Doctor of Philosophy
Department of Education
Symes, Colin Timothy, Towards a structural epistemology of a discipline, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Department of Education, University of Wollongong, 1978. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4472
Knowledge is both a phenomenon of the mind and of society. Most analyses of knowledge have tended to emphasize either the mental or societal attributes of knowledge, and have rarely sought out cross linkages between them. It is often argued that the disposition 'to know' is a conditional or warranted assertion, and the conditions upon which such assertions are based are a matter of consensual agreement amongst the members of a knowledge community. To acquire knowledge, then, is to be introduced into an arena where assertions about the world have been publicly authenticated. That introduction occurs in the context of education, and from it stems the slow displacement of a private disposition to the world by one that is public and consensual amongst members of a particular discipline. It is possible, in fact, to construct a model of that displacement and show how it is that exposure to knowledge results in the gradual accretion of an epistemological sensitivity towards the world. But knowledge is corrigible and subject to change, so that epistemological sensitivity is itself subject to modification. This raises the issue, then, of how it is and by whom epistemological modification is executed. In fact, it is possible to show that knowledge changes are in the main a matter of refining the nexus between knowledge and reality. That refinement is largely executed by certain sorts of members in knowledge communities. For within knowledge communities - which, it is argued, exist to promote refinements to knowledge - a number of roles can be prescribed, one of which, that of the researcher, advances the territory of publicly certifiable knowledge. But his role is not the only one essential to the functioning of knowledge communities. Teachers are also necessary to them. If disciplines are, in fact, to survive they must enlist new personnel to be researchers and teachers, with the requisite mental outlook and dispositions to the world, to continue the advancement of certified knowledge.