#3 May 2018: Without uniformities there can be no knowledge.

Please ensure that you get the exact title to this essay from your teacher before you start planning the essay (I can’t put the exact title here due to copyright reasons).

If you’re going to this essay you’re going to spend a lot of time discussing the nature of uniformities in your 2 chosen AoK (do not do more than 2 AoK ).
The first, and obvious point, is that a ‘uniformity’ will be different according to the AoK under examination, it may also vary according to the example being considered. Once we place uniformities inside the Knowledge Framework we start to see that a uniformity could be the knowledge itself or it could be the product of a method of knowledge production. For example – within AoK Human Sciences the application of positivist methodologies in Psychology, Sociology, Politics and Economics will tend to lead to uniformities in identified causation and trend based outcomes. However, the use of phenomenological methodologies in the same discipline applied to the same questions as the positivist methodologies is likely to lead to more varied, distinct and unique knowledge outcomes. Is a uniformity a product of the method of construction, a real world finding or the construction (methodology) itself ?

A really interesting set of claims-counterclaims could be set up in AoK The Arts looking at the role of agreement-disagreement in genre development. Students could draw upon any of a large range of examples of genre development in any artistic fields (e.g the development of Hip Hop in the late 1970’s / early 1980s, or the development of Impressionism in the 1870s etc) and look at how disagreements between the innovators and the established knowledge led to the development of new knowledge.

Students could decide to approach the essay by considering the term ‘assumption’ (from the question) as relating to paradigms or principles of an AoK within the Knowledge Framework. This would lead to an examination of the definition of the AoK itself. It could be looked at in terms of arguing whether the AoK is a coherent entity, or merely a temporal structure defined by current knowledge, or cultural beliefs.

Another approach to this question would be to consider it through WoKs. It could be argued that the construction of knowledge using WoKs depends upon the interpretation and categorisation of knowledge in terms of uniformities. This is most clearly seen in Language and Sensory Perception, however it could also be argued for other WoKs such as emotion, intuition etc. The obvious point is that uniformity allows us to have contrast difference / comparison. It is in this contrast difference that we create knowledge – or so the argument would go. The job is then to construct a counterargument, something along the lines that such differences exist within personal knowledge, and are therefore individualised but such uniformities are not an essential part of shared knowledge etc. Students could draw upon examples like the McGurk Effect, and the illusion of speech in support of the claim, and examples such as the apparent physiological effects of Faith to contest the claim.

Which then brings us to another possible question for this essay – to what extent are uniformities a shared knowledge characteristic, and to what extent are they personally (individually) constructed ? Externalisation of knowledge categorisation could lead to a highly constructivist argument which would cause potential problems in AoK in which knowledge is more received than created (e.g. Religious Knowledge Systems, and Indigenous Knowledge Systems). Again – the question of whether a uniformity is a reality, a convenient categorisation, or merely a temporal, possibly individual, construction takes us back to the Methodology Section of the ToK Study Guide.

It is in a close examination of the different methodologies that 2 AoKs use that students could write a good essay.  A student could contrast the methodology of 2 AoKs, using RL examples to exemplify the role of uniformities in the construction of knowledge in each AoK. Students could also build in the role of WoKs (remember not to make the mistake of making it sound like WoKs work on their own, they work in unison as networkers of knowledge). However it could be argued that certain WoKs have a more prominent role in knowledge construction in certain AoKs than in others, for example Imagination in The Arts, or Indigenous Knowledge System, and Faith in Religious Knowledge Systems etc.

My final piece of advice about this essay would be that a potential process for writing it may be to start with your RL examples, and build outwards from there. Some possible suggestions for RL examples could be drawn from Adler & Schemas in Psychology, the development of knowledge of Photosynthesis,  The development of Hubble’s Theory of the Exapanding Universe, The development of gene splicing mechanisms, the post-WW1  development of Keynesian Theory, The cross-over of Risk Theory and Game Theory in Behavioural Economics, etc etc. Only choose RLS that you have knowledge of, and ideally, have some interest in.

Enjoy your writing !


5 thoughts on “#3 May 2018: Without uniformities there can be no knowledge.

    1. The essay is all about defining uniformities. Rather than me giving you a canned definition it would be better if you develop definitions as you explore the question in each of your chosen AoKs.

  1. Would you mind elaborating on how uniformities exist in religious knowledge systems as the point you made above seems very interesting to me and worthy of exploration?

    1. For example: similarities in creation stories across major religions, similar moral codes across major religions, restrictions of individual freedoms across major religions, in life judgment about after life experiences etc etc

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