will be reasons for anyone; reason, equality and personal autonomy are therefore very intimately connected concepts. 

Philosophy involves a concern, on the one hand, with analytical clarification, evaluation and synthetic coordination of the aforementioned forms of understanding in relation to life, and, on the other hand, with the whole, the ultimate meaning and the transcendent. 

The basic capabilities, the knowledge of practice and the forms of understanding are the core ways in which human experience has been elaborated in the course of history. All but the simplest kinds of human activity draw upon them—the liberal professions, technology, industry and commerce. They are central to human culture. Imagination and critical thinking are linked in obvious ways with the development of understanding and reason, and so are the emotions. 

Each of these knowledge areas involves a special vocabulary, concepts, theories, descriptions and methodologies. Each provides a ‘lens’ through which to view the world, to understand, to engage, and to act in it. These areas have developed, and continue to grow, through the contributions of people in the past. They have also changed in their structure and emphasis. A variety of intelligence and forms of knowing come into play while learning these areas: ‘formal modes’ of explicit reasoning and articulation; looking for and evaluating evidence; ‘experiential’ and tacit knowing through doing and undergoing the experience; coordinating and observing; and ‘practical’ engagement, either by oneself or in coordination with others in making or accomplishing something, in addressing problems and issues while charting a course of action. Creativity and excellence are integral to all these forms of knowledge and knowing. 

This accumulation of human culture and knowledge, and ways of knowing and doing things, is a valuable part of the inheritance of human society. All our children have a right to access this knowledge, to educate and enrich their common sense, to develop and discover themselves and the world of nature and people, through these lenses and tools

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CLEAR CTET: Forms of Understanding
Forms of Understanding
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