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“The production of knowledge is always a collaborative task and never solely a

product of the individual”

Through the history of humanity knowledge has come from many sources and in
many different ways. The most important developments and discoveries, the ones that
have enlightened life for us as we know it, have been born both from collaborative
efforts, as well as from the determination and brilliance of individual minds. Therefore,
we pose the question “is the production of knowledge always a collaborative task and
never solely a product of the individual?”. It is important to understand the concepts of
collaborate and individual to properly debate both sides of this claim. According to
Merriam Webster dictionary, to collaborate is defined as “to work jointly with others or
together especially in an intellectual endeavor”, while individual is “a particular person”
or “an indivisible entity”. In order to properly dip into the main focus of the production
of knowledge, the following areas of knowledge are to be analyzed throughout this
paper: the natural sciences, learned and acquired through reason; and ethics, born from

Physics is “the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior
through space and time, energy and their interactions”. It is one of the most essential
scientific disciplines, and its principal objective is to understand how the universe
works. Physics as we know it is the result of the combination of complementary theories
and studies from numerous scientists, some of which date from as far in the past as 3000
BCE. To support the claim that the production of knowledge is always a collaborative
task and never solely a product of the individual, we will focus on a particular area of
classical physics: mechanics, which studies and analyzes the motion and rest of bodies,
and their evolution in time, under the action of forces. Humanity has arrived to the
knowledge we possess today about energy and forces and their effect on bodies through
the interaction and reasoning of several studies by various experts. Back in time, the
earliest Greek philosophers, Aristotle in particular, were among the first to pose that
intangible principles govern the universe. Aristotle claimed that terrestrial bodies rise or
fall to their "natural place" and stated as a law the correct estimation that a body’s
speed of fall is proportional to its mass and inversely proportional to the density of the
fluid it is falling through. Aristotle perceived a difference between "natural motion" and
"forced motion", and he believed that 'in a void', a body at rest will continue at rest and
a body in motion will continue to have the same motion. In this way, Aristotle was the
first to address to the law of inertia. Galileo later noticed "the resistance of the air
exhibits itself in two ways: first by offering greater impedance to less dense than to very
dense bodies, and secondly by offering greater resistance to a body in rapid motion than
to the same body in slow motion". Fast forward to the modern age, Galileo found that a
body dropped vertically hits the ground at the same time as a body thrown horizontally,
so an Earth rotating unvaryingly will still have bodies falling to the ground due to gravity.
More importantly, it affirmed that it is difficult to tell uniform motion apart from rest,
and as a result forms the foundation of the theory of relativity. Isaac Newton was the
first to combine the three laws of motion: the law of inertia, the fundamental law of
dynamics and the law of action and reaction; in order to demonstrate that these laws
shows the behavior of both types of objects. Newton also developed the calculus
necessary to execute the mathematical calculations involved in classical mechanics.
Nonetheless it was Gottfried Leibniz who worked out a calculus with the notation of the
derivative and integral which are employed in the present day. As we can see, it is
evident that it was through the joined labors of several philosophers and scientists that
we have attained the knowledge about mechanics that we hold today.

However, looking back at the prescribed title which claims, that more knowledge
only contributes to doubt and lack of confidence the production of knowledge is always
a collaborative task and never solely a product of the individual, the opposite now
becomes the truth if we look at the previous case from a different perspective. The
initial conception of the laws of motion was born independently in Aristotle’s mind. He
stated that "We see that the same weight and body moves faster than another for two
reasons: either because what it passes through is different (such as passing through
water or land or air), or because the body that displaces differs from another by excess
weight or lightness, although the other factors are the same". There’s no external
examples to his theories, therefore, contradicting the claim that the production of
knowledge is always a collaborative task and never solely a product of the individual.

With the purpose of investigate deeper into the debated subject we can analyze
if the production of knowledge is either a collaborative task or could be solely a product
of the individual in the field of ethics. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ethics as
“a code of values which guide our choices and actions and determine the purpose and
course of our lives”. We could consider the law system as the fundamental ethical code,
and the form that it takes in the present day is the product of the joint efforts of
different cultures throughout history, sustaining once again that the production of
knowledge is always a collaborative task and never solely a product of the individual. It
begins in the 30th century BC, when ancient Egyptians established a set of civil codes
based on social equality and impartiality. In the 8th century BC ancient Greece became
the first society based on broad inclusion of its citizens. This translated to its laws,
widely named as being a key contributor to the progress of democracy. Between the 5th
century BC and 6th century AD Roman law was always changing to reflect the dynamic
nature of society. It was hugely influential on European law and still is today. The
Constitution of the Roman Republic informed public legislation, many of its concepts
exist today including vetoes and separation of powers. And so on, through the efforts of
several communities the legal code has come to be what it is today, supporting the claim
that the production of knowledge is always a collaborative task and never solely a
product of the individual.

Ethics are intricately associated with morality, which according to the Oxford
Dictionary, is defined as “the extent to which an action is right or wrong.” I believe that
ethics are also closely related to empathy, “the action of understanding, being aware of,
being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of
another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and
experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”, which indicates that
the production of knowledge could be a product of a sole individual. At the Infant
Cognition Center at Yale University, scientists have studied the possible innate sense of
good and evil in babies. The experiment consists of showing babies of about six months
of age a puppet show. In one show they show a puppet trying to climb up a hill, but he
can’t seem to get to the top. Then another puppet comes along and helps him up. Then
they show it again but instead of the puppet helping him, a different puppet appears
and pushes the first puppet down the hill. They run through this cycle several times,
alternating between the puppet being helped by one puppet and pushed down by
another. Afterwards, the scientists ask each infant to choose between the good puppet
and the bad puppet. Around 80 percent of the infants will choose the good puppet over
the one that pushed the other puppet down the hill, therefore demonstrating that
someone with very little social influence produces subconsciously its own basic
knowledge on right and wrong.

Is the production of knowledge always a collaborative task and never solely a

product of the individual? We are now able to properly answer this question. After
evaluating whether or not this is always the case, we can come to the conclusion that
knowledge can blossom in the mind of any individual, but it can be significantly
reinforced and nurtured by the input of others. In both physics and ethics, knowledge
has proven to be able to come from a single independent individual, but treating it as a
collaborative task is essential in order for it to serve a greater purpose to society.