TOK (Theory of Knowledge) Guide #IB

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Heyy everyone! This is my last post in my IB series of blog posts, and myself and two fellow IB students are going to be talking about theory of knowledge, or TOK part of IB, and this will be sort of like a guide to TOK.


So theory of knowledge is made of several components. It’s almost like philosophy in a way.

So first, there are ways of knowing, WOKs:

WOKs are the tools one uses to gain knowledge or the factors that affect what knowledge someone gains. These include:

  • Faith– A person’s beliefs
  • Sense Perception Everyone has their own perspective on different issues which can affect what knowledge they gain from something.
  • Emotion– How people feel and are affected
  • Language How we communicate both through the written word and spoken
  • Intuition The gut feeling of knowing something
  • Imagination– Using your brain as a creative stimulus
  • Memory– The past or things that you can remember
  • Reason– The justification behind doing something

There are also areas of knowledge, AOKs:

AOKs are like the categories that certain concepts or real life situations can be classified under. These are more specific than WOKs and WOKs are often used within the different AOKs. These include:

  • Religious Knowledge SystemsA specific system of belief or worship that focuses on knowledge claims about spirituality and the metaphysical nature of the world
  • Indigenous Knowledge SystemsA knowledge systems developed by a community
  • Human Sciences Study of the biological, social, and cultural aspects of life
  • Natural Sciences– A branch of science that deals with the physical world; chemistry, geometry
  • Math The study of mathematics and mathematical concepts
  • History– The study of past events
  • The ArtsThe expression or application of human creative skill and imagination
  • Ethics- Moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity

Knowledge questions, KQs, are broad, open-ended questions we ask about knowledge.

An example of a knowledge question is: If an answer can’t be neutral, does that mean the question can’t be neutral either?

We discussed this knowledge question in class and someone used the example of a ‘getting to know you question’. Like if you just met someone and they asked you what your favorite color is, it might seem like a very neutral question but the person asking might be hoping you say a certain color.


Claims and counterclaims refer to the stance you or someone else takes on a knowledge concept. If you are looking at a knowledge question then your claim would be your answer to the question. The counterclaim is the other position that you have to address and support but ultimately disagree with. 

I could have a claim that religious garbs should be allowed, using religious knowledge systems, ethics, and reason to support. My counterclaim would be religious garbs should be banned, and then I’d follow that up with why the counterclaim is wrong. 


We use real life situations, RLS’s, to put knowledge questions and claims into context.

When explaining what a knowledge question is I used the example of someone asking what your favorite color is. This would be an example of an RLS. RLSs are used to make TOK/philosophical ideas less obscure. By tying abstract ideas back to the real world it makes it more understandable and easier to explain.


And lastly shared vs. personal knowledge

Shared knowledge are composed of facts or data about a certain AOK or WOK that is considered universal, or known to everyone.  

Personal knowledge is specific knowledge to an individual based on their personal experiences and first hand observation.  

An example of shared and personal knowledge applied to a situation would be when trying to solve a physic problem, you apply the shared knowledge of physical concepts such as Newton’s Laws, and then you also apply your personal knowledge on how to solve that specific problem based off of the knowledge you acquired from learning from your teacher in class. You could be using a different equation to solve the problem than other classmates however, which is how you make solving it personal. 


Thanks so much for reading! Hope you learned something new, but if you were just totally confused, it’s fine, so was I the first month of TOK. 😉

Stay awesome Sassenachs!-Calliope Fraser

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