To discuss this issue, it is important to have a clear understanding of it. The main terms here are shared knowledge and personal knowledge. Shared knowledge is the knowledge produced by more than two people who add to common things their own part. Personal knowledge is knowledge of one person that is gained through personal involvement, practice and experience. It is influenced by personal perspective (The 2015 IB Guide).The connection between both is obvious. Personal knowledge is influenced by shared one. Prescribed title includes the next statements: shared knowledge shapes personal knowledge; this process is realized in a particular way. From these statements, the knowledge questions can be formulated. The first one is: If shared knowledge shapes personal knowledge, then where are the limits of this shaping? The second knowledge question is: Does share knowledge influence personal knowledge in positive or negative way? The paper will discuss questions concerning natural sciences and human sciences. These two areas of knowledge are appropriate in this discussion.
Natural sciences investigate laws of nature. In this area of knowledge, shared knowledge has been formed by many people during centuries. Everybody knows things about this area mostly due to shared knowledge. For instance, when I was a child, I knew nothing about natural sciences and physics in concrete. I was interested why the lamp is lightning and why the car is moving. I had my personal knowledge about these things. I obtained it through different ways of knowing. I was switching on and off the light using my sense perception. Besides, I was using my imagination. I minded out that somebody by my command gives and then takes away a part of sun. I was observing how the car is moving, saw wheels and form of the car. By reason, I knew that wheels play some role in the car moving. It was not good for me. Because of lack of personal knowledge, I began to seek for shared one and asked these questions to my parents. They gave me common answers that could not satisfy my curiosity. As to the question about the lamp, my mother told me that the lamp is lightning due to electricity. My father said to me that the car is moving with a help of some liquid called petrol. When I went to school, I started to learn more about natural sciences and physics in concrete. I had known that the lamp is lightning due to electricity and the electricity is a physical phenomenon made by the moving of charged particles. Today, I know about electric charge, electric field, electric potential, and other things connected to electricity. I know that motor makes car moving. There are different types of motors including steam, diesel, gas, hydrogen, and even electric engines. I know for sure that my personal knowledge in this area mostly was shaped by shared knowledge of many people and centuries. I feel that William Gilbert, Alessandro Volta, George Ohm, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, Michael Faraday and many others helped me to obtain this knowledge.
All scientific inventions were made by scientists. It is interesting to know whether their personal knowledge was shaped by shared one and in what extent. All of them were studying as me. Thus, they felt the same influence as I feel. Their personal knowledge at this stage was formed by shared one. At the same time, most inventions were made in contradiction to shared knowledge. Thus, inventors can be in a moment when shared knowledge could not anymore shape their personal knowledge anymore. For instance, today, physics is impossible without the inventions of George Ohm. Everybody knows such metric unit for measuring resistance as Ohm. At the same time, in 1827, when he formulated and published his “Ohm’s law” and other investigations in the book “The galvanic Circuit investigated mathematically”, people criticized him a lot. He even lost his job. Only when other scientists came to the same results, he was recognized (“Crackpots” who were right”). The same was with Robbert Goddard’s idea of rocket-powered space ships. He wrote about sending a rocket to the atmosphere. He was much criticized for this idea. Nobody understood him, but he continued his researches until his death (“Crackpots” who were right”). Today, people cannot imagine the world without space investigation.
Ohm and Goddard were genius. They went ahead their time. Their inventions were not accepted by the auditory. Shared knowledge of the time was not ready to accept their inventions and tried to shape their personal knowledge by sharp critique. In this manner, shared knowledge affected emotions of these people trying to put them down. It had no success. The fact that their personal knowledge in the time was much deeper than shared one because of their high professionalism and desire for inventions. Now, their inventions are the part of shared knowledge that influences personal knowledge of modern people. Thus, not always shared knowledge successfully shape personal one. This shaping has its limits which depend on the level of a person’s intellectual characteristics, education and professionalism.
Human sciences can partly help people to understand the way in which shared knowledge shape personal knowledge. This area of knowledge investigates humanities and social sciences. Everybody knows that people surrounding us affect us and our behavior. Our personal knowledge about some person can be influenced by shared knowledge of a group of people. For instance, in my class, there are pupils whom everybody likes and those who are not popular at all. Every new pupil comes to school and falls under the influence of the common opinion. Their personal knowledge about one or another person are shaped by shared knowledge formed by the majority. Thus, there are cases when people do not use such ways of forming personal knowledge as reason. They do not want to analyze things by their own. Mostly, people prefer to share common opinion. With this, shared knowledge shape personal knowledge with a help of emotions and desire of a person to be a part of the group.
Another example of such influence is the Stanford Prison Experiment which took place in 1971. Researchers divided students into two groups. One group were prisoners, the other were guards. Researchers simulated situations, circumstances and behaviors in prison as stated by shared knowledge. The special prison environment was created. The process of arrest, examination and searching was conducted. Then, they instructed guards to use different methods of humiliation such as delousing, stripping, shaving heads, putting chains on prisoners’ foot, etc. Besides, the guards were free in their actions. The results shocked everybody. Researchers planned to have two weeks experiment, but it took place only for six days. Participants who played a role of guards became sadistic. Those students who played a role of prisoners were deep stressed and depressed (Stanford Prison Experiment). Psychological effects of being prisoners or prison guards showed how shared knowledge can shape personal one. Personal knowledge of each prisoner was shaped by shared knowledge of guards who affected the emotional side of prisoners. Many ways of knowing were included: language (by words and tone of the speaker), emotions (fear, shame and disappointment), sense perception (pain), and memory (the experience). Guards’ personal knowledge was influent by shared knowledge about ordinary prison guards’ behavior. With time, their personal knowledge was formed by emotions such as feeling of dominance and power. In this case, shared knowledge had a negative influence on an individual’s personal knowledge.
In addition, there are cases in human sciences when shared knowledge can positively shape personal knowledge. It can be illustrated by the activity of Alcoholic Anonymous fellowship that gives help to people with alcohol problems. The main aim of program is the following of teetotal system. At trainings, participants support each other by talking about their experience, style of life, and wish to be a normal person. Here, shared knowledge of group directly influences personal knowledge of each participant. It is made by such ways of knowing as language, reason, and emotions.
These findings are important because we can implement it on practice. From natural sciences, it was found that there are limits for shared knowledge influence on personal knowledge. These limits depend on the level of a person’s intellectual characteristics, education and professionalism. The higher the characteristics are the lower level of shared knowledge’s influence on personal knowledge is. This finding can be implemented by anybody in a way of studying and desire to be developed intellectually. It gives a chance to be independently thinking person. As for human sciences examples, they showed that the way in which shared knowledge influence personal knowledge can be negative and positive. The main finding is that negative way demands short period of time while positive way influence requires from a person to work much and desire to be better. It is the evidence of the common known fact that the shorter way not the better way