TOK Reflection: Human Science Research Task

In our most recent TOK lesson, we were given a photo of a volcanic eruption and tasked to come up with a research question, hypothesis and research methodology looking at the photo from the lens of natural science and human science. The research question that I developed that related to natural science looked more specifically at the tectonic movements that triggered the event and focused on the effect on soil fertility and future tectonic movements in the region affected, whereas the research question related to human science looks at the social implications of the disaster, as well as the economic effects of the eruption.

The data collected to answer the natural scientific research question would be solely factual and based on measurements of changes soil fertility, tectonic measurements and other forms of objective data collection which would provide scientists with information about the cause and effect of the disaster on the natural world. The reliability of this information would be based on the ability of the scientists to control variables set out before the conducting of their experiments. The certainty again relies on the methods of collection and the ability of a carefully followed scientific method to provide objective and accurate results. Data collected from the perspective of a human scientist would look at information based on polls of the population which relate to the economic and social impacts of the disaster, and would also look at formal population and economic statistics from before and after the eruption to make a judgment about the extent of the disaster. The reliability of this data is reliant on researchers collecting information from a large proportion of the population in order to eliminate the effect of outliers on conclusions made.

TOK Reflection: Math Scope

We have now moved on from looking at the arts in TOK to looking at how TOK can be applied to the area of knowledge of mathematics. In our first math TOK lesson, we looked at how we could define math in a way that would work in the realm of theory of knowledge, as well as looking at math in general and comparing our TOK approach to math with how we approached the are of knowledge of the arts. For this reflection, we have been provided with several prompts, many of which are based on a TEDx video about intuition and creativity in math.

The first prompt is to distinguish the differences between a conjecture and theorem. A conjecture would be defined as an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information, and therefore could be considered similar to taking an educated guess.A theorem is a statement that has been proved based on previously established statements. An example of a commonly known and used theorem would be the Pythagorean theorem of right angle triangles.

The second prompt for this reflection is to distinguish what the speaker in the ted talk provided means when he states that maths dominates intuition and tames creativity. I believe that by this he means that math relies heavily on one’s intuition in the solving of problems in this AOK. “Taming creativity” could mean that creativity is applied in mathematics in a carefully measured sense. Mathematics is a discipline that has many rules that must be followed and therefore one’s curiosity cannot roam free when solving mathematical problems and must be tamed in a sense that you are following the rules set. The next prompt related to the TED talk video is related to the claim made in the TED talk that “maths is eternal” and whether this gives maths a privileged position in TOK. I believe that this does not give maths a privileged position in TOK as many of the AOKs such as art and natural sciences are eternal as well, and as long as there is human existence these areas of knowledge will exist.



TOK Reflection: Map Like vs Story Like Knowledge

I this past TOK class we examined map like and story like knowledge, and how these two types of knowledge relate to the areas of knowledge of science and the arts. Map like knowledge uses equations, formulas, or more quantitative knowledge, while story like knowledge is obtained using qualitative knowledge such as tales and parables. The prompt for this reflection regarding these two types of knowledge is “Knowledge in the arts is clearly story-like whereas knowledge in natural science is clearly map-like.”

I would agree that scientific knowledge is more map like then knowledge in the arts. Natural Science disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and biology, which we study in school, often require formulas to be applied to come to conclusions/find solutions, which is a characteristic of map like knowledge. Also, knowledge and information in science in most cases is testable, another characteristic of map like knowledge. Testability is a characteristic of map like knowledge as map like knowledge makes reference to maps, which can be tested by going over the same terrain multiple times. False theories in disciplines that follow map like knowledge can also be disproven by a single finding.

Knowledge in the arts would in most cases be story like knowledge, mainly because it is extremely difficult to quantify knowledge in this area of knowledge. It is also very hard to critique art, as everyone has different interpretations of the meaning behind art pieces, and also have different preferences in art, whether it be different preferences in music, visual art or architectural design. This would relate the story like knowledge as claims in story like knowledge are much more difficult to prove wrong, because they deal with unique persons.

TOK Reflection: Arts and Truth

Our task for this post-class TOK reflection is to read over three texts, two of which are short essays, summarize the points of these texts and to answer the prompt “How do both of these essays reflect what is presented in chapter reading about truth in art?” In our most recent TOK class, we were looking at truth in art, and how we could define art using more descriptive statements, as opposed to saying something like “art is objective” which is extremely broad. We also continued to compare art with science, particularly in how we define or describe each area of knowledge. 

The essay “Art and Truth”, which was given to us as one of the prompts for this reflection, covers the thesis “Though not traditionally a major topic within aesthetics, the relationship between truth and works of art is of considerable interest in the context of Theory of Knowledge.” This essay analyses the claim that art can convey truth by examining hat society believes are the roles of artists, giving examples of different artworks that have been created, and outlying the motivations behind these works and how these motivations relate to the roles of artists in general. It also talks about common perspectives on different “genres” of art, such as photography.

The second essay we were assigned to read, “The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth: The Merits of Art versus Science”. This essay lists significant literary texts throughout history and discusses the theme of “truth” in each of these texts. Some of the books that are featured are “Night” by Elie Wiesel, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and Shakespeares “Macbeth”. It then contrasts truth and the meaning behind literature with painted artworks by artists such as Picasso. It also talks about truth in art in relation to truth in different areas of knowledge such as history and science.

Both texts look at truth in an untraditional way, talking about how truth in literature and painted art, for example, is very different from conventional truth, or what we may think of as truth if not putting much thought towards it. One interesting part of the chapter reading that relates to some of the points brought up in both essays is the idea of “human truth”. The reading used Shakespeare’s”Macbeth as an example of how art can display human truth. It talks about how the words in Macbeth impact the audience and describe this impact as speaking a “deep and vitally human truth”. A key takeaway from both of the essays that I had was that art can display literal truth, but often other “forms” of truth feature as well, giving more meaning and depth to how we view truth especially in the area of knowledge of art, which is one that can be viewed as quite abstract and generally difficult to interpret.


TOK Reflection: The Arts

In our most recent TOK class we were looking at the area of knowledge of Art for the first time formally, and discussing what we believe is art, and how does one determine is art, more specifically what is good art. For this classes’ I folio reflection, we have been tasked with choosing a claim and first outlining, then an argument for and against this specific claim. The claim that I have chosen is “Unlike The Arts, Science tells us something valuable about the world.” 

Science offers far more to humanity in terms of the knowledge that it gives us when compared to art, as scientific information helps us understand abstract concepts about the world, of which without we would not have power, the internet, or any other modern inventions. Science and scientific knowledge helps us to understand so many different aspects of the world, and science can be applied not only to subjects viewed as natural science such as physics, chemistry and biology, but also to topics such as engineering or even economics in some ways. Although art may be able to tells us things about the world, such as giving unique perspectives about the scientific world, it is much less influential than science when it comes to inventions that help to improve quality of life for people around the world.

Although art may may not have as much influence on inventions or assist our understanding of the natural world as much as science does, it does play a role in developing our understanding of the human world. Art helps one develop their conceptual knowledge, such as understanding our emotions and the effect of our emotions on others, as well as our moral knowledge, or ability to judge what is right and what is wrong. It can also help with furthering ones aesthetic knowledge, and the ability to see patterns and relationships between objects. These among other types of knowledge all would work together in making someone a more open minded and knowledgeable individual, therefore with no doubt enhancing our knowledge of the world and especially of human interaction.

TOK Reflection: Facts and Theories in Natural Science

In our most recent TOK class we discussed the ideas of bias and problems with observation in the realm of natural science. For this reflection, we were given two readings related to the development of knowledge and to bias and observation to look over in order to assist with our response to the prompt “science is objective and descriptive, while the arts are creative and interpretive”.

This claim is one that is quite difficult to analyze because science and art are such large topics, with many different disciplines fitting under each. I believe that in the case of science, scientists attempt to be both objective and descriptive, however, in reality, there are many factors that could influence the way that scientists observe and make conclusions, including observations of past scientist, the views of the greater scientific community, or the religious/cultural views of the scientist. It is extremely difficult in any situation to remain completely objective while being able to make conclusions that will lead to descriptive and insightful analysis. However in comparison to the area of knowledge of art science is definitely more objective, and in-depth or descriptive. Although there are certainly art pieces that could be seen as objective, or things considered art that is objective, the majority of artworks either embody the views or emotions of the artist or in some cases is trying to bring attention to an event or movement. Also, art in many ways is interpretive and not structured, so I would say that I would agree with what the claim says that are is “creative and interpretive”. However science in some aspects could also be creative and interpretive, and art could be objective and descriptive, so I would say that although I agree with both statements, I believe that they don’t only apply to each specific area of knowledge.

TOK Reflection: Science vs Pseudoscience

In our last TOK class we discussed the differences between science and pseudoscience, more specifically what subjects can be and cannot be defined as being scientific, and which we would consider pseudoscientific subjects. For example, we compared subjects such as astronomy and astrology, and what differs these two fields of study, and which we could consider to actually be scientific. The prompt for this reflection is to analyze the claim “it is unsurprising when we hear that experts in Art can’t always agree what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ Art. We might say that the distinction between what ‘is’, and what ‘is not’ art, is not always clear. Similar to the question of what is art, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is also not clear.

I would say that in the case of science versus pseudoscience, the distinction between the two is reliant on a few factors, one of the most important being how you define science, or more specifically the AOK of natural science, as this is open to many different interpretations. The definition of natural science is debatable, as is what can be considered natural or pseudoscience. In my opinion, pseudoscience differs from science as although it may appear to be scientific, is mistaken to have followed the steps of the scientific process, in relation to how information is gathered and discoveries are made in thiese disciplines. I believe that in order to decipher between topics that are scientific and pseudoscientific, it is important to state how you define each term, in order to make it clear of what the criteria for each of these two topics.

TOK Class Reflection: Intro to Natural Science

In the previous TOK class, we looked at the area of knowledge of Natural Science. The prompt for this reflection is “Reflecting on our discussions in class, and with inspiration from the TED video (that we were given to watch), what distinguishes Natural Science from other AOKs?.

I believe that natural science is distinguished from other AOKs by how controversial this area of knowledge is. So many ideas and findings in this AOK, as well as the actual definition of Natural Science, can be debatable and open to the interpretations of different people around the world. In our class, we did an activity where we debated whether a particular statement was applicable to the realm of natural science. Initially, much of us were divided on each statement mainly because we were all defining natural science in different ways, therefore meaning that to each of us different aspects of the world applied to natural science than others in the class thought. I think that natural science is such a controversial and debatable area of knowledge mainly because we can in most cases never be 100% certain that our discoveries or ideas are correct because it is very difficult to confirm things such as collision theory as the reactions take place between such tiny molecules. Also, in the past, what has been considered as the correct idea or understanding of different phenomena of natural science has been based on the popular opinion of those at that time in history. For example, when Charles Darwin first came up with his theory of evolution he got a lot of criticism because everything he was saying contradicted the popular belief of how we and the rest of the animals on earth became how we are today.

TOK Reflection: Faith and Intuition

During today’s TOK class we looked at the WOKs (Ways of knowing) of faith and intuition, and for the majority of the class discussed the question “should faith be considered a way of knowing”. For this reflection, we have been tasked to discuss faith and intuition as WOKs, and provide an outline for the limitations of each as WOKs and also an outline justifying their inclusion as WOKs.

A limitation of faith as a way of knowing would be that everyone has their own individual perspectives, meaning that most people have different interpretations of what faith is exactly, or different beliefs and place their faith in different ideologies. This could cause biases when issues such as conflict of religious interests are being discussed. Many people put their faith in different religions, and they usually believe strongly in the ideologies of the religion that they follow, therefore being biased towards what their religion believes rather than looking at the positives of another idea or trend. A limitation of intuition as a way of knowing would be that often ones intuition can lead to them carrying out a selfish act, as one can argue that intuition can be thought of as the instinct of self-preservation.

This next paragraph will be working to justify faith and intuition as ways of knowing. A justification for faith as a way of knowing is that without it, much of the area of knowledge of religion would be hard to comprehend. Also, we often put our faith into the people that come up with scientific ideas, as we usually have not experienced the phenomenon that they discovered, and therefore put our faith in them as we are believing that their descriptions of these phenomena are how they actually take place. To justify intuition as a way of knowing, I would say that intuition is almost the shorter term representation of faith, and therefore without faith, intuition would also not be able to be viewed as a way of knowing, for the same reasons as described previously in this paragraph.