January 17

Political Being

Do you consider yourself to be “political”? Why or why not? 

I would consider myself “political” because I am incredibly interested in politics related subjects. In particular, I am politically aware of things that are happening around us. I read the news every morning to catch up on any new information; I hold opinions on abortion, women’s rights, human rights, etc. I am also comfortable speaking out and standing up for my views. Furthermore, I’ve also been involved in MUN for the past five years, where I partake in conferences to discuss global issues worldwide. Although MUN is a “Model” UN where our resolutions would not be implemented or considered by the UN whatsoever; however, conferences like this make me more globally and politically aware of the issues around us.

 

What does it mean to be political? 

I think that being political means both acting and thinking politically. People act politically by being directly involved in political decision-making, such as being active in a party or a public effective or proactive group. We think politically by being well informed with the political state, holding an opinion, and sharing individual perspectives on some issues.

 

Is everything political? Why or why not?

I think that everything is political; there is no way to escape politics. As mentioned before, being political doesn’t always have to be directly involved in a country’s government or public affairs; rather, it can also be people’s thoughts and opinions. Everyone has a stance on specific subjects; everyone has a position on the political compass. Additionally, some may argue that they are not political because they are simply not interested in politics. However, I believe that is not a sufficient excuse for them not to be political. Those who are not interested are political in the sense that they grant others the ability to do whatever they wish with politics. They demonstrate their political side by merely allowing others to carry out political actions. Politics is all around us: the system we live in, the laws we follow, the frontiers, the people in government, etc. They are there and make the rules for everyone; they affect us even when we choose not to engage.

 

How important do you feel it is to be aware of what is going on in politics?

I think that political awareness is crucial. As mentioned in my responses to the previous questions, politics affect everyone; it dictates everything around us. You may think that certain politics may not affect you directly, but it is undoubtedly changing the very future of the people around you, ultimately affecting you as an individual. Therefore, politics keeps you accountable, both for yourself and for everyone else. Saying that they don’t care about politics is as if they’re saying, “ignorance is not bliss.” It is the highest form of selfishness. Understanding politics, harnessing the simple notion of carrying about what’s going on in the world, is how human beings can feel for one another.

 

What are the political issues that you believe are most important right now, and why?

In my opinion, the most important political issues are the US elections and the trade war between China and the US. The US elections are critical because, though it is the US presidential election; however, in a globally interconnected world, the result of this election could potentially affect all of us. For countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea, a Biden victory would likely result in closer scrutiny of their human rights records and military actions. Whereas in Iran, many are hoping for a Biden victory since it would introduce a new nuclear deal and relief from the crippling sanctions that Trump introduced. Whoever wins, there are plenty of pressing challenges that require international cooperation, and the leader of one of the major powers, the US, is of vital importance.

The trade war between China and the US is crucial due to multiple reasons. First of all, my family and I currently live in China; therefore, the process and results of the trade war could directly affect our lives. Secondly, the trade war could significantly weaken the global economy. Both China and the US are major economic powers in the global financial system. The trade dispute has diminished trade flows between the US and China, which could, in turn, present both challenges and opportunities for other countries.

 

January 11

Semester 1 Blog Post

  1. During the first semester, we considered knowledge questions related to “Knowledge and the Knower” and “Knowledge and Technology.” Looking back, what learning engagements stand out to you the most and why?

I definitely think that the activities we did for “The Ways of Knowing” class were really engaging and exciting. Furthermore, through experiencing each way of knowing myself, I could determine the benefits and drawbacks of each learning method. Those activities helped me enhance my understanding of the different ways of knowing and served as a fun way to secure my knowledge. I genuinely enjoyed going around each station within the classroom and getting to explore each way of knowing.

 

  1. In what ways, if any, has your perspective shifted as a result of your participation in this course so far?

So far, my perspective regarding the use of technology as a means to acquire knowledge has shifted. Before taking TOK, I always thought that technology is a potent and useful tool. Even though I was aware that many stakeholders and people watched our everyday movements, I thought that wouldn’t be a problem if you’re not doing anything wrong. However, after learning the previous unit, I realized the different ways technology could manipulate people’s minds. The newly acquired knowledge allowed me to re-evaluate technology’s role in my learning experience.

 

  1. Looking ahead to the exhibition requirement, what do you want to keep in mind?

Firstly, I need to make sure to explain what the image is and its real-world context (where and how you used it). Then, include very clear and well-explained links between the object and the prompt question. Furthermore, during the planning of the mini TOK exhibition, I struggled to come up with any meaningful items to display. Therefore, I think I will start keeping a log of possible interesting “objects” (TOK material) for my exhibition when I’m tackling the TOK themes in the future. These objects should have a particular context that is meaningful and has a real-world context in the world as it is.

 

  1. Thinking back on the writing you have done so far in the course, what can you do to continue to hone your skills?

To continue to hone my skills, I think I will have to explain how the evidence I found supports my claim more clearly. In all my writings, I always feel that my explanation is vague and does not directly corroborate my main argument. Therefore, I will definitely put and dedicate more effort in this particular area in my future writings.

 

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November 3

Technology and Knowledge

  • What tools did they use when they were going to school to learn and/or to produce knowledge?

My mom shared with me about her childhood experience. She didn’t have any electronic device we now have the privilege to access (computers, phones, etc.). The only tools she could utilize to acquire knowledge would be books, radio, and television (yes, my mom’s family was fortunate enough to buy one).

 

  • What were their experiences in school like, and how do they compare with your own?

My mom said back in her days, they only used physical textbooks. The teachers would use white chalk and blackboard to write down important notes. The only technology they used in school was the radio since it was used for their English listening test. In contrast, nowadays, I only bring my laptop and iPad to school since most of my textbooks and notebooks are digital. Instead of using old traditional chalk and blackboard, my teachers use whiteboard and projectors. Technology and digital devices definitely play a crucial role in my learning experience.

My mom always thinks that I don’t go out enough. I am constantly brainwashed by her childhood stories where she’d go on adventures (aka hide-and-seek) with her friends outside or go “communicate” and “talk” with ants because she was just too bored. She’d leave the house early in the morning and come back when it was time for lunch; then she’d head out again. To conclude, she was never home. In contrast, my life is pretty much the exact opposite. Most of the time, I would stay home and either go on my phone or my laptop. I communicate with my friends mostly via social media apps.

 

  • Implications for the development of personal and shared knowledge

Back then, knowledge can only be shared among students by exchanging class notes. This was limited as information could only be shared and accessed by two people simultaneously. But nowadays, knowledge and information can be shared with a large group of people in a very short amount of time via social media platforms. Knowledge can be easily accessed, but this also poses various problems.

We embrace technology so readily because it allows us to access shared knowledge without producing our own personal knowledge. When my mom encountered a problem or a question she didn’t know how to do, she had to go over her class notes or textbook, ask the teachers, or other means that allowed her to be an active thinker, producing her own personal knowledge. However, our generation doesn’t face that problem at all. When we have questions we don’t know how to answer, we go online. We rely on Google, Mathisfun, or Schmoop for answers, reducing our own personal knowledge production.

Furthermore, technology shapes our perspectives. My mom’s generation practiced independent thinking, because they weren’t always brainwashed or bombarded by outside perspectives. Therefore, they could formulate their own personal views. On the other hand, it is fair to say that our perspectives are brought about through technology and not through other things like human nature or interactions.

October 27

Ignorance is Bliss Debate Reflection

Motion: Ignorance is bliss

Affirmative side arguments:

Ignorance allows for sustainable bliss. They also assumed that ignorant people were already in a state of satisfaction and content, or otherwise considered, bliss. Therefore, they will remain in bliss unless intruded by an outside force, such as knowledge. Knowledge disrupts the state of bliss; hence, ignorance fails to keep people in the state of bliss.

 

Negative side arguments:

Firstly, people do not begin in a state of bliss, rather, they need to be acted upon by an outside force to get into a state of bliss in the first place. Ignorance only allows for short term bliss but cannot account for sustainable bliss. Ignoring and neglecting the problem doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. Hence, if everyone is ignorant of others’ pain, they cannot help them to overcome it. Ignorance may seem like bliss to an individual, but in reality, it is pain to the society as a whole. Finally, man is a thinking animal. Knowledge directs our actions and enables us to find the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. It helps us overcome dangers and make rational decisions. This is what separates us from animals and other beings.

 

Results:

Overall, it was really hard for me to judge who the winner was because I do think that both sides had strengths and weaknesses. I expected it to be a definition debate; however, I was disappointed, since both sides’ definitions were inconsistent throughout the debate. But logically, I do think that the negative side had stronger arguments. However, maybe it was because the affirmative side had better presentation, thus, the audience and judges would feel compelled to vote for them. But again, I was part of the negative team, so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t biased.

 

My opinion:

In my opinion, I have to say I agree with the negative side and believe that ignorance is not bliss. The arguments I have to support my claim are similar to the ones I mentioned in class during the debate. Ignorance is defined as the lack of knowledge or information. I believe that ignorance can get us nowhere. Development depends on knowledge and the acknowledgement of the flaws around us. In fact, I believe that ignorance is at the core of all our problems. If we’re unaware of the problems around us, they will never be resolved. Hence, without knowledge, the society will never be able to progress. Furthermore, being well-informed/not ignorant means making better decisions since the pros and cons are carefully weighed. Ignorance may seem like bliss to an individual, but in reality, it is pain to the society as a whole. Therefore, I believe that, overall, ignorance is not bliss.

October 24

Are some ways of knowing more likely to lead to truth?

One important question to investigate before this question can be fully addressed is the nature of truth itself. However, determining what exactly truth is may be more complicated than it initially appears. Up till this point, there is no single definition of truth where every philosopher agrees with. However, a set of fundamental understandings can be derived from centuries of discussions and debates. Truth is a proven or verified statement while being something that corresponds with our own beliefs. Therefore, truth may differ for each person since we all have our own beliefs. Not only does truth vary from human to human, but from different areas as well. The truth in, for example, Math may be different from the truth within the Arts. Because there are distinct truths in various areas of knowing, there are, therefore, some ways of knowing that may lead to the truth within an area of knowledge more accurately than the others. Instead of just focusing on the eight ways of knowing (language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, intuition, memory, and faith), this blog post will also look at the four areas of knowledge (Science, Art, Mathematics, and History), and examine how each of these methods help us lead to truths within each of the areas.

To start, I will briefly talk about each of the ways of knowing. Language is defined as a system of symbols or signs that have a particular meaning. It is always based on specific universal rules. On top of this, language is always intended, meaning that we always intend to send meaning when we use language. Sense perception, on the other hand, is all about how we experience the world around us, using our senses. Emotion is a way to make sense of ideas, experiences, and behaviors. Reason allows us to form knowledge without relying on our senses. We take the knowledge that we already have and then synthesize new knowledge therefrom. We obtain new knowledge through the assimilation of other pieces of knowledge. Imagination is when we form new images, ideas, or concepts that aren’t there in the real world. Intuition is when a knower gets a gut feeling often based on past experiences which cannot be explicitly identified. Memory is when a knower forms new knowledge relying on concepts from past experiences or ideas. Finally, faith is the complete confidence in something based on spiritual conviction.

After grasping basic understandings of each of these ways of knowing, we can then apply them to the areas of knowledge.

In Mathematics, reason is undoubtedly more likely than others to lead to truth. Firstly, Mathematics is founded on a set of more or less universally accepted definitions and fundamental assumptions. It, more than any other area of knowing, depends on deductive reasoning to build knowledge and prove theorems. Equations and formulas aren’t products of our imagination, and we don’t just magically seem them on our dining table either. Rather, they are all derived from proofs that require logical validity. Hence, sense perception and imagination are certainly less crucial than reasoning to help guide us to truth.

Moving on to the Arts, instead of reasoning, sense perception and imagination are more likely to lead to truth. When we think about Art, we often narrow our focus to visual arts such as paintings. Nevertheless, the Arts comprise a much broader scope. Music, theatre production, literature, dance, and film are all disciplines within the arts. Truth within the Arts is subjective, since everyone has different interpretations. As a result, we depend on our sense perceptions. We use our senses to listen to music, observe a painting, appreciate a theatre production, and sometimes even heighten our sense of touch or proprioception. Artworks communicate an idea and appeal to the audience not only through our senses, but also require our imagination. Imagination is essential both for the creation of Art and its interpretation by the audience. Our ability to conceive ideas creatively through Art can lead us to a deeper understanding of the main message of the specific artwork. As a result, imagination and sense perception are the two most important ways of knowing that will help us lead to truth within the Arts discipline.

Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the physical and natural world’s structure and behavior through observation and experiment. In this field, sense perception plays a more crucial role in leading to truth than other ways of knowing. Scientists use the senses to make observations and predict future behavior. Compared to Math, Science is more practical with more hands-on application work. Therefore, in order to consider something as true, we need to perceive it physically. For example, we know the anatomy structure of a human body only because we dissected it and physically saw the different parts and organs. Though other ways of knowing such as reason and imagination are also essential, but observation is the first step of the scientific method, without first perceiving the phenomenon, further investigation and research would not be carried out. This is how conclusions from the Science discipline are usually drawn.

Finally, the last area of knowing we have yet to explore is History. It is an area of knowledge that studies the recorded past. Since we’re discussing and examining issues that happened in the past, memory plays a crucial role. Through memory, people can gain first-hand insight into a specific event from an eyewitness, bystander, etc. For example, we were able to learn and acquire more information about the suffragettes movement through memoirs or interviews conducted with people that were directly involved. We learned about the act of force-feeding from Emily Wilding Davison where she recounted, “In the evening the matron, two doctors, and five or six wardresses entered the cell. The doctor said ‘I am going to feed you by force.’ The scene, which followed, will haunt me with its horror all my life, and is almost indescribable. While they held me flat, the elder doctor tried all round my mouth with a steel gag to find an opening. He pushed in the horrid instrument and prised open my mouth to its widest extent. Then a wardress poured liquid down my throat out of a tin enamelled cup.” Historians could gain a deeper insight into the specific events through primary sources which rely on memory. People’s narration of their experiences or ancient tales passed from generations on to generations helps historians acquire true knowledge.

In conclusion, effective ways of achieving true knowledge differ in different areas of knowledge. The concept of “truth” also varies in different areas of knowledge; for every area, a certain or a couple of ways of knowing is preferred in leading to the truth. Therefore, it is impossible to single out a way of knowing from the entire picture, which is why it is impossible to claim the existence of a single definite way of knowing to explain all of the examples given above.

🙂

September 9

Theory of Knowledge

Hi everyone! 

My name is Kate, and I’m currently 16. I was born in Singapore and came to Beijing when I was around five. I like to dance and spend time with my friends and family.

What do you know for sure? How do you know it?

I know that I’m Kate. I know that 1 + 1 =2; I know that I live in Beijing. I’m sure that the sun will rise every morning. I’m sure that I’m sitting in front of a computer screen right now. I seem to know a lot of things for sure. But how? What mental constructions of reality cause me to believe these things?

I believe that my name is Kate because everyone calls me that. I believe that I live in Beijing because the GPS says so. I believe that the sun will rise in the morning because I believe that the sun rising pattern will repeat itself. But why? How do I know that the series of syllabus others call me resemble Kate? How do I know that everything isn’t just my imagination? How do I know that I even exist?

So at the same time, I know that I don’t know anything for sure. 

My point is that everything I believe I “know” for sure is actually based on my assumptions about reality. They are not undeniable truths because I cannot actually prove or refute those claims. Everything I assert as being a fact is actually based on my constructions and beliefs about reality. My mind makes various assumptions; those that can be testified and corroborated with other people’s thoughts are considered valid. Those that can’t, I reject. In conclusion, there’s no knowing anything really, rather, they’re just approximations we assume to be true because that assumption makes sense as we test it.

 

August 30

Welcome to Your New Blog!

When you blog you create posts and posts are categorised according to your subject. Some categories have already been set up for you. If you need more categories you can add them as needed. It’s important that your posts have the following:

  • An engaging title – this should not include the name of the subject since this is referenced in the category.
  • Body – this is where you share your learning. This can include text, images, embedded videos from Dragons’ Tube or elsewhere. You should always consider how your post looks to your audience. Is it engaging? Do they want to keep reading?
  • Category – select one that has been set for you or add a new category. Posts can have more than one category e.g. Humanities and Myself as a Learner

Click on the images below to learn more about blogging: