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Models as Tools for Knowledge - Essay Example

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The author of the following essay "Models as Tools for Knowledge" examines the thesis that “Models may help or hinder the search for knowledge”.  To set the premises for our discussion we begin with the operational definition of “model” and “knowledge.”…
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Models as Tools for Knowledge
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Download file to see previous pages Immediately, from the descriptions, we run into a quandary. First, knowledge is the body of truths at a point in time, but not absolute truth because those things which we concede as knowledge now changes with time. As an example, it used to be part of knowledge that the sun revolved around the earth – which is obviously anathema to today’s knowledge. Second, models cannot all be simplified representations because there are so many types of what we refer to as “models” that are not at all simple. For instance, Einstein’s E=mc2 is a model of time, mass and energy interrelated, but there is nothing at all simple about it beyond the symbols, the letters, and the number. To this model, we have credited the reality of traveling through space and the probability of traveling through time is a monumental stretch of the imagination.
It thus occurs to us that a model is a tangible (though not necessarily simple) representation of something intangible. It is tangible in the context that it may be perceived with the five senses. In such a case, the national anthem of a country is a model – an auditory representation of a nation, which is why we stand at attention and sing it with reverence. “Nation” itself is a model embodied in flesh and blood, because beyond its legal definition of being a group of people in a territory, “nation” represents the sum total of history and culture going back through centuries, of aspirations and legacies unique in all the world. No wonder that the extinction of a nation is so devastating because it conveys the irreversible demise of a way of life. Thus a model may be simple in form, but complex incomprehension because it conveys an essence deep and cerebral. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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