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.
- "In the natural sciences progress can be made, but in the arts this is not possible.” To what extent do you agree?
- “Technology both enables us to produce knowledge and limits the knowledge that is produced.” Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.
- “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.
- “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?
- “... 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?
- “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.