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GRE Issue 33: As We Acquire More Knowledge, Things Do Not Become More Comprehensible - With A Free Essay Review
PROMPT: "As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more complex and mysterious. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position."
The statement claims that as people acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more complex and mysterious. In some cases, from my perspective, things are likely to be more intelligible when people accumulate more knowledge; however, in other cases, things actually become more complicated and abstruse.
Throughout history, human beings have been getting more and more knowledge than their ancestors and due to this fact, some events and phenomena, which were regarded as something mysterious by predecessors, become understandable at present. An eclipse is an excellent example of this point. From long ago, people believed an eclipse was an indicator of doom. They became very scared and frightened when solar or lunar eclipses occurred. Contrary to the past, instead of being afraid, a large majority of people today appreciate this remarkable phenomenon with great pleasure. The distinct reactions to eclipses conspicuously illustrate that things are likely to become more comprehensible as we acquire more knowledge. Due to the development of astronomy and physics, people have a rich knowledge of how these things could happen and do not think these events are made by angry gods any longer. Therefore, as people gain more knowledge, things considered strange previously do not confuse people nowadays.
In some cases, however, obtaining more knowledge might cause things to become more complicated and mysterious. Take an eminent physicist Newton for example. Newton made numerous contributions to physics, establishing noted theory of gravitation as well as the three laws of motion. But when he gained increasing knowledge of physics, he became more and more confused because he found all things, ranging from planets to stars, moving perfectly in some ways. Besides, he was puzzled about how the universe started at the origin, which finally made him study theology instead of physics.
Although there is some likelihood that when humans acquire knowledge to some extent, the puzzlements, such as how the universe started at the beginning, will become comprehensible to people, maybe at that time new complicated questions will appear and confuse people.
In addition, when it comes to philosophy, things appear more complex as people acquire more knowledge. It goes without saying with the rapid development of science, philosophy also progresses at fast speed. As philosophers gain more knowledge, things, nevertheless, become a little bit more complex than previously thought. After Newton discovered the laws of motion, determinism pervaded dominantly in philosophy at that time. But when another scientist put forward quantum mechanics, things become more complex. Some philosophers claim that quantum mechanics conflicts with determinism since this theory proves uncertainty in reality, while others argue quantum mechanics actually revises determinism rather than invalidates it. Thus, in some fields, especially philosophy and astronomy, when people acquire more knowledge, things might seem more mysterious and complex.
In conclusion, it is true that acquiring more knowledge enable people to understand and explain some strange events and phenomena, but in some cases, things appear more complex and mysterious commensurately as knowledge are accumulated.
You rely on a single example to make your first argument. It's a good example, but the argument would be more compelling if we could be sure that the example were not an exception. One should at least claim that the example is not an exception by saying something like "There are many examples of this sort, examples of phenomena that were once mysterious but are now well understood." It would be better still to give a few additional examples. You can do this without clarifying how the additional examples prove your point: "There are many other examples of this sort, such as tides, or volcanoes, or earthquakes, or lightning storms; these are all examples of phenomena that were once mysterious but are now well understood." You conclude your first argument with this sentence: "Therefore, as people gain more knowledge, things considered strange previously do not confuse people nowadays." This statement is inaccurate, given what you go on to argue. What you mean to say, I take it, is that at least some things do become more comprehensible as we acquire more knowledge.
In the rest of the essay, you also rely exclusively on examples to carry the argument. In this particular case, I admit, it is difficult to make a general argument, independent of examples, but I think one ought to try. One ought to think in other words why it might be that increases in knowledge might lead to a greater sense of the complexity or mysteriousness of things. One could argue, of course, that that is just what increased knowledge reveals: that things (the nature of the universe and its origin, the nature of the quantum world, and so on) just are much more complex and mysterious than we would, in the absence of advances in knowledge, ever have been able to imagine. One could also argue that increased knowledge produces more and more objects of greater and greater complexity, so that perhaps we will reach the point where no one really understands how the things we have created actually work.