Can Computers do TOK?

If some people are to be believed the world depicted by such sci-fi blockbusters as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, AI, I Robot, Ex Machina … is one we will soon (or already do) inhabit. It is a world in which machines will increasingly exhibit human traits to the point where it will not be possible to decide whether one is interacting with a person or a robot. Alan Turing famously raised the question as to whether computers can think in his ...

Religious Knowledge?

The very notion of Religious Knowledge is, for many, an oxymoron (a combination of mutually contradictory terms) or at best a category mistake (something described in terms of a conceptual category it does not belong to). Be that as it may, the IB introduced Religious Knowledge Systems into the new TOK syllabus in 2014 and it deserves serious attention for at least two reasons. In my experience the academic exploration of religion in schools is far too often neglected, distorted ...

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 ...

Pre-IB (3): The ‘how’ of TOK

The ‘how’ of TOK focuses on the methods by which knowledge is produced in the different Areas of Knowledge (AoKs). In TOK these methods have been identified as the eight Ways of Knowing (WoKs). They are Reason, Sense Perception, Emotion, Language, Memory, Imagination, Intuition and Faith. Each WoK provides a particular way of producing or accessing knowledge. Whilst an individual understanding and analysis of each of them is expected, the IB emphasizes that it is also important to see how they ...

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 ...

Art too bad to be ignored

In the Visual Arts Guide there is a series of questions related to TOK “that a visual arts student might consider” To what extent is artistic knowledge something which cannot be expressed in any other way? Are ways of knowing employed in radically different ways in the arts than in other areas of knowledge? To what extent does imagination play a special role in the visual arts? What moral responsibilities do artists have? How can the subjective viewpoint of an ...

Reason: A Goddess with Feet of Clay

In the wake of the French revolution in the 1790s emerged a new religion, the Cult of Reason. This new faith was dedicated to the de-Christianizination of Europe and in churches all over France a new goddess was enthroned. Sensibly the new high-priests shied away from objectifying Reason by setting up statues of it, instead women, often young and scantily clad, were sat on newly erected altars whilst holding torches symbolizing enlightenment. Reason was to shine its guiding and liberating ...

Thinking: Fast or Slow?

For most of human history we have assumed our decisions to be the result of a conscious and rational process, and that we are in control of our most of our decisions and actions most of the time. Now a whole raft of research and books has called this into question and it suggests that our instinctive and intuitive selves in fact 'run the show.' The evidential basis for this seems incontrovertible and there have been very few dissenting voices ...

How can Faith be a WoK?

When the IB introduced Faith as one of its new Ways of Knowing, a few eyebrows will have been raised in surprise if not bewilderment. For many the idea of Faith as a path to Knowledge was simply a contradiction in terms. For these individuals, Faith could only been seen as an obstacle to or a contradiction of true knowledge. Whether this is necessarily so shall be seen in what follows. To understand many people’s scepticism of Faith as a WoK ...

Does Faith as a WoK Work?

The introduction of Faith as a Way of Knowing will have ruffled quite a few feathers and marked a significant departure in the IB's historically staunch secularism. For the Doubting Thomases out there I would like to offer some justifications for Faith's inclusion in that hallowed set of IB concepts, the Ways of Knowing (WoKs). Namely, Faith has been a much misunderstood and unfairly derided concept for too long, its relationship to reason and knowledge has been too often misrepresented. ...