Thursday, March 14, 2013

Responses (Nov 2013) — Summary

The list of IB TOK Prescribed Titles for November 2013 (with some of my personal brief responses) is collected in this post.

  1. "In the natural sciences progress can be made, but in the arts this is not possible.” To what extent do you agree? 
  2. “Technology both enables us to produce knowledge and limits the knowledge that is produced.” Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge. 
  3. “Every attempt to know the world rests on a set of assumptions that cannot be tested.” Examine this proposition in relation to two areas of knowledge. 
  4. “Knowledge gives us a sense of who we are.” To what extent is this true in the human sciences and one other area of knowledge? 
  5. “... our knowledge is only a collection of scraps and fragments that we put together into a pleasing design, and often the discovery of one new fragment would cause us to alter utterly the whole design” (Morris Bishop). To what extent is this true in history and one other area of knowledge? 
  6. “The methods used to produce knowledge depend on the use to which it will be put.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.


#1: You have to define progress first, probably in relation to knowledge. Once that is defined, then your definitions of the natural sciences and the arts as knowledge-pursuits leading to 'progress' will frame your subsequent argument. This is actually a rather traditional question, a bit thin.

#2: This is related to the general statement '[Tech] X produces knowledge Y using methodology Z that is inherent in X or intrinsic to X'. That is, the title statement implies that technology has a knowledge-constructing function, but that the form it takes necessarily defines the kind of knowledge constructed. It's a good solid question.

#3: In order to answer this kind of question, you need to be able to define the set of assumptions on which a given area of knowledge is based. You need to show how an AOK is an 'attempt to know the world' and how you would test assumptions (in general as well as in particular).

#4: This is the easiest question, apart from 6 which is equally traditional. An AOK is in some sense a human perspective, and as such it makes claims that define humanity implicitly and/or explicitly. This 'gives us a sense of who we are', or at least, attempts to do so. This is what needs to be explored — how successfully does the AOK accomplish this? Some AOKs aren't obviously directed at humanity.

#5: This is a bit of an intellectual joke. Does Bishop mean a collage, a mosaic, or a jigsaw-puzzle? This one requires you to think about how a design can be 'pleasing' (which hints at the role of emotion in knowledge-construction) and how easy/difficult it is to cause a paradigm shift in history or another AOK.

#6: This is a related to the general statement 'Desired outcome A requires knowledge base B which is constructed through methodology C'. Hence it discusses how functionalist ('the use to which it will be put') a particular AOK is — some kinds of knowledge may be seen as having no direct/intended use.

I'll follow up on some (possibly all) of these questions in the days ahead.

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Blogger Rock's Place said...

Some of my thoughts:

2) I think I interpreted the question differently. I was thinking in general terms, cases in which tech produces knowledge (many examples) and cases in which tech limits production of knowledge (I can't think of any good examples. The best I can think of is how in some advanced physics problems, we exploit computing power for good approximation, rather than trying to get a full picture. Hence, tech perhaps limits us from from producing new knowledge)

I do understand your interpretation, which I haven't previously thought of. The kind of knowledge produced is limited by the type of tech. But again, I can't really think of a good example. It is easy to identify what kind of knowledge is produced by a certain tech. And if I haven't misunderstood your point, it seems like each tech will produce only specific kinds of knowledge. So is there really an argument here?

Some have considered how tech hinders the acquisition of knowledge(e.g. education), but I don't think that is what the question is asking for.

3) I interpret "attempt to know the world" as something similar to the ways of knowing. To know about the world through empirical evidence, we would need to assume that are senses are true, for instance. But that would seem like a theoretical discussion, and there would be a lack of good counter-arguments.

In Math, we have axioms that set the parameters for us. ( I don't really understand the difference between an axiom and assumption actually. Are axioms just assumptions that are taken for granted to be true to a larger extent?) Artistic knowledge, however, does not seem to require any assumption. But I think to reason why arts is considered knowledge in the first place, would entail some.

4)I actually found this question the hardest to understand. "A sense of who we are"-> who we are as humans?

5)Interesting, but I'm not really familiar with history. We put together the evidence of a certain event in history and try to make sense of it. And our interpretation of the history based on given evidence, must be pleasing to us. Seems like such an approach is relevant to the sciences as well. (Hey, I really don't get how this is an intellectual joke)

6) Honestly, I have problem seeing how the practical application of a certain type of knowledge will affect the methodology knowledge is produced. Or is it referring to AoKs in general? Such as the methods of scientific inquiry are determined by how science is used?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 5:48:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

2) Consider the optical sciences — photonics, optics, telescopy etc. They are designed to elucidate a realm that involves the behaviour of light; but this means that all the data is optical and within the visible spectrum. However, it is by analogy that we have radio telescopy and MR imaging — so it extends the limits of what can be known as well as defines those limits. It is an interesting discussion you can have there...

3) This is a question on how dependent an AOK is on its axioms. Consider Art vs Geometry, for example. It's not about WOKs, since a way and an area are not the same — a way leads you to an area but is not the knowledge nor necessarily the attempt to obtain that knowledge.

4) It's the easiest, really. Consider Biology — it's a discipline that asserts the material nature of human beings in terms of molecular and cellular interactions; it says nothing about man as an artistic or spiritual or economic entity. Consider History — it asserts the interactive and chronological nature of humanity. And so on. These are all different senses in which we consider the nature of humanity.

5) That's the joke: it assumes that knowledge is the product of intelligent design, rather than a pre-existing entity. That's an old argument, something like constructivism. You must understand that what differentiates a humanities subject from a human science is the presence or absence of narrative construction with clearly-defined characters or other such elements.

6) This is closely related to Topic 2. Suppose you want to know what the moon looks like up close, so that you can map its features. Then clearly you will adopt technologies that can not only see the moon (lenses etc) but also methodologies that can help determine the relief of its features (parallax, other ways to determine relative height and depth of features). However, what if the AOK has no obvious use — for example, in some areas of pure abstract Math?

I like your lines of thought. Interesting to see what possible difficulties lie ahead for my TOK students... :D

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 3:21:00 pm  
Blogger Leonardo Di Paolo said...

Can anybody think of more examples for topic #2 so that it could help my students understand the title? My students are finding it a bit difficult to find examples for this topic...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 3:56:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Leonardo Di Paolo: Consider an AOK such as history — history is firstly the observation and recording of events, then the sequencing and structuring of narrative, in order to establish descriptive and explanatory facts and theories about these events. This means that you need technologies for observation and recording. Initially, observation was primarily through natural senses and recording was by memory and oral transmission, which needed no tech. Then came technologies such as writing, which were limited by the boundaries of language, and nowadays video and audio digital recording, which are less limited. These extend our ability to know the past, but they also ensure that our knowledge of the past is limited largely to audio and video — we don't record smells or emotions very well.

The same mental process can be used on any AOK — consider what techs help us generate knowledge in an AOK, and what those techs actually confine us to in terms of their limitations.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Leonardo Di Paolo said...

Thanks so much Trebuchet

Friday, May 24, 2013 11:15:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi can anyone give more in dept help for question 4? the areas of knowledge used will be the human sciences and history.

Saturday, June 01, 2013 7:59:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

dabysam: the question is all about what the focus of an area of knowledge is. For example, economics gives us a sense of who we are as transactional entities, why and how we transact the movement of resources and the accomplishment of tasks towards rational ends.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 3:55:00 pm  
Blogger Deyna Quiroz said...

In question Number 4 which would be the main issue? How knowledge made us think we are in some way?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 9:57:00 pm  
Blogger Deyna Quiroz said...

In question 4 the main issue would be : How knowledge make us believe/think we are in some particular way?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 9:58:00 pm  
Blogger Deyna Quiroz said...

I dont understand it very well :( (Q4)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 9:58:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Deyna: the main issue might be how much a certain kind of knowledge might say about us; for example, biology teaches us that we are just cells working together through chemical action — is that how you see yourself?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 5:06:00 am  
Blogger Yeaspls said...

hi there,

with regards to question 4, i think that it's pretty clear that different AOKs give a different perspective/insight into "who we are". can't really see how this would be a topic for debate within the essay.

Do you think that the larger KI to be addressed resides within the quote that was given. "Who we are" is probably a question of the methods used to give ourselves a sense of identity.

Am pretty confused at this point. Do they want us to identify the KIs within the quote or the KIs that pertain to the different AOKs?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013 1:39:00 am  
Blogger shao wei teh said...

For question number 6, am I wrong to say the claim is untrue for the natural sciences but true for the arts? because for the natural sciences, there is a standard method to follow (scientific method) however for the arts, if an artist wants to produce war art for example, he/she would need to change the method accordingly, yes?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 4:42:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Trebuchet,
Could you please clarify what Q6 is hinting at? I don't really understand what the question is asking for, how do i go about tackling it? (it seems to ask about method)

Also, how important is the inclusion of personal experiences in the essay?

Thank you so much, am really looking forward to your reply.

Thursday, August 01, 2013 11:46:00 pm  
Blogger michelle and kasumi said...

Regarding Question 1: Should one employ a singular definition of 'progress' across the AOKs, if so what should this definition incorporate? Also what are some knowledge issues that arise from this topic?

Sunday, August 11, 2013 10:33:00 pm  
Blogger Adam Kurbansho said...

Dear Trebuchet,

"Technology both enables us to produce knowledge and limits the knowledge that is produced" specifically, in which of the two ways i should interpret the question - the techn limits the production of some new knowledge or it defines the limits of kind of knowledge produced using technology.

Sunday, August 18, 2013 1:35:00 am  
Blogger Veronica said...

Hey can you give me an example in tittle 6, in an area like Biology that the method to adquire knoledge is by the scientific method but I can think of an example that do not use this kind of method.

Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:19:00 pm  
Blogger Veronica said...

I need help in an example of tittle 6, if the method of the AOK (biology) is by the scientific method, what can be an example that refutes this method?

Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:22:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Many of you will note that I stopped answering questions in July. That's because Findings became a private company in March, and subsequently, it became necessary for people to contact the company (of which I am a director).

Also, answering such questions publicly seems to have resulted in multiple essays all looking alike. :D

Best then for everyone to search for the right place and email a private query. Cheers!

Monday, October 14, 2013 5:17:00 am  
Blogger Shraddha said...

can you please give me a more detailed idea of what i can talk about for questions 3.

I was considering the AOK's as Natural sciences and Religion and WOK's as Perception and Imagination.

But now i'm really confused about where to go form here. can u also tell me if these WOKS and AOKS are good, or should i consider other ones, if so which ones?

Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:37:00 pm  

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