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.


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