The Theory of Knowledge is a required course for all IB Diploma students which begins in the grade eleven year. A major and continual focus throughout the ToK course is to encourage students to approach and examine Ways of Knowing (language, sense perception, reason, emotion) and Areas of Knowledge (history, human science, natural science, mathematics, arts, ethics) with a spirit of open-minded inquiry and exploration. Students will formulate their own ideas about the nature and sources of knowledge and the justification of knowledge claims through critical reflection on issues relating to beliefs, culture, evidence, interpretation, technology, truth, values, and so forth. Evaluation is based primarily on class participation, presentations, and essay writing.
NOTE: SUMMER READING MATERIAL
Hopefully, you have picked up your copy of Sophie’s World from the school on the day you received your report cards. Below is some information on it. Also, for your convenience I have put together an extensive summary of the philosophers/philosophies covered in this book. You will find this summary in a 66 page booklet starting on the following page. This way, if at any time in the future you want to return to Sophie’s World for reference purposes, you will have it at your fingertips.
Please read Sophie’s World before you return to classes in the fall. This novel is about a teenage girl who mysteriously receives information on philosophy which causes her to view life in a whole new way. You are being asked to read this book simply to get you started thinking about philosophical issues. There will never be a test on this book or any major assignments. Do not worry if you do not understand everything that is written in Sophie’s World — just relax and have fun with it!
Study Summary of Philosophical Ideas and Excerpts from Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
PLEASE NOTE: This booklet contains a summary of philosophical theory through time as presented by Gaarder in his book Sophie’s World. Many sections below are quoted exactly, while others are paraphrased Do not quote directly from this booklet or reproduce it. It is only compiled as an easy guide for YOU to use to become familiar with the basic ideas posed in Sophie’s World. Included in this booklet are page numbers in case you want to revisit the book to reread the entire section, or if you want to return to the book to retrieve accurate quotes. This material requires you to think about what Gaarder explains, not necessarily to accept all the theories he discusses as truth. (Since some theories Gaarder explores are diametrically opposed to each other, this would actually be impossible anyway.) I encourage you to question all you read.
SECTION ONE: The natural philosophers
The Natural Philosophers (Also called pre-Socratics)
p.30 The earliest Greek philosophers are sometimes called natural philosophers because they were mainly concerned with the natural world and its processes. (The nature of the physical world—science.)
Most Greeks at this time assumed, for one reason or another, that “something” had always existed. How everything could come from nothing was therefore not the all-important question. On the other hand, the Greeks marveled at how live fish could come from water, and huge trees and brilliantly colored flowers could come from the dead earth (or a baby from his mother’s womb). They were looking for the underlying laws of nature—not myths—so gradually they liberated themselves from religion.
We could say that the natural philosophers took the first step in the direction of scientific reasoning, thereby becoming the precursors of what was to become science.
p.32 Three philosophers who came from Miletus, a Greek colony in Asia Minor: 1.Thales –thought the source of all things was water...
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