The Patterning Instinct

Now and again a book comes out which seems to put its finger on a central issue regarding the nature of human knowledge and its consequences. Such a book, for me, is The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent (May 2017, Prometheus Books). The book’s subtitle, a cultural history of humanity’s search for meaning, encapsulates its focus, scope and ambitions. It attempts to identify the hidden patterns which have shaped human cultures and how the latter have been expressed in terms ...

Googling 2013: questing knowledge?

The end of a calendar year (at least in Gregorian system that dominates most of the globe) is the time for reflection, statistics, and resolutions:  global issues vie, in retrospective summary, for comparative significance.  Bloggers, talk show hosts, prime time news shows are busy ranking and assessing. Globally, they ask, what are the most important news stories? Scientific discoveries? Sports events…”? and so on. Who is better to judge the real significance of news stories, though, than The People?  This is ...

“Uncertainty” in science: TOK and UN climate science report

Here’s a question to ask yourself and your students: what percentage of trained scientists have to accept that a knowledge claim has been proven before you yourself will consider it reasonable to accept it?  How many scientists have to be “certain” (that is, convinced)?  And the next, closely related, knowledge question is not about the scientists (and their degree of psychological conviction) but the knowledge claims themselves: how much certainty is necessary for scientific knowledge? Certainty of shared knowledge in the ...

TOK changes: not just “optional extras”

How does imagination interact with sense perception and memory? The new WOK change the way we deal with the old. A revised version of a course presents no particular problems for teachers new to the course in any case. They enter the new version as if the course has always been that way, and can quickly become bored listening to experienced teachers make comparisons – irrelevant comparisons -- between the old and the new.   If you are new to TOK, ...