The areas of knowledge are how we divide up and label the knowledge we possess. The TOK course identifies 8 different areas of knowledge, but although the nature of the knowledge within them undoubtedly varies, you should be aware that there is a great deal of overlapping both amongst themselves, and with the ways of knowing.
The arts are the results of our creativity, including music, painting, sculpture, and literature. Questions within this AoK include what constitutes art, whether art can be termed ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and to what extent our appreciation of art is universal.
Ethics is the study of moral decision-making. To investigate this tricky area of knowledge, we will consider questions such as the extent to which morality is relative, how to make ethical decision, and how ethics relates to the other areas of knowledge.
History is the study of the past. Questions we will address include the reason why it is continually being reevaluated, what we can ever know for sure about past events, and whether historians can ever escape their own paradigms.
Human sciences are generally regarded as more ‘subjective’ than the natural sciences – in other words, more subjective and open to debate. This is probably because we are dealing with the most unreliable of matters – ourselves.
Indigenous knowledge systems
IKS is a new area of knowledge that focuses on the knowledge built up by cultures that originally inhabited countries colonized and appropriated by Western nations.Their distinct approach to the acquisition and application of knowledge demands that we question our understanding of truth.
Mathematics is the ‘language of the universe’ – but is it really is 100% objective, does it progress in the same way as other areas of knowledge, and how we can use the axioms of mathematics to assist our powers of reason?
The natural sciences
Key questions in the natural sciences include what constitutes science, what makes scientific investigation reliable, and how our view of science has changed over time. We’ll also compare the human and natural sciences in terms of method.
Religious knowledge systems
RKS has long existed on the fringes of the ‘official’ areas of knowledge, and has now been elevated to one of the elect. What relationship does it have with faith and the other areas of knowledge, and can it ever provide us with objective knowledge about the world?