“… our knowledge is only a collection of scraps and fragments that we put together into a pleasing design, and often the discovery of one new fragment would cause us to alter utterly the whole design” (Morris Bishop). To what extent is this true in history and one other area of knowledge?Morris Bishop’s quote about the collection of thought has a few things that need to be deconstructed for a full understanding of the question. What is meant by “pleasing design” and “scraps and fragments”? Also, how does one “alter the whole design”? Scraps and fragments could be little bits that have been seen, read, heard, or even small parts of a dream that the knower’s mind fashioned into an acceptable format. The pleasing design is what the knower finds fitting and possible. The design is the pattern that knowledge creates that connects the knowledge systems to the knower, and “altering the design” occurs when new bits of information is absorbed. This causes adjustments in the previous design.
It is oftentimes assumed that history can only help form the knower’s design. A saying that Mr. Mark McCormick often says is, “Those who are ignorant enough to not learn history are likely to repeat it.” History can be looked at as a guideline, “Don’t do that again, that didn’t work well last time.” However, History can also change the facts known. While a well-known professor of philosophy could point out that the sun will always rise in the morning, it would only enhance the fact that it happens. Facts are considered stubborn statements because they can not be changed until proven completely wrong with evidence. Knowledge of this phenomena is necessary to understand it. A recent discovery completely redesigned history known by most people regarding the British colonies. During the era of the British Empire, there was an uprising created by the African people of Kenya. They called themselves the Mau Mau, they were trying to drive the British people out of Kenya. Yet many of them were captured, tortured, and taken to “Prison” camps, and during this time the people were oppressed and their story was never truly spoken, until now. Just recently the Mau Mau gathered a case against Britain, telling the unspoken truth that hurt so many men, women, and children. There was no hard evidence that this atrocity had happened until Hanslope Park was discovered. Hanslope Park was a hidden government facility, unknown to the people, which withheld classified information that would help the Mau Mau’s case. Not only was it just information pertaining to the Kenyan colonies, but also information that affected every colony of the British Empire. This secret building had tons of information that could rewrite history, and change the present shared knowledge about the past of the Mau Mau and the British Empire.
The design of stem cell knowledge has recently been altered; the Natural Sciences have found that stem cells can be extracted from adult blood. Awaiting approval, doctors will be able to change transplants by imputing the recipient’s stem cells into the designated organ awaiting transplant to minimize the danger of the body rejecting the said organ. Therefore, people on the transplant list will not have to wait nearly as long a time; they will have a higher chance of getting an organ safer and faster. In a crisis, it would substantially help with the time and amount that is needed. Efficiency in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death.
Essentially, science concerns the description of the world around us: inquiring the techniques of each advancement, doubting the obvious, and constantly delving into nature to interrogate further. While some things seem to be true, the Natural Sciences create a way of solidifying the world’s given “answers.” Superstitions inundated the intricacies of nature in the Middle Ages. Aristotle attacked the most perplexing issues of the day and was actually able to convince the masses of his most advanced ideas. There was no way for Aristotle to be proved wrong in that day and age, therefore when he said that objects slow down because they are tired it seemed legitimate because friction had not come about so people didn’t think differently. Therefore, Aristotle’s simplifications were accepted as valid for almost 2,000 years. Not until the beginning of modern physics was the true explanation of motion exemplified. Newton’s discoveries enabled some of the most productive times in the world, including the start of the Modern Age. Newton was considered crazy during his lifetime; however, proceeding his death, people began to believe the intelligence that he spoke in taverns. They come to accept the many things Newton said as truth. A new phase of humanity was constructed through Newton’s realization and description of the moon, stars, and planets. He succeeded in utilizing the discoveries in science that brought mankind to the acknowledgment of the potential in the practical study of science.
Again, knowledge is ever changing. It can be perceived by different people in different ways. For example, in the Mau Mau case, the discovery of the new knowledge transformed what we knew about the Mau Mau. Now we have a better description of our history due to the redesigning of what we thought we knew and what we now know. Also, in the latest research pertaining to Stem Cells, the altering from the past to the future is truly a good description of the progress that our scientific field is making, as evidenced by fewer deaths and more patients surviving transplants. No doubt this fact will be proven many times over in the coming future.