TOK: Discussing the quote “Without the group to verify it, knowledge is not possible” in the context of The Arts

by 042690 on November 20, 2017

In art, we can have types of knowledge such as moral, conceptual and aesthetic knowledge. Moral knowledge shows us why something is to believed as true or ‘correct’ and helps us inform whether something is right or wrong, or whether it is justified or unjustified. Art can help us develop our conceptual knowledge as well as it can allow us to build a better picture of the world beyond what we interact with everyday, as it allows us to connect different concepts in our daily lives. Aesthetic knowledge can help us deepen our experience of the world, or give us a feeling/appreciation of beauty.

The role of the ‘group’ (generally deemed to be society) does allow for the verification of knowledge (making it shared knowledge). One could say that the group does play an important role in the pursuit of knowledge. It does depend on what type of group it is, but let’s take a group of art experts who are widely respected throughout the art community as an example. If they were to make a claim and attempt to say that this type of an artwork is not an art, many would believe them immediately. There would be some who might still hold their own opinion that it is art, but many would agree with these artists. Why? Because they  are high-up in the art society’s hierarchy, and having this status commands them respect and adds weight to what they are saying. Because they believe that this piece of an artwork is not truly art, and they are such experts on the subject, they must be right. This would provide shared knowledge in arts as everyone many would come to the same opinion that these experts have, making it the  ‘truth’.

The group in this hypothetical scenario are people with a great deal of knowledge in a specific field and the main role of someone who is an ‘industry-leader’ is to make important decisions and talk about knowledge that has been produced in that particular field. As an expert, the profound experience they have gained within that area  allows them to be proficient in the act of identifying patterns, trends, and predictions. Hence, in the field of art, it gives them the ‘ability’ to judge a work of art based on ‘standards’ that they themselves have set. However, a question that comes out of this claim is that: “must an art piece meet certain ‘standards’ set by people with a great deal of knowledge and experience in the field of art before the public considers to be knowledge relating to art? And if yes, what are the standards in this context and won’t they differ from person to person based on experiences and emotions?

A counter claim is that the group plays no role in the verification of knowledge and that the group is not required to verify knowledge in order for it to be considered to be true. Art allows us to gain personal knowledge through the way we interpret different pieces of art. Society cannot dictate the way we interpret art because we all have the potential to interpret artwork differently based on our experiences. One could say that shared knowledge cannot be gained from the arts and as a result there is nothing for the group to verify, but the individual has still gained something for themselves (some form of knowledge whether it is conceptual, moral etc). The group has no right to identify what is art and what is not art and the group also has no right to verify personal knowledge as it is different for each individual.

One could also say that despite art being fairly subjective, people can agree a similar interpretation/develop a similar understanding  based on their collective experiences. As a result, there is no group in the production of knowledge and no one to verify what is considered to be right or wrong because in art, there is no such thing. The shared knowledge gained in art is knowledge that is shared by those who have similar understandings and interpretations which therefore form a group of people, but they are in no place to say if other knowledge is true or not.


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