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ToK - How does the way in which we express ourselves influence our understanding of others?

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How does the way in which we express ourselves influence our understanding of others?

Expressing ourselves:

to set forth the opinions, feelings, etc., of (oneself)


personal interpretation

to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend


the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions,etc., of others:

Ways in which we express ourselves:

Art, speaking, actions, sports…

I'm trying to talk about the Arts. This includes painting, sculpturing, performing music, composing music, photography, etc.

Would incorporating the ways of knowing be something like:

Art: through perception, reason, emotion, language

Perception: what they see

Reason: reasoning of the message implied through the piece of artwork (incorporates language)

Emotion: this alters the reasoning of the knower, when the knower relates the artwork to a personal experience, the emotion related with the experience has a part in the reasoning. Different people might have different emotions regarding the same experience, and different people might also relate the artwork to different experiences that they have undergone. Therefore, most peoples' reasoning would be different.

Now, how would I incorporate the areas of knowledge?

And what views do you guys have on the knowledge issue?

My real life situation is:

Sometimes when I'm feeling down, I retreat to my room and play my violin, which expresses the emotions which I felt at that moment. I also read on the newspaper that a German artist Peter Nagel used barbie dolls to expresses the pondering questions of life, such as "Where do we come from? Who are we? Where do we go?"

Edited by fat+dog

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Hmm this is a practice topic?

I think it's a really interesting question, and I guess I want to know what you think about it. I'm glad you've given parameters and thought about ways of knowing and areas of knowledge, but what do you have to say about the question itself?

About your question relating to the areas of knowledge--you've already figured out that you want to talk about the arts. Maybe include another area? The arts that you've mentioned really incorporate a lot, but if I was reading your essay about the this question relating to the arts, I'd want to know what you think about math or science or history or something else.

Also, don't feel that you have to cover three or four ways of knowing unless the prompt asks you to. Two is fine. Three is good, but don't feel like you need a third one.

So my questions to you are 1) what are you arguing? 2) how will you support your argument [AOK and WOK]? 3) what's the bigger picture? [this is where I see knowledge issues really come into play]

This question implies that the way in which we express ourselves does influence our understanding of others. The whole prompt is a big knowledge issue that you can break down. Also look at the areas of knowledge you discuss. Are there inherent differences? What does this mean? Look at the ways of knowing you'll talk about. Do some of them make our impressions stronger? Is this bad? If so, is this always bad? What are the obstacles in gaining knowledge about ourselves and others? Are we always judging others based on how we see ourselves? Does this mean that if we can see ourselves more clearly, then we can see others more clearly? These might not be knowledge issues. I wouldn't know how to define them. But they may get you to thinking, which is how good analysis comes about, and that'll make your essay significant.

So what are you thinking?

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Just a few general random points in response to your post:

  • You seem to already have defined the Area of Knowledge: the Arts.
  • I would be the last person to argue against the concept of music for communication, but I think this topic would be a lot easier to tackle from the Language perspective, because it is a whole Way of Knowing by itself and you could talk about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and the deep links between language and thought and therefore the understanding of others. I suppose you could count music(/art) as a language but it would be harder to discuss in this context.
  • I personally wouldn't consider the Nagel thing as an example of this as he's expressing himself to influence other people's understanding of life in general, as opposed to a) expressing himself as a way of influencing his own understanding and b) understanding of others as opposed to beliefs about life (which, to me, seems like the 'bigger picture' as opposed to individual people).

As for the second and third points: of course, you can defend your points as the topic is open for interpretation and since it's your topic you can define the words in the topic however you like. So my answers may not necessarily be "correct" but, again, they're just general responses that I hope can add another point of view :coffee:

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