Good Morning Please make yourself a drink and find your seat. With your table mates please have a conversation on how your background has affected your knowledge. Secondly please discuss what you know about TOK and what you believe about TOK. Welcome to Theory of Knowledge Stingrays Platos dialogues on Socrates and
confusion. Socrates is accused of deliberately confusing everyone by Meno: Meno says: you are exactly like the flat sting ray that one meets in the sea. Whenever anyone comes into contact with it, it numbs him If you behaved like this as a foreigner in another country, you would most likely be arrested as a wizard. Socrates replies: If the sting ray paralyzes others only through being paralyzed itself, then the comparison is just, but not
otherwise. It is not that, knowing the answer myself, I perplex other people. The truth is rather that I infect them also with the perplexity I feel myself. The point is, if one of the most brilliant thinkers in the history of the world not only experienced confusion, but believed that it was a positive emotion, then theres really no shame in getting bewildered from time to time. Terms we take for granted, like truth, belief, opinion, and of course knowledge
are often far from straightforward, and will be considered in some detail as we proceed. Now think back to the conversation you had with your table mates at the start of the class. What you know about TOK What you believe about (the truth) TOK The Big Three 1. What is this class all about?
Is it the same as philosophy? Is it based on humanities? Is it more to do with science? Is it more skills-based designed to help you study? 2. Is it mandatory? 3. How is it assessed?
1. What is this class all about? All of these things and more! It involves some philosophy, and draws on the ideas of the most famous thinkers from throughout history. Certainly, it involves looking at aspects of the humanities, as well as the different sciences. And there are parts of it that will definitely help you to improve the way you study other academic subjects. But theres a lot more to it than those things. Its probably best understood by looking at its aims, the fundamental one of which is simple: to help you think more clearly and deeply.
More on the aims in a few minutes. So how do we do it? By looking at both the subjects we study (the areas of knowledge) and how we perceive them (the ways of knowing), and then trying to work out the connections between them and ourselves as knowers. I know that already that sounds complicated. It means in practice that we try to apply what we are learning to the world of ideas, pondering such questions as: Can art be fundamentally good or bad? How complete is the picture of the world that science provides us with?
How much do ethical decisions depend on society and individual? Does our view of History change over time? ... and so on. 2. Is it mandatory? Yes! the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) considers the skills and topics that youll be learning during the course very important. TOK, alongside the extended essay and CAS, is one of the three things that sets the diploma
apart from other programs of its type, such as AP classes, and, dare we say it, makes the diploma a superior and more demanding course. Also Universities love it! 3. How is it assessed? Youll be assessed in two ways in your senior year of the course. First youll write an essay which will be externally marked. You get to choose from a list of 6 titles, and given time in class and at home (if necessary) to complete it. Then youll give an oral presentation in class that will be
marked by Ms. Burton. Your overall grade will be worked out on a scale of A E, and together with your extended essay, it will contribute up to 3 points to your overall mark out of 45. One change that has recently been made is that you have to pass TOK in order to pass your Diploma. Even if you have done extremely well in your other subjects, you will not be awarded you diploma if your grade in TOK is less than a C. TOK is about issues, about debate, about forming opinions, and about trying to improve the way we structure our thoughts
and ideas. It is about being critical but not cynical, interested but also objective, well-informed but not opinionated. What does this mean? It is about encouraging the process that Maria Mitchell talked about when she said: We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.
Please take the next 5 minutes to write down a reflection on this passage in your Journal. Stretch and refill Aims of the course To help students to discover the richness of knowledge, and to realize how empowering knowledge can be. To examine how knowledge is built up, examined, and evaluated by individuals and societies. To reflect on how we learn both inside and outside
school - and to make links between the academic disciplines and our thoughts, feelings and actions. To reinforce the idea that there are many different ways of thinking and perspectives, and that assumptions that we have because of our cultural and individual positions may obscure the way we see the world. To suggest some of the responsibilities that may come with knowledge. But how does TOK propose to do all these highminded things? That can be fathomed out from the structure of the course, and its part in the IB diploma program.
TOK doesnt have a curriculum quite as tight as other subjects. The reason for that is simple: there is no checklist of things you have to know for the end of course exam, because there is no end of course exam. Instead, you are expected to be able to construct a wide-ranging essay and presentation that draw on your own ideas and opinions, formed during your time in the course Having said that, you will focus on several distinct things An introduction to knowledge
We will begin by looking at what we mean by the term knowledge, and the way people have tried to divide it up. Its probably worth pointing out that looking at a theory of knowledge is by no means a new idea: almost all philosophy courses at university level devote some time to its consideration, though they use the slightly less manageable term epistemology. And almost all philosophers of worth (and a great many thinkers in other fields) have devoted some of their time to thinking about it. In this first section, we will also think about truth, about various ways of testing whether something is true, and
well come across a few philosophers whose ideas you probably already know. Ways of knowing (WOKs) We will move on to think about the ways we gather knowledge, and process it. In TOK, we divide these ways into four: sense perception (sight, hearing, etc.), emotion, language, and reason. We will examine each one individually, and try to work out how they are all interlinked. In some ways they are linked in a positive way, working complimentarily; in others, their relationship is more negative, and one way of knowing hinders another.
Well also think about other possible ways of knowing. Should there just be four? What else, and why, could be considered a way we build up knowledge of the world? Areas of knowledge (AOKs) Then well go on to the knowledge itself. This we divide into six areas: mathematics, natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), human sciences (sociology, anthropology, and most other things with an ology in them), history, ethics, and the arts. Like the WOKs, well look at them on their own, and then figure out how they overlap with each other. Well also investigate how the AOKs relate to the WOKs,
and whether any of them fit naturally together. To give and example of this, we might think about how emotion is used by artists to convey their messages. We might consider how the way we use language affects our understanding of history. We might pose the question Is reason the only AOK used in mathematics? Knowledge issues Youll see the phrase knowledge issues a lot in TOK. Your essay and presentation are based around the idea of knowledge issues: how well chosen they are, how well analyzed they are, and how well you link them together. So, what are knowledge issues?
Knowledge issues are, simply, issues about knowledge, usually framed as questions. You have to be able to answer them first by explaining what they are, then presenting an argument (backed up by evidence), next, a counterclaim (more evidence), and finally a conclusion. They cant be too easily answerable or closed, but then again, they cant be too vague and all-encompassing. Ideally, they should be closely related to one or more of the AOKs or WOKs. At this stage, theyre not worth worrying about too much: you will come to understand what is, and what is not, a knowledge issue as you follow the course.
The Arts Emotion Ethics History Human Sciences Knower(s) Language Mathematics Natural Sciences Reason
SensePerception The TOK Diagram Are you ready my little Stingrays to go out and shock yourselves and the world? Homework: bring in a picture or a copy of it that you can cut up and use for tomorrow. Wallet size up to 5 x 7
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