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Intro to Tok

The Map Metaphor and Shared vs Personal Knowledge
by

Lauren Elman

on 4 September 2013

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Transcript of Intro to Tok

Introduction to TOK- The Map Metaphor
Knowledge as a Map
A map is a simplified picture of some aspect of the world designed to solve a particular problem.
- We use ordinary maps to find our way on the earth's surface.
- The Natural Sciences map how the material world works.
- The human sciences map our human interactions with the world
Shared and Personal Knowledge
In TOK, a broad distinction must be made between personal knowledge (I know) and shared knowledge (we know).
Whilst this subject will deal with both types, more attention will be paid to shared knowledge.
There is a two way street between shared and personal knowledge- personal experience can contribute to shared knowledge and vice versa (consider the the objective of education)
Knowledge as Shifting
Knowledge is not static.
As methods of inquiry change and develop, so the knowledge they produce changes.
The changes can be gradual, but there are occasions when there is a sudden shift of thinking- paradigm shifts (cubism to abstract impressionism, deterministic physics to indeterminacy of Quantum Theory)
Maps as Problem Solvers
How well a map solves the problem it was designed for depends on: how accurately it pictures the world and how appropriately the map is tailored to its task.
The Power of Maps
Maps represent only some aspects of the world.
They are a simplification to allow us to gain understanding of the complexities of the world.
- Accurate representation of topology of underground rail system.
- Useless for navigating streets of city above ground
London Underground Map
True or False?
- The London Underground Map is not wrong, it just has a different task to an overground map.
- It is more appropriate to talk of the accuracy and appropriateness of a map than its truth.
- All maps by definition are false in that they are necessarily simplified.
Link to Knowledge
The main idea of the map metaphor is that knowledge is some sort of simplified representation of some aspects of reality designed to do real work.
It is better to speak of knowledge as being accurate and appropriate to its task rather than to dwell on its truth.as different tasks might require different types of Knowledge.
Shared Knowledge
Is assembled by a group of people.
Is highly structured.
Is systematic in its nature.
Does not solely depend on the contribution of a particular individual.
Allows for the possibility for others to check and amend individual contributions and add to the body of knowledge that already exists.
Changes and evolves over time due to continued application of methods of inquiry.
Personal Knowledge
Depends crucially on experiences of particular individual.
Is gained through experience, practice and personal involvement.
Is made up of what we know through experience/ personal education/ research..
Is bound up with particular local circumstances of individual.
Includes individual skills, talents, etc.
Examples of Personal Knowledge
Skills and abilities I gain through practice e.g. football, skiing, playing the piano, etc.
Knowledge of my personal biography through my memory.
Knowledge of myself and how I react in certain situations.
Knowledge required in personal decision making process- why I decided to to X
Examples of Shared Knowledge
Chemistry- a vast discipline built up over the last few centuries by a large number of people working together. Individual chemists can contribute but new knowledge must be rigorously tested by review.
IT- the task of building a computer is a group effort involving thousands of peoples knowledge.
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