Month: August 2017

Sense Perception

Today in TOK, we were exposed to a mind-opening experience that informed us that our minds usually do not allow us to perceive the world as it is, but as how we are preconditioned/engineered to perceive the world. While I realise that there are problems with our perceptual systems, this doesn’t mean that knowledge gained from our senses is completely unreliable. This is because the knowledge that we gain from our perceptual systems is still knowledge, regardless of whether it is true or not. This is because regardless whether the knowledge we receive accurately reflects all there is to an object, we believe that the knowledge we receive is accurate. Furthermore in recent years as our understanding of ourselves and the universe grew, we have managed to develop technology in order to combat the illusions that our mind may cast on how the world really is. One example is how the Hubble telescope can provide scientists with images of distant nebulas, galaxy systems or other cosmic phenomena, but as seen through different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.Image result for Hubble Telescope Image of Galaxies through different spectrums

Thus providing us with new information about how the universe works and looks, that is not based on our biased and inaccurate senses of perception.

A counter-argument is that if the knowledge we receive is flawed in some way, then other presumptions or knowledge derived from knowledge gathered by our sense of perception could also be equally flawed. I say that knowledge is knowledge, regardless of whether it is accurate or not. Furthermore the knowledge that we derived from our sense of perception is something that our civilisation has relied on for centuries, and that knowledge was all that we had for centuries. Another argument that can be made is that despite the possibility that the information we receive may be flawed, we have been able to capitalise on our knowledge and develop a greater understanding of what the universe actually looks like.

WOKs are Double-Edged Swords

In total there are 8 ways of knowing and 8 areas of knowledge, and through discussions held in class I believe that the Way of Knowing (WOK), reason is one of the more important ways of knowing. Reason is important in a few of the Areas of Knowledge (AOK), but I think that mathematics is one of the AOKs that relies more on this WOK. Unlike the arts, ethics or religion, math is an AOK that is destitute of emotion and requires logical reasoning to gain any ground. For example, it does not matter whether you feel happy or sad in order to solve a math problem, because the rules apply anywhere in the world. In any part of the world, no one would dispute that 1+1=2 or 100+500=600. Even though reason cannot always bestow knowledge upon someone through lack of reason or by being impaired by some external factor, I believe that mathematics is a perfect match for reason. This is because mathematics only works if all the factors are considered and used in a logical manner, which is determined through fair and impartial reasoning since there is nothing that appears more favourable as the only factors to consider are numerical. However this is not to say that external factors could affect one’s ability to rationally use reason to solve a math problem, therefore one does need to consider how other WOKs affect each other.

In mathematics, it is undisputed that 2+2=4 because when you raise 2 of your fingers alongside with 2 other fingers already upright, then you have 4 fingers in total. Don’t trust me? Count them. However a real good question was raised during one of our class discussions, “How would you prove that −2−2=−4?”. Of course we cannot prove it using the same method as above, since we cannot produce negative numbers using our hands. However if we use reasoning, then we can reason that “−2−2” should follow the same principles as “2+2”. This means that the numbers should add up to a 4, however since the numbers are going in the negative direction then the 4 should also be negative.

IB Gold Coast Retreat Reflection

From the 17th-18th of August, the entire Grade 11 cohort of CDNIS travelled to the Gold Coast (the one in Hong Kong) to familiarise ourselves with the Diploma Programme. I particularly liked how the retreat was an easy way for me to socialise and get to know other people in my grade other than the ones that I usually hang out with. I was able to hang out with the other people in my grade through participating in various activities like the poverty simulation at Crossroads, our free-time at the pool after the simulation and the “IB Core remix” on the second day of the retreat.

During the poverty simulation, we were put into ‘families’ and made to act like impoverished families and make paper bags for very little pay. All the while undergoing various trials at the same time, all the while trying to survive the day. I was able to bond with the various members of my ‘family’ through the pressure of trying to survive the day’s work (I also bonded with them through the loss of my phone, shoes and a kidney to keep the ‘family’ from falling into debt). While this activity was fun and provided insight into how impoverished families lived, I also gained more insight into what I might be able to do to help these impoverished family. This is because  the simulation leader’s question, “How could someone as insignificant and seemingly-powerless as me could do anything to help anyone?” really resonated with me. I have racked my brain trying to find solutions to no avail, which led me to prematurely accept that I could do nothing about the situation and that only the ‘big people’ could do something. However the simulation director has finally provided me with a solution, making micro-loans or backing a child’s education. I now realise that despite all the challenges that are seemingly posed against normal people are simply figments of our imagination, and if we are determined enough to help, we can.

Spending my free-time hanging around with my friends at the pool and for dinner are the fondest memories I have of the retreat, because recently I have been constantly stressed about my DP course choices and this retreat was a great way for me to relieve and forget some of my stress. Furthermore I did not hang out with many people my age throughout the summer, so this was a great opportunity for me to let loose and basically be me. Although things did get slightly out of hand when I a small get-together in my hotel room turned into a big get-together, which was annoyed me and reminded me of how tight-knit our grade can be.

During the “IB Core Remix”, I was brought back to the reality that I am now a DP student and will face many new challenges throughout the next 2 years of my academic life. I found that many of the activities in the remix helped me gain and idea of what path I would like to walk on, and this idea was created after going through the university talk, figuring out a personal statement for myself, the talk with the alumni and thinking about CAS opportunities. While the idea I have now is not that specific, it’s a start that was only possible through listening to Ms. Irvine talk about different universities, thinking of my accomplishments and shortcomings, interacting with the alumni and thinking of CAS opportunities for me to make a mark on society.

If you cannot explain something, you do not know it.

When two or more parties disagree with each other, there is an assumption that one of  parties involved is wrong and the other is right. However this is technically not the case, because there is another possibility where both parties could be correct in there statements. This is because while some topics may have definitive and irrefutable facts, other topics are more conceptual and do not have right or wrong answers. One example is in literature where a word could mean two completely different things to two different people, and this is due to how the person is raised and what experiences they have. Furthermore, the ideas or facts that people use to support their ideas are based on what the person knows, or at least what the person thinks they know. Therefore if one person argues that god is real and another person argues that god is simply a human construct based on faith in a higher power, both arguments could still technically be correct since the arguments are based on what the people think are irrefutable facts. Which in turn suggests that being ‘right’ does not matter what the larger community states is ‘right’, it only matters what the individual thinks is right to make an individual’s opinion right.

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