TOK Essay November 2018

RLS focused guide for prompts

The IB does not allow titles to be directly replicated, hence the shortened versions below.

1. “Classification systems shape the way we gather new knowledge.” Discuss.

  • Classification systems are a set of rules and procedures used to categorize such that organization can be found in chaotic pools of data.
  • Classification systems carry inherent biases. Biases steer the acquisition of knowledge.
  • How are classification systems created?
Possible RLS
  • Colors. People use the names we have for colors to label them, even if accuracy is lost by doing so.

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2. “The growing accessibility of shared knowledge reduces the need for personally stored and assimilated knowledge.” To what extent do you think that this is true?

  • Shared knowledge is knowledge that is universally publicly accessible.
  • The difference between personal and shared knowledge is identified by the accessibility of the shared knowledge. Shared knowledge that is instantly accessible to individuals would be indistinguishable to personal knowledge.
Possible RLS
  • Google. Studies show that people place less emphasis on memorization now that search engines exist. People are more likely to remember where to find answers instead of remembering the answers themselves.

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3. Can disagreement regarding two epistemological statements always be resolved? Compare and contrast two disciplines to arrive at an answer.

  • How are disputes resolved?
  • To know if a dispute of a certain kind is always resolvable you need an exact definition. But there is no exact definition of knowledge claims - which implies that the question is mal posé.
  • Not resolvable due to falsifiability in sciences?

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4. “Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict don’t have knowledge” (Lao Tzu). Discuss.

  • A prediction is a claim with respect to the state of the future.
  • The quote implies that knowledge and predictions are mutually exclusive, which is true in the words’ strictest sense.

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5. “Too much relevant knowledge in a field might be a hindrance to the production of knowledge in that field.” Discuss.

  • An area of study and/or practice, while relevant knowledge is knowledge that pertains to the field.
  • Pay special attention the words “too much”. It’s an expression that lends itself to subjective interpretation.
  • The word “might” also means that “too much relevant knowledge” does not have to hinder the production of knowledge for the claim to be true.

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6. “The value of forming undeniable truths is overstated. Knowledge tends to deal in vaguer terms.” Discuss.

  • Information that is undeniably and absolutely true.
  • The second sentence does not necessarily follow from the first.
  • The statement does not have to be conclusively answered because “overestimated” and “most” are extremely ambiguous words.

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