CT: The Exhibition: A Glossary of Prompts

TOKQuestionYour TOK exhibition is worth 35% of the grade. It is assessed internally, that is by your own teachers, but moderated externally by IB examiners. The “exhibition”, understood as both a noun and a verb, aims to assess how you can apply TOK concepts to the real world by requiring that you bring to presence, bring out of “hiding” and to “hold out”, ex-hibit, evidence of your ability to discourse on the subject matter that you have been studying and questioning in the course. Your discussion requires that you use representational thinking (thinking in images) and inductive reasoning to move from the particular images or objects you have chosen, establish their relation to one another through analogy or metaphor, and then proceed to the general principles and key concepts contained in the prompt that you have chosen to demonstrate your knowledge of those principles and concepts. Your first step is to ensure that you understand what principles and key concepts are involved in the prompt you have chosen.

Your Exhibition is a rendering that is handed over to others i.e. it is public. You have to complete the exhibition individually (no more groups) and make sure no one in your TOK class or school uses the same objects or images in their exhibition. In short, your TOK exhibition is a “holding forth” by you demonstrating how you understand some of the key TOK terms and how you are able to apply them to the “real world”. You are required to choose one prompt from the list below, and it must be exactly from this list and you cannot change the wording. You will then find three objects or images of objects that relate to this prompt and develop your interpretation accordingly.

It is very important that your exhibition is based on one of the prescribed prompts. If not, you will get a 0. You also create a document with the title of your IA prompt, images of the three objects, and you will also provide a commentary on each object that identifies each object and its specific real-world context. The comment should also justify the inclusion of the object in the exhibition and explain its links to the IA prompt (i.e. why these three objects or images from an almost infinite possibility?). Finally, you should also include appropriate citations and references. Perhaps the greatest challenge you will face is that the total word count for this document is 950 words (excluding references).

The purpose for this writing on these prompts is to provoke thought regarding our understanding of what the key concepts contained in the prompts might mean. Our interpretations of things may be complex requiring very specialized language from various areas of knowledge or it may be simple and be provided by what we might call “sound common sense”. It may be useful to you to determine which prompts belong to the same sub-group in terms of their main theme. Whatever prompt you choose, it is important for you to develop your arguments so that they are clear to your listeners and readers. In your analysis of your chosen prompt, you need to determine whether or not it is a “first-order question” and therefore a description or explanation, or whether or not it is a “second order question” and therefore involves the nature of knowledge, the type of knowledge involved, and how we know. The intention of this writing is to provoke thought on your part so that you are mindful of your choices and, hopefully, gain greater knowledge of who you are so that you will be able to make more aware judgements in the future about academic and ethical questions.

The Prompts 

You have to choose one of the following prompts and your choice of prompt will determine the methodology or the pathway as well as the design or plan that you will follow to arrive at your interpretation of the images or objects you have chosen. The choice of the prompt is crucial for the outcome or product that you will produce or “bring forth” and “hold forth” upon. Just as Artificial Intelligence machines arrive at their conclusions that are held in their programming (producing a haiku, for example), you too will also produce an outcome based on your chosen prompt in the manner of how you will examine your three images or objects; and like an Artificial Intelligence machine (to use a metaphor), you will produce a pre-programmed response though you may not be consciously aware of this. Bringing this pre-programmed response to light will help you in your search for self-knowledge in that how you interpret things i.e. your cognition of the things, should come to  a greater light or understanding through this exercise. Again, the interpretation of the prompts provided here is an interpretation only and its purpose is to provoke thought on your part as to why you have chosen the images that you have chosen and what these choices provide your audience regarding your understanding of the world.

Each of the prompts is discussed in turn below:

1. What counts as knowledge?

This is a useful prompt in that one may be able to respond to it in the simplest of terms or one may proceed to the very abyss of what thinking is in one’s response to it. “To count” is to “reckon on” or “reckon up”, to provide the sum of something, its total. “To count on” means that the knowledge produced can be relied upon with certainty to be that which is said about it. In your discussion, defining “counts” and “knowledge” will be crucial as well as demonstrating how the images you have chosen illustrate your interpretations of these key terms. A discussion of the various types of knowledge is given here: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mytok.blog/3676

When we ask “what counts as knowledge”, the language of the question should surprise us. Do we really know what we mean when we say “counts”? “To count” comes from the Latin reor and it is directly related to the Latin word ratio. We as human beings define ourselves as the animal rationale, that animal that is capable of reason or the animal that is capable of ratio or of “counting”, the animal capable of language. Ratio and reor can mean “to take something as something”, such as the leafiness of the plant, the stone as stone, etc. It also means to “put something in its place”, or “putting something in order for something else” such as gathering together the things that are required of a recipe so that we may later prepare it, the step-by-step process involved in preparing to bring about a desirable end. We can see its relation to what is now called “algorithms”. This will be discussed in relation to “calculation” and calculus a little later. Other connotations of the word imply some thing’s importance or value such as a disputed goal in football where we say the “goal counts” i.e. it is the point of something, the purpose or end goal of something from which we can add up the parts to make a whole.

“To count” can be understood as what is a priori in the “project”, such as your Exhibition itself. That things are exactly measurable: this is a priori for mathematical physics, and this is what “counts” for mathematical physics. That human beings ‘exist’: this is a priori for all knowledge, including the knowledge you will “uncover” in your Exhibition. ‘A priori’ comes from the Latin for ‘what comes before, earlier’; the a priori is ‘the earlier’. The a priori is not true or ‘correct’ beyond the project which it helps to define: The a priori is the title for what we believe is the essence of things i.e. how reality is conceived. The a priori and its priority will be interpreted by you in accordance with your conception of the thinghood of the things or images you have chosen and your understanding of the being of beings or things in general. What counts in a project is more like a decision than a discovery; it cannot be correct or incorrect: correctness, and criteria for it, only apply within the light shed by the project i.e. what will be claimed and becomes “knowledge”.

What the light of a project reveals are possibilities captured in the interpretation. They should also be applicable for other dealings with things, the things understood and delimited and defined by the project: from your three images or objects, it should be possible to expand the application of your interpretation to many other images or objects not included in the Exhibition. Thus in pro-jecting, what counts as knowledge is that human being always projects itself on its possibilities, though the range of possibilities varies with the thing chosen. In doing this, you as a human being will understand yourself in terms of the possibilities open to you through your thinking. Human being projects itself in its own project. Human being does not have a constant, project-independent understanding of itself: it first understands itself, or understands itself anew, after the projection. Thus, the choices of image or objects for this prompt, and the conclusions to be arrived at, are almost unlimited.  

2. Are some types of knowledge more useful than others?

This prompt is one that many students will opt for as it will not be too difficult to define the types of knowledge and their use through objects or images. “Useful to/for whom”? and “For what purpose”? are the questions that can be explored in the Exhibition.  One may wish to take the journey down the path which discusses techne as that type of knowledge which is “in another” and “for another” and provide examples of various products of human endeavours that provide human beings with some “good end” or “usefulness”. Any image of medicinal healing of any type can answer the questions of “for whom” (human beings) and “for what purposes” (health) because “health” is determined to be “a good end or purpose” and it has “value” for us. You will notice, though, that human beings do not “cause” the health: health itself is an outcome of nature. Procuring health is the setting up of conditions and abetting the properties that are already present in nature and allowing those conditions and properties to flourish. The discussion of how knowledge’s applications are esteemed to have higher value than theoretical knowledge or phronetic knowledge are apropos here, although this was not the case in other cultures at other times. Also, the concept of “added value” in economics etc. are also objects that could come under consideration with this prompt. Notice the relation to prompt #1 and prompt #3: “usefulness” is that knowledge which may be “counted on” and “relied” on and, thus, may be found in our mathematical physics, etc. The “counting on” and “relying on” are the metaphysics that undergird what is the essence of technology as it is defined in these writings.

3. What features of knowledge impact on its reliability?

“Reliability” is that which can be “counted on” in any situation that we are concerned with from the choosing of snow tires to the choosing of the surgeon for our next operation, so in many respects this prompt is similar to Prompt #1 in that both the end and “use” and the characteristics of the knowledge with which we wish to engage and use are at play here. The “features” or characteristics of that knowledge which can be relied upon are those that provide “surety” and “certainty”. They are the “predications” of the subject that we call “knowledge”. We find such certainty and surety in the knowledge that results from mathematical calculation; that is, mathematical calculation is a predication of the subject knowledge i.e. a description of the features of that knowledge, for it is through such knowledge that we believe we have “truth”.

“To reckon” on something or “rely on something” means that we can expect it and to see it as something upon which we can build. Originally it did not have any connection with numbers, per se. This “reckoning” is the procedure of doctors making their diagnoses regarding what is required in restoring health to a patient. She does not have the power within herself to restore health itself, but she can establish the conditions where nature restores the health required for the patient i.e. the doctor’s knowledge is that of abetting what is true of nature in regard to the health of human beings. She can help bring that health out into the open.

With the knowledge that we gain from algebraic calculation, it should come as no surprise that what is called “finite calculus” was established by the founder of the principle of reason Gottfried Leibniz. About calculus, Leibniz once wrote: “When God reckons, a world comes into being”; with the death of God it is, of course, human beings who do the reckoning that bring “worlds into being”, what we call “perspectivism”. Leibniz was also the inventor of what we call the “insurance industry” today. Thoughtful connections can be made here.

Requiring “surety” and “certainty” are the consequences of the approach to life that we have inherited from Cartesianism: cogito ergo sum. We wish to possess knowledge that is beyond any doubt.The techne of both the engineers who designed the snow tire and of the surgeon who will perform the surgery are features of the kind of knowledge that we “rely” on when we have a desired end in view, be it our own safety while driving on the road or our own health. An examination of the characteristics of the types of knowledge has been undertaken in greater depth on this prompt in this blog: https://mytok.blog/2019/11/30/ct-1-perspectives-woks/

4. On what grounds might we doubt a claim?

We doubt a claim when we are lacking certainty and reliability regarding those who are making the claim, the sources of the claim, or when the things about which the claim is being made are not sufficiently justified, that is sufficient reasons have not been supplied for the claim. We cannot “count on” them because they are not “grounded” and the principle of sufficient reason supplies the grounds. See prompts #19, #31.When we speak of “grounds”, we are speaking about whether the “evidence” or the “explanation” regarding the thing which is being spoken about is “adequate” or justified. This evidence or explanation will find its “grounds” in the principle of sufficient reason. Reasons must be given for the claims being made. If sufficient reasons are not given, we doubt the truth of the claim being made. The reasons provide both the evidence and the explanation. But as Aristotle once said: “For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all.”

On a shop which sells Antique Hand Bags near here is a sign which reads: “The Shop is not Open because it is Closed”. Such a sign speaks the truth in that the fact is that the shop is closed. However, it does not supply a sufficient reason for the shop’s being closed. The sign is what is referred to as a tautology. No reason is given for the shop’s being closed i.e. it is after hours, the owner is away on holidays, the owner is observing a religious festival, etc. Tautologies are prominent in modern day computer language. We “skip over” knowing the reasons for the things being as they are because we, in fact, already know them for being what they are and as they are.The Greeks began their journey to thought by first “trusting” in that which they were seeking, but they also “doubted”. Doubt was a requisite for thought for it inspired “wonder”. Both doubt and skepticism were requirements for beginning thinking. But the end for the Greeks was to demonstrate why their trust was an appropriate response to the things that are and this trust overcame the doubt and skepticism that initiated their search for knowledge. Our doubt and skepticism, on the other hand, is spurred by the requirement of giving sufficient reasons for a thing’s being what and how it is, and should these not be given, then the thing is not. It becomes something “subjective”.

5. What counts as good evidence for a claim?

What “counts” as “good evidence” for a knowledge claim is demonstrated by the manner in which that claim is grounded i.e. how the questions of “what”, “how” and “why” are sufficiently answered and the thing about which the claim is being made is sufficiently brought to light and handed over to others. The most common evidence is given through mathematical calculation i.e.. the thing is measured against something that is already known or something that is already taken for granted as known. This is done in the modern physical sciences. The “experience”, the “experiment” upon which the claim is based must be replicable and the results proven by others.This is what, in fact, you are attempting to do in your Exhibition in that you are attempting to sufficiently ground your choices for the images/objects you have chosen and how they will demonstrate the key concepts inherent in the prompt you have chosen.

If you should chose this prompt, the manner in which you establish the relations that you believe exist between the three objects you have chosen will require the need to provide evidence for that relation. This is usually done through reason as logic, through analogy or metaphor i.e. image/object #1 is “like” or “as” image/object #2, and so on. The projecting of analogies or models is part of the erecting of a framework from which you will demonstrate how you have “viewed” the objects/images present and show them in a new light (possibly) to others. Your rationale for establishing the relations between the objects/images will be based on the principle of sufficient reason and will demonstrate and answer the questions “what”, “why”, and “how’.

6. How does the way that we organise or classify knowledge affect what we know?

In TOK we are asked to put questions to what we think we know and how we think we know. This putting of questions to things is our inquiring into and about the nature of the things that we know and how we know them. In order to put these questions to the things, the things must already be present and be presented to us in some way. Every posing of every question takes place within that which is granted to us, our legacy, in its very presence in who and what we think we are. It is this that we call understanding. Understanding is prior to interpretation. The organisation and classification of things is based on what we know of the things to begin with: the plant-like of the plant, the animation of the animal, the thingness of the thing, etc. Our delimitations and definitions of the things are arrived at prior to their placement in various domains of knowledge and these horizons of the things are arrived at through the use of the principle of reason in our cognitions.

The noun logos and the verb legein from the Greek mean “to gather together”, “to lay one beside the other”. This is what you are doing with the images and objects of your Exhibition. One is laid beside the other so that the one is orientated and conforms to the other by means of a relationship that you will establish. This gathering and laying is a reciprocal relationship, a two-fold back and forth relationship involving both you as knower and the things that you know, the images or objects you have chosen. The Latin words reor and ratio represent the sort of orienting and conforming that is a “reckoning”, “a counting on”, and this is why the Roman word ratio came to translate the Greek word. Logos is a “reckoning” that orients ourselves to some other thing i.e. “relates” some thing to some other thing.To “reckon” means to “orient something in terms of something”, “to represent something as something”. What some thing is determined to be in its representation is determined as what it is.

What we understand by our word “calculus” is also determined from this understanding. Calculus arises from the need to be secure about what some thing is; it is a ‘counting on’ something. This need for the surety of what some thing is gives rise to our preference for mathematical calculus as that which represents knowledge in modernity. This calculus or “reckoning” is not only present in mathematics; it is the foundation or ground of the utilitarian principles of ethics. This calculus also determines how we view a work of art and gives rise simultaneously, during the 17th and 18th centuries, to the theory of aesthetics, how we view, define and subsequently speak about art and beauty. When infinitesimal and finite calculus come to the fore, so does the theory of aesthetics as applied to the experience of a work of art. The principle to render sufficient reasons becomes the unconditional demand to render mathematically technically computable grounds for all that is: total rationalization. Because not all of a work of art or a poem, for instance, can be accounted for through these calculations, we refer to our responses to them as “subjective” and we strive to give an “account” of the work which will overcome this “subjectivity” and will conform to the principle of sufficient reason, a giving of an adequate account with the evidence for such an account.Our ‘mode of access’ to a type of thing, e.g. atoms or historical figures, varies with our prior conception of their being, how we have “defined” and “classified” them. Our methodological approach has been determined prior to our access to the thing which determines what the being of the thing is in the first place. These multivarious approaches or methodologies are determined a priori by the principle of reason. “The truth of a principle can never be proved from its result. For the interpretation of a result as a result is conducted with the help of the principle {the principle of reason}, presupposed, but not grounded”. Technology, understood as the principle of sufficient reason, is the guideline that governs all our relations to beings including our practical relations. Technology is the beholding of the essence of all things in advance (a priori) in the light of which human beings make and produce things and allows human beings to take a stand towards the things that are in the first place. Technology is theoretical; the practical applications, its instrumentality, is secondary to this primary theoretical viewing.

7. What are the implications of having or not having knowledge?

One of the possible approaches to this prompt is to distinguish between the implications of having or not having “self-knowledge” and of having or not having “shared knowledge”.  “Implication” is the act of implying, the state of being implied. It is a logical relation between two propositions that fails to hold only if the first is true and the second is false; or it can be a logical relationship between two propositions in which if the first is true, the second must also be true. It can also be a statement exhibiting a relation of implication i.e. a cause-effect relation.

Not having a complete “personal knowledge” of how the computer or hand phone functions is not really necessary unless they do not “work” and we must consult the experts to find out what has gone wrong. Such a lack of knowledge is not crucial to our well-being or survival. Our tragic literature, on the other hand, demonstrates the implications of the lack of “self-knowledge” in its heroes’ actions which ultimately lead to their demise in most cases. A central feature of tragic literature in the West is that it gives us a view of the implications of what results when knowledge is lacking, particularly self-knowledge. From Oedipus to Hamlet and King Lear to Willy Loman, tragic heroes meet their demise, their nemesis, their “just desserts”, due to their lack of knowledge of who they are and the actions they must take, or not take, because of who they are. This lack of self-knowledge elicits pity and fear from us: pity for “the waste of the good” that is the goodness of the tragic hero, and fear that such a lack of self-knowledge may be present in ourselves.

Our tragic literature and our art, generally, demonstrate that there might not be as great a separation between theory and practice as we have been led to believe.Socrates once said that the “opposite of knowledge is not ignorance, but madness” and he demonstrated this in the figure of the tyrant for whom and in whom all sense of otherness has disappeared. When we consider our world and the beings in it as “objects” we, too, experience the disappearance of “otherness” for it is our cognition which makes or creates those things that we consider beings in our world and the things themselves lack any kind of independent status. Clearly, not knowing how a hand phone works is not an indication of “madness” on our part, but then what is the knowledge that is being spoken about by Socrates?  What is the knowledge the lack of which is an indication of our “madness”? What is the “truth” that we are lacking in what we hold up as “knowledge”?Obviously, the societies of which we are members determine what knowledge is and what types of knowledge will be considered “valuable”. The choices made by parents and students indicate what we consider to be knowledge of value. What do these choices indicate? What do your choices of objects or images for this prompt indicate about you and the society of which you are a member?

8. To what extent is certainty attainable?

Our modern scientific knowledge in the form of quantum physics demonstrates that what has been traditionally understood as “certainty” regarding knowledge of nature and inquiries into nature is not possible. We do not have “certainty” regarding our knowledge of nature, but we do have “dependability” and we can “count on” the results we achieve through our inquiring and experimentation. This quote from one of quantum physics’ founders, Werner Heisenberg, assures us of this: “We [physicists] have resigned ourselves to the situation just described, since it turned out that we could represent mathematically and say in every case, dependably and without fear of logical contradiction, what the result of an experiment would be. Thus we resigned ourselves to the new situation the moment we could make dependable predictions. Admittedly, our mathematical formulas no longer picture nature but merely represent our own grasp of nature. To that extent, we have renounced the type of description of nature that was customary for centuries and that had been valid as the self-evident goal of all exact natural science. Even provisionally, we cannot say more than that in the field of modern atomic physics we have resigned ourselves, and we have done so because our representations are dependable.” (Werner Heisenberg, “The Picture of Nature in Contemporary Physics”) The Natural Sciences as an Area of Knowledge

Quantum physics challenges what we have understood historically as causality and the role of reason in understanding the world about us, but because its results are reliable and dependable we can count on those results as giving us all that we need to know. That we do not “know” in the traditional sense does not matter: what matters is the reliability of the results. 

9. Are some types of knowledge less open to interpretation than others?

The various types of knowledge that were understood by the Greeks and which are outlined in the link CT 1: Introduction to Theory of Knowledge: Knowledge and the Knower indicate that “interpretation” is linked to “doubt” and “skepticism” in our modern understanding of what knowledge is. In today’s philosophical language this interpretative method is called hermeneutics, and it derives its authority from the premise that all knowledge is historical i.e. no knowledge is “permanent”, and this is quite contrary to how the Greeks understood knowledge as in sophia and episteme; they understood that some things are permanent.

In establishing the framework for what can be considered knowledge in our age, axioms or archai, principles, rules, laws, etc. are established so that there is little room to discuss the objects and their being that are under scrutiny. The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the object is already pre-determined and the inquiry is to find an understanding of the ‘why’. If the first principle is the principle of reason, then the rest of one’s discourse must be logically derived and the conclusions drawn from that principle. If one accepts the premises, one must also accept the conclusions that are drawn from them. There may be some dispute over the language used to communicate these conclusions, but this is avoided when the language used is mathematical calculus. Since discussions about art begin with questions of what the works are as ‘objects’, they are ‘interpretations’ of the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the work that is present before us. Understanding what the purpose of a great work of art is remains for us a mystery since they appear to be purpose itself. Art’s purpose is to change the manner in which we see or view the world. Since this is its concern, it is subject to interpretation. The axioms, principles, rules, laws, etc. of mathematics and the sciences begin with the permanent things, the unchanging things and therefore are less subject to interpretation. They are either accepted or rejected and no further discourse is possible about them. What knowledge itself is does not change, and all knowledge is based on an interpretation. This is the contradiction we live within.

CT 1: Introduction to Theory of Knowledge: Knowledge and the Knower;

CT 1: Perspectives (WOKs)

10. What challenges are raised by the dissemination and/or communication of knowledge?

For knowledge to be knowledge, it must be shared or handed over to others and confirmed and affirmed (See prompt #26). The handing over of knowledge is done through language and this language may be in the form of speech, numbers, or images/representations. To “disseminate” means ‘to spread something widely’ so that it is available for public viewing; it is a ‘bringing to presence’ of some thing so that others may be able to view it. All dissemination of knowledge is, in one form or another, political since it deals with the “community” or the polis. The ‘political  as understood here is not what we commonly think of as political parties etc. These are subsets of the ‘political’ in its essence. OT 5: Knowledge and Politics Part 1.

For knowledge to be accumulated and disseminated there must be both a communicator of the knowledge and an audience of hearers. For Plato, the true logos is silent to the soul which does not have the possibility of hearing it i.e. the soul that is not prepared for it and does not possess genuine education. The soul, when properly ordered, is given to us by Socrates in his prayer to Pan at the end of the dialogue Phaedrus: “O dear Pan and all you gods here, grant it to me to become beautiful, to come into the correct condition in relation to what is in myself, what comes from inside, and grant that whatever I possess on the outside may be a friend to what is inner, and grant that I repute as rich the one who is wise, and grant that to me the amount of gold I possess in this world will have as much value for me and that I will claim for it only as much value as a man of understanding should claim.” Socrates’ prayer is that his soul will become “beautiful”, and this means having its proper relation to the things themselves and for their correct limits; nothing in excess. When the soul is not beautiful, it is “ugly” and “deformed”.

From Plato’s dialectic or that conversation that is conducted among friends, we have inductive and deductive logic, from diaeresis and dianoia, the separation and the bringing together. Dialectic is discussion conducted in “friendship”, among two or three, whereas the logos of the “disseminator of knowledge” is directed towards the multitude, the many. It is directed by what is called rhetoric, and rhetoric has its own techniques. Diaeresis is the separation that allows something to be set in relief, juxtaposed and thus brought forward, a setting off and distinguishing of something from something else. Dianoia is that thinking which brings separate things together and allows those things to be seen as units, ones or monads. This is the process that you are attempting in your Exhibition, and your report to the IB on your Exhibition will demonstrate this. Although dialectic is now considered a complex philosophical term, in its original sense it could mean nothing more than a discussion among friends at Starbucks over coffee. Listen closely to your conversations among yourselves.

In order to know the audience so that one’s knowledge can be communicated, the “speaker” of such “knowledge” must understand the human beings who are the hearers. Knowing the audience is the recognition that we are beings in bodies. Plato examines the relation of the body to the soul under the themes of “illness” and “deformity” in his dialogue Sophist. “Sickness” in the soul is determined to be an “insurrection” that results when the mode of comportment of the soul comes into conflict with another mode of comportment; we might call this “a conflict of conscience”. One finds the best example of this metaphor in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and in the motif of “sickness” that runs throughout that play: “Art not without ambition, but without/ The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,/ That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldst wrongly win…(Act 1 Sc. v) Shakespeare’s Macbeth is not a play about ambition: Shakespeare is not “against” ambition: it is a play that concerns the outcomes of the “illness” that at times accompanies ambition.

“Deformity” of the soul is characterized by the movement of the soul towards something which it has established as its “aim”, “the scope” in the soul where the “aim” is sighted, but the individual soul is “inadequate” to the “aim”; it is “unfitted” or not suitable to the aim such as seen in the play Macbeth once again. Phronesis deals with the proper sighting of the soul and phronesis is developed through “experience” and “self-knowledge”. Without phronesis one develops “misperceptions” of things. Infatuation is a common example, not simply for another human being but for the outward appearances of things. The human soul, according to Plato, is in a state of “ignorance” but it strives to overcome this ignorance and become beautiful. Our being-in-the-world is permeated by a lack of knowledge. It is an infatuation with immediately given appearances on the basis of which all further experiences of the world are investigated, inquired about, and explained. Infatuation is that love of “beauty” which is in “the eye of the beholder”.

“Ignorance” is rooted in “unfamiliarity”, “not having seen something or other yet appearing to oneself and to others as if one did know it”. “Presumed familiarity” with something is the proper origin of deception and error. What is essential is not mere ignorance, mere unfamiliarity, but a presumption of knowledge. True education is the “leading out” and a liberation towards seeing revealed truth. Ignorance is “bad” because it inhibits human beings from their true Being which is to reveal truth. The ignorance cannot be eliminated with definite bits of knowledge; it cannot be something that provides or produces a definite stock of objective knowledge and provides definite objective ways of knowing things. It can only be eliminated through the mode of speaking with one another and to one another. This type of speaking in under great threat in today’s world. Plato sees the “illness” and “ugliness” of the soul as requiring a “catharsis” or “purification”. However, the soul in need of “purification” shuts itself off from such instruction because it feels it does not need the purification to begin with because it believes that it already knows. This pretense to knowledge is what must be undercut and exposed. This helps us to understand what Socrates meant when he said that the opposite of knowledge is not ignorance, but madness, such a madness as one sees in Macbeth at the end of that play. If one follows through on this distinction between ignorance and madness, one can see that a great deal of madness prevalent today in advanced societies.

One of the obvious challenges in communicating and disseminating knowledge is translation. All translation is an interpretation. In the examples that I frequently use from the Greeks, all of them are translations of that language. The language used by Plato in his dialogues, for instance, is an attempt to get beyond the chit-chat of everyday speech, the language we most commonly use in our everyday dealings with things and with others. The language and engagement in the conversation that is dialectic is not the attempt to out-argue someone, but getting one’s partner in the conversation to open their eyes and see; dialectic is possible between friends, not between rivals; dialectic is not political. An appropriate question to ask is whether or not a “dialectic” is possible on today’s social media and what possible consequences are present.

Logos is an assertion about something and an addressing of some thing as some thing. It is concerned with the proper naming of the things. While language first has to do with hearing, its purpose is to make us see the thing that is named. We do not have to look far for examples of disputes with the proper naming of things and you may find any number of them for your Exhibition. OT 1: Language and Knowledge

11. Can new knowledge change established values or beliefs?

The obvious answer to the question of this prompt is “yes”, so in your Exhibition you will demonstrate what that knowledge is and how that knowledge changed our values and/or beliefs, presumably with regard to what was considered “knowledge” prior to it. The “what”, “how” and “why” of those changes in “values” and “beliefs” or what have become known as “paradigm shifts” in human being-in-the-world have brought about many consequences once they were established as our way of viewing and being-in-the-world.The main problem that you will be faced with in this prompt is that it is so broad that a focus is required, and you can begin to do so by looking at how values and beliefs changed in any number of areas of knowledge.

To what areas of knowledge do the images/objects you have chosen belong? You might begin by examining how the word “values” is itself an example of the great change that occurred during that period we call the Renaissance when human beings became the centre of the things that are, with the consequence that we have the rise of the age of humanism. An examination of what we understand as History can occur here. The Greeks, for example, did not have any “values” and the closest approximation we have to describe this situation is what the Greeks understood by “virtue”.  “Values” involve ethics or choices and determinations of what are “best ends”, what is “most useful” primarily for the individual and also for the community; “virtues” involve politics, how to best live in communities.

Certainly the greatest change in our human being-in-the-world occurs due to our change in our relationship to Nature. What values and beliefs changed due to our change in our relationship to Nature could be undertaken. A link that might be of some help with a discussion of this broad theme is posted here:  The Natural Sciences: Historical Background.

A discussion of what “values” and “beliefs” are might be demonstrated and you might find this link helpful. Darwin and Nietzsche: Part 3: Truth as “Correctness”: Its Relation to “Values”

Similar explorations can be undertaken in the areas of the arts, particularly the history of the development of the arts. What is it that we “value” in a work of art? See the link: What is a work of Art? 

12. Is bias inevitable in the production of knowledge?

This prompt asks you to inquire whether “objectivity” is possible given its assertion of the negative as to whether or not “bias is inevitable” (See prompt #28). Is there such a thing or mode of being as “objectivity”? What is “objectivity”? When we speak of “bias” we usually mean that it is the particular leaning one may have in order to bring about a pre-determined outcome, the “production” or bringing forth of which is determined to be a good end. When we say that science is “the theory of the real”, we are saying that science is the viewing that allows the interpretation of the being of things to be “objects” and to be understood as “reality”. In the most general terms (and as a “second order inquiry) the “production of knowledge” that results from such viewing is the determination of the being of things as “objects”. The German philosopher Kant grounded this viewing in his Critique of Pure Reason. According to Kant, our cognition renders sufficient reasons for the being of objects when it brings forward and securely establishes the objectness of objects and thereby brings itself to objectness, that is, to the being of experienceable beings. This is what Kant called his “transcendental method”.

Our experience of the world is one of being amidst objects and all other determinations of the being of objects is precluded other than that established by the principle of sufficient reason. What makes the being of objects possible is Reason itself. When we say that the objectivity of objects is based upon “subjectivity” we mean that it is not something confined to a single person and something fortuitous to their individuality and situation and discretion; it is not “personal knowledge”. “Subjectivity”, according to Kant, is the “lawfulness of reasons” which provide the possibility of an object. This can be done through perception and calculation. Subjectivity does not mean “subjectivism” but is rather the dwelling of the claim of the principle of reason which has as its consequences the Information Age and the Age of Artificial Intelligence in which the particularity, separation and validity of the individual disappears in favour of total uniformity. The principle of reason demands the universal and total reckoning up of everything as something calculable. Without such reckoning up (algorithms, for example) our computers and hand phones would be quite useless because they could not have come into existence. If the inquiry of your Exhibition wishes to remain a “first order” inquiry, the age-old advice of “follow the money” is a good one whether it be about climate change deniers, the lack of ethics in the activities of the world banking system, etc. The “bias” in the production of knowledge will be determined by the ends that have been chosen which will, in turn, determine the methods in which those ends will be achieved, usually unethical ones. You may want to reflect on the saying: “the good end justifies any means” and through your examples show the nature of bias.


13. How can we know that current knowledge is an improvement upon past knowledge?When we speak of the “improvement” in something, we are implying that the thing spoken about is “better” or is in a better condition than it was previously. When we compare the latest I-Phones to what appeared previously, what counts for improvements are the greater number of apps that are applicable to making our everyday encounters more efficient and reliable. We can look at our recovery from various illnesses to see improvements in health care and in the treatment of various diseases. In looking at the prompt in its most general form, what counts as experience at a given period depends on a prior interpretation of the world that is not itself derived from or vulnerable to experience. Thus the issue between competing scientific theories cannot always be settled by ‘experience’. One cannot say that Galileo’s doctrine of the free fall of bodies is true and that of Aristotle, who holds that light bodies strive upwards, is false; for the Greek conception of the essence of body, of place, and of their relationship depends on a different interpretation of beings and therefore engenders a different way of seeing and examining natural processes.

Is Galileo’s view an “improvement” on Aristotle’s view of nature is, of course, another question entirely and one which you may explore in your Exhibition. Certainly, any sane person will see the improvements in various technes or arts and crafts as improvements in knowledge. Anyone who has been ill or has had loved ones who have been ill could not but be grateful for the improvements that have occurred in the medical sciences such as the discovery of penicillin. It is difficult to take as sane someone who does not.

Ours has been an “age of progress” in that the knowledge that has been produced from the technological viewing of the world has brought about many benefits. However, such knowledge has also brought about many ills and challenges that we are now trying to overcome and must overcome if we are to sustain life on this planet. Our imposition on nature to bring about any ends that we may have in view presents us with challenges and dangers that are most difficult to understand and to overcome.

14. Does some knowledge belong only to particular communities of knowers?

Various communities of knowers establish “world-pictures” in which only “those in the know” are able to participate. The IB is one such community. The acronyms and the specialized language in use in those communities are not things that those outside of the community are familiar with. In other areas, there are few, for example, who understand the mathematics involved in quantum and relativity physics. These cabals of knowers have power within their respective communities, so much so that some proponents of these world-pictures have become placed as the new “priesthood” in the communities where these world pictures thrive. (See response to Prompt #21) Religion is what we bow down to or what we look up to and self-knowledge will reveal the idols that one may look up to or bow down to. 

There are few who would claim to have knowledge of what is going on in modern arts circles is another example. I, for example, haven’t got a clue what is going on in the fashion arts. For knowledge of that subject, I have to turn to my daughters.

That we have areas of knowledge is a recognition of the need for specialization in our studies since so much information and knowledge has been amassed in these areas through our pursuit of knowledge. But while these world-pictures are constructed in dealing with the beings that are involved in those domains, it is technology as the theoretical viewing that dominates how the beings will be inquired about and the manner of questioning regarding their being. It is the object that determines the kind of knowledge that is most appropriate to it i.e. the permanent, unchanging things in contrast to the things that change. Technology itself is a disclosive looking and is not to be understood as manufacturing. The Greeks understood technology as the theoretical knowledge that makes the practical applications possible. Technology is a seeing rather than a doing and its realm is truth not instrumentality, knowledge of Being rather than the manufacture of artifacts. OT2: Knowledge and Technology

While this is not so much an issue for high school students, it will become very much an issue as they proceed in their education. When one reads modern essays, doctoral theses, and other research in most areas of knowledge, one finds that there are no references from, say, before 1980 in the research. It must be that we feel that we have nothing to learn from the thinking that occurred before this time, or perhaps we feel that we already know the discussions that the great minds undertook regarding things in the past and that we can learn about them but not from them. Seeking truth for these communities of knowers is much like swimming inside the local lagoon here in Bali where the contours and shapes and the security of one’s activities can be carried out without the need to go beyond the safety and security of the surrounding reef to the area where the dangers of the big surf lie and where the sharks await. But such a venturing is necessary if one truly wishes to engage in a search for the truth of things. It is no surprise that the great discoveries of modern physics were primarily initiated by Germans, Einstein and Heisenberg for instance, just as it is not an accident that the great discoveries of Newton and Darwin belong to the English-speaking world.


15.  What constraints are there on the pursuit of knowledge? 

The greatest constraint placed upon the pursuit of knowledge is that which is imposed by the principle of reason: nihil est sine ratione: “nothing is without (a) reason”. In connection with the historical development of natural science, things become objects through reason; they become material, and a point of mass in motion in space and time and the methodology used pursues the calculation of these various points. When what is is defined as object, as object it becomes the ground and basis of all things, their determinations as to what they are, and the kinds of questioning that determine those determinations. That which is animate is also included here in this determination of being as object: nothing distinguishes humans from other animals or species (Darwin’s Origin of Species). Even where one permits the animate its own character (as is done in the human sciences), this character is conceived as an additional structure built upon the inanimate. This reign of the object as material thing, as the genuine substructure of all things, reaches into the area that we call the “spiritual”; into the sphere of the meaning and significance of language, of history, of the work of art, and all of the areas of knowledge of TOK. Works of art, poems, and tragedies are all perceived as “things”, and the manner of our questioning about them is done through “research”, the calculation that determines why the “things”/the works are as they are through “historical studies”.


16. Should some knowledge not be sought on ethical grounds?

This prompt speaks to the reasons or grounds that some actions should not be taken prior to reflection on their being undertaken presumably because the ends of those actions are not “good” ends. In hindsight, we might say that the research into the making of atomic weaponry should not have been undertaken given the outcomes of their capabilities. It was done and we live with the reality of their presence. Current research into AI, artificial intelligence, is being questioned because so much of it is occurring “beyond good and evil” or beyond ethical considerations. Both Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus are warnings of the implications of seeking some kinds of knowledge without considering the ends of such knowledge. Not all knowledge is good, it seems. Our word “monster” finds its root in monere or “warning”. The prompt indicates that human beings live within “grounds” or “reasons” and we view the objects of our world in terms of possibilities and potentialities. It is extremely difficult to question the ethics of those possibilities and potentialities because the language from which we could question them arose within the same crucible of seeing or theory that made them possible in the first place i.e. the technological.

Of course, the prompt should involve some thought regarding how we treat the world and the inhabitants within it and some thought must be given to how money is involved in many situations and conditions that students will have to face once they have “made the grade” and succeeded in the game where knowledge is valued according to its applications. The doing of unethical or unlawful actions will become de riguer as they take their place within the world’s corporations. Activities such as gene splicing to produce seed that will not reproduce, etc. will be choices that individuals in the future will have to make with the know-how that they have. It is obvious that such seeing of possibilities and potentialities is dependent upon the techne of the technological viewing and those who proceed with unethical actions will do so because they believe some personal end which will bring about their own personal eudaimonia or happiness will be the result, and they will do so under a sense of “duty” or be “just following the orders” of their superiors.

17. Why do we seek knowledge?

The German poet and mystic Angelus Silesius once wrote: “The rose is without why; it blooms because it blooms, / It pays no attention to itself, asks not whether it is seen.” What is it that distinguishes human beings from a rose? The mystery of the principle of reason is what has come to define human beings as the animal rationale. The essence of human beings is “reason”. What is this? The German philosopher Nietzsche once wrote: “To stamp becoming with the character of being –that is the supreme will to power” (WP 617). How does this statement relate to why human beings seek knowledge?

The principle of reason founds all principles as principles. How is the principle of reason a “rendered reason”? why must a reason be explicitly brought forward i.e. rendered, and to whom or to what is a reason rendered? We believe that a truth is only a truth if a reason can be rendered for it. For the German philosopher Leibniz, a truth is a verifiable proposition, a correct judgement. Judgement is the connection between what is stated with that about which a statement is made. It is the unity of a subject with its predicate and the support for their being connected is the basis or ground of the judgement and provides justification for the judgement. Reason renders an account of the truth of judgement. In Latin, this account is ratio: the ground of the truth of judgement is ratio. Because reason is a ratio, an account, if it is not given a judgement remains without justification. It lacks evident correctness, evidence. Judgement itself is not truth; judgement is only true when the reason for the connection is specified, when the ratio or account is given. Such a rendering needs a place where the account can be given and rendered.

 In asking the question why do we seek knowledge, we are asking what is the reason that our being is grounded in the principle of reason. Reasons must be rendered to human beings who determine objects as objects by way of a representation that judges. “Representation” is to present some thing, to make something present to humans. Since Descartes, the experience of human beings is as an “I” that relates to the world such that it renders this world to itself in the form of connections correctly established between its representations i.e. judgements, and thus sets itself over-against the world as to an object. Judgements and statements are correct, that means true, only if the reason for the connection of subject and predicate is rendered, given back to the representing “I”. A reason is this sort of reason only if it is a ratio, that is an account given about something that is in front of the person as a judging “I” and is given to this “I”. An account is an account only if it is handed over. When the reason for the connection of the representations has been directed back to the “I”, what is represented first comes to a stand such that it is securely established as an object for the representing subject. The reason rendered must be a sufficient reason: that is, that it be completely satisfactory as an account. This is what you are attempting to do in your Exhibition.

What does this mean?What you are attempting to do is to render completeness to the reasons that you are giving for those objects/images that you have chosen. This is called “perfection”. It is what guarantees that something is firmly established, secured in its grounds of its place as an object for human cognition. Only the completeness of the account, perfection, provides the evidence for the fact that every cognition everywhere and at all times can include and count on the objects and reckon with them. Herein arises the role of algebraic calculation: everything counts as existing when and only when it has been securely established as a calculable object for cognition. If it is not, it is “subjective”.

The principle of reason is what is in operation when we say “I get it!” in English, for it is the manner in which we “take something on”, “deal with it”, perceive it. Before the German philosopher Leibniz’ declaring the principle of reason as the principle, it lay in hiding in the darkness of our assumptions throughout Western history. With its articulation, the “modern age” bursts into blossom. But even today, the principle of reason is not clearly understood as that which determines all cognition and behaviour.

If we speak of technology, the products of technology, our computers, hand phones, military hardware and logistics, these are all examples of the principle of reason’s striving for “perfectibility”. which is its completeness of the calculably secure establishing of objects and the securing of the calculability of our reckoning with them. This “perfection” is the striving for the completeness of the foundation. It is the authority of the principle of reason which characterizes the modern age as “technological” or as the Information Age. The demands of the principle of rendering sufficient reasons creates the lack of clarity and confusion in our actions, our ethics. Modern science experiences the demand to render sufficient reasons as a crisis currently. (See particularly the comments by Heisenberg in the blogs on The Natural Sciences.)

The Natural Sciences as an Area of Knowledge:

18. Are some things unknowable?

We might begin a response to this prompt by saying that if there are “things” then they are “knowable” by the very fact of their being a “thing”. Until they become a “thing”, they are not “knowable”. This is why works of art are turned into “things” nowadays so that something may be said about them as to what they are and what they may mean.What is “unknowable” is not a thing. God, for example, is not a thing in that he is not “calculable” or measurable within the overall parameters of time and space positions and locations.

What is considered “unknowable” is where the search for knowledge begins so that they can become “known”; but notice that they will become known as ‘things’. In this search, we tend to look for things or at possible things which are far away from us rather than at those things that are nearest to us. An old story which Plato speaks about in his Theaetetus is that “Thales, while occupied in studying the heavens above and looking up, fell into a well. A good-looking and whimsical maid from Thrace laughed at him and told him that while he might passionately want to know all things in the universe, the things in front of his very nose and feet were unseen by him.” Plato adds, “This jest also fits all those who become involved in philosophy”. What is unknowable is as such because it is “unnameable”. If a thing cannot be named, it cannot be given over to others. For Christians, the name of God is “holy”, “sacred”, and He is not to be “named” because to do so would turn Him into a “thing”. Calling Him “God” or “Father” or whatever is not naming Him because what is lacking is “knowledge by acquaintance” and the terms used to describe Him are analogies or metaphors. The same principle operates in Islam’s rejection of any images of Allah for to represent Him as an image or idea turns Him into a thing.

CT 1 Knowledge and the Knower: “Empowerment”


19. What counts as a good justification for a claim?

The providing of sufficient reasons is what we consider to be a good justification for a claim. What is a sufficient reason? A sufficient reason is the identification of a subject or theme with its predicates; it is the identification of the causes for some thing’s being “what” and “how” it is. It is what you are doing in your Exhibition which we can say is an “event”. CT 1: Knowledge and Reason as Empowering and Empowerment

The providing of sufficient reasons is related to what is known as the correspondence theory of truth. We believe we have knowledge when our representations in our minds “correspond” to the things that we are inquiring about. A sufficient reason is both a demonstration and an explanation of some thing or event, but the thing or event must be made and become an object of inquiry a priori through the application of the principle of sufficient reason. That is, the thing must give itself back to us as an object prior to our investigation of it. The principle of reason states: “nothing is without (a) cause” or “nothing is without a reason” or “nothing is without reason”.

It is the final statement, nothing is without reason, that must be understood here. For a thing to be in the first place, reason must supply its being and the thing must give itself back to the inquiring subject as being able to be known through calculation and measurement i.e. as an object. As the philosopher Kant said: “The mind makes the object”. After the mind has done so, the rendering of sufficient reasons is what counts as good evidence and a good explanation, and provides the justification for the knowledge claim made about the thing. While most of the sufficient reasons are supplied through logic and logistics in mathematical calculations, examples for this calculating reasoning may be taken from almost anywhere and it will be your task to show their relationship to each other in making the assertions you will make regarding the three images or objects that you have chosen.

20. What is the relationship between personal experience and knowledge?

It was the Greek fundamental experience of the being of beings which underlay, and gave rise to, both the subject-predicate form of their language (and, thus, our English language) and their conception of a thing as a subject (subjectum) with accidents (qualities, what we experience of the thing through sensory perception). This fundamental experience of how things are comes to determine for us the manner in which we look at and “experience” the things we encounter here in the modern age.

‘To experience’ can be understood in many ways. It has the connotations of ‘to live’, or to ‘live through’. One can experience fear, for example, by feeling it or by witnessing it. Usually we associate experience with an intense effect on one’s inner life, but not necessarily externally, as in ‘That was quite an experience’. Experience can also mean ‘to go, travel, etc.’, literally to ‘go forth’, and this understanding has a more external quality. It can mean ‘to learn, find out, hear of, but also ‘to receive, undergo’, something. “Education” is “the experience of the leading out or leading forth”, experience understood as, or of, an external, objective event, and the lessons one learns from such events. As part of your education, ’empirical science’ is an experience in which you conduct ‘experiments’; by contrast, in literature or the arts you may be called upon to write an essay (an “attempt, a test”) based on personal experience or your experience of a text.

How we come to understand lived experiences are especially important in the Group 3 subjects. They may sometimes be understood as inner states, activities and processes that we are aware of or ‘live through’, but do not usually make objects of introspection or reflection. The connection with life and the human sciences is explicit: ‘Starting from “life” itself as a whole, human scientists try to understand its “lived experiences” in their structural and developmental inter-connections’.We must be careful and wary of the notion of ‘experiencing’.

We commonly associate ‘experiencing’ with an “I”, a subject or a consciousness. We can think of experience as an isolated, temporary experience or an inner, psychical event, intrinsically detached both from the body and from the external world. To conceive the self in terms of ‘experiencing’ implies that it is either pieced together from intrinsically distinct, momentary experiences or as an underlying thread that persists unchanged throughout its ‘experiences’. To regard moods or conscience as experiences ignores the way in which these moods disclose or how they open up for us our way of being in the world and our human being. Human being is not aware of itself by focusing on its experiences, but in ‘what it does, uses, expects, avoids’, in things it is concerned about in the world around it. Affects, passions and feelings (the manner in which we conceive of emotion) are not to be seen as inner experiences: ‘what we are concerned with here is not psychology, not even a psychology underpinned by physiology and biology, but . . . with the way in which man withstands the “There”, the openness and hiddenness of the beings among which he stands’. “Fortunately the Greeks had no experiences … Hence they did not believe that the point of art is to provide them.” (Heidegger)

Sometimes we understand experience as the experience, sensation or ‘buzz’ to be derived from, say, a drug or a rally (Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced?). Technology’s erosion of human being and its enclosing of the world (the opposite of ‘disclosing’) are offset by its ability to give us experiences. All that matters is the quality of the feeling or experience, since these experiences can have no significance for our lives or our world. This leads to the great temptation of solipsism, particularly among the young.

Experience is at first passive: we come across something without going in search of it. In active experience, we ‘go forth’ to look for something. We go to something to see (perhaps with artificial aids such as microscopes) what happens to it under varying conditions, either waiting for the new conditions to arise or intervening to produce them. To experiment is where we intervene in something to see what happens: if we do such and such, only now we do so in ‘anticipation of regularity, e.g. when so much – then so much’.

The modern experiment essentially involves ‘exact’ measurement. Objects are shorn of their essences and regarded as mere individuals (or ‘ones’/units) conforming to mathematical regularities. These regularities determine in advance what counts as “objective”. Scientists do not conduct exact experiments to discover whether nature conforms to mathematical regularities; they do so because they presuppose a projection of nature as mathematical. Experiment in this sense is quite different from ‘experience’: ‘science becomes rational-mathematical, i.e. in the highest sense not experimental’. ‘Experiment’ and ‘experience’ were once contrasted with the medieval practice of examining authorities and previous opinions. Now they are contrasted with mere observation and description, guided by no mathematical ‘anticipation’.

‘Experience’, like all basic words, changes its meaning over history. What counts as experience at a given period depends on a prior interpretation of the world that is not itself derived from or vulnerable to experience. Thus the issue between competing scientific theories cannot always be settled by ‘experience’: ‘One cannot say that Galileo’s doctrine of the free fall of bodies is true and that of Aristotle, who holds that light bodies strive upwards, is false; for the Greek conception of the essence of body, of place and of their relationship depends on a different interpretation of beings and therefore engenders a different way of seeing and examining natural processes’. (Heidegger, What is a Thing)

This is an instance of the general idea that our ‘mode of access’ to a type of entity, e.g. atoms or historical figures, varies with our prior conception of their being. “The truth of a principle can never be proved from its result. For the interpretation of a result as a result is conducted with the help of the principle (the principle of reason, for instance), presupposed, but not grounded”. It is the Greek ‘fundamental experience of the being of beings’, which underlay, and gave rise to, both the subject-predicate form of their language and their conception of a thing as a subject with accidents. I have written extensively on this topic of personal knowledge on this blog site and recommend that you view the following links to find possible approaches in narrowing your focus on this broad topic: CT 1 Knowledge and the Knower: “Empowerment”; CT 1: Introduction to Theory of Knowledge: Knowledge and the Knower; CT 1: Self-Knowledge and Ethics

21. What is the relationship between knowledge and culture?

“Culture” is a 19th century word and has come to prominence with the arrival and dominance of the Human Sciences as a way of viewing the world. In your study of Group 3 subjects, you will hear both the words “culture” and  “world-view” said often. What is a “world-view” and how does it differ from a “world-picture” which can be associated with “mindsets”, “systems”, “subjectivity” and, thus, with the various understandings of what a “culture” is?

A culture is the ‘way of life’: the customs, civilization, achievement and values of a particular group of people at a particular time. It is an important element in the “seeing place” implied in the word ‘theory’ and is that which one must rise above (according to Plato in the allegory of the Cave and Simone Weil in her writings) and yet remain, at the same time, rooted to (the return of the released prisoner in the allegory of the Cave). Our understandings and interpretations of our experiences are, for the most part, culturally determined and this is what we have come to call “shared knowledge”.

The concept of a ‘culture’ is 19th century thought for what we call “cultures” are ‘historically determined’ and the knowledge brought forward from them will also be historically determined. The Greek polis is not properly understood as a culture, and we do not translate Plato’s Republic, for instance, as Plato’s ‘Culture’, yet the discussions in that dialogue are what we would understand as ‘culture’. 

“World-view” comes from the German Weltanschauung which is formed from Welt, ‘world’, and Anschauung, ‘view, etc.’, and means ‘view of, outlook on, the world’. What we call culture is derived from ‘world-view’. A “world-picture”, on the other hand, comes from the German Weltbild, a ‘picture [BiId] of the world’. The fact that the origin of these words is from 19th century German indicates that they are “modern” understandings of human beings’ position within the world. They were brought to their current prominence by the German sociologist/philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, the man considered to be the “father” of the modern understanding of the human sciences.

In exploring the word “culture”, we must understand that world-view and world-picture are not interchangeable as to their meanings. A “world-picture” is usually associated with science or a science (‘the mechanistic world-picture’, ‘the physicist’s world-picture’, ‘the chemist’s world-picture’, etc.), while a “world-view” can be either pre-scientific or scientific. A “world-picture” is usually a theoretical view of the external world, while a “world-view” is essentially a ‘view of life’, a view of our position and place in the world and how we should act (our ‘lifestyle’ and the ethics that arise from that lifestyle).

From world-views and world-pictures is determined what and how we understand what our personal and shared knowledge are to be. Adherents of the same “world-picture” may hold different world-views and enter into conflict employing the weapons supplied by their common “world-picture”. A “world-picture” is only one constituent of a “world-view”. One might view the current “war on terrorism” in this light and a fruitful Exhibition can result from determining how this may be the case. A ‘world-view’ is often arbitrary and peremptory. It may be ‘personal’, expressing one’s own particular life-experience and opinions (one’s personal knowledge), or ‘total’, extinguishing all personal opinions (‘shared knowledge’). A total ‘world-view’ cannot understand itself, for from this understanding would come a questioning that would put the total world-view in question.

The modern world-picture, however, involves several components: mathematical science; machine technology; the reduction of art to an object of ‘experience’; the conception of all human activity as ‘culture’ and as the realization of ‘values’ (empowerment), the concern of a ‘cultural policy’ politically; a godlessness that co-exists with the ‘modernization’ of the Christian ‘world-view’ and with intense ‘religious experience’. Underlying all this, even natural science with its mathematical calculations from within a frame, is the very idea of a ‘world-picture’. If we read the prompt in the light of such expressions as ‘being in the picture’, ‘putting oneself in the picture’, ‘getting the picture’ – which imply a complete mastery of what the picture is a picture of – we see that world-picture essentially means not a picture of the world, but the world conceived as picture from within a framing. (cf. William Blake’s “The Tyger” and the “framing” of the fearful symmetry that is the “tyger”).

Beings as a whole are now taken in such a way that they are in being first and only insofar as they are presented by the human being as the representer and producer, that is, as objects. The emergence of the world-picture and the knowledge and culture derived from it involves an essential decision about beings as a whole. The being of beings is sought and found in the representedness of beings’ that arises through the principle of reason or ratiocination and the account of beings given therein.

World-picture, like the concept of culture, is distinctively modern. There is no medieval world-picture: human beings are assigned their place by God in His created order. Perhaps in your study of Shakespeare you have come across the Elizabethan world-picture or order of being, but this is not how the Elizabethans viewed themselves; this understanding is a later German understanding. There is no Greek world-picture: human beings are at the beck and call of Being. There is no ancient or medieval ‘system’, an essential requirement for the reduction of the world to a picture. Our two latest AOKs were called Religious Knowledge Systems and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Neither of these two AOKs are ‘systems’ in the true understanding of that word and are rather interpretations of what Westerners see and how they account for the beings as a whole and for their understanding of those beings. Ancient and medieval human beings were not ‘subjects’: ‘The world’s becoming a picture is one and the same process as man’s becoming a subjectum among beings’. Human beings’ becoming a ‘subjectum’ is to be found in the thinking of Descartes. Hence, humanism arises at the same time as the world-picture, a ‘philosophical interpretation of man that explains beings as a whole in terms of man and with a view to man’. To manage the world as picture we need to think in terms of quantity and measurement, the ‘calculable’. ‘Each historical age… has its own particular concept of greatness’; and our concept of greatness is purely quantitative, the ‘gigantic’ – not only gigantic monuments, but the traversal of vast distances at immense velocities, etc. The difference between one concept of greatness and another is not, however, a quantitative, but also a qualitative difference. Hence the ‘gigantic of planning and calculating. …veers round into a quality of its own’ and then it becomes incalculable (Heidegger). Just as the essence of technology is not itself technological, so the essence of calculation and the calculable is not accessible to calculation.

22. What role do experts play in influencing our consumption or acquisition of knowledge?

Your response to this prompt will depend on the areas of knowledge that you choose your objects/images from. You might wish to consider how IT managers and creators mold our acquisition of knowledge by how they portray “information” as knowledge and how our language is being formed and manipulated by what is considered knowledge through this “technology of the helmsmen”. Once again remember that technology is the theory not merely the instruments that technology has produced i.e. that knowledge which technology has brought forward.

The word “expert” derives from “expertise” or “know how” and this kind of knowledge is what the Greeks called techne. This “know how”, presumably, comes from a long, broad engagement with the field which is under discussion. Scepticism and doubt are the proper approaches to claims made by “experts” in many areas of knowledge. 

“Experts” help the societies of which they are members determine what is best to know within that society. They are the creators of the “shadows” within Plato’s Cave. In the global society of the future, these experts will be those who are able to put the discoveries of science to use i.e. what you are getting your education for. Take a closer look at the IB curriculum that you are studying. What has been determined that you should know if you wish to be a prosperous member of the society which holds that the kind of knowledge espoused is the most valuable to possess? Whether they are the ulemas of Muslim societies or the “talking heads” of the think-tanks of technological societies, it is the “experts” who determine how truth has been interpreted and how it should be applied to human actions within communities. 

We have, of course, film “critics”, art “critics” etc. to determine what our tastes should be in our various forms of entertainment. They are considered “experts” because they have that knowledge by acquaintance with the subject matter upon which they speak. Plato and Aristotle called these “experts” sophists. Sophists are the norm in today’s societies; and because they are the norm, they should be treated with scepticism. The “celebrity chefs” that are so popular in media today would be considered technites, not sophists.

A current example could be the claims made by Alan Dershowitz, a prominent professor of law from Harvard University, in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. He asserts that the American Constitution and his reading of the Federalist Papers #65 by Hamilton allow the President to act in any manner he deems fit regarding his re-election as long as that action is in “the public interest”. His arguments appear to ignore the fact that it is the public who determines what their interests are and not an individual running for office. After having fought a Revolutionary War to replace someone who they believed was a tyrant (King George III), he claims that the USA’s founding fathers wished to replace one form of tyranny with another. His speech is sophistry. This merging and movement towards fascism, where the political leader’s “interests” are considered as the “public interests”, is a worrying trend not only in America but in all parts of the world today.

23. How important are material tools in the production or acquisition of knowledge?

We view “material tools” as technology, but as our writing on technology demonstrates, while this is a “correct” understanding of what technology is, it does not get us to the essence of technology: the tools are the outcome of what the essence of technology is and they are brought into being because technology provides “the open space” for their ability to be. OT2: Knowledge and Technology. Much like the fruit of a cherry tree is not the essence of the tree, the material tools of technology are not its essence.

Our use of tools is primarily a way in which we enhance our sense perception as a way of knowing things in the sciences, but the things themselves must be determined as “objects” and therefore calculable and measurable prior to our use of the tools. The tools are antecedent to our viewing of the world as “technological” and they can only produce or allow us to acquire what is called “knowledge” in a pre-determined manner, a manner which produced the tools themselves in the first place. 

In determining the “importance” of the various tools that you may be choosing for your Exhibition, you will be making what is called “a first order claim”. First order claims are those that are made within particular areas of knowledge or by individual knowers about the world, or in this specific case, about the importance of tools in producing knowledge and acquiring knowledge in the various areas of knowledge. It is your job to examine the basis for these first-order claims. In doing so, you will be viewing technology as “instrumentality”. “Second order claims” are claims that are made about knowledge, and you will have to deal with these in evaluating the “importance” of the claims that you will be making. There are many examples from the medical professions. These second-order claims are justified using the principle of sufficient reason which usually involves an examination of the nature of the knowledge that you are investigating and the nature of the tools that are used to produce or acquire such knowledge. For example, the statement: “Mathematical knowledge is certain” is a second-order knowledge claim because it is about mathematical knowledge, and the tools that are suggested by this prompt will usually be related to the knowledge that is produced mathematically. Some discussion of the certainty and reliability of mathematical knowledge will be required. 

Technology, understood as instrumentality, is a matter of ends and means. All “producing” is based on a disclosive looking i.e. the truth as unconcealment i.e what we have determined a thing or being to be in the first place. Technology is our understanding of what it means to be, the way we understand what it takes for something, anything, to be. This understanding is grounded in the principle of sufficient reason. Technology is a theoretical, not a practical affair. The doing and making of technology, what we understand as instrumentality, is secondary to how technology determines what a being or thing is in the first place. It determines the possibilities and the potentialities of the things as disposable in some fashion for human ends.

Technology as the principle of sufficient reason is the guideline that governs all our relations to beings including our practical relations. Technology is the beholding of the essence of all things in advance in the light of which humans make or produce things and can take a stand at all towards things. The “material tools”, the “instruments”, come after technology establishes its dominion in the realm of beings. Techne is a “know how” that is established and derived from a “knowledge by acquaintance” or “epistemology”. Technology is that violence that is asserted upon nature which demands reasons for a being’s being the way it is. The material tools required for the production of knowledge are secondary to the technological viewing that has allowed these tools to come into being. Technology’s essence is that it is the theory that determines the practice. With regard to the production of knowledge, Shakespeare’s “The art is nature” perhaps captures it best; it is what we as human beings are.

Modern machine technology looks to science, to scientific, empirical, practical, reliable, proven facts and is not guided by murky theory. An exact science leads to an exact machine technology. Modern technology employs modern science. The “seeing” is not based on science as the “seeing” is outside the purview of science. Modern science is applied technology, not technology as applied science.

24. How might the context in which knowledge is presented influence whether it is accepted or rejected?

Historicism dominates all presentations of what has come to be called knowledge in the 21st century. It was in direct conflict with that tradition which is known as the history of philosophy. The philosophical tradition believed that there was a knowledge which was accessible through reason that was permanent and unchanging, a truth that would be true in all times and all places about the most important things. Historicism denies this truth and it asserts that there is no “truth” outside of the historical contexts from which it has been produced. This assertion is apparently paradoxical or contradictory since the concept of historicism itself must be “historical” and will be replaced by some other concept at some point in the future. This is really what the writings of this entire blog are about; and this is where thought begins, not where it is finished.

The USA is going through some deep conflicts at the moment in that its Constitution begins with “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” But its sciences illustrate that there are no self-evident truths and that what are believed to be self-evident truths are coming into conflict with the conveniences that have been revealed and desired through their technology, the tendencies towards autocratism and fascism being two examples . How this conflict will be resolved is a matter for the future, but one cannot be optimistic regarding what the outcomes might be. Since we are beings in bodies and we are in being-in-the-world, when we act, our actions are thoroughly situated in a context that includes the sort of person that we are (our constitution), the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the events that led up to our actions, and the events that will follow from whatever we do. These conditions and contexts determine the actions that we will take regarding decisions which we have to make within the everyday experiences of our lives.

The roles of the media in its various forms is something that will need to be addressed. The development of the media from the Gutenberg press to modern social apps and the consequences of these developments is certainly a topic or theme that can be addressed here.

25. How can we distinguish between knowledge, belief and opinion?

Belief {Gk. pistis [pístis]; Lat. fides} is the affirmation of, or conviction regarding, the truth of a proposition, whether or not one is in possession of evidence adequate to justify a claim that the proposition is known with certainty (the principle of sufficient reason). For example: I believe that two plus three equals five, I believe that Bill Clinton was President of the United States in 1995, and I believe that I will live another ten years. The first belief is also a case of knowledge in the sense of a belief in its first principles; the second is probably knowledge within the context of our conception of time; but the third is (at present) merely belief. The belief of the first type is axiomatic in that it is based upon first principles or “self-evident truths”. Our science as “the theory of the real” is just such a belief. It is based upon the need to provide sufficient reasons (evidence) for the reality of the beings that are. Inquiries regarding such beliefs are what are called “second order questions”. The second example is a result of the “system” that is in place that allows beings to seen as how we wish to view them. We call these “facts”, but they are “facts” only within the system that allows them to be seen as such. 

Opinion is an orientation towards things as they would show themselves to a correct investigation and examination. “Opinion” is an attempt to “reveal” the truth of something covered over or hidden. “Opinion” is Plato’s “justified true belief” which he outlines in his dialogue Theatetus. Opinion is not a seeking for knowledge but is something someone already has whether it be true or false because an opinion can be true or false. Sophia and episteme are not “opinion” because they are already complete i.e. they are not underway towards something because they already possess knowledge of the things about which they deliberate and those things are the things which are permanent. “Opinion” regards those things that can be otherwise and that is why it can be true or false. Opinion is the handing over of knowledge through “language” and what the thing is that is handed over. It is not a “truth relativism”; it may reveal or it may not. It reveals when it is true; it does not reveal when it is false.

Knowledge as it is defined in the Oxford Dictionary involves facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It is an awareness or a familiarity with a subject be it theoretical or practical. Such a definition is correct to a point. What we call knowledge involves truth and judgement. Knowledge as truth indicates that some thing has been brought to light, has been revealed and this we consider a “fact”; but it is only a “fact” within the theoretical viewing or system that has brought it to light as such. “Information” only “informs” when the data which comprises it is placed within a system (the “form”) that allows it to “in-form”. It is the “system” that makes “information” possible. This ‘system’ is called the “technological” in other areas of this writing. “Skills” are “know how”, what the Greeks called techne. They are what can be learned and what can be taught i.e. the Greek word mathematical. This prompt and topic is dealt with at greater length in the following links: CT 1: Perspectives (WOKs)

CT 1 Knowledge and the Knower: “Empowerment”;

CT 1: Introduction to Theory of Knowledge: Knowledge and the Knower

26. Does our knowledge depend on our interactions with other knowers?

What we call our “knowledge” requires that what we consider the knowledge to be must be rendered or “handed over to” others so that it may be justified and made secure. This rendering is done through language of some kind. We may all have private experiences that are unique to us and that we consider “knowledge”, but unless they are shared with others, we cannot be secure that they are knowledge. We may gain our knowledge from parents, peers, teachers or others with whom we come in contact, but this knowledge must be made “our own”. At some point in the future you will become a member of a knowledge community within the multi-versities that are post-secondary education. We call them “universities” but this is a misnomer. They are “multiversities” because their domains of knowledge exist within various “world-pictures”. 

Our cognition, our conscious awareness, is a type of representational thinking which, in the presentation or the “experience”, some thing we encounter comes to stand, to a standstill, is put in a “position” or “place”. What is encountered and brought to a standstill is the object. For modern thinking, the manner in which beings are is as objects. Representational thinking, the thinking in images and ideas, the representedness, belongs to the objectness of objects. This representational thinking, or visual thinking, determines how the object stands i.e. “is”. What this means is that something is, something can only be identified as a being/thing, only if it is stated in a sentence that satisfies the fundamental principle of reason as its founding i.e.. it is the fundamental principle of all that is, including statements made to others. Reasons must be rendered or “handed over” for the things which first give themselves to us. This demand that reasons must be rendered is what is empowering in the principle of reason. It is this that is the great paradigm shift of human being-in-the-world in the modern age and determines the actions that we choose to take and whom among us is sane or not. 

27. Does all knowledge impose ethical obligations on those who know it?

This is a particularly troublesome prompt because it requires an exploration of the terms “impose” and “ethical obligations”. We are “obliged” to the things about us if we want them to work at their most efficient level. For example, if we want our automobiles to perform at optimum efficiency, we are “obliged”, we “owe” it to the automobiles to maintain them properly. The “ethical” obligation is our actions and reflections on the things that are. These have to do with communities. We “impose” laws to determine our behaviours in our communities. But what about the things that are about us? To whom or to what are we “obliged” to them and why? Why, for example, are we “obliged” to preserve panda bears in conditions that are far better than most human beings in the world? From where do these obligations stem? A specific discussion of the computer as an example can be found at this link: https://mytok.blog/2017/07/29/technology-as-a-way-of-knowing-computers/.

“Ethical obligations” were called rendering “what was due to some thing or another”. It is the old definition and understanding of justice: “we render to others their due”. These are written about at length in other entries in this blog and reviewing them might be helpful with your Exhibition under this prompt. But if in our “rendering”, we are turning everything into objectness so as to seek its possibilities and potentials, from where will any recognition, responsibility or obligation arise? Can we do it is prior to should we do it, for we have lost any sense of “should”. 

CT 1: Self-Knowledge and Ethics

Nietzsche/Darwin: Part IX-B: Education, Ethics/Actions: Contemplative vs. Calculative Thinking

Part IX: Darwin/Nietzsche: Otherness, Owingness, And Nihilism:

Nietzsche/Darwin Part VIII: Truth as Justice:

28. To what extent is objectivity possible in the production or acquisition of knowledge?

This prompt is covered in greater depth under #17.  The question here is “what is meant by objectivity”? In responses to the other prompts, the interpretations of the key concepts in those prompts suggest that not only is “objectivity” possible, it is our way of being-in-the-world, for it is through our perceptions of things that we turn everything into an object; and it is only by being an object that we can begin any discussion of them and, thus, acquire any knowledge of them. The history of what is called “objectivity” begins with the French philosopher Rene Descartes and through him, what we call humanism, human beings as the centre of all that is. 

The philosophical principles lying inside quantum physics and Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle are proofs that what was traditionally called “objectivity” in the sciences is no longer possible. The human observer becomes part of the system that is being investigated in the experiment and, ultimately, determines its outcome. We do not acquire what can be called “objective knowledge” of nature as that was traditionally understood. What we have called “objectivity” in this writing is a legacy from the German philosopher Kant and his “transcendental method” and how this thinking was interpreted by the English-speaking empiricists. To go into this matter here is much too complicated and I, frankly, am not sure that I am capable of it. Suffice it to say that it must be asked: where in all human activity do human beings encounter their essence, what they truly are? It could be said, in contrast to Heisenberg,  that even high-tech disposable things. let alone the things of nature, are not truly mirrors in which we behold only ourselves (Heidegger). 

Here are some links that might be useful in discussing the key concepts of your Exhibition regarding this topic:

CT 1: Knowledge and Reason as Empowering and Empowerment

The Natural Sciences as an Area of Knowledge:


29. Who owns knowledge?

When we speak of “owning” knowledge, we are speaking about that which we have taken possession of for ourselves: “I get it!”, I understand and it is now mine. Such possession implies having a power over, a control over, a relation to some thing or some one, and therefore a responsibility for the knowledge, the thing, the person that one is related to that one has some kind of possession of. The knowledge of the techne is his own or he has made that knowledge his own, but the production of knowledge, the “products” of that knowledge or the applications of the knowledge is “through another” and “for another”. The products of Microsoft may indeed have once belonged to Bill Gates, but the knowledge that brought about those products he has taken possession of, and that knowledge and its truth is present to everyone. The knowledge of physics, chemistry, electronics, etc. did not belong to Mr. Gates but came from “outside” of him. While the responsibility for the work of art belongs to the artist herself, the “art” that provided the prompt to bring forth the work was certainly not her “own” although we believe that the “creativity” and “imagination” that are inherent in the work are the artist’s responsibility. It is this gap in our knowledge of what is “our own” and what is not that is a great mystery for us if we give thought to it. On most occasions we do not and this is due to our relation to the objects of the world that we have brought before us. 

In your Exhibition you will bring your knowledge to bear on the relations of the objects or images that you will choose to exhibit and demonstrate their connectedness to each other. This choice of images or objects is your “own”, but the truth and knowledge in the representational thinking regarding their relation to each other will not be of your doing or making.

The concreteness of the Exhibition itself is a product of your “work” and you will provide the “first order” descriptions of the images and things you have chosen. The abstractions that are the “second order questions” will be arrived at from elsewhere, thus your discussion of owning can be on the practical application side of the products of knowledge such as patents and the like, or it can deal with a theoretical discussion of what the possible meanings of owning can be. You may also wish to discuss “owe” and its distinctions from “own” and the possible implications of these in any discussion of this prompt.

CT 1 Knowledge and the Knower: “Empowerment”

Part IX: Darwin/Nietzsche: Otherness, Owingness, And Nihilism:


30. What role does imagination play in producing knowledge about the world?

While this prompt seems to suggest that the application of the knowledge brought forth from the technological world-view, which is the enjoining of the arts and the sciences, is somehow an individual event, there is an implication in the prompt that imagination does not, of itself, bring forth or produce knowledge about our being-in-the-world but plays a “role” along with other “actors” in bringing forth that knowledge.  Einstein, for example, has  been quite clear that it was not reason only that brought about his theory of relativity but that imagination played a great part in its final coming-to-be.

I have written extensively on imagination in the link below and suggest a reading of this writing as a possible prod to further you along in your Exhibition of this way of knowing the world.

Imagination as a Way of Knowing

31. How can we judge when evidence is adequate?

This prompt is very similar in nature to prompt #19 i.e. “what counts as good evidence”. “Adequate” is a synonym for “sufficient”, so evidence is considered “adequate” when “sufficient” reasons are provided for the judgements that are made; and when these are provided, they are considered “good” evidence. The principle of reason operates in any and every statement that we make about things i.e. “the book is on the table”, etc. There must be a “corresponding” relation or “reality” of the book, the table and the book’s place on the table. The “why” and the “how”, as well as the “what” are explained and this is usually indicated by our use of the word “be-cause…”, “the cause is…”.

The evidence is considered adequate when the idea in the mind corresponds to the object which is under investigation and that object gives us its reasons for being as it is. This is known as “the correspondence theory of truth”. But notice that the objects being spoken about must have already “presented” themselves to us in some fashion in order for our statements to be made about them i.e. they must be given to us a priori. “Adequate” evidence means that the evidence provided is “correct”.  Correctness is being directed toward something, making statements that are ‘fitted’ or ‘suitable’ for the things that are spoken about. In logic, the word correctness is “lack of contradiction”, “consistency”. Correctness as consistency means that a statement is deduced from another statement in accordance with the rules of reasoning. Correctness as “free from contradiction” and being “consistent” is called formal “truth”, not related to the content of beings in distinction from the material truth of content. “Correctness” is understood as the translation of the Latin adaequatio and the Greek homoiösis. Read this prompt together with #19.

32. What makes a good explanation?

A “good explanation”, like “good evidence”, provides reasons for the answers to the questions “whence”, “why” and “how”. These questions are embedded in our understanding of causality and in our cognition through our search for reasons to understand why a thing is the way it is. An explanation is a rendering or handing over of an account of things. According to Wikipedia, a good explanation is “a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of interpreted facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequences of those interpreted facts.” This description of the facts etc. may establish new rules or laws, and may clarify the existing rules or laws in relation to any objects or phenomena examined i.e. they may provide a better description of the “whence” of the objects under examination. You are required to provide a good explanation of why you have chosen the objects/images for your Exhibition and to show a good explanation of how they are related.

“Whence” means “from where”, “when” and speaks of the origins of the thing in question. This origin usually deals with the question of “motion” or “movement” so the question is raised “From where, originally, did the change or motion come from?” An explanation is a “scientific account” of a thing, and by this we mean that sufficient reasons have been given for its being the way it is. We demand that things give us the reasons for their being the way they are. You may be asked or demanded to provide an explanation for why an essay or project which you were required to do is late. An adequate or good explanation usually suffices to end the ire of that tyrant that calls himself/herself a teacher!

33. How is current knowledge shaped by its historical development?

The German philosopher Nietzsche once wrote: “The scholars dig up what they themselves buried”. The truth of what is “past” or “historical” must be disinterred and become claimed as current knowledge. This revealing or bringing out from concealment of what has been buried is “the correctness of our representations” or what we have come to call “the correspondence theory of truth”. It is what we call “research”, a “searching” again for what has been lost. When we speak of “the production of knowledge”, we are tacitly recognizing technology as a way of knowing as a way of revealing the things that are hidden. This revealing of hidden things is like the cherry tree that is currently bursting into bloom, revealing what has been concealed regarding its essence up to this time. It is through research that we believe we can uncover that which has been hidden. This research has different methodologies in the different areas of knowledge, and these methods of disinterring the truth are all pre-determined by the view of the “past” as an object of study.

The Greeks had a saying: “The future comes to meet us from behind” and it is this future that is encapsulated in the historical development of the knowledge that preceded it. Our understanding of truth gives a precedence to human subjectivity. Such a precedence was not present in the early Greek understanding of truth and, subsequently, what we understand as knowledge is not how the Greeks understood knowledge. It is through the original unconcealment of things which allows us to do anything whatsoever: in order for us to do anything, to act upon anything, to stand in relation to any being, it must have been disclosed to us in advance what a being is in general. The disclosure of things is prior to our human judgmental truth.

Our falling away into subjective truth is not a “fault” of human beings: that the gods offered themselves more fully to the Greeks than to us is not our “fault”. Here in Bali, the gods choose to show themselves more favourably so that a Balinese person would have no trouble concurring with the ancient Greek Heraclitus that “everything is full of gods”. Our cognition, based as it is on the principle of reason, has great difficulty seeing and understanding this statement.

Current knowledge and historical knowledge is shown through the transition and transformation of language: language addresses itself to human beings in words that conceal the genuine face of Being. How one re-searches the historical developments within an area of knowledge will be determined by hermaneutics and the de-construction of language. These topics are too complex to go into here, but you could do some research on them before setting off on your journey to your Exhibition.

OT 1: Language and Knowledge;

The Natural Sciences: Historical Background;  Notes on Ancient Greek Philosophy and Modern Science

34. In what ways do our values affect our acquisition of knowledge? 

In what and from where does our word “values” have its origins? What is a “value”? This word has only recently come to prominence (19th century) and yet even the Pope himself uses this word when speaking of how Roman Catholics should be in the world. Our common understanding of “values” is one hazily arrived at and derived from what Aristotle called “The Ethics” and, for Aristotle, these had to do with the actions of human beings in defining and achieving their ends, their desires and goals. His original term was arete or what we have translated as “virtue”, and knowing oneself was to have knowledge of one’s possibilities and potentialities.

The virtue of some thing was its usefulness or goodness, and it had to do with its “potentialities” or “possibilities”. For example, the “virtue” of a thoroughbred racehorse is to run fast; it is not good if it does not or cannot do so. But our word “virtue” which for the Greeks meant the “manliness of a man” has come to mean “the chastity of a woman”. This is just an example of the extraordinary changes in meaning that words have through the centuries and should serve as a warning. I have written at greater length about “values”, “knowledge” and “truth” in other sections of this blog and you can explore those writings should you choose to do so.

Darwin and Nietzsche: Part 3: Truth as “Correctness”: Its Relation to “Values”

35. In what ways do values affect the production of knowledge?

Whenever we speak of the “production” of knowledge, we are speaking of the “bringing forth” of what was once hidden into presence so that we may see it face to face. Whether we are speaking of the cherry tree in bloom in the streets or the “David” that was once hidden in the marble and now stands in Florence, “producing” knowledge involves a great deal of our time as human beings both in our work and our play. “Production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs in order to make something for consumption. It is the act of creating an output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.” Wikipedia. What this definition indicates is that the “production of knowledge” is what the Greeks called techne, and in all of those prompts that speak of the production or producing of knowledge we can be certain that the technological viewing of the world is at play. The “output” that is looked for has already been pre-determined prior to the making or “creation”. For more on the way of knowing involved in techne see the following links:

CT 1: Perspectives (WOKs)

Nietzsche/Darwin: Part IX-B: Education, Ethics/Actions: Contemplative vs. Calculative Thinking 

OT2: Technology and Knowledge

Author: theoryofknowledgeanalternativeapproach

Teacher

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