Chapter 8 The Ways of Knowing

Chapter 8 The Ways of
Introduction to Ways of Knowing
• Ways of knowing different than the Areas of
• Areas of knowledge are relatively distinct units
• The ways of knowing are much more
interconnected with one
It is virtually impossible to separate the four
ways when we say we know something
They do not work independently of one another
How would we “know” about the
situation in the picture?
• A. Perception
• B. Reasoning
• C. Language
• D. Emotion
E. All of the above
Which way of knowing creates your
knowledge of this situation?
Imperative to remember
• All of the ways of knowing are
inseparably intertwined with one
another and they work together to
create every person’s understanding
of and knowledge about reality
Ways of knowing are also
important factors in each of the
areas of knowledge
• Rudbeck’s emotion
affected his perception.
His perception affected
his reason
His reason affected his
All of these affected the
knowledge claims he
made in history
This must be the ski track to
the lost city of Atlantis
This ways of knowing chapter will
• How the Ways of Knowing affect one
• How they are important for knowledge
claims in the Areas of Knowledge
• How the ways of knowing affect the
knowledge we claim to have
Lesson 1 Reason and Ways of
Reason is often discussed in essays
• Many times topic questions will ask for a
discussion of reason and how it works in
combination with other ways of knowing or
other areas of knowledge
Even when the prescribed topic question does
not ask specifically for a discussion of reason,
the subject of reason and reasoning often
applies anyway, and should be discussed
Positive aspects of reason
• Objectivity
• Rationality
• Deductive and
• Pragmatic
• Clarifies
Why do we know we should not get out of the car
to shoo this pesky wild baboon away?
Negative Aspects of Reason
• Deduction can be
Subjective nature of
Reasoning can prove
Reason has limited
Reasoning can prove unreality.
Remember the logical nonsense about the zombies?
How reason affects the other ways
of knowing
You might not want them in your bed at night,
but is there really any reason to fear spiders?
How reason effects emotion
• It “controls”
Puts emotion into a
realistic perspective
Helps differentiate
between knowledge
and belief
American propaganda poster from WWII
Reason and Language
• Language is a tool of reason
• At the same time reason is bound by
• Language is an imperfect medium for
relaying everything we can experience and
Reason and perception
• Reason makes
sense of what is
• Reason can
change our
perception of
What do we know about a scream
coming from someone on this ride?
Concluding thoughts
“Since it is reason which shapes and regulates all other things,
it ought not itself to be left in disorder”
—Discourses Chap. Xvii—Epictetus
• Reason does not work independently of the other ways
of knowing
It is dependent upon them and they are dependent upon
reason when we acquire knowledge
Reason has both its strengths and its weaknesses when
considering the type of knowledge that can be gained
from it
Reason presents us with both paradoxes and with
Lesson 2 Reason and Areas of
Reason and ethics
• Reason about right
and wrong
Reason about moral
relativity and
respecting other
Socratic Method to
decide if something is
a correct ethical
Will reason tip the ethical scale?
Reason and history
• Helps make deductive
conclusions about
events when pieces of
the “puzzle” are
Helps uncover hidden
Helps evaluate
Reason and science
• Reasoning is the
foundation for
scientific method
• Reason behind
idea of
Reason and math
• It is based on
• Reason within a
set of agreed
upon axioms
Reason and human science
• Reason in the human scientific
• Reason aids in understanding one’s
own subjective interpretations and
• Reason can help us be aware of
illegitimate statistical claims
Reason and art
• Reason is used to
interpret meaning
• Reason in creating
El Greco. St. Martin and the Beggar. 1597-1599.
Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington,
Lesson 3 Emotion and Ways of
Emotion as a Way of Knowing
• Emotion is often contrasted with reason as if
they were two separate entities
Reason is viewed by many as a way to true
knowledge, such as mathematical or scientific
Emotion is often viewed simply as a troublesome
factor of our lives which has a tendency to cloud
and skew real knowledge
• It is impossible to separate the thought
process we call reasoning from the part
of our personalities we call emotion
• Furthermore it is important to keep in
mind the strength of foundational
• Emotional knowledge is foundational
• Holds to the realm of the subjective
• Creates sound foundational knowledge, but has
shortcomings when used as a basis for objective
Has its strengths and weaknesses as a way of
knowing something
Should not be disregarded as useless for the
creation of knowledge, but at the same time it
should not be used as a basis for all knowledge
Positive aspects of emotion
• Emotion is a
• Emotion can be a Even team logos can wake emotion in fans.
basis for knowledge
and understanding
among a group or
Positive aspects of emotion
• Emotion is easily
• Emotion is knowledge
beyond words
Why do we understand mime acting?
Negative aspects of emotion
• Emotion is
• Emotion can be
irrational and
It goes a lot quicker to cut in line
How emotion affects the other
Ways of Knowing
How emotion affects reason
• It can cloud reason
and take away the
• Emotion can aid
reason through
emotional states
How emotion effects perception
• Emotion can
skew perception
• Emotion can aid
in perception
An old house or an abode for vengeful ghosts?
How emotion affects language
• Affects the type of
language we use and
message we
It is not so much what you say,
but how you say it.
• Emotion affects the
reception of the
Lesson 4 Emotion and Areas of
Is emotion too complex to fully understand?
Emotion and ethics
• Emotion can be a
decisive factor for
ethical knowledge
• Emotion as a
catalyst to
knowledge about
right and wrong
Emotion and history
• Emotion can easily
lead us to believe
one story or version
over another
Emotion can affect
which history is
The Navy ship Shaw explodes during the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Emotion and Science
• Emotion can even
cause scientists to
blatantly lie or
forge results
Emotion as a
driving force
behind all scientific
Hwang Woo-Suk resigned in late 2005
after he admitted to fabricating Stem-cell research.
Emotion and Math
• Deductive
reasoning in
mathematics and
knowledge affected
by emotion on an
individual level
Does math make you feel this way?
Emotion and Human Science
• Emotion and
interpretation in
Human Science
• Emotion and
Super Fresh is shown to make breath 125% better.
Will you dare to go a day without it?
Emotion and art
• Emotion is often
the cause of
• Emotion is part
of experiencing
and knowing art
Laocoön and his two sons, 1st century A.D. Marble,
Vatican Museums, Rome.
Lesson 5 Perception and Ways of
Introductory comments about
• How much cognitive psychology is really
necessary in TOK?
Perception is TOK only needs to focus on the
important knowledge issues raised by perception
and how perception affects knowledge
There is no great need to get into depth about
perception as it is understood and taught in
cognitive psychology
Perception does not need to be treated like a
course in and of itself
There are other aspects of
perception important for TOK
• The role of bias
• The way perception interacts with the
other Ways of Knowing and Areas of
Psychology and Perception
• Everything that we know has come to us
through our senses
The only way to gain knowledge about our world
is by perceiving the world through our senses
However, we perceive the world from our own
human, and quite limited, perspective
Subsequetly, We can only know about an
exceedingly small portion of all of the things
which are actually taking place within the
Biological threshold
• A biological thresholds is a
biological predisposition
which limits our
perceptive abilities to
what they are.
Consequently, our
biological thresholds limit
our knowledge of the
”I have an especially good nose.”
Biological thresholds and the
implications for knowledge
• We can not possibly know the world fully by perceiving
it; yet paradoxically, our perception is our only way to
know our world
Perhaps our perceptions are merely imperfect
approximations of reality which we have incorrectly
fooled ourselves into believing are actually reality
Since we are aware that we have limited perceptive
abilities we expand these abilities through technology
We are constantly searching and trying to understand
the world as it functions beyond our five senses
Biological thresholds and the
implications for knowledge (contd.)
• Since we are not able to perceive
everything we know about, we must get
our knowledge about these things from
other sources
• Our limited perception also leads to
knowledge claims based on faith and
• Illusions are a good
way to illustrate that
reality can be different
from how we actually
perceive it
Perception can fool us
into thinking things
are different than they
really are
Is seeing really believing?
Rules in the perception game
• We can only know what we can
Anything that affects our
perception can affect our
knowledge of reality
If we perceive something one
way we have no way of knowing
if our perception is reflective of
reality or not
Is it possible that we are all just
brains in a vat hooked into some
sort of perception machine?
How would we know?
Bias and Perception
• To avoid perceiving
situations all too
subjectively we must
understand how bias
affects our perception
• We must be aware of
our biases
Efficiency or treacherous death traps?
Biological biases
• A biological bias is one which is caused by
biological factors
• They limit what can be experienced and
subsequently known
• They cause people to “make sense” of
situations differently than they otherwise
Social biases
• Social biases all work on the
“making sense” level of
They can be likened to a filter
through which people view
the world
As soon as mental processing
takes place, the social biases
come into effect
Social biases are ever-present
in our perception of reality
There is more to percieving this car than
only seeing it
Social biases (contd.)
• Social biases are biases which we have
learned through our lives in a social
• They make it impossible to perceive
objects in the environment neutrally
• We cannot escape our subjective
understanding of reality to see things
differently than we can see them
Ways of Knowing and Perception
• Perception affects all
ways of knowing
• Biased perception
affects reason,
language, and
• Perception of
emotion in language
It is even possible to perceive this neutrally?
Lesson 6 Perception and Areas of
The Adoration of the Kings. Jan M. Gossaert.
1500-1515 National Gallery, London.
The human processing machine
• Always keep in mind the important role bias
plays in our perception of the world
Even the most basic of our perceptions (and
then subsequent reasoning and reaction) are
influenced by our biased outlook on the world
Knowledge claims demand processed thought
which starts with an observation of some sort
and ends with a response
Thes processes will be affected by bias
Perception and ethics
• Right or Wrong:
“what’s right and
wrong all depends on
how you see a thing.”
Bias and perception
combined create an
ethical knowledge of
Will everyone perceive alcohol the same way?
Perception and history
• Perceiving claims as lies or truths
• Perceiving connections, seeing
patterns and possible solutions
Perception and science
• Science is
• Expanding
perception via
• Perceptual bias
can affect
What is this but an extension of our
vision into smaller realms?
Perception and math
• Little or no effect
• Perception part
of mathematical
Someone must have perceived
the relationship.
Perception and human science
• Perception a part of human science
• Perceptual bias in human science
– Bias alters the meaning of phenomena as
they are being perceived
– Bias can also can also predispose a person to
observing certain types of things which are
considered to be important within the mental
construct one has
Perception and art
• Perception and
Art is made to be
Biased perception
forms creation
Biased perception
Assyrian King Ashurbanipal in the Lion Hunt.
British Museum. London
Lesson 7 Language and Ways of
“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language and reason
• Language is the means by which
reasoning takes place
• Language can prove the
The Liars Paradox
• This sentence is false (A)
– First, if (A) is true, then (A) is false
– On the other hand, let’s assume (A)
is false. But because the Liar
Sentence is saying precisely that it is
false, then in all actuality (A) is true
– So (A) is true, but it says it is false.
So it cannot be true if it says it is
false. (A) can only be true if and only
if it is false. But (A) can not be both
true and false, but (A) is both true
and false
“This sentence is false.” Hmm Perhaps he
is also perplexed by the Liars Paradox.
Language and emotion
• Language can elicit emotion
• Emotionally charged words
• Language conveys emotion
Language and perception
• Language,
emotion, reason,
and perception
• Language focuses
• Language can
alter perception
of the past
Language can change perception of the past.
Lesson 8 Language and Areas of
Language and ethics
• Ethical
through reason
and language
• Ethical
through emotion
and language
Can language help tip the scales
of ethical knowledge?
Language and history
• Historical knowledge is largely
language based knowledge
– All language will reflect cultural and personal
– The historian must be aware of this when
making and reading knowledge claims
Language and science
• Scientific language
• Perhaps language causes one to view
the world in scientific terms
– Since all of our thoughts are in words and our
thoughts make up our reality, the question
arises if people using different words have a
different reality than people who did not have
those words in their minds
Language and math
• The language of mathematics
– There is a mathematical language much like
there is a scientific language
Language and human science
• Language a subject
– Language has the
unique ability to make
the same information
mean completely
different things
Cases per Thousand
of study
interpretive ability
Drastic Rise in Phobia Cases
One word will can change everything.
Language and art
• Language is art in some aspects
– Language allows for artistic interpretation to happen,
and even if it could be proven that no objective
knowledge could come from interpretation of art,
interpretations do lead to strong subjective, or
foundational knowledge
• Everything is not completely open to
– language also has the ability to relay messages or
ideas unambiguously

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