LANGUAGE vs SENSE PERCEPTION (Art and the Theory of Knowledge)

A picture - worth a thousand words? My visual arts blog this month has a Theory of Knowledge element. I’m in the happy position of teaching both DP Visual Arts and DP Theory of Knowledge. There is a lot of Art/TOK overlap, but one activity that I recently had with ToK and Visual Arts students was very much in the ToK mode of questions... Sight and Sound (The limits of language) The ToK starting point was a discussion of Ways of Knowing: how do ...

‘Drones’ (Rosenthal US 2013): the rarest of things in popular cinema. An allegory.

This one is just a relatively quick post. More by way of recommendation than anything else. I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a film called 'Drones' (Rosenthal US 2013). Essentially I was searching for some kind of guilty pleasure to pass a lonesome evening by, and such a contemporary take on the 'war on terror was potentially diverting. This film promised a fairly conventional low budget fare, the action being confined as it was to a simple functional box of ...

Poppies and remembrance: symbolism and perspectives

Controversy again over poppies and remembrance – or in TOK terms, over symbolism and shared knowledge! In Britain, a headscarf with a poppy pattern has been sold to Muslim women to “raise awareness about the 400,000 Muslims, most of them Indian, who fought alongside British troops in the First World War.” Condemning this poppy scarf, one Muslim woman calls it one of "the most ill-conceived of the recent spate of 'we are not extremists' initiatives. I also take issue with ...

Pareidolia in Your Pocket

Virtually everyone who carries a cellphone with a vibrating mode in that handy pocket regularly experiences "phantom phone vibrations"(estimates are as high as 90%). Also called, a little frivolously, "ring-xiety", "hypovibrochondria", and "fauxcellarm", the phenomenon has been the subject of considerable speculation for several years.  Apparently, too, the syndrome is at its highest amongst the younger crowd–including IB students--and amongst those who have an emotional connection with the use of their cell phone. It is a striking reminder that pareidolia—the inclination ...

“The eye sees only….”

Ongoing research on the eye gives fresh meaning to an idea that runs right through TOK – literally most relevant to sense perception, but metaphorically to confirmation bias (WOK intuition) of all kinds. This 3-minute video on the way the brain anticipates changes in the visual field takes as its opening a quotation from French philosopher Henri Bergson: “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” This quick, clear video raises knowledge questions about our screening of the world, involving selective attention and ...

time-delay in vision: TOK sense perception and the world

"What you are seeing at the present moment is not a fresh snapshot of the world but rather an average of what you've seen in the past 10 to 15 seconds," says a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jason Fischer, who conducted experiments while a PhD student in David Whitney’s lab at UC Berkeley, is lead author of a new study finding that what we see “may be a time-averaged composite of now and the past”. The brain, in ...

Understanding science requires a science

Natural Science Natural Science is a fascinating area of knowledge. You only have to start scratching the surface of  science before you come across a litany of examples of its awesome nature, especially in regards to its impact on our lives. We also very quickly realise that there are many myths to do with science. I suspect that your TOK classroom has involved a discussion about the ‘basic scientific method’ (BSM). This is a very good starting point for understanding the ...