Past and Present Technology then and Now: Past and Present Knowledge

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Updated: Aug 31, 2023
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Many people find identifying the thin line between present knowledge and past knowledge difficult. Most people will say that the present knowledge that we possess is dependent on past knowledge that has been carried on from the past. However, many of these people will agree that not all past knowledge that we have obtained is applicable to certain fields of study. Present knowledge is the knowledge of the current state that we possess and use in our day-to-day lives. Past knowledge is a prior shared knowledge, which we have been knowing for a longer period of time.

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I define the word “wholly” as “fully” and the word “dependent” as “relying”. I interpreted the title as “Current knowledge is fully relying on prior shared knowledge.” This interpretation of mine has made me think about the cell theory in Biology and the atomic structure concept by Bohr in Chemistry, which helped me understand those scientific concepts better. However, I also thought of the field of arts, where people with no artistic knowledge can create artwork. The following essay will discuss to what extent our present knowledge depends on past knowledge with reference to AOKs of natural science and arts.

Past’s Contribution in Natural Science

I instantly thought of science subjects when I read the word “past knowledge,” as I learned a lot of scientific concepts with the help of laws and theories discovered by scientists in the past. In natural science, present scientific knowledge that we possess is structured from many factors, but past knowledge is the biggest contributor. The biology and Chemistry textbooks that I’ve been using for the past two years contain theories discovered by scientists way back, and we learn the basic concepts of science subjects based on those theories. Without the theories, the concepts we studied can be too broad and difficult to understand. To give an example, I learned the cell theory in Biology, which is a historical, scientific theory stating that cells are the basic structure / organizational unit of all organisms and that all cells arise from pre-existing cells. Three scientists in the past have come up with this theory, and we have been using this concept to better understand the cell, which is the basis of Biology. This theory is confirmed and widely agreed upon by the scientific community today, and future Biology students will come across this theory at one point in their lives. Without the theories, scientific concepts may not have existed. The discovery of cell theory has impacted later scientific discovery, such as the discovery of stem cells, which contributes to curing heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Although early scientific discoveries impact later research in a positive manner, present scientific knowledge can be far from dependent on past knowledge. Some innovative medical technologies are pioneered in a process that does not depend on past knowledge but rather is unplanned and accidental. This shows that no past knowledge is necessary to create a technology to make our lives easier. X-ray machines are one example of this kind of technology. Before it was invented, bones that were broken and tumors in a patient’s body were treated with a doctor’s guess. The discovery of X-ray is thought to be a miracle as a German professor, Roentgen, removed air from a fluorescent light bulb-like tube and filled it with a special gas. When the high electric voltage was passed through the tube, the tube glowed. Then he tried covering the tube with black paper and noticed that the barium screen started to glow. This made him realize that this tube was emitting so-called “invisible light” or rays through an object. Later on, this discovery was called “X-ray,” and we use this technology on a daily basis whenever someone needs to have a check on their inner body condition. This technology has contributed to finding the injury and tumor inside a body earlier than ever before.

Art’s Relationship with Past Knowledge

Moreover, the field of arts also popped into my mind when I read the term “past knowledge.” Artwork is created by an artist inspired by another artist or technique from the past that they have learned while taking an art subject. With academic experience in arts, artists have a better understanding and a greater range of artistic knowledge compared to the ones with no artistic background. Painter Claude Monet, who is famous for his French impressionism artwork, turned down his father’s expectation of him to become a part of the family’s business to pursue his interest in arts. He enrolled in “Le Havre Secondary School of Arts” to continue his art study. He then meets Eugene, whom the former has considered the latter as his mentor, changing his approach towards his painting to the one we know Monet for. By having artistic knowledge and a mentor, one’s ability to paint a striking artwork widens. In addition, the revolutionary French impressionism art style by Monet is a style that students will study in their coursework, continuing to inspire future artists.

On the other hand, while art students must learn about the basic study of arts, people with no art experience or artistic knowledge can create their own artwork. Some types of art are determined by an artist’s imagination or observation, making the possession of artistic knowledge unnecessary to create an artwork. Art is a broad subject where there is no right or wrong, and artists can express whatever they want to express.

There is an article in which they asked 12 contemporary artists “What it takes to make a great piece of art.” One of the artists that were asked stated that “there’s no universal formula to create a piece of art.” Most of the artists in the article mentioned that they create their artwork based on their experiences and emotional connection as there were no determined ways how art is considered good. When I was an art student two years ago, I researched the painting style of Frida Kahlo and found out that she didn’t have actual artistic knowledge or degree by the time she started painting her iconic self-portraits. She was involved in an accident, making her stay at the hospital for many weeks. While staying in a hospital, she taught herself how to draw and paint to study the art herself. She later succeeded in painting her famous self-portrait and was exposed to the world of realism and abstract art. Nowadays, I see a lot of artists inspired by Kahlo’s unique artistic technique, including myself. It is possible to discover a new painting style and to create a world-recognized masterpiece for a person with no artistic background.
To conclude, the present knowledge we possess at the moment is largely dependent on past knowledge because not only past knowledge is the determinant of present knowledge.


Though the line between present knowledge and past knowledge is really narrow, I believe that present knowledge is our instincts and sense perception, whereas past knowledge is our experience and historical knowledge, which has been passed on for many years. In natural science, it is likely that the present scientific knowledge we possess is dependent on past knowledge, as theories discovered by scientists help us to better understand complex scientific concepts. Although some innovative technologies are founded on sense perception and instincts, past knowledge is the biggest contributor to obtaining present knowledge in fields of natural science. In arts, past knowledge is not necessary to make one an artist. Artists with artistic and educational backgrounds are likely to have a wider ability to make use of artistic techniques to approach their ideal art style. Artworks are created through artists’ imagination and observation; thus, since there is no right or wrong when creating an artwork, artists are free to express their ideas directly as artwork. Therefore, I think that current knowledge is mostly dependent on past knowledge, but it is not necessary to have prior knowledge in order to obtain present knowledge.


  1. “Pearson Baccalaureate Higher Level 2nd Edition Print and eBook”, Patricia Tosto, Alan Damon, Randy McGonegal, William Ward, 5 Sep. 2014
  2. “Claude Monet Biography,” Editors, 26 Jul. 2017,
  3. “The Discovery of X-Ray,” Medical Discovery News
  4. Stewart. Jessica, “12 Contemporary Artists Tell Us What it Takes to Make a Great Piece of Art”, My Modern Met, 24 Apr. 2017
  5. “Frida Kahlo.”, A&E Networks Television, 24 Feb. 2020,
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Past and Present Technology Then and Now: Past and Present Knowledge. (2023, Aug 31). Retrieved from