[Disclaimer: This Directed Writing was to be written on-the-spot, in-class, so it's certainly not a polished work.]
After having viewed 18 other presentations of how the "five ways of knowing" work in people's personal lives, my own understanding on the topic has further developed. Three of those ways in which my thoughts on the matter changed lie in my definition of science as a way of knowing, my understanding of the role of reason, and the distinction I noticed between gathering and analyzing information.
One way in which my understanding of the five ways of knowing has developed is in the amendment of my definition of science. Throughout the HON110 course, science as a way of knowing has been closely related to the scientific method. Depending on one's definition of "scientific method," one is either referencing a very formal, structured, and universal process by which science is conducted or is referencing a less formal general pattern of the way in which humans sometimes gather knowledge in which some hypothesis is made and then "tested." Many, if not most, of the students said in their presentations that science is their least favorite and least utilized way of knowing. I think this is due to a stricter definition of "scientific method" that causes people to associate science solely with a controlled laboratory environment and formal procedures. Those students who said that science does play a role in their everyday lives often made use of the looser definition of the scientific method. One or two students even ventured to define science as a way of knowing apart from the scientific method, basing its identity on only some components of the method such as observation or testing. This definition, however, seems to rob science of its uniqueness. Is not observation a component of using aesthetics as a way of knowing? Does not one have to make use of "testing" when gaining knowledge through reason? To help science maintain its identity as a way of knowing, I have, based on the ways in which these presentations compelled me, amended my own definition of the term. The amendment comes in adding the stipulation that science must include repeatable testing on a physical object (I believe that Chris Anderson's presentation, among others, helped me add this requirement of physicality). Since the observations associated with aesthetics do not lead to repeatable testing (it is true that some piece of aesthetics can be "tested" by various interpretations many times, but these "tests" are not repeatable in the sense that the methods used and variables involved cannot be universally regulated between individuals - every individual's interpretation will follow a different method and will make use of unique variables such as past life experiences), this amended definition maintains the identity of science from confusion with aesthetics. The methods and variables involved in testing a hypothesis within reason can be (and arguably must be for the sake of the discipline) universal, but reason is not confined to analyzing the physical, so this amendment also preserves science's identity from reason's reach. (Theoretical science, by my definition, then, is more closely related to reason than proper science.) It should be noted that because I hold to some combination of the overlapping and interpenetrating magisteria models, it is not wrong for these ways of knowing to intersect, but at their cores, their definitions must make them unique enough to exist as separate entities.
Another way in which my understanding of the five ways of knowing has developed as a result of these class presentations is seen in the extension of the role of reason. Almost all of the students said something about reason being involved in all of the other ways of knowing. This brought me to believe that reason's function is not only present, but actually necessary in all of the other ways of knowing (consider Anna Shaw's presentation, among many others). In the realm of science, it is fairly easy to spot the work of reason, but even in the less "mathematical" ways of knowing, i.e., emotion, revelation, and aesthetics, reason is required for what is known to "make sense." When something is known through revelation, there is an inherent process of interpretation that has lead to that knowledge. That interpretation cannot happen without some degree of reason. For example, a person would probably check the information revealed to them against other knowledge that they have either from revelation or the other ways of knowing (Joanna Johnson's presentation helped clarify this point for me). That "checking" requires the use of reason. In a similar way, gaining knowledge through aesthetics requires one to connect to universal truths through particular representations of those truths. Again, that "connection" follows either inductive or deductive reasoning. Finally, even emotions, perhaps the way of knowing with the greatest potential of being "unreasonable," involves a person coming to an emotion as a result of reasoning through some experience or other knowledge. This reasoning often takes place on the subconscious level, so reason's role is not always obvious.
Along similar lines, my understanding also developed in how I believe the ways of knowing relate to gathering versus analyzing information. Comments from students about the "universal" and basically unavoidable presence of reason and emotion helped me to see that they serve more as filters for analyzing information gained through other ways of knowing than they serve as ways of collecting raw information. Descartes spoke of reason as though it could produce knowledge entirely on its own without the influence of any other way of knowing, but many students said that they did not agree with this claim. I would argue now that emotion also cannot "produce" raw information in the way that revelation or science, for example, can. Many students represented in their photo montages this idea that emotion is a filter present in all other ways of knowing through the use of a string-like object that moved throughout all of the other ways. Science has the ability to gather raw data (to be filtered and analyzed by itself and the other ways of knowing) through observation and repeatable testing of physical objects. Aesthetics can provide raw data in the sense that some new aesthetic piece must be presented to an individual before he or she can begin to work with this new information and gain knowledge. Revelation is perhaps the clearest example of gaining new information that is beyond oneself (whereas reason and emotion as filters come more so from "within oneself") in that the authority for revelation is precisely that - a source, like God, that is outside the realm of one's own mind and provides new information to the individual. Of course, these "information gatherers" can also act as filters (many students spoke about filtering everything they encounter through revelation, for example), my point is that, at their core, reason and emotion can be separated as having more to do with filtering from the ways of knowing that have the ability to gather raw information. This is largely due to the fact that the information-gathering ways of knowing make use of a person's five senses, while reason and emotion can take place apart from any sensory requirements.
This experience of class presentations has demonstrated to me the importance of intellectual discussion and the sharing of ideas. As has been shown here, my understanding of the five ways of knowing was amended, extended, and otherwise elaborated as a result of these presentations. It is my hope that continuing to consider the thoughts of others (especially those thoughts that differ from my own) will continue to help my understanding in all areas of life find growth.