Philosophers have, over the years, sought to discover the source and basis of our knowledge. This explains why various sources have been suggested as the basis of our knowledge depending on the philosophical orientation of philosophers. For purposes of their relevance to enducation, we shall discuss six sources or types of knowledge.
According to Ezewu, intuitive way of knowing is that which involves an immediate insight or eruption into cosciousness of an idea produced by a long process of unconscinus work. This simply means that intuition is a way of knowing something that one cannot really explain because it transcends ordinary sense experience or reason. Intuition may occur as a sudden arrival of solution to one’s problem or puzzle, having worked for some hours or days without arriving at such solution. It may also come in the form of quick guess of solution to a problem presented by another person.
This is the type of knowledge acquired through the application of reason or intelligence withont reference to observable facts. It is a kind of knowledge that is firmly rooted on logical analysis for the fact that steps taken to acquire such knowledge can easily be explained to others and undestood by others. As a product of reflective thinking, rational knowledge is based on the three laws of rationality. Theses laws include:
(i) The law of identity
(ii) The law excluded middle
(iii) The law of non-contradiction
In terms of presenting valid reasoning, rational knowledge is more convincing than intuitive knowledge because it lacks emotional states of affairs and founded on logical relations and meanings. Rational knowledge can be applied to diferent areas like mathematical formulae and have been applied to some great intellectual advances in sciences and the arts.
The emperical knowledge is an attempt to discover a basis for our knowledge in sense experience. In other words, emperical knowledge is the type that finds recourse or confirmed by the evidence of sensory experience. It is thus derived from the use of the five senses since knowledge can only be acquired from the experience of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting. It is the evidence of the senses that gives meanning to emperical knowledge since the senses, according to the empiricists, is the source and originator of our knowledge. The thrust of the empiricists as regard knowledge is that there is no knowledge prior to sence experience and there can be no knowledge outside sense experience. Since empirical knowledge is fundamentally rooted on sense experience, it stands to reason that observation and experimentation will also be basic to empirical knowledge.
This is the kind of knowlege acquired by making recourse to or depending on authority without verifying claims. This kind of knowledge is derived from the written works, documentation and reports of others. If Juliet accepts that Kano is the largest commercial city in northern part of Nigeria because he was told by his teache, such knowledge is authoritative. Again, if Juliet accepts that Asaba is the Capital of Delta State having read it from a book, his source of knowledge is accepted base on the athority of others. Authoritative knowledge is used in all academic activities as references are, most times, made to authorities, writters and autors in some specific fields. In the use of authoritative knowledge, care must be made to avoid unnecessary or psychological appeal to authority as this will make nonsence of this source of knowledge.
This is a claim to knowledge through revelation from some
supernatural of celestial beings. This type of knowledge is commonly found in religious parlance. For those who profess this knowledge, the condition is that there must be a total surrendering of oneself to the source of such revelation, that is, the supernatural being, is eternally superior and cannot be said to lie or make a mistake. In the christian fold, for instance, dreams, visions and even the Bible have come to be accepted as forms of revealed knowledge. In the Islamic tradition, the Koran is held to be an authoritative and revealed source of knowledge. In African traditional religions, the status of self-revelation is given to deities, ancestors, divination of oracles and dreams. Studies have shown that the bulk of knowledge we find in our religious institutions are informed by revelations of visions. However, it should be noted that revealed knowledge is associated with a major problem which is that of interpretation of messages. In other words, messages may be subjected to various or false interpretations and thus giving room for misledding knowledge. Revealed knowledge is also not suitable for classroom situations as teacher cannot impact objectives knowledge based on revelation.