Disagreement will prevail on most issues until some answer that is empirically substantiated is proposed in its support. In the words of Locke “we can achieve genuine knowledge only when we have clear ideas and can trace the connection between them enough to perceive their agreement or disagreement.” In the absence of anything concrete and substantial one has to resort to epistemological expectations. But do the conventional ways of knowing are decisive always? Are they not subject to disagreement given the fact that there are so many languages and that man’s perception, emotion and reason vary individually from one person to the other. In the area of knowledge human sciences, The great philosopher Nietzsche once said,” “that reality is absurd and unknowable, and that it is language that imparts meaning to reality.
But I disagree with Nietzsche and think that instead of giving meaning to reality it creates bias and prejudice, and that reality is not absurd. In my country there are more than fifteen regional languages. And the more the languages the more is the bias and prejudice in the Indians about the national, official and the regional languages. Everyone considers his or her language superior. I am no authority against the Nobel laureate but given my experience, observation and reason I think, “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.”
Nor do I agree with the words of the business magnate and the founder of the British department store Selfridges, “that the customer is always right.” In this mercenary world I have cheated in my dealing with business companies a number of times, and so do others. Customer is not a god. He too is a man of flesh and blood. And it is but natural that in order to earn as much profit as possible a customer may tend to dough as many privileges as possible even if they are undue.
Many a time it so happened that I disagreed with my science teachers while discussing a concept. This disagreement gave me an edge as when the teachers discussed the concept again with respect to my enquiry they were not only able to clear my doubts but also refined my knowledge about those scientific claims. If I had not disagreed and uttered my dissenting voice my knowledge about those concepts would have been vague and bookish only, and not at all pragmatic.
Just a few days ago I discussed this TOK essay with one of my TOK teachers. He suggested that I recheck the example of Empedocles as this example dates back to pre Socrates days, and told me that there is no authenticity in the fact that it was Empedocles who first laid the theory of spontaneous generation. But I disagreed and gathered evidence from beyond my textbooks, and showed him that it was he only who first laid this theory. I disagreed to him, and this disagreement proved revolutionary. It not only affirmed my knowledge about spontaneous generation but also my teacher’s.
Although the disagreement pertaining to spontaneous generation helped me yet there can be a number of instances where disagreement may not lead to anything. And on the contrary confuse us all the more. For example there are many theories that refute the existence of god. As an IB student I too do not believe in creationism and show more propensity toward evolutionism. But whenever I disagreed to the prevailing dogmas about god and the catholic church my disagreement boomeranged as I could not propose anything that could establish the proposition that god does not exist. What I personally feel is that it is better to keep aloof from such polemic and controversial topics such as the debate between evolutionism and creationism.
Just disagreeing with something will not always be fruitful as we live in a world of binary opposites. If there exist sciences we have pseudo sciences as well. Every science has its corresponding pseudoscience. For example: astronomy and astrology; medicine and homeopathy; psychology and parapsychology. Seeing is not always believing. We don’t see electricity, microwaves and infrared yet we believe in them, and cannot disagree with their existence. So is the case with the god.
In this essay I have elaborated on the function of disagreement with the prevailing concepts and notions. And to deal with the question if disagreement can aid the pursuit of our knowledge I answer in the affirmative. Disagreement is essential whether it is Descartes (who suggested that we doubt everything) or I. It is the prerogative of every human being to judge the things for himself and look at the things from the point of view of a scientific enquirer. However, I must say that disagreement will not always serve to out interest for everything in this universe does not bring in its train empiric evidence. Disagreement is conducive to our knowledge but to a certain extent and it is necessary that it should come equipped with the other conventional ways of knowing, as it may not always amount to something substantial standing on its own.