As are not generally accepted today. A clichéd

As the spiritual catalyst, Teal Swan, once said “The purpose of
disagreement is not a victory or defeat, it is progress.1”
Her words suggest that along with consensus, disagreement is crucial for the
production and evolution of knowledge. In these situations, consensus means an
opinion held by most and disagreement means lack of approval. In context of the
chosen title, knowledge is anything that can be justified to help make sense of
our surrounding. As believed by John Locke, knowledge is also the “perception
of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas.2” Robust
knowledge can be viewed to be strong and flexible. Therefore, its malleability
may either require consensus and disagreement to bring about any change. Since
approaches to knowledge differ slightly across all areas of knowledge, the
level of consensus or disagreement on any discipline could vary. For instance,
earlier practices that were believed to be necessary are not generally accepted

A clichéd disagreement
between two theories that puts my knowledge issues into perspective is of the
‘Geocentric theory’. Through Heliocentrism, Aristarchus of Samos’s was able to
claim his theory that instead of the Earth, it is the Sun that is at the center
of the universe. For the reason that the original theory was opposed, people
must have been provoked to question and understand contrasting views. This
implies that, when we put different thoughts together, both sides of the issue
is addressed, which ultimately leads to assist in refining and developing the
initial knowledge. Consequently, it is logical to say that participation of people
along with their individual biases may lead to consensus and disagreement. This
idea rises some possible knowledge questions: what knowledge is considered
robust? To what extent is consensus and disagreement required in order to
produce robust knowledge?  Does knowledge
rely on the opinion of experts or the laymen? Moreover, what constitutes
consensus? In order to tackle my knowledge issues, I
will investigate how consensus and disagreement comes to play a key role in
influencing robust knowledge through Human Sciences and The Arts.

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Consensus and disagreement allows the
development of initial knowledge. Throughout
history, many scientific theories and ideas have been rejected. In 1972,
Craik and Lockhart disagreed on the multi-store model of memory. They were
compelled to perform experiments from which a new theory was evolved, named
“Level of Processing.” Due to the conflict between the two psychologists, there
is a strong possibility that disagreement must have motivated them to determine
the actuality of memory recall. Their disagreement aided in strengthening their
initial knowledge. Another example is of the anatomist,
Franz Joseph Gall. He says that “as the skull takes its shape from the brain,
the surface of the skull can be read as an accurate index of psychological
Although early attempts to locate the cause of behavior appears rather ridiculous
to modern science, it was once widely accepted by many neurologists. Developed
scientific methods and perspective surpassed this initial knowledge. With time,
assigned personality traits to particular brain areas was proved fanciful
through the use of modern brain scanning instruments. In psychology, we learned
that different regions of the brain do in fact have distinct functions. Even
though the primary assumption behind phrenology was later discredited, it has
foreshadowed several phenomenon of modern psychology. Hence, the practice of
phrenology was marginalized and evolved into ‘Localization of Brain Function.’

Wilhelm Wundt is regarded
as the founding figure of experimental psychology. He has influenced several
psychologists to conduct research under controlled conditions. In the early
1880s, his technique of introspection was considered a “fundamental tool of
psychological experimentation.4”
Nevertheless, since the behavioral knowledge obtained from the experiments
differed their explanations, the concept behind introspection was rejected.
Even so, the concept later emerged into an enhanced, modern concept of
introspection known as the ‘Quantitative Linguistic Analysis.’ However, it should
also be considered that consensus and disagreement may not always refine
knowledge, but rather repress it. Having an abundance of disagreement could
lead to a negative environment. Due to several disparate ideas being offered, a
disoriented atmosphere is bound to occur. This is a possible reason behind why
some initial knowledge fails to improve. For example, the theory of
‘Characteroloy’ was developed to objectively evaluate any individual’s
characteristics. With several supporters and some who opposed the theory
present, most of the empirical studies failed to provide evidence for this
theory because each evidence supported a different thought and henceforth the
theory was rejected. This proves that although consensus and disagreement may refine the initial knowledge, it could
to an extent be refuted and repressed.  

It is possible to link the Human Sciences
and emotions in the process of refining or developing knowledge. Since
individuals can understand one another through emotion and sense-perception,
rather than scientific knowledge, it is plausible for consensus and
disagreement to take place. Psychology teaches us that our thought processes
are, to a certain degree, determined by our surrounding. For example, the
theory of unresponsive bystander claims that when people are aware of others
presence, they “may be afraid of being evaluated negatively.5”
Hence, fearing to be proven wrong, people may develop their thoughts and
actions accordingly. Being opposed can lead to an emotional arousal, leading to
learning the truth and forming knowledge. Therefore, it can be appropriate to
say that our emotions, either by our will or with the fear of being disagreed
upon, eventually triggers new ideas and cross-fertilization of existing ones.

Only knowledge that has withstood
criticism is considered robust. The falsification principle states that “for
any hypothesis to have credence, it must be inherently disprovable before it
can become accepted as a scientific hypothesis or theory.6” Karl
Popper’s theory is, by far, considered one of the most prevalent critic of
psychoanalysis. He claims that psychoanalysis cannot be considered a science
because its “so-called predictions are not predictions of overt behavior but of
hidden psychological states. This is why they are so untestable.7”
Despite being unfalsifiable, Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory is widely familiar
today. It was continuously rejected and adulterated, yet Sigmund Freud kindled
a revolution in psychoanalysis. Furthermore, robustness of Freudian’s
Psychoanalytic Theory has been maintained.

Several examples in the discipline of Arts
have withstood criticism as well. Arts has evolved throughout centuries. For instance,
if there was not agreement or disagreement in arts, nothing would have been
different and spontaneous. Irrespective of all the disapproval, Salvador Dali’s
work has withstood challenges and criticism through time. His work was
ridiculed by other surrealist’s who failed to grasp his impression of Surrealism.
Although Dali was expelled from the surrealist community, he constantly created
more realistic works and evolved throughout his career. By the end, Dali’s work
remains a memorial of Surrealism. Mario Klingemann’s work is another example of
creative knowledge production. Klingemann makes art autonomously using
artificial intelligence such as algorithms and data. He says that “these new
forms always have a hard time being accepted by the establishment.8” The
process behind his work stretches the limits of imagination and has raised questions
amongst viewers and artists on how neural networks can be considered art. Yet,
Klingemann believes that all art work have gradually earned their place over
the past decades.

Thus far, we must also consider the view that
robust knowledge does not require criticism to evolve, but rather a change in
perspective. Besides, consensus and disagreement does not always hinder robust
knowledge. A possible reason is of human beings natural tendency to discover
new opportunities. The influence of our upbringing, predefined knowledge and
situational factors changes our perspectives. Since our beliefs constantly alters
along with the changes in our society, we may perceive our surrounding
differently. Similarly, in the AOK of The Arts, our sense-perception about what
constitutes art may revolve around our confirmation bias. To some, almost
anything can be considered art whilst others adhere to strict rules. The Arts
does not have limitations of shared knowledge, but rather the tendency to give
preference to things that confirms our prior beliefs. Moreover, the ability to
distinguish between terms as hypothesis, falsification and theory is an
essential understanding for scientists and psychologist. Which, as a matter of
fact, could be unclear for laymen as the use of such terms may differ in our conversational
context. These scientific terminologies are the basis of robust knowledge in
sciences that revolves around our sense-perception on the meaning behind the
usage of specific terms.

Coming back to the words of Teal Swan, disagreement
is part of the human sciences and The Arts as without it, “progress” would not
occur. Her statement implies that disagreement leads to the discovery and
development of knowledge. For instance, disagreement between psychologists have
motivated them to strengthen their initial knowledge. Without it, initial
knowledge have terminated instead of improving. The Arts have shown the
development of new ideas through people’s perception. Whether a piece of art
would continue or halt depends on pupils level of consensus and disagreement. Conclusively,
scientific question, open-mindedness and people’s perception leads to consensus
and disagreement. I reckon that to a certain extent, the claim can be debatable.
Indeed, both consensus and disagreement is vital in the process of refining
knowledge and that criticism eventually produces robust knowledge. Since
knowledge is only produced through being falsified and proven, the areas of
knowledge of Human Science and The Arts do therefore lead me to the conclusion
that robust knowledge requires consensus and disagreement.

1 Kirk. “Teal Swan.” – Quotes –
Teal Swan, Invision Community, 27 Oct. 2011,–r295/.

2 “BOOK IV.” John Locke: An
Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Enlightenment,

3 “Phrenology.” Big Picture,
Wellcome, Jan. 2013,

4 McLeod, Saul. “Saul
McLeod.” Father of Psychology , Simply Psychology, 1 Jan. 1970,

5 Burton, Derek. “Category:
Bystanderism.” IB Psychology, Burton Inc. and VIBE Education Ltd., 26 Mar.

6 Shuttleworth , Martyn.
“Falsifiability.” Karl Popper’s Basic Scientific Principle, Creative
Commons, 21 Sept. 2008,

7 Beystehner, Kristen M.
“Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Revolutionary Approach to Human
Personality.” Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Revolutionary Approach,

8 Simonite, Tom. “A ‘Neurographer’
Puts the Art in Artificial Intelligence.” Wired, Conde Nast, 7 July 2017,


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