Areas of Knowledge: Invented, Discovered, or Both?

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Areas of Knowledge: Invented, Discovered, or Both?
One cannot say with certainty that specific areas of knowledge are invented nor can one say with certainty that areas of knowledge are discovered. Two areas of knowledge that deal with this topic are mathematics and natural science. In my opinion, I believe that mathematics is an invented area of knowledge with some discovery whereas science is a discovered area of knowledge with some invention.

Certain topics and categories of mathematics might be created based on the need during the time. For example, accountancy was invented due to the fact that people needed a way to keep track of profits (Friedlob and Plewa, 1). Accounting is a form of math used to record data regarding business-like matters. The earliest form of accountancy was in Mesopotamia. It arose more than 7,000 years ago (Friedlob and Plewa, 1). This form of math was used among people in order to record the growths of their crops and also keep track of their herds of animals. The people during the time used clay coins, or tokens, in order to keep track of the information (Friedlob and Plewa, 1). This form of math is an example of how math is invented. Accountancy was invented based on a need of a process or way to keep track of certain information.

Not only are subtopics in mathematics created, but methods of showing and representing mathematical data can be created as well. William Playfair, a Scottish engineer, is credited with the invention of graphical ways to display data (Maas, 224-225). Graphs can be used to demonstrate the relationship between variables or to show certain statistical data. William Playfair was inspired by the invention of timeline charts, which were developed by Joseph Priestly (Wainer, 47). Timeline charts used bars in order to record the lifespan of people. They could also be used to compare the lifespans of people. With that, Playfair created the first bar chart in order to display statistical information. He, then, also went on to create pie and line charts. William Playfair’s accomplishments show that he invented those means of recording and showing data. Graphical methods of displaying and showing data were not sitting around waiting to be discovered, however, they were created by a human being.

On the other hand, it can be argued that math is a discovered area of knowledge. Mathematicians studying circles tried many calculations and eventually found a link between the circumference of a circle and the diameter of a circle. The circumference of a circle is its diameter multiplied by pi and pi approximately equals 3.14. Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians took note of the existence of pi many, many years ago (“What They Don’t Tell You”, n.d.). Pi is a ratio that is involved in every relationship between a circle’s diameter and its circumference, meaning mathematicians discovered the constant ratio that appears in every relationship. This example is significant in that it shows that there are certain areas of math that are discovered. The relationship is not just simply created by a mathematician – they have always existed. Due to its pre-existence, it is considered a discovery. It can be said, however, that natural science is an area of knowledge that is mainly discovered. In 1674, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, using his personally crafted microscope, found microorganisms in a drop of water (“Antony van Leeuwenhoek”, n.d.). He was the first person to be able to find and describe microorganisms, which he referred to as “animalcules” (“Antony van Leeuwenhoek”, n.d.). Anton van Leeuwenhoek simply stumbled across these microorganisms without an original intent to find them. He did not just come up with an idea to create “animalcules”, they were already in existence. This example relates to the title because microorganisms were discovered by the Dutch scientist and researcher, Anton van Leeuwenhoek.

Moreover, the concept of trial and error is an important part...
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