Theory of Knowledge

The Nature of the Subject

Theory of Knowledge is not a new subject. The purpose of the programme is to stimulate critical reflection on the knowledge and the experience of students both in and outside the classroom.

The programme is thus ˜philosophical’ in the sense that it is meant to encourage students to acquire a critical awareness of what they and others know. However it is not a course of philosophy.

It is meant to lead the students to engage in reflection on and to question the bases of knowledge and experience.

It aims at making the students aware of subjective and ideological biases and develop in them a personal mode of thought based on critical examination of evidence and expressed in rational arguments.

The programme asks from the students to reflect on:

  • what is knowledge.

  • what are the sources of knowledge.

  • the nature and reliability of sense perception.

  • the role of language and thought in Knowledge.

  • the requirements of Logical Rigour for Knowledge.

  • the critical reflection on systems of Knowledge, namely, mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences and history.

  • the analysis of value judgement as Knowledge, namely, moral judgement, political judgement, aesthetic judgement.

  • understanding the relationship between kowledge and truth.


  • Not a new subject

  • Not philosophy

  • It is reflection on what we learn

  • We ask questions(Why?How?)

  • It is intended to make us mature learners

There are three kinds of knowing :

  1. I know how-skill

  2. Knowing that-facts(Knowledge)

  3. I know(acquaintance with )

Sources of Knowledge:

  1. Sense Perception

  2. Self Awareness

  3. Memory

  4. Intuition

  5. Reasoning Logic

  6. Belief,Faith

  7. Conscience

  8. Witness Testimony

  9. Revelation

  10. Authorithy


  • the ability to store information and recall it when needed

  • there are 3 kinds of memory

Sensory Memory 

Short term Memory

Long term Memory

Improving our memory by:

  1. Organisation

  2. Context

  3. Cue remembering

  4. Visual Image

  5. Abbreviation


  • a way of communication

  • verbal communication

  • words organised in a meaningful way

Definition of LANGUAGE:

  • Language is a conventional code of symbols that allows a sender to formulate a message which can be understood by a receiver.

 The functions of Language:

  1. Informative function

  2. Expressive function


*When did it all start?

With the Big Bang….15 billion years ago.

Big Bang -> Our galaxy was formed -> Life started ->

Trees => Human Beings => Modern technology

Unlike standard academic disciplines, the theory of knowledge course uses a process of discovering and sharing students' views on "knowledge issues" (an umbrella term for "everything that can be approached from a TOK point of view"), so "there is no end to the valid questions that may arise", "there are many different ways to approach TOK", "the sheer scope of the TOK course is daunting" and "teachers and students need the confidence to go a little—not too far—outside their traditional comfort zones."

Teachers have freedom to select a teaching methodology and course material that will convey the theoretical foundation of essential concepts, and provide an environment in which these concepts can be discussed and debated. The focus of the discussion should not be the differentiation between "right" and "wrong" ideas, but rather on the quality of justification and a balanced approach to the knowledge claim in question.

The TOK course uses a combination, in no particular order :

Ways of knowing :(sense perception, reason, emotion and language,tone,symbols,nomenclature).

Areas of knowledge :(mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, the arts and ethics): their distinct natures and methods of gaining knowledge, the types of claim each makes and the issues to consider (e.g. "How do you know that the scientific method is a valid method of gaining knowledge?", "What is the reason for having historical knowledge, and how is it applied in life?").

Factors that transcend individual ways of knowing and areas of knowledge:

Nature of knowing: what are the differences between information, data, belief, faith, opinion, knowledge and wisdom?

Knowledge communities: what is taken for granted in a community? How can we decide which beliefs we ought to check further?

Knowers' sources and applications of knowledge: how do age, education, culture and experience influence selection of sources and formation of knowledge claims? If you know something, or how to do something, do you have a responsibility to use your knowledge?

Justifications of knowledge claims: why should claims be assessed critically? Are logic, sensory perception, revelation, faith, memory, consensus, authority, intuition, and self-awareness equally reliable justifications? Use of coherence, correspondence, pragmatism, and consensus as criteria of truth.

The TOK course is expected to involve 100 teaching hours over the two years of the Diploma Programme.Having followed the course, students should be competent to analyse knowledge claims and respond to knowledge issues in the context of different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing, expressing ideas accurately and honestly, using examples from their own experiences as learners and in outside life.


An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people. Illusions may occur with more of the human senses than vision, but visual illusions, optical illusions, are the most well known and understood. The emphasis on visual illusions occurs because vision often dominates the other senses. For example, individuals watching a ventriloquist will perceive the voice is coming from the dummy since they are able to see the dummy mouth the words. Some illusions are based on general assumptions the brain makes during perception. These assumptions are made using organizational principles, like Gestalt, an individual's ability of depth perception and motion perception, and perceptual constancy. Other illusions occur because of biological sensory structures within the human body or conditions outside of the body within one’s physical environment.

The term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion. Unlike a hallucination, which is a distortion in the absence of a stimulus, an illusion describes a misinterpretation of a true sensation. For example, hearing voices regardless of the environment would be a hallucination, whereas hearing voices in the sound of running water (or other auditory source) would be an illusion.

Mimes are known for a repertoire of illusions that are created by physical means. The mime artist creates an illusion of acting upon or being acted upon by an unseen object. These illusions exploit the audience's assumptions about the physical world. Well known examples include "walls", "climbing stairs", "leaning", "descending ladders", "pulling and pushing"

Optical illusion

An optical illusion is always characterized by visually perceived images that, at least in common sense terms, are deceptive or misleading. Therefore, the information gathered by the eye is processed by the brain to give, on the face of it, a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. A conventional assumption is that there are physiological illusions that occur naturally and cognitive illusions that can be demonstrated by specific visual tricks that say something more basic about how human perceptual systems work. The human brain constructs a world inside our head based on what it samples from the surrounding environment. However sometimes it tries to organise this information it thinks best while other times it fills in the gaps. This way in which our brain works is the basis of an illusion. 

 Auditory illusion

An auditory illusion is an illusion of hearing, the sound equivalent of an optical illusion: the listener hears either sounds which are not present in the stimulus, or "impossible" sounds. In short, audio illusions highlight areas where the human ear and brain, as organic, makeshift tools, differ from perfect audio receptors (for better or for worse). One example of an auditory illusion is a Shepard tone.

 Tactile illusion


Examples of tactile illusions include phantom limb, the thermal grill illusion, the cutaneous rabbit illusion and a curious illusion that occurs when the crossed index and middle fingers are run along the bridge of the nose with one finger on each side, resulting in the perception of two separate noses. Interestingly, the brain areas activated during illusory tactile perception are similar to those activated during actual tactile stimulation.Tactile illusions can also be elicited through haptic technology.These "illusory" tactile objects can be used to create "virtual objects"

Critical Mind

 In every decision we make we try to  choose out the best alernative we have .We value all the alternatives and we try to think logicalaly to choose the best ,so we try to be critical.A critical mind is a Questioning mind .Critical mind can impact our whole life .Working with critical mind make the work that we do much easier.Having a critical mind has a lot of advantages.Without it we will struggle to make sense of reality.However with it we will open new doors of understanding about the events and circumstances of our life.When we have a critical mind we see things from a different and unique prespective that leads us to find out the solutions and the answers that will probably help us to face and overcome our problems.An effective critical mind will also help us with creativity.When we have a critical mind we don't do quick judgments ,but we analize the information ,we ask ,order and compere different aspects of the information that we have .