Sunday, March 5, 2017

TOK COMPARATIVE ESSAY

“Knowledge gives us a sense of who we are.” To what extent is this true in the human sciences and one other area of knowledge?


Without knowledge, do we know anything? There is a village that is deep in the jungles of Africa, that is not privy to access information; therefore, they do not know some of the simple things, such as colors. They have six colors that describe every one of the 16.8 million colors. I know it may sound like a dumb question but, does this mean that they can only see six colors? If you cannot describe the colors do they even exist? How is it possible that there could be so many different shades, yet these people can only identify six? How do they account for the extra hues, or tints?

Human sciences are studies of society, rather than being on a personal level. They are considered a soft science compared to natural sciences. Human sciences deal with the mind and human interactions, such as economics, anthropology, or psychology; whereas, natural sciences deal with nature and the logical facts, (often called cold, hard facts because there is no disputing them), They basically tend to be proven with evidence, having more “backing.” The brain adjusts to what it sees, which is one reason people say “seeing is believing.” There may be a lot of truth in that, but how can you explain two people seeing the same accident and giving totally different scenarios of what happened, and in what order? I have often heard of people saying their eyes played tricks on them (meaning when they looked the second time, things didn’t seem to be what they thought.)
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The battle of “who we are” is being fought between “materialistic” and “psychological” descriptions. According to Biology, a natural science, “a human being, or human, is any member of the mammalian species Homo sapiens, a group of ground-dwelling, tailless primates that are distributed worldwide and are characterized by bipedalism and the capacity for speech and language, with an erect body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects”(Source A). So by being described by the natural sciences, we are just cells that have clumped together and formed a tissue, which formed into an organ, then an organ system and so forth.  However, a sense of identity appears early on in life as the infant begins to separate themselves from their mother(through birth).
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Human sciences, Psychology in particular, do attempt to answer questions about why and how people think, feel, and behave as they do. In a sense, they do attempt to give humans a ‘sense of how they behave, but it doesn’t really give us a sense of who we ‘are’. A sense of personality comes from being able to break the societal norms. When French philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” in the early 1600s, he gave us our first look at the sense of identity or a sense of self. He clearly couldn't handle “doubt”, and came to find the only impossible thing to dispute is “I exist.”A certain culture of humans may have a sense of nationalistic or cultural identity; however, each individual is free and entitled to his own rights, opinions and being unrestricted in his thoughts. He is a product of his total sum.
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Debates such as this can go on forever. The question of “nature vs. nurture” comes to mind. While there seems to be plenty of evidence for both sides of the argument, when it comes right down to it, many points cannot be confirmed. Is a child more influenced by the DNA in his body (nature) or by his personal life experiences and childhood (nurture) that may be provided by adoptive parents who are presumably happy and loving? If a child is removed from his parents(such as criminals), early enough, would there be a greater chance of learning the correct behavior and an accepted way of life? The environment of a child’s youth would surely shape him in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. You are writing a lot of interesting stuff in the right general direction to get where you need to for this prompt, but I feel like you sort of keep on reintroducing the problem. An essential element of WRITING this essay, as we talked about in class, is writing through the EXACT discussion that we had in class. Decide what might be meant by "knowledge" (you could offer up a couple different possibilities), and by "a sense of who we are"--again, different ideas are possible. You don't have to choose just one. By laying this out at the beginning, you can talk more clearly about how this statement might or might not be true.

    Don't get me wrong, a lot of your impulses are good. The nature/nurture discussion might be relevant, since working to understand this question (i.e., constructing KNOWLEDGE about it) might help us understand more about ourselves, or help us fix broader social issues (i.e., give us a better "sense of who we are"). Likewise with many of your examples, which could be put to use answering the question if you really got to the bottom of A) WHAT KNOWLEDGE is at ISSUE and B) how is/isn't this KNOWLEDGE helping us understand ourselves better.

    The statement "Debates like this could go on forever" moves you farther from your topic. Ostensibly, there IS an answer to this question, and sciences (Human and Natural) are working toward that answer (constructing knowledge).

    You are at your best at the very start of the paragraph that begins "Human sciences..." But you lose me at "a sense of who you are comes from breaking societal norms..." and the Descartes stuff confuses the point.

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