With more than twenty five years experience in international education, he has been actively involved in teacher training and curriculum development since Richard has run workshops and seminars for teachers and students in fifty countries and is a regular speaker at educational conferences. Workshop leaders: Ric Sims , Richard van de Lagemaat. The best presenters I have ever met at IB workshops!

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Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published Full-colour edition Second edition Printed in the United Kingdom by Latimer Trend A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library isbn Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

This work has been developed independently from and is not endorsed by the International Baccalaureate IB. This book is dedicated to the countless students and teachers I have met whose ideas have informed, inspired and delighted me. What is language? Personal and shared knowledge Sense perception The nature of knowledge The emotions Contents Why study history? East and west: the geography of thought Critical thinking involves such things as asking good questions, using language with care and precision, supporting your ideas with evidence, arguing coherently and making sound judgements.

You are, of course, encouraged to think critically in every subject that you study. TOK is designed to help you to reflect on and further develop the thinking skills you have acquired in your other subjects. Knowledge claims and knowledge questions The TOK course is built around analysing knowledge claims by formulating and exploring knowledge questions. A knowledge claim is an assertion that something is the case.

Any statement that can be true or false makes a knowledge claim. Our everyday conversation is riddled with knowledge claims and we are bombarded by such claims at school, in the media and on the internet. A knowledge question is, as the name suggests, a question about knowledge. Such questions have three key features: 1. They are second-order questions. A first-order question is a question about the world; a second-order question is a question about knowledge. In relation to academic subjects, first-order questions arise within a subject whereas second-order questions are about a subject.

They are contested questions. Knowledge questions do not have straightforward answers and they are open to discussion and debate. Since they are contested, such questions require personal thought and judgement.

The fact that there are rarely definitive answers in TOK is sometimes a source of frustration, but it can also be intellectually exhilarating. They are general questions. Knowledge questions are concerned not so much with specific examples, such as the ethics of the Milgram experiment on human obedience see page , as with underlying principles and criteria.

Introduction An additional feature of knowledge questions is that they are often comparative. We might, for example, compare the reliability of different sources of knowledge, such as reason and intuition, or different areas of knowledge such as mathematics and ethics.

Meaning: what does it mean? Evidence: what counts as evidence? Certainty: how certain is it? Perspective: how else can we look at it? Limitations: what are the limitations? Value: why does it matter? With that in mind, Figure B presents one way of making sense of the course and integrating its key elements in a single diagram. These elements are explained after the diagram.

How this book is organised This textbook consists of five main parts: 1. Knowers and knowing 2. Ways of knowing 3. Areas of knowledge 4. The big picture 5. Assessment The first three parts reflect the three main elements as shown in Figure B. Knowers and knowing. Among the questions we shall be asking are: What is knowledge? How does knowledge differ from belief?

What is the difference between knowledge and information? Is knowledge primarily a personal or a shared phenomenon?

How does practical knowledge differ from theoretical knowledge? How reliable are second-hand sources of knowledge such as school, the internet and the news media? Introduction 2. Ways of knowing WOKs. The TOK course suggests that there are eight main ways of acquiring knowledge about the world: language, perception, reason, emotion, intuition, imagination, memory, and faith.

Take anything that you claim to know and ask yourself how you know it and you can probably trace it back to one of these eight sources. Despite their value, none of these ways of knowing is infallible. In fact, they are all double-edged in the sense that they can be both a source of knowledge and an obstacle to it. For example, your senses may generally be reliable, but your eyes can sometimes deceive you. So we will need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each of these ways of knowing.

Areas of knowledge AOKs. We then consider the various areas of knowledge — mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, history, the arts, ethics and religion. These areas are ultimately based on the ways of knowing, but each one has its own distinctive scope, method and history. For example: Why is mathematics so useful? Does science prove things? What makes human beings different? Can the past be known? Do we have free will? Are there any universal values?

Is everyone selfish? What is the purpose of art? Does life have a meaning? We will also consider the similarities and differences between the above areas of knowledge and raise various comparative questions that will help you to think about how different subjects are related to one another and to develop a more coherent and inclusive picture of the world. The big picture. Finally, we try to pull together the various strands in our exploration of knowledge.

We then raise more abstract questions about the nature of truth, such as: To what extent are we able to know the truth? Should we seek the truth at any price? This leads on to a discussion about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Perhaps the most important element of wisdom is a sense of humility and an understanding that there may be limits to knowledge.

Following the main text, there are two chapters which give detailed support and guidance on all aspects of the TOK essay and TOK presentation. Although the chapters in this book are arranged to be consistent with the diagram shown in Figure B, they do not have to be read in the order in which they appear in the book; there may be other equally valid paths through the material.

Most consist of brief headlines which you can research online to get the full story. Some may give you ideas for a TOK presentation.

Personal thought The vast majority of the questions raised in this book do not have definite answers, but this does not make them any less important. My aim in writing this book is not to save you the effort of thinking about these issues, but to provoke you to think about them for yourself. My hope is that you will be able to relate what I have written to your own experience and that this book will help you to find your way to your own conclusions. The greatest obstacle to progress is not the absence of knowledge but the illusion of knowledge.

Daniel Boorstin, — The familiar is not understood simply because it is familiar. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, — By doubting we are led to enquire, and by enquiry we perceive the truth. Properly speaking, there is no certainty; there are only people who are certain.

Charles Renouvier, — Friedrich Nietzsche, — Common sense consists of those layers of prejudice laid down before the age of Albert Einstein, — It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. Huxley, — There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.


Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma

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Richard van de Lagemaat's recommendations

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