What is Knowledge?
What is knowledge? I - Hoaxhunt
Your first task in this section is straight forward enough. Click on the icon on the left and explore the websites listed. Your job is to work out which sites are hoaxes. You must base your judgement on a reasoned approach by examining the sites themselves and using your skills as digital natives to work out which ones are not to be trusted.... How do you know what knowledge is genuine? How do you check that something is to be trusted? What is knowledge?........
What is knowledge? II - Welcome to the Matrix.....
What is knowledge? III - Konspiration58...
Read pgs 1-4 of the article on the left - click the pic:
K58 - what was it? What does it want. to show?
Now read the last 2-3 pages:
What was K58's purpose?
How did it try to achieve its goals?
Why did it feel the need to do this?
What does this tell us about what we see as knowledge?
What is knowledge? IV - Maps, maps, maps
Knowledge is the raw material of the TOK course. Throughout the TOK course, there should be ongoing conversations about the nature, scope and limits of knowledge. However, a detailed technical philosophical investigation into the nature of knowledge is not appropriate in a TOK course. For example, there is no expectation that TOK students will be familiar with specific philosophers or philosophical texts.
However, it is useful to have a rough working idea of what is meant by “knowledge” at the outset of the course—this can then become more refined throughout the discussions.
There are various ways of thinking about knowledge, but one useful way to help us think about knowledge in TOK can be through the metaphor of knowledge as a map. Since a map is a simplified representation of the world, items that are not relevant to the purpose of the map are left out. For example, we would not expect to find detailed street names on a map of a city metro system.
This metaphor can help us understand the importance of considering the context in which knowledge has been sought and constructed, about how knowledge grows and changes, and about the difference between producing and using knowledge.
It can also prompt interesting wider reflections on the cultural assumptions behind our understanding of what maps are or should be, or the way that the cartographer’s perspective is reflected in a map. Maps and knowledge are produced by, and in turn produce, a particular perspective.
What is truth? Theories to help us define it..
1. The correspondence theory of truth
The correspondence theory of truth asks whether the proposition matches up to what we know through our senses (ie what we see, hear, taste, etc.) to be true. An example may be if we go to a football match, and afterwards claim that a certain striker was playing in the game. The claim would have been made by seeing him on the pitch being involved in the game: in other words, using our senses to confirm if something is true.
This theory of truth is similar to empiricism, and demands that we rely on our own personal experience to be able to figure out if something is true or not.
2. The coherence theory of truth
The coherence theory of truth relies on the proposition fitting in with what we know to make sense. If we had made the knowledge claim that the striker was playing in the match without having been at the match and seeing him on the pitch for ourselves, then the claim would have been made based on other pieces of information that made that fact likely. Perhaps we knew that he was fit, playing extremely well, and reported by the manager beforehand as being the team’s main goal-scoring hope.
This theory of truth is similar to rationalism, and demands us to use information not acquired through personal experience to logically reach an answer.
3. The consensus theory of truth
Consensus means the agreement of a group of people, so our third theory of truth is based around the idea that truth is what the majority of people believe. In our example, the fact of the striker playing in the match would be confirmed as true if the majority of people watching the game confirmed that he was present.
This theory of truth is not one favoured by any philosopher of note, although it is worth mentioning as it is often drawn on by people to confirm what they are saying is true. This often means that it turns into a fallacy – which we will look at later on.
4. The pragmatic theory of truth
The pragmatic theory of truth is a little more complicated, and requires us to understand a little bit about the background of the philosophical school of pragmatism, and its most famous member, William James.
Pragmatism holds that truth is whatever is useful and profitable to us, and whatever brings us benefit.
For William James, (but not all pragmatists – don’t be fooled by some TOK textbooks who try to tell you that William James is a typical example of a pragmatist) this meant that truth was ‘mutable’ or changeable, rather than something concrete and absolute. James believed that it often takes a long time to figure out whether something is true or not, based on whether it works successfully.