Introduction to TOK

TOK is an abbreviation for Theory of Knowledge. Well, it is really hard to say specifically what TOK really is so I would like to introduce some general stuff we learn in TOK.

First, TOK explores how different subjects approach knowledge in different ways. For instance, knowledge we learn from mathematics is followed by solid and rigorous proof. In art, it may not require us to prove how we feel but rather respect individual’s different feelings. That is why we should not approach art or literature as we do in mathematics and science. This does not only apply to mathematics and art but applies to other subjects as well. They all have different ways of approaching knowledge and we learn these different ways in TOK. This can be summarized as four ways of knowing: sense perception, language, emotion and reason.

Second, TOK explores characteristics of knowledge. For instance, as we all once have questioned, TOK questions whether absolute truth exists or not. We also discussed two types of knowledge, shared knowledge and individual knowledge. We also discussed credibility of knowledge; whether expert or authority figure’s opinion should be more respected or not.

Third, TOK attempts to destroy what we previously have known. Extending from questioning whether there is an absolute truth or not, we question what we already know in TOK. For instance, we have learnt from elementary school that sum of inner angle of triangle is 180 degrees. However, when we draw a triangle on a sphere, its sum is actually more than 180 degrees. Likewise, TOK breaks down poorly substantiated knowledge we previously had. It prevents us from passively, mindlessly accepting knowledge around us.

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4 comments to Introduction to TOK

  • Eric Wu

    Very reflective summary statement, Peter. It seems to question the broad definition of learning itself. What have we been doing if not submissively absorbing knowledge? Your statement, in my opinion, describes in one sentence what TOK is all about.

  • Jeffrey Yeh

    Wow, such clear and concise explanation of TOK for those who are new to this. I most certainly will keep all these in mind when moving through TOK this year.

  • Janani Ramesh

    This has helped me understand all the different parts to TOK a lot more and I will keep referring to your summary. Thanks for the explanation and making me more interested in tok 😀

  • Guillaume Le Meur

    It is true that by its name, TOK seems to be a broad topic to talk about, but when you have been introduced to its principles, things tend to get better. I like that mathematical example even though it looks pretty logical that shapes drawn on a sphere will be bent by the surface, hence, slightly increasing the angles size.

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