Every day, we add a little more to our basket of knowledge using the eight ways of knowing: perception, reason, emotion, language, memory, faith, and intuition. The knowledge we accumulate over the years lead us to truth “in accord with fact or reality, or faithfulness to a standard”, as defined by the TOK guide. Truth is based on reality but is also characterized by faith, suggesting that truth is somewhat malleable. By classifying different, I will compare and contrast different methods of knowing and how some are more advantageous when discerning truths.
For abstract creations, such as art, truths are individualized. Every individual fosters different faiths, imaginations, emotional capabilities, and language abilities, making their perception of art unique. In this sense, there is no absolute truth, but some ways of knowing are more beneficial for obtaining their individualized truth. A Harry Potter novel utilizes the medium of language, which we digest and compile with emotion and imagination to form our own truths about the novel. When dissecting art, these ways of knowing are more useful than perception, for example, in which everyone senses similar things.
For studies in nature, the truth is more objective: same theories should be accepted in a generation but also be changing. To elaborate, people have observed that when a feather and a brick drops, the feather always lands later than the brick for centuries. They used inductive reasoning, reaching the truth that lighter objects always fall slower. Come Galileo and his Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment that showed freefall time is independent of mass. He imagined a world without air resistance, which allowed him to make one step closer to the truth we accept today. We can perceive this truth directly through this vacuum chamber experiment. Clearly, emotion, sometimes leading to irrational judgements, would not have been as helpful as perception or reasoning in proposing scientific theories, neither would have been language, open to interpretation.
However, some may argue that all ways of knowing are equally likely to lead to truth. For example, the Bible states that God created Adam and Eve, while scientists say evolution created humans. Believers in creationism use faith, while believers of evolution use more reasoning from substantive evidence to reach their truth. Some may argue that both are correct and that all the ways of knowing lead an individualized but equal truth, hence relativism; they are right, only if we organize arguments into categories: science, in which incorporating faith into this field of study where objectivity is the goal is not efficient, and faith, which corroborates with imagination to engender a man-made belief. Notice both cases are supported by evidence. Thus, certain ways of knowing are more beneficial for forming ideas, depending on the context of which it is received.
In conclusion, there exists different methods of knowing, each with its separate advantages, and different truths. However, within one frame of reference, there should only exist one truth backed up by evidence and a corroboration of different ways of knowing.
Heydorn, Wendy, et. al. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma Course Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2020.