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Ways of knowing


The ways of knowing are how we acquire knowledge about the world around us, and figure out our relationship with it. TOK identifies 8 different ways of knowing, each one involving a different method of gaining knowledge, but just like with the areas of knowledge, they are often intertwined and dependent on each other.


Emotion is hard to measure and assess, because each of us is affected in a different way by our emotion. One key question we will explore is to what extent it helps or hinders us in building up an objective picture of the world, and its relationship with reason.


Faith is a ‘new’ TOK way of knowing, and is perhaps the most devisive of all included on the course. Does faith exist? Do you have to choose to have it? Is it inseparabe from religion – or can atheists possess and experience it? How reliable is faith?


Imagination is another new way of knowing for the course. We all possess it to some degree, but to what extent is it necessary to the acquisition of knowledge in science and the arts? Was Einstein right when he said it was more important than knowledge?


Intuition is the way in which we acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. Is it a reliable way of learning about the world around us? Is it vital for leading us towards new discoveries in the sciences? What role does it play in ethics?


Language is not only a way we understand the world, it is also the way we express ourselves, and allow others to understand us. One of the key questions in language is to what extent is our vision of the world limited by the language that we speak.


Memory is the last ‘new’ way of knowing. Questions associated with it include whether it really is a way of knowing, or just the accumulation of all the other ways of knowing, and the extent to which we can build up knowledge without it.


Reason is traditionally portrayed as the opposite of emotion in terms of the acquisition of knowledge. Key questions therefore include its relationship with emotion, the different forms of reason, and the ‘enemies’ of reason such fallacies.


Sense perception is probably the most ‘immediate’ way of knowing, and the first that we develop as human beings. The key question to contend with is how reliable our senses are, and to what extent we can rely on them to provide us with ‘true’ knowledge.


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Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Ways of knowing(6th May 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/ways-of-knowing/ Last accessed: 22nd July 2014