Scientific Morality?

Can Science provide a better basis for morality than other forms of human knowledge such as religion, psychology or philosophy? A look at the history of moral philosophy shows that by and large every significant contribution to ethics has come primarily from philosophers or theologians. It is not until the late twentieth/early twenty first century that some scientists have proposed that science can be a better basis for ethics, in other words that the answer to the question “how can ...

Knowing You: A (very) Short Story

Ethel was sitting at her favourite table in her favourite café, she was half sipping her coffee whilst half reading the newspaper she held in front of her. Her gaze was in fact turned towards someone with a tray and looking for somewhere to sit in the crowded venue. From observing the latter’s dress and demeanour she deduced that she was a well to do person probably from a local wealthy family and with a very comfortable life, someone not ...

Knowing me…

The next two blogs will focus on the nature of two aspects of personal knowledge, namely, knowledge of oneself and knowledge of others. What the psychologist Howard Gardner described as Intrapersonal and Interpersonal knowledge. Of course, the entreaty to ‘know thyself’ is an ancient one, it can be found first in Egypt and then at the heart of Socratic philosophy as well as, among others, in the writings of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze. The latter wrote, “mastering others is ...

Of Personal and Shared Knowledge

One of the central distinctions about the nature of Knowledge in TOK is that between Personal and Shared Knowledge. Personal Knowledge is meant to refer to knowledge which has been acquired by the individual based on their own experiences, efforts and conclusions. Shared Knowledge is knowledge which is held communally, by groups which will vary in size depending on the type of knowledge being explored. For a start, I am not at all convinced that it is genuinely possible to ...

What Then Must We Do?

A man pounds the keys of a typewriter in a frenzy, clearly in a state of heightened anguish. The words he types repeatedly, “What then must we do?” come from the Gospel of Luke (3.10 – 14), words which also inspired the title of a book by Leo Tolstoy on the causes of and possible solutions to extreme poverty. The man is a reporter in 1960s Indonesia where the government of President Sukarno seems oblivious to the fate of millions ...

WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM?

“Nothing is original. We create through experiment, struggle and learning from others”  Happy New Year! I’m starting off the 2017 visual arts blog with a big question: WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM? This is part one of a blog two-parter. (Hey, it’s a big question!)   It’s actually as much a ToK question as a visual arts one, like many of the deeper questions in life. I could follow it up with some Knowledge Questions such as To what extent is creativity informed by research? To what ...

Is Mathematics a Religion?

For many numerically illiterate people out there, the film The Man who Knew Infinity (released September 2015) was, if atheists will pardon the expression, a godsend. It describes the life and achievements of renowned Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. It did this in a way which not only made his passion for and staggering discoveries in Mathematics entirely accessible, but it also managed to express the very soul of the man.  In a particularly moving scene, the great mathematician G.H. Hardy ...

How to Lie with Numbers

By Monday, September 12, 2016 , , , , 0

There is a common saying in English, “numbers never lie”, which presumably expresses the idea that any argument backed up by data, statistics or quantifiable information must therefore be trustworthy or inherently credible. One of the key tasks of TOK is to step back, analysize and reflect on the basis of anything presented as evidence for an argument. We live in a world where data is generated at an unquantifiable rate, we are bombarded by constant information whilst being asked ...

PROCESS PORTFOLIO: 5 TIPS

So...the PROCESS PORTFOLIO. In recent student blogs I have discussed: Theory of Knowledge and Contemporary Art, (July) Photographs and the exhibition” (August) and MUSEUMS, ARTEFACTS and the COMPARATIVE STUDY (July) ...so am posting today about the Process Portfolio. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the senior PP examination team when we gathered at the IB Assessment Centre. These examiners spent many hours looking through PP files submitted for the last examination session, and I gained some great insights into some PP issues through ...

CONTEMPORARY ART and THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

 I recently spent a day at the TATE MODERN gallery with a group of Norwegian students and their teachers, who were staying in London for a few days having left Oslo the day before. We were looking for links between, and questions about, Art and the Theory of Knowledge. My role at the Tate on that day was to introduce and explain to the students some of the tricky issues that infuse and surround contemporary art. Tate Modern is the ...