Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Role of the Knower: An Exercise in Contrast

For Friday, please reflect on the text below.  Your writing should include—though not be limited to—answers to the four questions that follow the excerpt.  Check back Friday afternoon for a second text on which to write, including as always your take on others’ thoughts from the first round.

“If when we learn new things we can see the world differently, then as we learn new things we react to it differently.  We are then living in a different world, a world with different possibilities, different impossibilities.  Which world is the right one, the real one?  Is it the new world or the old?  What do we mean by this question?  And, ultimately the question, if this is true, what new things should we try to learn so as to live in a different world?” (Lawrence LeShan, Alternate Realities: The Search for the Whole Human Being. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, 8.)

1. What happens to us when we learn?
2. What happens to the world when we learn?
3. Do human beings, living in the same society, live in different worlds because of what they know?             
4. How does the following quote, from Emerson's Self-Reliance, affect your thinking on the previous question? “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius."

Friday Update:
Please continue your conversation in the context of the following ideas and questions.

"Fact and truth really don't have much to do with each other"
-William Faulkner

"Every knowledge system is shaped by the characteristics of the society that produced it.  We are accustomed to considering the flow in the opposite direction, seeing how scientific and technological advances have shaped modern society.  But it is of critical importance to recognize both flows.  We have the kind of society we have in part because of the fruits of science and technology.  But the converse is also true: we have the kind of science we have in part because of the particular nature of the society in which it was developed."  (Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century.  Indianapolis: Knowledge Systems, Inc., 1988, 27.)

1.  How has your knowledge system been shaped by your society?  For example, how has science been shaped by your society?
2.  Can different societies have different sciences, histories, etc.?

And speaking of decoding, check this out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What are you suggesting?

If we begin with a definition of connotations—found here or elsewhere—then the act of understanding them is one of decoding.  For Friday morning and your first round of comments, please identify and record here one act of decoding you commit (prosecuted or otherwise) in a class other than TOK.  Detail for us the explicit meaning of the text and all the implicit meanings you find, as well as how you use these meanings.  Then, in the context of what we’ve heard, read, and thought about free will (follow this for a new reading before your second posting) and how we choose, do some writing for Tuesday morning in which you reflect on the decisions you make in the process of decoding these implications.  To what extent are your understandings decisions that you control?  Remember, too, that these second rounds of comments should reflect your considerations of each other’s ideas.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Hi Team.  This will be your TOK home away from (and during) class for the next two years.  Here you will find links of interest, including homework assignments.  You will be asked (that is, required) to read, consider, comment, repeat.  Generally, you will need to comment on each text by Friday morning at 8 am, then again by Tuesday at 8 am, this second comment reflecting your consideration of each other's ideas from the first round of comments.  You should each be coming to class having read both rounds of comments and ready to continue discussion from where they leave off.  In this way, we will have ongoing discussions running through the weeks before classes.
As you and your TOK skills develop, you will take on greater responsibility for posts and links.  There will also be video.