In Selections, Aristotle discusses the idea that in order to learn, we as humans must have preconceived knowledge. In Book 1 Chapter 1, [Knowledge and Demonstration] lines 6-30, Aristotle explains how he believes it is critical that we must have prior knowledge on a topic, which we know as truth, in order expand our understanding on the subject. Line 20-21 he states “If, then, knowing is the sort of thing we assumed it is, demonstrative knowledge must also be derived from things that are true, primary, immediate”

Aristotle’s perspective is that we as people are unable acquire new knowledge and take it as truth unless it is developed from knowledge which we already strongly know and have learn about previously. In many areas, I agree with this theory. In the case of the geocentric model of the solar system for example, many scientists originally believed the earth was the center of the solar system, and using that claim, tried to collect evidence to support and expand their theory.  It was not until the truth was discovered however, (that the sun was the true center of the solar system and the earth revolved around it) that humans were actually able to acquire true knowledge and make progress in their learning.  Once the truth is known, we are then able to expand and investigate more about the solar system to learn more, which we would not have previously been able to comprehend if we had not understood the true structure.

However, while many scientific facts are built from previous knowledge, I do believe that there is a point in which all knowledge must start.  As infants, we come into the world learning new things, we start from nothing and as we grow and learn, we begin to think for ourselves.  It is also very well known that some of the most important things we learn in life are things we learn from our mistakes.  Therefore, if we perceive something as truth or we don’t know the facts and we persist in trying to use it as true knowledge, then mistakes are often made, and in this way we are also learning.  While in many cases I believe Aristotle was right that much of the knowledge we gain comes from previous knowledge, I don’t necessarily believe that is always the case.

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