Knowledge of the Knower Topic 1: knowledge and the knower

October 6, 2021 06:04 PM
Study time
Oct 6, 2021

Lesson 2 - What is Knowledge

Defining knowledge ~ 5 minutes

justified, true belief, although there are limitations to this definition

Problems encountering the questioning of knowledge

Their seems to be no ultimate answer of knowledge to me. Knowledge means the answering of thinking, but answers may also be wrong. SO an it then still be seen as knowledge? That is my issue.

Justified, true belive

In order for information to be knowledge, Sokrates described its definition to be justified and a true belive. The encountering problem is that humanity may never know for sure if something is actually true, or just an wrong, maybe even simulated idea.

Defining belief, truth and an Opinion

A belief. Is a piece of information that is perceived to be true by an individual.
Truth is the origin to an answer.
AN opinion is an ??
notion image
The diagram shows that…
The diagram accurately reflects…
The diagram fails to represent…

Arguing this simulation

Homework – Preparation for next lesson ~ 30 minutes.

Watch the TED talk, linked to below. Afterwards, write a brief (150 word maximum) reflection in your TOK journal on what you consider to be the key points from the video about where our knowledge comes from. https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_the_pattern_behind_self_deception
Everybody wants to believe. And believe is Natural . Throughout time humans developed the instinct in rather postive, or negative believe. The belief of the presence of a lion in the grass may only be an illusion created by wind, therefore a negative error. However, by making certain, evolution keeps us alive. Michael Shermer also describes the idea of beliving as a natural instinct, that people are comfortable with using, unlike certainties as proof. It is easy. The more we believe, the more we find “connected dots” in that field, helping us then turn hypothesies into either proof or disprove. Believe is what keeps us humans evolving

Lesson 3 – How do we acquire knowledge?

Sources of knowledge

As knowers, the knowledge that we possess comes from a wide variety of different sources. Some of these sources allow us to generate our own knowledge and some of them communicate the knowledge of others. Some sources are more reliable than others and we should always be ready to question the reliability of a source of knowledge. Do we trust the author of the source? Has it been created with a particular agenda? Might they be trying to mislead us? Are our powers of observation infallible? Do we require more justification? Are they presenting opinion as fact?
Thinking critically about our sources of knowledge is an essential skill for TOK students, for academia more generally and in everyday life. It also an essential part of the methodologies of the Areas of Knowledge (AoK) that we will explore later in the course.

Student Task 2 ~ 10 minutes

The list below shows a range of possible sources for our knowledge. The box below represents a continuum from reliable to unreliable. Sort the list of sources along the continuum based on where you think that they sit. Be prepared to justify your choices to the class.
Our senses – such as sight, sound, touch etc.
Text books
News articles
Our own reasoning
Historical texts
Scientific experiments
Religious texts/teachings
Social media

Sorting questions

By sorting questions we can radically devide and make sense of them
First order question:
Where was the Magna Carta signed?
Higher Order questions:
Why was Runnymede chosen as the location for the signing of Magna Carta?
Knowledge questions:
To what extent is our interpretation of historical events influenced by our experiences in the present?
Where was the versailles ready signed
What occasions lead to the treatment
Were economical sanctions and the distribution of land fairly distributed and legit?
A knowledge question:
is about knowledge. It is about how knowledge is produced, acquired, shared and used. It is about what knowledge is and what it isn’t. It about who does and doesn’t possess certain types of knowledge. It is not about subject-specific content.
is contestable. There are multiple plausible answers to knowledge questions. They are open. There is no single ‘right’ answer
draws on TOK concepts and terminology. They don’t use subject-specific terminology but rather draw on concepts such as evidence, perspective, justification etc.

Student Task 3 ~ 15 minutes

notion image
The table below shows examples of simple, first-order, subject-specific questions, higher-order subject-specific questions and knowledge questions. The questions are related to each other but are interrogating the topic at different levels.
Read through the exemplar questions and then try to devise your own questions to fill in the blanks in the table. This is a challenging task this early in the course, so do not be surprised if you find this difficult. Take the time to really read the exemplars and identify the differences between the different levels of question before you try to write your own. You can refer back to this exercise later in the course as a way of gauging your progress in asking TOK questions and interrogating materials.

Homework – TOK journal ~ 15 minutes

Write a brief reflection on the content of this lesson in your TOK journal. Use the prompts below to help.
Journal prompts
Why is it important to question sources of knowledge?
How are knowledge questions different to other types of question? Lesson 4 – What is a ‘good reason’ for us to accept a claim?

Lesson 4 – What is a ‘good reason’ for us to accept a claim?

Student Task 1 ~ 10 minutes


The nature of justification

Our justifications for believing or thinking certain things can come in many different forms. We might justify our decision making based on intuition or we might arrive at a decision or a piece of knowledge as a result of reason. We might justify our beliefs by appealing to authority or because they are in line with the majority view point. We might present evidence to justify your thoughts. Some of these justifications are more rational than others and some are perhaps more convincing than others. Some of them will be more or less convincing depending on the context. Appealing to an authority figure might be more convincing if they are well-renowned in that particular area. Appealing to the majority view point might be more convincing in support of ethical decisions than it is for scientific claims. “For a belief to be reasonable there should be some positive evidence in support of it.” (Lagemaat, 2015. p.13) This implies that it is not reasonable to believe something to be true without evidence. This means that just because you haven’t proven something isn’t true, that doesn’t necessarily make it reasonable to believe that it is. Although we require positive evidence to support a claim, this is only valid if we have looked for and considered both positive and negative evidence for a claim. Only selecting the evidence that supports your claim and ignoring anything to the contrary is known as confirmation bias. Another important criterion for deciding whether it is reasonable to believe something is coherence; whether or not it fits within our current understanding. This does not mean that we aren’t open to new ideas, but it does mean that the more surprising a new idea is, then the stronger the evidence base needs to be to justify our change in thought. It is important to consider whether or not something is a ‘good reason’ for us to accept a claim if we are to be critical thinkers and to not be gullible, believing everything we are told. It is also important to provide justification when we are presenting our ideas. This has real world consequences. For example, a former chief executive of an international tobacco company claimed that cigarettes are no more addictive than gummy bears (Lagemaat, 2015.p.15). Accepting this claim without questioning its justification would result in people potentially making decisions that would actively cause them harm.

Lesson 5 – What shapes my perspective as a knower?

We as individuals all possess a different body of knowledge. There will be overlaps between individuals in terms of what they know, but, it might be reasonable to assume, that no two of us have exactly the same body of knowledge. We can refer to this as our personal knowledge. Your personal knowledge is comprised of (Lagemaat, 2015. p.44):
Academic knowledge – Your understanding of academic subjects from school, personal reading and research, etc.
Informal knowledge – Your store of second-hand facts, trivia, cultural knowledge, local knowledge, etc.
Experiential knowledge – Your knowledge that has come from your own personal experiences and acquaintance, practical knowledge, etc.
Secret knowledge – Experiential knowledge that you choose not to share
Incommunicable knowledge – Experiential knowledge that you are unable to share Looking at this list, we can start to see how different factors will shape and influence the personal knowledge that we each possess.
Our personal knowledge is one factor that shapes our perspective as a knower. The differences in our personal knowledge can sometimes explain why it is that we have different opinions to other people, why we don’t always reach the same conclusions as others even when presented with the same evidence, why we can struggle to predict how others will behave, respond or think, why we hold certain biases and prejudices etc. Most of us will have given little thought to the factors that are shaping our perspective on the world, but as critical thinkers it is important that we strive to become aware of these if we are to be able to effectively evaluate our thinking and arguments and become better at presenting a more objective analysis of the world.

Homework – TOK and tell ~ 30 minutes

The aim of this activity is encourage you to start thinking about TOK in your other subjects and to encourage you to collect material from your other subjects that might be relevant for discussion in TOK.
Identify a specific example of something that you have studied in one of your other subjects that illustrates one of the key TOK concepts. You can think back to GCSE if you need to as it is still early in the IB course.
Produce a 30 second speech to give to the class at the start of your next lesson describing what you have chosen, which of the key TOK concepts it illustrates and a brief explanation of how it illustrates this concepts.
Record your contribution in your TOK journal.
Key TOK concept: CERTAINTY Specific example: Measurements in science are given with a quoted uncertainty, such as length = 0.40 ± 0.01 m. Explanation: This shows that our ability to observe and measure the world has certain practical limitations. Consequently, this means that our knowledge of the world is inherently uncertain. I cannot measure the length of an object with 100% certainty. More generally, this might imply that our ability to produce certain knowledge is limited by our ability to observe and the way in which we interact with the world.
Key TOK concept: EVIDENCE Specific example: Richard the Lionheart was killed after an arrow wound to the shoulder went gangrenous. In different sources, the killer is named Pierre Basile, John Sabroz, Dudo and Bertrand de Gourdon and may have been a man or a boy. Explanation: This shows that our ability to study history can be limited by the availability of reliable sources. Being able to construct an historical narratives requires evidence to support it. Limited or contradictory evidence and sources limit our ability to develop historical knowledge.
Key TOK concept: POWER Specific example: Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his view that Copernicus’ heliocentric model was the correct model of the solar system by the Roman inquisition. Explanation: The knowledge that we are able to access and to share is, in some circumstances, controlled and influence by people in positions of power. The government decides what must be taught in schools, religious groups can decide what knowledge can or can’t be pursued. Consequently, the knowledge that we are able to gain is affected by certain powerful individuals.

Lesson 6 – TOK in other DP subjects

TOK in other DP subjects

The subject guides for all of your DP subjects can be accessed through the Subject Centre on ManageBac. If you are not sure how to do this, then ask your teacher. Each subject guide includes references and links to TOK. These can be useful for students looking for examples from their subjects to support their ideas in TOK and also useful to see how TOK discussions fit within the scope of your other DP subjects. Although, due to time constraints, these are not often explored in your other subjects, they do form an important part of the wider study and development of these subjects. As the TOK and tell activity highlights, material from your other DP subjects can provide useful material for discussion and analysis in TOK and can provide specific examples to support your arguments in TOK. Developing your awareness of TOK outside of the TOK classroom will help you to become a better TOK student and will help you to produce better TOK assessments later in the course.
Read your teacher’s feedback on your written task from lesson 4 carefully. Use this to help you to produce a revised version of your response, which you will submit for further feedback.

Lesson 7 – The perspectives of others

Class Task 1 – TOK and tell ~ 15 minutes

We will watch the remaining TOK and tell briefings and provide constructive feedback to the students delivering them.
How do you think that the points made in the video affect our ability to empathise with or understand the perspectives of others? Discuss in pairs and be prepared to justify your thoughts with the class.
To what extent is it possible to truly understand the perspective of others without having had the same experiences? Are there some cultural concepts that cannot be fully understood if you are not part of that culture?

Homework – TOK in other DP subjects ~ 15 minutes

Look up the Subject Guide or the text book for one of your DP subjects and find a TOK question in there that interests you. Find a time before the next TOK lesson to put the question to your subject teacher and make notes on their response. Record your question and your notes on your teacher’s response in your TOK journal.

Lesson 8 – The ethics of knowing

“With great power comes great responsibility”
This quote is probably most well-known from the Spiderman comics/films, although its first use in the comic books was not by any character but instead in a narrative caption (Cronin, 2015). However the origins of the quote pre-date the spider man comics and the phrase or similar phrases have been used by Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and a similar phrase appears in a collection of decrees made by the French National Convention in 1793 (O’Toole, 2015). It is also similar in theme to a passage in the New International Version of the Bible. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Biblica, 2020). The idea of those who have more of something having increased responsibility is a well-documented theme across many areas of society and in the quotes above we can see how this is applied with increased wealth, social status, positions of influence, national responsibility and supernatural radioactive spider given powers. However, does it also apply to those that possess more knowledge?

Are there responsibilities that necessarily come with knowing something or knowing how to do something?

Under what circumstances, if any, do we have a moral obligation to share what we know?

As an individual, consider the list of hypothetical scenarios below. For each one, decide whether the person has a moral obligation to share what they know and justify/explain how you arrived at your decision. Afterwards, you will compare your responses with another student and discuss why you may have arrived at similar or contrasting ethical judgments. A teacher is praising a student for their good test performance but you know that the student cheated on the test.

Practice Written Task 1 ~ 60 minutes

“To what extent do we need evidence to support our beliefs?”

At the end of each topic you will complete a practice written task to help you to practice the skills that you are learning and the skills that you will need for your TOK assessed essay. These practice tasks will increase in complexity as the course progresses and will allow you to track your progress and skill development towards the assessed essay. Each assessment should be completed to the best of your ability and not left until the last minute if the feedback that you receive is to help you to progress. Before you start each written task, read the guidance carefully and make sure that you have understood exactly what is being asked of you. Each task will focus on developing different combinations of the skills that you will need for the essay, so make sure that you are aware of what the focus is for the task that you are doing.
In this first task, the focus is on presenting different points of view in response to the title and exploring this with specific examples. You are being assessed on your ability to explore the given question and to produce a clear and coherent response. It is recommended that you produce a brief plan before you start to write. Written Task Question
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Word limit – 400 words. Present a point of view in response to the title, such as “evidence is important to support our beliefs in science.” Justify this point of view using a specific example from your DP science lessons or that you learnt at GCSE. Explore how this specific example supports the point of view. Present a contrasting point of view, such as “there are some beliefs that cannot be supported by physical evidence.” Justify this point of view using a specific example from your studies. Explore how this specific example supports the point of view.
Compare the two points of view and answer the question, justifying the position that you have taken. Presentation and submission guidance Size 12 font, double spaced. Question at the top of the page. Word count at the top of the page. Submitted on time. If the task is not submitted on Google Classroom (if this is what the teacher requests) then the file name must contain your name and Practice Written Task 1. When you submit your essay, use the assessment criteria below to predict what mark you think it will receive and explain why. Assessment criteria The task will be marked out of 6 for content and out of 4 for presentation.