Essay: Shared knowledge

Both personal knowledge and shared knowledge may be produced from another. Shared knowledge is what by a group of people, has been discovered, where learning has been obtained from, after which the validity, reliability and all the other powers of reason (strengths) to validate the discovery or point of discussion is shared to be used by individuals in a global community and hence becomes common or well-known. Example, the discovery by a group of scientists (Copernicus, Plato, Ferdinand Magellan and Pythagoras) that the world is round, this has been confirmed reasonable and thus worthy to conclude it as a fact from experimental findings that made sense both to the scientists themselves and the global community.

But could one not disagree with such evidence that something of that sort does prevail or is happening? Especially based on their beliefs on how culture delineates their view of the world? Could this then this give the kind of knowledge obtained? Since its publicity and reliability suggests that no one is to go against the confirmed discovery? Perhaps as a result, shared knowledge at which the world can bank on at all times for as long as there are no newfangled findings or paradigm shifts about it is the basis from which personal knowledge may be obtained. On the contrary, apart from natural sciences, what do indigenous knowledge systems say about adaptation of personal knowledge from shared knowledge? In my culture, shared knowledge is not necessarily the preliminary trigger prior to my personal knowledge.
This is because in my childhood era, how I would dress, communicate with the elders, blamelessly be obedient to my parents and elders in the society would not be from the knowledge I gained from religion (Christianity), but rather from how my parents and the society treated me. My culture states that a child belongs to every parent in the society and that it is the responsibility of every parent in the society to straighten the stick while it is still wet, which mean as children we would have to be directed in a good way by every parent in the society. Therefore my moral values were not obtained from shared knowledge.

Yet in the commencement of my learning of religion, shared knowledge from this way of knowing played a gigantic part in shaping my personal knowledge. Before I gained knowledge about Christianity, I believed in ancestors. But later on, the way I would imagine or perceive God to be while learning from cultural beliefs and comparing both culture and Christianity became different when I got exposed to the Bible. This made my imagination and perception of God over ancestors and how I felt about Him deeper than before. It basically made me fear Him so much that I learned how to do by His Word more than culture would expect me to do with ancestry.

On the other hand, personal knowledge is the information known by one person, either from adaptation using shared knowledge, individual findings from which one learns, and all other self-related issues that may or may not be worthy to share to the world in order to become shared knowledge. Personal knowledge may be predominantly based on personal opinion, intuition, experiences, usually observations and the perspective of an individual. Example, knowledge of my feelings and emotions and the knowledge I gain from hand washing clothes and the way of putting them on a line.
My technique in doing this is exceptionally different from what one other individual would do and how they would do it. It may then not be viewed the same way by another person, which brings about its personality and its difficulty in becoming shared knowledge as it may not be reliable to others.

In shaping up personal knowledge, shared knowledge would involve different ways of knowing for an individual to gain and adapt different skills pertained to them alone. History serves as a manner in which adaptation of personal knowledge can be obtained, a chronological order of past events sets as the basis from which such skills as writing skills and ways of presenting information are set. For example, in the book of Loot and Other stories, the story of the diamond mine is set in South Africa during the World War II. In conveying the message on how the 19th and 20th century female teenagers have their have had their innocence devalued by desperate soldiers, Nardine Gordimer has from the history of WW II learned of ways through which to portray such information in writing.

Her conclusion on deciding to dominate the story with a lot of euphemism and love, was due to the extent at which the story was explicit. It elicited countless scenarios that if explicitly described, would make the book not fit for study in schools because of moral values and rules. But since her intended purpose at this juncture was the same youth, she learned from the context in which the story was created that for the success of the publication of the short story book, she would have to exercise her personal knowledge gained from history through writing. Perhaps one could claim that another personal knowledge for Gordimer to have had the short story this way is that since she was within the vicinity of WW II history in the making. From the shared knowledge about this war, she herself realized that this not only affects the southern part of Africa but rather the entire world as well. As a result, her open mindedness let to her setting the story in a plot that she knew or was certain would convenience most individuals coming across the short story book, but she learned it would be wise to appear ethical and as a person who works with her own principles.

We also realize that she might have been propelled by emotions in writing in the manner that she did. Personally, as a woman, she learned that teenagers of her type are prone to sexual exploitation, hence the history of the WW II which involved a number of such case scenarios gave such personal knowledge to Gordimer about her writing.
Furthermore, shared knowledge about a number of African countries being colonized by Britain gave rise to most African individuals deciding to offer much respect to Britain for what it has done. The accumulation of such stories by historians bore shared knowledge which has an emotional impact on individuals reading the history. They know how they feel and their feelings will be different from one individual to another.

Language, specifically English which makes up the indigenous knowledge systems for most cultures in many countries, does shape one’s personal knowledge. For example, the expression ‘birds of the same furthers flock together’ is a well-known phrase which most native speakers like I am (though my second language) have come across. From this phrase, I structured my personal knowledge basing myself on what the phrase says. I learned that not only should I be of a helping hand to those that are close to me, but I have known that helping the needy and team working with different people was not the context from which the phrase was created, rather, it made me aware that more than blood is thicker than water.
But could this shared knowledge only shape our personal knowledge in the positive manner? I come to think of the phrase, it’s still a man’s world. What implication is given by this to women? Is it not going to make them drag feet to possessing opportunities they are entitled to with the mentality that only men deserve them? Will that not be another ordinary woman’s personal knowledge build from shared knowledge in indigenous knowledge systems? It could also make men take advantage of their manhood and lean themselves on the phrase as they deprive women, to an extent that this may extend to the youth. A living example to this is what Dineo in the South African drama ‘generations’ said to MJ (the young gentleman actor in the same drama) that it’s still a man’s world and that he could use that opportunity to force his mother to change her mind about whatever issue resulted in the dispute between them.

On the contrary, perceptions of some female individuals about this phrase may give them personal knowledge, perhaps that of admitting that they will never dominate the world and that they will know when to draw the line in exercising their so called rights and equal opportunities. Yet to others it may teach those ways through which to make societies, families and themselves ‘it’s still a man’s world’ free zone.

Ultimately, shared knowledge will simply be accepted in different ways by individuals and that could mean the kind of personal knowledge elicited will depend on the way shared knowledge was received and how it may be viewed beneficial to an individual. Hence the kind of personal knowledge gained by one individual will be beneficial to themselves but may not be the same thing with another, they may understand they have a better personal knowledge than another’s. It generally depends on an individual’s way of deciding to adapt skills from the shared knowledge which will unequivocally differ from individual to individual

Source: Essay UK -

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