You Among the Flowers: Perspective and Knowledge

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 in Featured Content, TOK
photo: A. Clark

photo: A. Clark

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Talmud

In what ways would you agree with the above quotation?

In what ways would you disagree with the above quotation?


Blog Reflection – Write a 250-500 word blog post that explains in what ways you would agree and disagree with the above quotation.


Current Learning Objectives

  • To develop a formative understanding of the role you play in creating knowledge.
  • To begin to identify and challenge some of your dominant knowledge sources.
  • To identify and cultivate a personal connection and understanding of some of the fundamental course concepts including personal and shared knowledge.

Key Terms and Concepts

 Perspective  Bias  Paradigm  Knowledge
 Indigenous Knowledge  Ways of Knowing  Sense Perception  Language
 Emotion  Reason  Areas of Knowledge  Human Sciences
 Natural Sciences  History  The Arts  Ethics
 Mathematics  Personal Knowledge  Shared Knowledge

Blog posting guidelines and Assessment Criteria.

Study Process

One point of the flower exercise in our first class was to look at perspective. While the aim in TOK is to develop more nuanced personal definitions of key terms, the following is a useful introductory dictionary definition of perspective:

perspective [pəˈspɛktɪv] n

1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance
2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity try to get some perspective on your troubles
3. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye
4. the appearance of objects, buildings, etc., relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance
5. a view over some distance in space or time; vista; prospect

6. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) a picture showing perspective

[from Medieval Latin perspectīva ars the science of optics, from Latin perspicere to inspect carefully, from per- (intensive) + specere to behold] perspectively  adv
from Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged – HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

The first definition above is the closest to the way we will discuss perspective throughout the ToK course. Part of the idea is that we all view situations, facts, and topics from our own unique vantage point. In other words, no two people will hold exactly the same opinions or beliefs because our personal knowledge is inseparably linked to our unique experience. At first you might think this is a problem but really it is just an unavoidable dilemma that goes with thought and making sense of the world.

As you write your journal/blog entry for the week, take the discussion into “knowledge”.

Today’s Introductions Activity

Who are you? Where have you lived? Who or what has been most influential in your development of personal beliefs and personal knowledge?

Take a minute to reflect on these questions about your personal profile and how they might influence your perspective.

a. How old are you? How might your age affect both what you know and your attitude toward gaining knowledge?

b. What is your mother tongue? What other languages do you speak? How might your particular languages affect your knowledge?

c. What sex are you? Does your gender role affect how you see the world and what expectations you have about your knowledge and education?

d. Are you urban or rural? How might living in a city or living in the countryside affect how you have learned and what you know?

e. What is your spiritual world view? How do you think thatyour following a particular religion, or not doing so, affects your knowledge?

f. What other aspects of your background belong here? Thequestions so far have just been guides, opening thoughts to which you can readily add.

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