What is Ability?

Do you know what ability is? One of the major problems with regard to knowledge is determining what is knowable, for there are different ways in which something can be said to be known. Adding to this problem is the fact that different criteria of accuracy and authenticity are applied to knowledge in different areas, at least the knowledge to be learned in school. To a large extent knowledge, as taught in American schools, depends upon some external authority; some expert or group of experts is the arbiter of knowledge. Some information is the result of little more than convention and consensus. That is, a group of workers or experts in the field has come to some agreement on the ways in which particular terms will be defined, on the particular referents for selected symbols, or the most effective or practical ways in which to organize a field or attack problems in it. For instance, lexicographers appear to make many arbitrary decisions in preparing a dictionary. The symbol system for punctuation is solely a matter of convention. Memorizing the conjugation of verbs and the declension of nouns is accepted as the proper approach to learning some foreign languages. 
Other information is known as the result of logical tests of consistency either by definition or by some logic of relationship. Certain kinds of geometry, mathematical propositions, and mathematical models are examples. Finally, some knowledge or information is known as the result of some historical, experiential, or pragmatic test. Thus, historical information is known as the result of a number of observations which are in agreement or which satisfy particular historical tests of their authenticity. Scientific information is knownas a result ofsome observation, experi ment, or test which meets the canons of scientific methodology. It should also be noted that the validity, accuracy, and meaningfulness of information are relative in many ways and always are related to a particular period of time. Thus, what is known in 1955 was not known in the same way in a previous era and will presumably undergo some changes in the future. Compare the way we pictured the atom twenty years ago with today's view of it.

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