Natural Science Notes - Theory of Knowledge
Natural Science Quotes
- "It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this." (Bertrand Russell)
- "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." (Galileo Galilei)
- "He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; and he that dares not reason is a slave." (William Drummond)
- “As a matter of historical fact, the history of science is, by and large, a history of progress.” (Karl Popper)
- "Critical reason is the only alternative to violence so far discovered." (Karl Popper)
- "Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." (G K Chesterton)
- "You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into." (Jonathan Swift)
Definitions of Natural Science
- A science or knowledge of objects or processes observable in nature,as biology or physics, as distinguished from the abstract or theoretical sciences, as mathematics or philosophy. (dfknj.wz.cz)
- any of the sciences (as physics, chemistry, or biology) that deal with matter, energy, and their interrelations and transformations or with objectively measurable phenomena. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Insights from Natural Science
The insights of science allow us to understand the processes of our world. People applying the methods of science have given us insights into things, from the more abstract (pure science) areas, such as the theory of relativity, big bang theory or evolution, to more practical areas (applied science) such as the research which have brought us antibiotics, electricity and all of our advanced technologies.
- Often insights which seem very abstract and unsuited to practical application end up having dramatic practical uses. For example, when the structure of DNA was first discovered, genetic engineering wasn't considered a practical possibility. Today, genetically modified crops have already reduced chemical pesticide use by 37% and increased crop yields by 22% (Klümper, W).
- The essense of the power of science is it’s predictive power. Science allows us to make predictions about what will and won't work in terms of technologies.
- Science is great at overcoming personal biases or wrong beliefs. Scientists aren't able to test every potentially wrong belief, but in the areas where scientific testing is possible (i.e. natural processes) the scientific method does a great job at uncovering false beliefs.
- Specific instances of scientific insight can be generalised, using inductive reasoning, to derive general principles of how the world works.
- Scientists are expected to record and share both their results and their methodologies. This means that new findings are shared widely and mistakes can be caught.
- - There's more! - -
A premium version of the ToK notes is available, with helpful insights and videos for all of the WoKs and AoK's. You can join by clicking the link below.
How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay
The following structure is a very good, step-by-step method you can use on any ToK essay to get very high marks.
Here are the main things to keep in mind when you're using this method:
- Your #1 priority is answering the prescribed title. If you somehow follow this method, but don't answer the question you won't score well. So make sure you keep linking back to the question as you go.
- Try to use original, interesting evidence.
(I have a full a lot of helpful advice, tutorials, evidence videos in my online ToK course, which you're welcome to join if you like. Or, if you just need some TOK Notes you can get those here.)
And I've also made a help page (similar to this) for the TOK presentation, here.
Okay here we go
The structure on this page will give you a strong foundation for your essay and then we're going to make your essay as insightful as possible.
First, choose your PT and KQ
Before you can begin your real/final essay, you’ll want to look at the Prescribed Title (something like: “What is it about mathematics and science that makes them so convincing?” and think about it.
Get some of your initial ideas down on paper.
Second, choose 1 WOK and 2 AOKs
Now, take your prescribed title and choose two AOKs to explore it with (here are my notes: Mathematics, Human sciences, Natural Sciences, the Arts, Ethics, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Religious Knowledge Systems, or History). Or you can use WOKs: (again here are my notes: Emotion, Faith, Sense perception, Reason, Imagination, Intuition, Language, Memory). Then you can explore these aspects in your essay.
I normally recommend exploring just 2 AoK's in the main body of your essay and then include a few insights into WOKs around the edges (more on this in a bit).
The essay contains two body sections (or "developments"). Each body section will look at a certain area of knowledge or way of knowing.
To explore the question we chose above, it's pretty easy to choose our AOKs because they are actually listed in the question. We'll be using Mathematics and Natural Science.
The courtroom analogy
The TOK essay is about knowledge (how we come to know things). It helps to think of the essay as though you're showing the most interesting bits of a conversation between two smart people, about how we know things.
Or you could think about it like presenting two sides of an argument, in front of a judge. Each side needs to present evidence.
One lawyer is saying YES (i.e. reason is reliable, with examples) and the other is pointing out the weaknesses in what lawyer 1 is saying (i.e. reason is often not reliable, also with examples).
Your lawyer will make the case that you can’t be guilty of robbing the bank (her thesis), by using several arguments (claims); she’ll show that
- You weren’t there
- You’re are a moral person and
- You don’t have the technical knowledge to pull off a job like that.
However, if your lawyer was a ToK student they would also be explaining reasons why you might be guilty (the counterclaims).
- Someone said they saw you there,
- You admitted to lying to your mom about candy one time and
- You are pretty good at computers.
The lawyers would use evidence to support each of these claims and counterclaims.
Making sure your evidence actually supports your claim is one of the toughest aspects of the essay.
The step-by-step method
The method has 4 sections and 7 paragraphs overall and specific aspects need to go in each.
First, write your introduction, using words
-Say 2 interesting things about the prescribed title. "Many people find Mathematics and Natural Science very convincing. However, many of these same people would say that they don't have a strong understanding of either of these two fields. Both of these fields rely on rigorous methodologies."
-Define one or two of the key terms in the title. Here I might define Mathematics and Natural Science. (I would also look up the term "convincing". I might not include that definition in my essay, but I would like to know whether there are any conflicting definitions. That might help me say interesting things later on in the essay--for example in the conclusion.)
-Narrow in on one aspect which is particularly interesting. "This essay with focus on the link between replicability of results, as a source of reliability."
-State your thesis. What is your short answer to the prescribed title, your thesis. (You might decide, by the end of your essay, that your initial thinking was wrong, but you should know the point your claims are going to be supporting).
-Give us a roadmap, a sentence that gives us a preview. This shows us what you’re going to do in your body paragraphs (your "developments"). Tell us AOKs you're going to use and which WOK you will be focused on most. This will make it easy for the marker to know what to look for. An example: “Mathematics can be seen as more reliable because it uses reason. Natural science can be less reliable because it relies on observation. ”
Next write your first development. 2 paragraphs totalling words
-Claim. A claim a topic sentence that outlines your argument about the prescribed title. For example you could claim that, “Mathematics can be relied on because it is a purely logical system.”
-Explain. Elaborate and clarify your claim. “Mathematics is axiomatic and independent of subjective experience.“
-Example. A real life example, to clarify and support the claim from your own experience. Examples should be personal, specific, precise and real. Did something happen in your Science class? Did you have a conversation with your or hear a story from your grandfather? These are evidence from your own life rather than examples from Darwin or Lincoln. So you could talk about how, “In mathematics we learned that the inside angles of a triangle, in Euclidian space, sum up to degrees.”
-Counter-claim. Argue against your claim above. “However, it is possible to come to different conclusions using different systems of mathematics.”
-Example. An example that supports your counter claim. “There are different It is not possible to demonstrate that the interior angles of a triangle equal degrees in Euclidian space, this cannot be proven within other systems, such as spherical geometry or hyperbolic geometry.”
-Link to prescribed title. Quickly sum up the (complicated) insights of this section. “It is therefore clear that mathematics is reliable to an extent, but often it can only show something to be true within one fixed system or approach.”
Now, write another two body paragraphs, looking at your second AOK. Use the same approach you saw in paragraphs 2 and 3. words
-Link to prescribed title.
Finally, write your 'conclusion'. Two paragraphs, totalling words
-Your conclusion. Explain what big, general insights have come out of this--your conclusion.
Implications and significance. Also tell us why it's important that we know this. When and how does it matter that we understand this lesson?
-Perspectives and extensions. If you can, try to pull in a very different perspective, on your conclusion. Perhaps you can recognize a very different way of approaching the question, which could have resulted in quite different insights than those you included in your essay. Or you could also mention one or two unresolved questions that this essay has revealed. You could also think of this as explaining some "limitations" or a weaknesses of your essay, but it's also about showing that the conversation isn't over yet. There is more to the question than you've had the room to explore.
Obviously there is a lot more depth that we can go into about what makes a really great TOK essay, but this structure will get you started.
Here are some more ToK Essay tips you might want to consider or you can join my online program if you like dfknj.wz.cz
Cite this page as:
Woods, Tim. “How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay” IBMastery. IBMastery, 1 Jan Web. TODAY’S DATE <dfknj.wz.cz>