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2014 TOK Essay, prescribed titles

tok theory of knowledge 2014 essay tok essay
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#1
Molly Wilding

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Moderator edit:

 

Strictly do not post 1 sentence replies. This topic is to discuss the new TOK titles and all posts should be elaborating on one of the topics.

All useless/conversational posts will be deleted.

 

******************************

 

Hello,

 

Today we were given the TOK essay titles prescribed for the 2014 students. What do you think of them?

 

1.Ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.
 
2.“When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails” (Abraham Maslow). How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge?
 
3.“Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.
 
4.“That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.
 
5. “The historian’s task is to understand the past; the human scientist, by contrast, is looking to change the future.” To what extent is this true in these areas of knowledge?
 
6. “A skeptic is one who is willing to question any knowledge claim, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic and adequacy of evidence” (adapted from Paul Kurtz, 1994). Evaluate this approach in two areas of knowledge.


Looks like a tough year. 


Molly :-)

 

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#2
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I really like 1 and 2 personally. The first example that comes to mind for 1 is nudity in the arts and medical evolution in natural sciences. The 2nd one is essentially gong into the argument of the paradigm. Your knowledge is shaped by the objects around you. It could be an interesting discussion in language and empiricism.

 

Is there a particular one you prefer? When is your deadline due?



#3
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This time the TOK essay tittles are all related to Areas of Knowledge only which is tough.

I disagree, 2 is directly asking about  WOKs.

 

thanks. and i sort of didn't understand 2.. i think 6 sounds cool

2 is basically instigating that you notice issues which are limited to your paradigm, what you already know. Have you ever had the situation, for example, where you've been to a place like Istanbul, and then all of a sudden people around you mention it randomly? It might be that they have always mentioned it before but because you've been there recently, you are more likely to notice when it is mentioned.

 

 

On a moderation note, can we have the posts be more analytical and/or constructive? I think the new prescribed topics deserve a bit more discussion than the "I think this is good", "that topic sounds cool" road we're going down.



#4
Blackcurrant

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The last question immediately brought to mind Biologist Richard Dawkin's outspoken popular criticism of continued belief in God's existence, cultivation of religious thought, and substitution of religion for science in the Science classroom .... and the controversy this has stirred up. Is his skepticism "misplaced" in matters of faith? Faith is, after all, something that requires no proof or argument. Knowledge and faith are not the same thing and not to be mixed up.

Perhaps more in keeping with the purpose of the TOK assignment and with questions of knowledge, is the skeptical thought currently applied to the claims of absolutism and "objectivity" of science. One name that pops up is Feyerabend, another Bruno Latour and the immensely popular (but later and older) Stephen J. Gould... No one can deny the power and beauty of science and its ability to explain the universe; but science is, ultimately, a human enterprise, and therefore highly subject to context (political, sociological forces that exert themselves, and even one's gender). Is this insistence that any claim to scientific "objectivity" an example of "skepticism"? I am not sure. But it certainly is the the sort of thinking that challenges the naive belief that science describes the world "as it is", and seeks instead explanations that account for the mediated nature of all observations. Far from diminishing the scientific endeavour, it makes it all the more fascinating and complex. And as Carl Sagan poignantly remarked of science, "it is the best we have."

So: let there be less talk in the Sciences of objectivity and the absolute and more about who does the observing.

You might like this article about how scientific papers about fertilization implicitly rely on models of human romance and gender roles ... Unwittingly. It took a linguist to notice.

http://www.northeast...d_the_Sperm.pdf

Anyway, for the TOK, and in particular Q.6, the above might suggest some interesting avenues for research.

Edited by Blackcurrant, Oct 19, 2013 - 18:15.


#5
MISHI

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ai ai ai, they put up titles on the soft board like two days back and i'm pretty sure those titles aren't the same as these.. should i be worried? doesn't everyone get the same list of titles?



#6
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ai ai ai, they put up titles on the soft board like two days back and i'm pretty sure those titles aren't the same as these.. should i be worried? doesn't everyone get the same list of titles?

Yes all the titles are the same for the same session, I would look them up and compare them directly I'm sure they are the same. Mind these are May 2014.
 

 



The last question immediately brought to mind Biologist Richard Dawkin's (and Dennett's and, in fact, all "three horsemen") persistent questioning of God's existence, skepticism of religious thought, and its dubious place in the science classroom etc. .... and the controversy stirred up by their skepticism. Is their skepticism "misplaced" in matters of faith? However...faith and knowledge are not the same things and not to be mixed up.

Skepticism applied to the claims of absolutism and "objectivity" of science is perhaps more in keeping with questions of knowledge. None of this is to be applied to the preceding comments.. Let me see... One name that pops up is Feyerabend, another Bruno Latour and then the magnificently popular (but later and older) Stephen J. Gould... None deny the power and beauty of science and its ability to explain the universe, but it is, ultimately, a human enterprise, and therefore subject to the political, sociological, and even gendered.. I am not sure how of this thought counts as "skepticism" but it certainly is the the sort of thinking that challenges the naive belief that Science describes the world "as it is" and replaces this naive thinking with explanations that account for the mediated nature of all observations. It diminishes nothing of the scientific endeavour; rather, it makes it all the more fascinating. Science and the scientific method is as beautiful and awesome as ever ("it is the best we have," says Carl Sagan), but let there be less talk of absolute objectivity.

Anyway, for the TOK, and in particular Q.6, this might suggest some interesting avenues for research.

I think the framework of your argument justifies the way in which you have used the word scepticism. 
 
Another example that has come to my mind is the comparison of theoretical and applied maths, the idealist vs. the realist, the purist vs. the pragmatist. The former could be sceptical of claims because of the search for absolutism which won't necessarily be the best situation for solving some problems. For example you have a limited data set and you're statistical inference may depend on a larger sample, you may opt to conduct the research despite this because of budget or time constraints in collecting better data. A purist may not conduct the research in the first place as the inference is not justified.



#7
ishan213

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How far is the 2014 may title “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge, similar to November 2008/May 2009 title “Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house” (Henri Poincaré). Discuss in relation to science and at least one other area of knowledge. How might systematic organisation of fact differ from a well built structure of a house in analogy?



#8
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How far is the 2014 may title “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge, similar to November 2008/May 2009 title “Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house” (Henri Poincaré). Discuss in relation to science and at least one other area of knowledge. How might systematic organisation of fact differ from a well built structure of a house in analogy?

They are very similar in that they both want you to use the discussion of fact in relation to knowledge and the ultimate search of "truth" which TOK revolves around.

 

There is little different, with regards to your question. 

 

If I may ask, why are you interested in the comparison of the two questions?



#9
ishan213

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How far is the 2014 may title “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge, similar to November 2008/May 2009 title “Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house” (Henri Poincaré). Discuss in relation to science and at least one other area of knowledge. How might systematic organisation of fact differ from a well built structure of a house in analogy?

They are very similar in that they both want you to use the discussion of fact in relation to knowledge and the ultimate search of "truth" which TOK revolves around.

 

There is little different, with regards to your question. 

 

If I may ask, why are you interested in the comparison of the two questions?

 

 

Before even having a glimpse over these fresh 2014 may titles, in the past I gave a MOCK TOK essay for year 1 on the aforementioned title (Henri poincare statement one). Though the essay was quite well developed due to my limited knowledge of what is TOK. Provided that these essay titles are quite similar what different do examiners expect from it, why in any case they have sustained the basic idea behind the title but only manipulated words? 

There are also excellent TOK essays on Science is built of facts the way a...   (i have three with me). Can someone not use that same idea but different examples to show the same situation, if this happens than it will provide a good head start for giving direction in which essay is going. 

 

Here in this 2014 title it seems obvious that a broad term Knowledge is questioned rather than a specific area of knowledge. 



#10
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The first thing that came to my mind for #2 was confirmation bias, but as soon as I started to write this post, I figured that confirmation bias is different. 

But here, it's like you looking at a certain perspective of a problem based on what your discipline is. Take some sort of environment problem related to a river that has just flooded (I'm being deliberately vague to cover the fact that I don't know much about it). An engineer will probably be interested in the risks/safety of it while a marine biologist will probably be more interested in how that affects the species in the water, near the banks and other related systems. 
 

Or a simpler example. When building a structure, civil engineers will look at costs, structure, stability, load, etc. Architects look at the aesthetics. 

 

I mean those are poor examples but I don't know. Might be of some help.

Edit: I obviously didn't make a point there. I was trying to suggest that the quote is similar to our disciplines. Whatever you are trained as, you will tend to look at a problem in that perspective. A complex problem (perhaps an environmental problem) obviously needs people from all sorts of disciplines and perspectives to give their insights. That is restricting in a way, but if you look at it differently, as long as you try to incorporate different disciplines, it is illuminating in a sense. Because it gives more in depth knowledge from a certain discipline.

I'm probably still not getting anywhere, but hopefully that made my bs seem more sensible.


Edited by -._._.-, Sep 21, 2013 - 12:19.


#11
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The one I will probably be going for is title #4: “That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.

The first thing that came into my mind was the evolution of theories, concepts, and/or ideas. One can argue that once a new or improved version of, let's say a theory, has been accepted, the old one would be discarded which the theory came from would be discarded (typical example: Newton's law of gravity).

 

However, one can also argue that, the old concepts are not discarded but became part of the new theory; it simply "evolved".

 

I guess it really depends on how you define "discard"


Edited by Smennysmai, Sep 26, 2013 - 07:38.


#12
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I think this years topics are actually quite interesting! 
taking the second topic, you could relate it to a lot of things because let's face it, acquisition of new things always limits our perspective. Like for example, when we acquire a new weapon in any game, we usually start depending on that weapon more because it was newly acquired, with the belief that because we just acquired it, it is much better than any previous weapons (speaking generally in terms of a new weapon (hammer) making every enemy appear vulnerable(nails) just because it's new. The same argument could be put forward into the topic which talks about discarding old knowledge.
I think this year's topics are a bit more connected (My opinion) and looking at one from another topics perspective really opens up new ideas (at least for me) :D


Edited by Dax, Sep 25, 2013 - 13:16.


#13
alisha547

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For #2, which AOK's can I relate it to?


Edited by alisha547, Sep 30, 2013 - 09:51.


#14
nishthalovekryan

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Hi,

I am having a hard choice to choose from number 3 and number 4 ... Can anyone suggest me which one should i choose.

 

Thanks



#15
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Personally I really like #2 but when we were discussing it in class, my teacher said that he personally didn't like the title very much especially due to the quote which it begins with. However, I think it's a really interesting title. 



#16
Kenny Jeffris

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To me, title 4 seems to be the way to go.  In IB Bio, we just did evolution and talked about Darwin and Lamarck's theories.  This could be brought up as a knowledge issue because the theory of evolution has not been simply thrown away, instead it has been adapted, or excuse the pun, evolved into the theory that it is today based off of current knowledge gained from scientific discovery.  I'm sure another equally useful knowledge issue can be found, but that is immediately what I thought of when I heard this question.



#17
Lars Neuenschwander

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Hey everyone,

 

So im doing question number 4 and i have decided to choose history and natural science as my two areas of knowledge. Anyone have any ideas they could throw my way. Im planning on using heliocentric theories and such. I have trouble thinking of any ideas which are applicable to history, Once again i would appreciate any help i can get. 

 

 

Thanks so much

:D



#18
Alice_Hsu

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Hey everyone,

 

So im doing question number 4 and i have decided to choose history and natural science as my two areas of knowledge. Anyone have any ideas they could throw my way. Im planning on using heliocentric theories and such. I have trouble thinking of any ideas which are applicable to history, Once again i would appreciate any help i can get. 

 

 

Thanks so much

:D

 

I'm also doing number 4 :D My TOK teacher told us explicitly that if we talked about heliocentric theories in our essays, they would fail us. It's not that it's not a valid example, it's that Galileo so cliche. 

 

I've actually just turned my draft in to be peermarked by my classmates, so I don't know how crappy good my essay is, or even if my examples are valid, but I focused mostly on medicine and how as we discover new schools of analysis in history, we change the history books itself. In addition, history changes when we discover new things and when different people write history books, they discard some things as accepted and other things as not, even though it's supposed to be largely unbiased.

 

In my opinion, the key to number for is remembering that knowledge is constantly being improved upon and the idea that it's discarded is not necessarily true. You can argue that in any AOK, we learn first the flawed theories and then we learn other flawed theories (e.g., in grade school, we learn that Columbus was a hero (colonialism was good) --> in high school, we learn that Columbus was a rapist (colonialism is bad)) and in the end we are left with a slightly more fleshed out understanding (colonialism is the product of Eurocentric thinking and the idea that "White is Might"). 

 

This also applies to certainty, as the more things change, how certain can we be of what is accepted as true? Truth, as you can argue, is also subjective and based largely on justification. If each justification over turns another, but we continue to hold old knowledge as "true", then how can we say that that which is accepted today is actually accepted today when what we have accepted was not really discarded in yesterday's tomorrow? So how does this idea that we use yesterday's knowledge affect the application of tomorrow's knowledge? Can knowledge even be divided into eras of thinking?

 

(sorry for rambling; i just rediscovered a passion for a prescribed title i thought i hated.)

 

but uh

 

You can use significant discoveries that people have made throughout history that have changed the way they wrote about history. Old journals, heirlooms, lost heirs found etc. Decrypting the Hieroglyphs significantly changed the way people learned Egyptian history, and much knowledge was lost when the Library of Alexandria was burnt and Carthage was razed to the ground. How much of the past is speculation, and how much is actually true? Dinosaurs--what color were they? How do we know that they were greens and browns and not hot pink and lime?



#19
Pratistha Tamang

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help!!
anyone please answer are sense perception and emotion two contrasting  WOK to compare them as tools in my essay? (and only these two WOK)
 
[writing my essay on #2 “When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails” (Abraham Maslow). How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge?"]
 
:question:  :confused:


#20
David14

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Hey everyone,

 

So im doing question number 4 and i have decided to choose history and natural science as my two areas of knowledge. Anyone have any ideas they could throw my way. Im planning on using heliocentric theories and such. I have trouble thinking of any ideas which are applicable to history, Once again i would appreciate any help i can get. 

 

 

Thanks so much

:D

 

I'm also doing number 4 :D My TOK teacher told us explicitly that if we talked about heliocentric theories in our essays, they would fail us. It's not that it's not a valid example, it's that Galileo so cliche. 

 

I've actually just turned my draft in to be peermarked by my classmates, so I don't know how crappy good my essay is, or even if my examples are valid, but I focused mostly on medicine and how as we discover new schools of analysis in history, we change the history books itself. In addition, history changes when we discover new things and when different people write history books, they discard some things as accepted and other things as not, even though it's supposed to be largely unbiased.

 

In my opinion, the key to number for is remembering that knowledge is constantly being improved upon and the idea that it's discarded is not necessarily true. You can argue that in any AOK, we learn first the flawed theories and then we learn other flawed theories (e.g., in grade school, we learn that Columbus was a hero (colonialism was good) --> in high school, we learn that Columbus was a rapist (colonialism is bad)) and in the end we are left with a slightly more fleshed out understanding (colonialism is the product of Eurocentric thinking and the idea that "White is Might"). 

 

This also applies to certainty, as the more things change, how certain can we be of what is accepted as true? Truth, as you can argue, is also subjective and based largely on justification. If each justification over turns another, but we continue to hold old knowledge as "true", then how can we say that that which is accepted today is actually accepted today when what we have accepted was not really discarded in yesterday's tomorrow? So how does this idea that we use yesterday's knowledge affect the application of tomorrow's knowledge? Can knowledge even be divided into eras of thinking?

 

(sorry for rambling; i just rediscovered a passion for a prescribed title i thought i hated.)

 

but uh

 

You can use significant discoveries that people have made throughout history that have changed the way they wrote about history. Old journals, heirlooms, lost heirs found etc. Decrypting the Hieroglyphs significantly changed the way people learned Egyptian history, and much knowledge was lost when the Library of Alexandria was burnt and Carthage was razed to the ground. How much of the past is speculation, and how much is actually true? Dinosaurs--what color were they? How do we know that they were greens and browns and not hot pink and lime?

 

 

May I ask what grade you actually got (predicted of course given by your teacher) for your draft?








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