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What is The Most and Least Trustworthy Source of Knowledge?

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Abel’s book, Man Is The Measure, discusses nine different sources of knowledge. These are: sense perception, logic, intuition, self awareness, memory, authority, consensus gentium, revelation and faith. However not all of these sources of knowledge can be trusted, but some can. I plan to show that out of these nine different sources of knowledge intuition is the most trustworthy and self awareness is the least.

Intuition is the most trustworthy source of knowledge. Abel defines intuition as the “knowledge of right and wrong [which] is often based on such inner convictions of certainty.” (p. 25) For example, you know it is wrong to cheat on a test, but it is right to either not cheat or to confess to cheating. I believe that intuition is best source of knowledge because you are born with it, and the other sources rely on either learning about it or is based on your perception of what is and has happened. For example, a new born of any mammalian species knows by intuition to suck on its mother’s teat for milk.

The mother does not show the new born how to suckle, and usually newborns do not have a great sense of the world to know what to do. Intuition is also described as your gut reaction. Like when you are in danger you know you have to get out (getting out is not intuition, only the sense of danger is). However, with anything in life there is a downside. Intuition is what you hold as morally correct, but another person could believe that what their different intuition is correct. For example, person A believes that it is right to persecute anyone different from him while person B believes it is wrong to persecute any living being. The different intuitions between persons A and B could lead to conflict, and then who knows what. Even though intuition has its downfalls I still believe it is the most trustworthy source of knowledge.

On the other hand, self-awareness is the least trustworthy knowledge. Self-awareness is ones own wishes, desires, feelings, thoughts, hopes, etc. It is based on what you alone can infer from your emotions and thoughts and so on. There is no way to gather knowledge from self-awareness because it is too random and cannot be tested. It cannot be tested because the human mind wants and thinks and feels an infinite number of things. Self-awareness is too broad and cannot be defined. For example, I wish I had more money. It is true that you gain the knowledge that I want more money, but knowledge is the understanding of why I want more money or for what purpose. Many people do rely on self-awareness as a trustworthy source of knowledge for two reasons. One, it gives a person something to believe in or achieve to a higher standard. Two, it can justify and support someone’s actions. If person A was to say: “I think the world would be a better place if person B was dead,” and then he goes and kills person B from his desire. Thus, self-awareness cannot be trusted as a reliable source of knowledge.

Intuition and self-awareness are on two opposite ends of the source of knowledge “trustablity meter”. Intuition is highly trustworthy because of two reasons. One, it is your source for what is right and what is wrong. Two, it is like a survival instinct; it will let you know when you are in danger, for example. Self-awareness cannot be trusted at all. It is too personalized into what you as an individual person wants, desires, hopes, etc. Even though it is appealing, it would be “shady” in its results. So, in the end, you cannot trust self-awareness as a source of knowledge, but you can trust your intuition.

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