Nature of Knowledge and Discipline

Knowledge is the sum total of man’s interactions with his environment and his interpretations of the same. It is not a unified whole but constitutes different approaches to the understanding of life. Different approaches to the classification of knowledge suggest different aspects of the process of knowledge acquisition and hence their significance to the curriculum. These classifications and categorizations have been characterized differently by different philosophers as ‘disciplines’, ‘forms of knowledge’, ‘realms of meaning’, and so on.

A discipline is an organized body of knowledge with a logical structure. It is a network of concepts and generalizations that explain the relationships among a body of facts. Man learns by seeing relationships among different events and processes, by generalizing about them. He sees relationships among different facts and events with the aid of concepts and conceptualizes them by classifying them. We link concepts belonging to a class together and form a conceptual network of systems. It is these conceptual schemes that constitute disciplines. A discipline is an organized body of knowledge, characterized by a domain, a method, and a tradition.

A discipline is characterized by its structure. First, it has a domain, a field of phenomenon (subject matter), with which it deals. This may refer to different aspects of reality – scientific, logical (science and mathematics) exclusively, or with different degrees of overlapping. Secondly, every discipline has its own method and mode of inquiry and also an accepted set of rules by which to validate it. The rules of one discipline cannot be applied to another. Thirdly, a discipline has a history. The effect of the history or tradition of a discipline is to define to some degree the domain rules and philosophy of that discipline. The detailed explanation of the structure of a discipline is as follows.

Knowledge is produced by a variety of disciplines. As mentioned already, each discipline operates upon a domain. Not only has every discipline a domain, but every theory within a discipline also has a domain, the objects upon which the intellectual operations of the researchers are carried out. For example, biological theories are concerned with the organization and movement of matter in living systems. The domain of high-energy physics involves the behavior of nuclear particles. The domain of learning theory encompasses the behavior of people confronted with stimuli and verbal problems. It is necessary to note that the domain of an academic discipline is quite distinct from the knowledge produced by that discipline. ‘Knowledge’ may be regarded as the set of assertions or verifiable truth claims that researchers in the discipline have cumulatively built up about the domain. The practitioners of the discipline operate upon the domain by means of a substantive structure and a syntactical structure.

The substantive structure of a discipline is the interrelated collection of powerful ideas that guide research in a discipline.

The syntactical structure of a discipline is concerned with issues such as the way in which new substantive concepts are formed and the ways in which different kinds of knowledge statements generated by the discipline may be validated. In short, it is concerned with the modes of thinking and reasoning used in the discipline.

Knowledge is also the product of a social! structure. Although it is the individual Education scientist or a social theorist who acts as the creator of new ideas in the discipline, it is of Knowledge the function of groups of scientists/social scientists to critically assess these ideas and decide whether or not to incorporate them into a discipline.

In short, disciplines involve groups of creative people who interact with one another. Disciplines are not simply the products of rational machines. The production of knowledge within a discipline has psychological, sociological as well as logical aspects.

Additional notes:

The nature of knowledge and discipline is a broad and complex topic that encompasses various perspectives and approaches. Let’s explore some key aspects of both knowledge and discipline.

Nature of Knowledge:


  • Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge.
  • Knowledge can be classified into different types, such as empirical (based on experience), a priori (prior to experience), propositional (statements about the world), and practical (knowledge of how to do something).

Sources of Knowledge:

  • Knowledge can be acquired through direct experience (empirical), reason and logic, testimony (learning from others), and intuition.
  • Different fields may prioritize different sources; for example, science often emphasizes empirical evidence.

Subjectivity and Objectivity:

  • Some knowledge is subjective and depends on individual perspectives, feelings, or interpretations. Other knowledge is more objective, relying on facts and empirical evidence.

Dynamic Nature:

  • Knowledge is dynamic and subject to change. Scientific advancements, technological progress, and evolving societal perspectives contribute to the continuous development and modification of knowledge.

Nature of Discipline:

A discipline refers to a branch of knowledge or a field of study. It often has its own methodologies, theories, and practices that distinguish it from other disciplines.

Organized Knowledge:

  • Disciplines provide a framework for organizing and structuring knowledge. They help create a systematic approach to studying and understanding a particular aspect of the world.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

  • While disciplines have their specific focus, there is increasing recognition of the interconnectedness between disciplines. Interdisciplinary approaches involve combining methods and insights from multiple disciplines to address complex issues.

Boundaries and Specialization:

  • Disciplines often have well-defined boundaries, and scholars within a discipline specialize in specific subfields. Specialization allows for in-depth exploration and expertise.

Evolution of Disciplines:

  • Disciplines can evolve over time due to new discoveries, changing societal needs, or the emergence of interdisciplinary fields. For example, the field of bioinformatics combines biology and computer science.

Applied Disciplines:

  • Some disciplines are theoretical, while others are applied. Applied disciplines focus on practical problems and often contribute to the development of technologies, policies, or solutions.

In summary, the nature of knowledge involves understanding how we come to know things, the sources of knowledge, and its dynamic nature. Disciplines, on the other hand, provide a structured framework for organizing knowledge, often with specialized methodologies and areas of focus. Both knowledge and disciplines are dynamic, evolving over time as our understanding of the world advances.

Sources: Egyankosh


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