This is a sample of our (approximately) 6 page long Tok Essay 2014 Grade A Level 7 Student notes, which we sell as part of the TOK Outlines collection, a A package written at International School Of DüSseldorf in 2014 that contains (approximately) 21 pages of notes across 5 different documents.
Tok Essay 2014 Grade A Level 7 Student Revision
The following is a plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our TOK Outlines. This text version has had its formatting removed so pay attention to its contents alone rather than its presentation. The version you download will have its original formatting intact and so will be much prettier to look at.
"That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow." Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.
To what extent can knowledge progress over time and does the nature of knowledge influence its progression? For instance, across Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) like the natural sciences and the ethics knowledge may progress differently. This is partially because in each of these AOKs the definition of knowledge slightly differs. The quote by using the word "sometimes" takes into account different possibilities, yet implies that knowledge is not always discarded. To explore whether knowledge accepted today is discarded tomorrow it is important to specify what "knowledge" means in the context of specific AOKs. In the natural sciences "scientific knowledge" may be defined as information that has been found to be valid through empirical evidence and rational deduction and has not yet been disproven. The nature of knowledge may be described by its establishment: It is established through various ways of knowing (WOK). First the scientist uses sense perception to observe his natural surroundings, then using creativity and imagination he could question how a specific natural phenomenon occurs. The natural scientist then aims to find an answer to the question through inductive and deductive logical reasoning, by setting up a hypothesis and finding supporting evidence. Other natural scientists may then come to know those findings through language and replicate them to strengthen prior knowledge or research may result in opposing evidence, potentially leading to the replacement of the old theory with a new one. Thus, the nature of the natural sciences influences its progression. Knowledge in the natural sciences aims to discover permanently valid objective laws of nature. Yet, can a theory be permanently valid? For instance humankind has learned long ago how to make fire and this knowledge has remained permanently valid. However, we have used this knowledge to develop new inventions like fuel, factories, or the Bunsen burner that we use in biology class. Thus, the natural sciences aim to make valid discoveries but since research is ongoing knowledge in the natural sciences changes over time instead of being "discarded".
It is the provisional nature of scientific knowledge that sets up the basis for the way that it progresses: previous knowledge is questioned and shaped, rather than "discarded", to form new scientific knowledge. The latest findings of natural sciences are then regarded as scientific knowledge accepted today while the older findings are one step in the process of acquiring this knowledge. For example in my science class I learned about Leucippus and Democritus, 5th century BC (Timeline of the Atomic Bomb), who were the first to develop theories on atomism, forming the foundations for knowledge developed by Newton in the 17th century and following various scientists that again developed this knowledge further (History of the Atomic Bomb). In such cases, knowledge may still be accepted as being valid, yet is perceived as limited since more extensive knowledge has been built upon it. However, this is assuming that scientists knew about the previous scientists' work. It may have been unlikely such knowledge existed when we consider scientific research in a time before communication between scientists around the world was possible. Oftentimes the buildup of knowledge is possible by enhancing WOK, as with the stethoscope that enhances auditory sense perception. From the above it can be seen that in the natural sciences knowledge accepted "today" is modified rather than discarded - even if a previous scientist found knowledge that could be falsified, it may have led later scientists closer towards a valid model. In contrast, it could be claimed that a paradigm shift, where a former valid theory was totally abandoned and replaced by a different theory, shows that knowledge in the natural sciences can be discarded. An example of an old theory being replaced by another, since contrary evidence was found, can be taken from my IB biology class where we learn about Mendel's law of independent assortment that widely changed the understanding of genetics. He proposed that alleles of genes located on different chromosomes assort independently from one another, creating genetic variety. Before Mendel, people often believed that the characteristics of parents were equally blended in the offspring. However, the paradigm shift may require some time to be accepted by the general public, as this depends on factors like perspectives, culture and beliefs of people, as well as pre-existing assumptions that had
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How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay
The following structure is a very good, step-by-step method you can use on any ToK essay to get very high marks.
Here are the main things to keep in mind when you're using this method:
- Your #1 priority is answering the prescribed title. If you somehow follow this method, but don't answer the question you won't score well. So make sure you keep linking back to the question as you go.
- Try to use original, interesting evidence.
(I have a full a lot of helpful advice, tutorials, evidence videos in my online ToK course, which you're welcome to join if you like. Or, if you just need some TOK Notes you can get those here.)
And I've also made a help page (similar to this) for the TOK presentation, here.
Okay here we go...
The structure on this page will give you a strong foundation for your essay and then we're going to make your essay as insightful as possible.
First, choose your PT and KQ
Before you can begin your real/final essay, you’ll want to look at the Prescribed Title (something like: “What is it about mathematics and science that makes them so convincing?” and think about it.
Get some of your initial ideas down on paper.
Second, choose 1 WOK and 2 AOKs
Now, take your prescribed title and choose two AOKs to explore it with (here are my notes: Mathematics, Human sciences, Natural Sciences, the Arts, Ethics, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Religious Knowledge Systems, or History). Or you can use WOKs: (again here are my notes: Emotion, Faith, Sense perception, Reason, Imagination, Intuition, Language, Memory). Then you can explore these aspects in your essay.
I normally recommend exploring just 2 AoK's in the main body of your essay and then include a few insights into WOKs around the edges (more on this in a bit).
The essay contains two body sections (or "developments"). Each body section will look at a certain area of knowledge or way of knowing.
To explore the question we chose above, it's pretty easy to choose our AOKs because they are actually listed in the question. We'll be using Mathematics and Natural Science.
The courtroom analogy
The TOK essay is about knowledge (how we come to know things). It helps to think of the essay as though you're showing the most interesting bits of a conversation between two smart people, about how we know things.
Or you could think about it like presenting two sides of an argument, in front of a judge. Each side needs to present evidence.
One lawyer is saying YES (i.e. reason is reliable, with examples) and the other is pointing out the weaknesses in what lawyer 1 is saying (i.e. reason is often not reliable, also with examples).
Your lawyer will make the case that you can’t be guilty of robbing the bank (her thesis), by using several arguments (claims); she’ll show that
- You weren’t there
- You’re are a moral person and
- You don’t have the technical knowledge to pull off a job like that.
However, if your lawyer was a ToK student they would also be explaining reasons why you might be guilty (the counterclaims).
- Someone said they saw you there,
- You admitted to lying to your mom about candy one time and
- You are pretty good at computers.
The lawyers would use evidence to support each of these claims and counterclaims.
Making sure your evidence actually supports your claim is one of the toughest aspects of the essay.
The step-by-step method
The method has 4 sections and 7 paragraphs overall and specific aspects need to go in each.
First, write your introduction, using 150-200 words
-Say 2 interesting things about the prescribed title. "Many people find Mathematics and Natural Science very convincing. However, many of these same people would say that they don't have a strong understanding of either of these two fields. Both of these fields rely on rigorous methodologies."
-Define one or two of the key terms in the title. Here I might define Mathematics and Natural Science. (I would also look up the term "convincing". I might not include that definition in my essay, but I would like to know whether there are any conflicting definitions. That might help me say interesting things later on in the essay--for example in the conclusion.)
-Narrow in on one aspect which is particularly interesting. "This essay with focus on the link between replicability of results, as a source of reliability."
-State your thesis. What is your short answer to the prescribed title, your thesis. (You might decide, by the end of your essay, that your initial thinking was wrong, but you should know the point your claims are going to be supporting).
-Give us a roadmap, a sentence that gives us a preview. This shows us what you’re going to do in your body paragraphs (your "developments"). Tell us AOKs you're going to use and which WOK you will be focused on most. This will make it easy for the marker to know what to look for. An example: “Mathematics can be seen as more reliable because it uses reason. Natural science can be less reliable because it relies on observation. ”
Next write your first development. 2 paragraphs totalling 600 words
-Claim. A claim a topic sentence that outlines your argument about the prescribed title. For example you could claim that, “Mathematics can be relied on because it is a purely logical system.”
-Explain. Elaborate and clarify your claim. “Mathematics is axiomatic and independent of subjective experience.“
-Example. A real life example, to clarify and support the claim from your own experience. Examples should be personal, specific, precise and real. Did something happen in your Science class? Did you have a conversation with your or hear a story from your grandfather? These are evidence from your own life rather than examples from Darwin or Lincoln. So you could talk about how, “In mathematics we learned that the inside angles of a triangle, in Euclidian space, sum up to 180 degrees.”
-Counter-claim. Argue against your claim above. “However, it is possible to come to different conclusions using different systems of mathematics.”
-Example. An example that supports your counter claim. “There are different It is not possible to demonstrate that the interior angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees in Euclidian space, this cannot be proven within other systems, such as spherical geometry or hyperbolic geometry.”
-Link to prescribed title. Quickly sum up the (complicated) insights of this section. “It is therefore clear that mathematics is reliable to an extent, but often it can only show something to be true within one fixed system or approach.”
Now, write another two body paragraphs, looking at your second AOK. Use the same approach you saw in paragraphs 2 and 3. 600 words
-Link to prescribed title.
Finally, write your 'conclusion'. Two paragraphs, totalling 200-250 words
-Your conclusion. Explain what big, general insights have come out of this--your conclusion.
Implications and significance. Also tell us why it's important that we know this. When and how does it matter that we understand this lesson?
-Perspectives and extensions. If you can, try to pull in a very different perspective, on your conclusion. Perhaps you can recognize a very different way of approaching the question, which could have resulted in quite different insights than those you included in your essay. Or you could also mention one or two unresolved questions that this essay has revealed. You could also think of this as explaining some "limitations" or a weaknesses of your essay, but it's also about showing that the conversation isn't over yet. There is more to the question than you've had the room to explore.
Obviously there is a lot more depth that we can go into about what makes a really great TOK essay, but this structure will get you started.
Here are some more ToK Essay tips you might want to consider or you can join my online program if you like www.tokmastery.com
Cite this page as:
Woods, Tim. “How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay” IBMastery. IBMastery, 1 Jan 2016. Web. TODAY’S DATE <https://www.ibmastery.com/blog/how-to-structure-a-theory-of-knowledge-essay>