Monday, October 30, 2006

Senses and Stories

Richard Gregory, author of The Intelligent Eye, quotes, "How far are human brains capable of functioning with concepts detached from sensory experience?" This question goes about a million years back to when we first received the "Seeing Things" handout from K.C. Cole's First You Build a Cloud. There have been many similar posts concerning this subject matter, but now that we have started creating stories, have your views changed? Suppose that the only sensory contact you were able to have (ever) was when you heard the music for the story assignment. How would your story be different? Could you create a story at all?

Muy Interesante

So everyone here is something interesting that I think you might enjoy-
This is a passage from a speech by Dudley Malone during the Scopes trial, and he was speaking for the prosecution. Just for those who don't know the Scopes trial was a product of the conflicting cultural cross current of the era. It was trial for a teacher from Dayton who was accused of teaching evolution, which was against the law at that time, and was put on trial to see if he should be charged with the $100 fine that was the punishment of doing such a thing. However the trial turned far more into as Roger Baldwin put it "the good book against Darwin, bigotry against science, or as popularly put, god against monkeys." It became a defining point in the history of Americans morals and beliefs. Even though Malone was on the prosecution he felt the genesis and evolution were not in conflict. So here is his closing statement with a tribute to the power of truth:

"Truth always wins and we are not afraid of it. The truth is no coward. The truth does not need the law. The truth does not need the forces of government. The truth does not need Mr. Bryan (prosecuter) The truth is imperishable, eternal, and immortal and needs no human agency to support it. We are ready to tell the truth as we understand it and we do not fear all truth that they can present as facts. We are ready. We are ready. We feel we stand with progress. We feel that we stand with science. We feel that we stand with intelligence. We feel that we stand with fundemental freedom in America. We are not afraid. Where is fear? We meet it. Where is fear? We defy it..."

Thoughts ideas? anyone

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dark Matter

I just wanted to start a discussion about the lecture on dark matter presented by Dr. Polhemus and see what others thought about it. I thought the presentation was phenomenal and was very impressed by the ideas and information, but afterwards I was troubled by some questions and doubts.

I guess my overall question revolves around when and how a concept like dark matter can become knowledge. Currently, we are not able to perceive dark matter with our senses. Some scientists have made theories about it because it seems to explain some occurrences in space, but do they know that dark matter exists? What do they need as evidence to claim that it does exist? Do they need more examples like the bullet cluster? If so, how many more? Also, when will the average person be able to claim it as knowledge? Most people can not understand these theories because they are so complex. Are the scientists a reliable authority for the general population?

Here's a link to an article on some of the general ideas and the bullet cluster if you missed the lecture or if you're just looking for an interesting read:

my two left feet

In the movie my two left feet he used his feet to paint, do you think the significance of these paintings changed the more he learned about life? For example after the painting for the girl was returned, do you think that changed any of his beliefs?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"When Not Seeing Is Believing"

Ok, so I was reading this article in the Time Magazine from October 9 titled “When Not Seeing is Believing” and it just screamed TOK! to me. I thought this article presented such an accurate interpretation on the power of fundamentalist thought and its effects. The article began by noting the smile of certainty present on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadienjad’s face during his visit to the U.N. This smile reflected his trust in the arms of God and the power of his faith. The need to submit to the beneficent, omnipotent will of God has been present throughout all religions throughout time. The article stresses the point that the resurgence of religious certainty has deepened our cultural divisions and caused more polarized political discoures.
I found it really interesting when the article mentioned the impossibility of proclaiming truth with a capital T when it comes to faith. There is always a sense of uncertainty that humans will never grasp. At the heart of religion is humanness marked by imperfection and uncertainty that was even seen in Jesus.
So, as humans strive towards an absolute truth, it is real doubt that teaches people to believe. Faith does not come from sense perception. So I don’t think it can be close to absolute
This is why I see certainty of faith as a paradox. Faith incorporates doubt, so religion cannot be used as a certainty in any kind of political decision. Political divisions then arise so strongly.
What does everyone think about this? It’s a really good article that gives a much better account of what I just said, so you should really read it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

How can faith blind/impair our perception?

How can faith blind/impair our perception?

This question i thought might be good for what we're learning in class. People should be thinking about it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Art, Literature, and Everything in Between

So, going along with Josh's post of "What is Art?" I'd like to raise the question of what is literature, what is art, are the the same and how. In my opinion, literature falls under art. I define art as a form of expression of an intangible concept through tangible means. I would also say that all art is subjective. Literature to me is the art concerned with language. To me it is expression which requires human word, written or spoken, to convey its meaning. I'd just like to see what you all thought of this, see what you think about genres such as theatre, cinema, television, pulp fiction, the works.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Genius of a Child... repost

Because of the conversation that Josh is starting about art and the conversations in class, I thought I'd repost the following...

Marla Olmstead, a six-year old who sold her first painting for $250 when she was 2 years old and is now considered an artistic prodigy. Check out her work by following the link above. She has been featured by...

LA Weekly
The New York Times
60 minutes
The Today Show
BBC News
and many, many others...

Just thought it might add to your discussion as to what defines genius and the subjective nature of artistic "knowledge". What do you think?

What is art???

hey all, i was thinkin about this durring TOK today. i was thinkin about what art really is and concidering what adrean was saying about how one progresses through art and in doing this, becomes more aware of the different "correct" methods of creating art. in the most respectful way possible, i completely dissagree with the statement that there is a correct way of creating art for certain forms of art. i personaly think that art is completely what the creator makes of it. I think that a four year olds art is the most pure form of art ever concievable simply because it is un-tainted by the conformities of society. a four year old has no guidlines, and therefor can completely and totaly honestly express their emotions, which in my oppinion is what art's pourpose is. Can there be art without emotion? I personaly dont think there can be, because i think that art is emotion. i also believe in two forms of art: art that is there simply for the emotional dovelopment or satisfaction of the creator, and art that is created to actively draw out emotions in the audience. without emotion, art is not only not art, it is completely pointless. what do you guys think, now that i have stated my oppinion? do you agree?


Since we're going to be talking about language in ToK and how it relates to the Areas of Knowledge, I thought I'd do a post on language.
What constitutes a language? Is it possible to have language other than the spoken word? i.e. Can you consider mathematics as a language? What about the languages of music and art? Do you think that it is possible to have a language that is not spoken? What are the boundaries and/or limitations and benefits of having a language that is not spoken? Are there any similarities/dissimilarities between the languages of math, music, and art? To what extent would we be effective at communicating ideas in these languages if we cannot speak it? How is this different from perception?

This is kind of a broad topic, so you don't have to answer all the questions I posted...

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Elusive Truth

Ok, so this is the question.

Can one culture or area of the world or even one era, for that matter, claim to have more knowledge than another culture/area/era because more of their beliefs are properly justified???

For example, while one culture may only be able to base their beliefs off of instinct or what was believed in the past, does that make those beliefs less justifiable than a culture that can justify theirs with techonology, scientific investigation, etc., maybe even in addition to instinct and the like?

Does this tie into personal vs. descriptive justifications? does that descriptive knowledge have to count for the whole world, for all time (is that what Truth is??) or just for the era, the locality?

Does that mean we are moving any closer to the Truth as we go along and gather more means of proper justification?

Does your head hurt yet?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Truth In America

An interesting show on Oprah recently about "Truth in America" and how the media affects our view of what the truth is...

"According to the Poynter Institute's Dr. Roy Peter Clark, 'The truth is being distorted from all corners, and Americans don't see it, or if they do, too many don't seem to care.' Here are seven things Dr. Clark says you can do to recognize manipulation in government, media, business and advertising:

1. Find three political bloggers who represent the right, the left and the middle. Consult them to help you sort through political issues and media messages.

2. Look for role models of candor and accountability, people in public life who have proven to be reliable over time. Look especially for folks within a movement or political party who have the courage to speak against the interests of their own party.

3. Prefer people who want to have a vigorous conversation to those who want to shout at each other.

4. Do not be seduced into thinking that every hot-button issue requires you to be on one side or the other. There may be a middle ground. Don't be afraid to be puzzled or uncertain about an issue. It's okay to be working to make up your mind.

5. Get up off the couch. Join a club. Volunteer. Sing in the choir. One way not to be fooled by political or media manipulation is to learn from direct experience, from reality and not reality TV.

6. In an age of celebrity culture, try to pay more attention to people for what they do than for who they are.

7. Be a skeptic, but not a cynic. A skeptic doubts knowledge. A cynic doubts moral goodness. The cynic says, "All politicians are liars," or "all journalists have a secret bias." The skeptic says, "That doesn't sound right to me. Show me the evidence."

Good, Interesting Advice no matter which side of the fence you are on...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Perceiving the future

Is it possible to perceive the future? Some astrologers say that they have seen the future through the stars; some claim to know events that will occur before they actually happen. Astrologers study the patterns of the stars to try to predict what's going to happen tomorrow. Do you think that astrology is a valid way of perception even though astrologers are not directly witnessing images of the future? If you supposedly know the future, can it ever be descriptive knowledge or is it always acquaintnace knowledge? because you can't claim to have known than an event will occur in the future because you always have to wait and confirm that it happens.
i.e. Let's say I predict that an asteroid will crash into Earth and destroy Antarctica exactly 1 week from now. Can I claim it as knowledge right now or would I have to wait 1 week and then confirm my prediction? Let's say that I perceived this through the stars, and it does turn out to be true; is it a valid way of perception or did I just make a wild guess and got it right?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Ok, so I was watching "Egypt: Engineering an Empire" last night, and it got me thinking. How were the pyramids built? I know this sounds like an engineering question but, really, how? There are no records to give soild proof, so we are left down to perceptions. How do we personally think it was done?
For me, i say Aliens. Stargate was proof enough for me, but what do you think, and why?

Monday, October 09, 2006

The love-pancake theory


Alright, now that I've got that out of my system, let's move on. For my first post, I would like to present you all with a game. This game, for simplicities sake, will be called "The Love-Pancake theory". Below are three rules. These rules are the only truths we have, these are the only things we know. However, you may add new rules during the course of the game. You may add a new rule by proving it to be true, and by having three more people agree than disagree with this rule.

1) Love is blind
2) Love= ♥
3) Love will keep us together.

Thus, given the rules above, your task is this: Diiscuss wether or not the picture below is love. Remember: If you wish to disproove this as love, you must either prove it is not through the rules above, or create a new rule that proves it is not. No new rule can directly contradict another, i.e there cannot be a rule stating "Love can see". However, there can be a rule that shows the picture is not love, i.e "Love is a battlefield".

I've either confused you all and no one will post on this, or this will work out to my own devious plan and we will have people arguing about wether or not love is a heart-shaped pancake.


How do you think your perception of the movie Crash would have been affected had they incorporated judgement and hatred based on disabilities as well as race? Would it have had the same emotional impact as before? How does your perception of someone vary based on whether or not they are disabled, either physically or mentally?


For those of you that have watched Crash (and if you haven't, you will), I simply ask for your reaction...

How does this movie relate to Perception and Ethics? (or TOK in general)
What questions does Haggis (director) wish his audience to ask of themselves?
What message did you get from the movie?
What is your overall personal reaction?

Answer any, all, or none.

Try to go beyond...
"Racism is bad" and "Don't judge a book by its cover".

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

History vs. Science

Okay, during the History presentations in our class, a huge debate was started based on the comment that Historians face the same issues as Scientists. It was thought that History is the same as Science, in many ways. I want to know what all of you out there think. What are the similarities, if any, between the two, and why does it matter in terms of sense perception? Please feel free to argue if the two relate in any way at all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Emotion and Knowledge

An interesting quandry I've come to...

By the definitions given us by our TOK language, a moral/ethical belief can qualify as an emotional claim to Knowledge. Knowledge must be a PJTB, as defined by TOK. Yet moral/ethical issues are completely and entirely relative, and cannot be proven true in any sense of the word. So, the way I see it, TOK is wrong here - Knowledge claims that use ethical/moral/emotional beliefs as their basis cannot possibly be True.
Am I interpreting this wrong, or does what I just said hold some validity?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, was I right?

I stumbled upon this on a teacher blog I read occasionally...


"There is a story of the new recruit at an engineering company, fresh out of college, who was given a circuit to analyze on his first day on the job. He worked on it for most of the day and then brought his solution to the manager who had assigned the task that morning. The recruit placed his solution on the desk and waited eagerly for a response. The manager looked at the paper and then filed it. The recruit lingered for awhile and then said, 'Well was I right?'

The manager was shocked. He asked, 'Why would I pay you to find answers that I already know?'”

Just thought you might enjoy this...
I'm sure many of you fall into a similar trap.

The question is...
Why, as students, is verification so often needed when searching for answers to the questions that you are challenged with?