TOK: the map, the territory

Wow!  Have a look at the ten maps picked out on the website Atlantic Cities as top ones for 2013.  “The map is not the territory”, quoted from Alfred Korzybski, has been used repeatedly in TOK as a metaphor for the idea that beliefs about reality are not the same as reality itself.  Moreover, our symbolic representations (visual images, languages) are not neutral and objective records of the world but equivalent to maps, selected and shaped by our perspectives and intentions.  As our knowledge grows, we map it with new symbols or even new systems of symbols.  This is core TOK. But it’s not very often that these concepts of reality and representation are quite so graphically refreshed.  Do check out this article:  “Our Favourite Maps of 2013.” 

The concept of maps has become even more central in the TOK course through its treatment in the introduction to the new subject guide.  I’ve used it as well as a unifying image in the IB TOK Course Companion to take the students on a metaphorical journey through knowledge and bring attention at the same time to the nature of metaphor.  Maps of the world — or any representation that links what we perceive with what we conceive — can be extremely useful for thinking about what we know, how we know it, and how we represent it to construct our shared knowledge.

References

Emily Badger, “Our Favourite Maps of 2013”, The Atlantic Cities, December 24, 2013. http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/12/most-innovative-maps-2013/7952/

Eileen Dombrowski, Lena Rotenberg, Mimi Bick.  Theory of Knowledge IB Course Companion.  Oxford University Press, 2013. https://global.oup.com/education/product/9780199129737?region=international

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