GRE Issue Essay 56
“To remain vigorous, any academic field needs to be led by truly independent thinkers who are willing to ignore established boundaries and challenge long-standing assumptions.”
Revolution is brought about only by breaking the norms and forming independent ideas. In the academic field, one cannot think of changing the norms without being active and vigorous. As a matter of fact, any academic discipline grows and remains active only when there is research and introspection done by independent thinkers. I am of the view that this introspection generally requires initiative to break predefined rules and challenge the assumptions that have been taken to be true.
In the academic field there have been assumptions that we take to be true since they have been accepted in that form since time immoral. We believe what has been told to us and do not attempt to question the details. However, this leads to the death of that particular academic discipline since it does not lead to new discoveries and changes. I believe that it is only novelty in the ideas and initiative of independent thinkers that leads to new discoveries. This can be contrary to the predefined assumptions and can challenge the long held beliefs of people, but at the same time it is very important to unfold the truth and explore new horizons.
By ignoring the established limits, one ventures into the areas that have not been explored and studied before. This gives them a free environment and mind which is not controlled by boundaries. Thus, the research is not influenced by any assumptions and what comes out is an independent as well as a new concept. For example, we all know that humans are the descendents of apes, the earth is round and it revolves around the sun. These concepts have come to light only after the efforts put in by some independent thinkers. Before any such attempts were made people had different beliefs regarding the existence of Sun and Earth as well as about human evolution. People believed that earth was a flat plain and that the sun revolved around the earth. People thought that we were the descendents of Adam and Eve and no one every thought of humans having evolved out of apes. An average person never questioned these beliefs and was happy to follow what was told to him. It would have been the end of science had there been no one to challenge these ideas and bring forth the truth. The concepts of solar system and evolution of humans has come to existence only because someone dared to think beyond the usual beliefs, ignoring the boundaries.
Consider the fate of any academic field which does not experience any change or which is not vigorous. If people did not break the norms there would be no studies carried out in that field. Therefore, there would be no new discoveries or findings. The coming generations would study the same things in new times. This would bring stagnation in that field and it would become nothing more than literature.
Let us take the example of history. But for the efforts of historians and archeologists, history would not have unfolded the way it has. It is only when people have ventured out to dig up long forgotten civilizations that we have come to know about Harrapan culture and other such civilizations. I believe that there are still many facts about our history that are unknown and hidden from us. If we remain content within the restricted frame of mind, these facts would remain hidden from us. However, if someone breaks away from the restricted frame of mind and tries to find out more than what is told to us, only then can we hope of discovering these hidden facts.
The line of thought followed by independent thinkers may or may not be correct, but this can be known only after the validity and truth of his findings is established. This requires research into the field, which ensures the academic discipline to remain dynamic and vigorous.