Do you need help with your TOK Essay? In this post I will show you my TOK Essay that I submitted to IB! You can use this to see what a TOK Essay looks like and I hope this will inspire you to create your best TOK Essay to submit to the International Baccalaureate. To view my Internal Assessment I submitted just open the PDF right below this! If the PDF does not show, you could read the text version right below it (not recommended since it lacks formatting & images).
“Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished.” Consider this claim with respect to two areas of knowledge.
Have you ever considered what would happen to the world today if Penicillin was never discovered by Alexander Fleming? If you haven’t, without the discovery of penicillin and the knowledge that Fleming shared to the science and the medical world, antibiotics would not have been be invented. Scientists predicted that hundreds of millions of people would have die without the discovery of penicillin. The worst case scenario would be that the earth’s population today could even be halved because without the application of the knowledge about penicillin we would have no antibiotics. It means therefore that application of knowledge greatly increases the value of the knowledge. As such when, ideas, facts, and skills are applied it is more likely for them to be useful. Looking at natural science and mathematics with the filter of reason, sense perception, imagination, memory and language, this premise will be examined; and the question of the extent to which the value of knowledge can be determined will also be addressed.
Like it or not, the study of natural sciences and mathematics are essential for each of our lives. Without it, the world will not be as advanced as it is today. We are really familiar with both natural sciences and mathematics and we are constantly developing and studying both of them because it has been beneficial for our lives therefore making it valuable knowledge. There are many publications and scientific papers on them that are published. However, with the countless amount of knowledge in the world, without the application of this knowledge in real life, would all of the knowledge that we have be useless for us? The light bulb is considered one of the most influential inventions in the world. It gave humans the ability to control lighting anytime and anywhere just with a flick of a switch. Thomas Alva Edison is usually credited as the inventor of the light bulb. However, Edison isn’t the only person who contributed to the development of this revolutionary invention. Almost 40 years before Edison’s light bulb, two other inventors have patented their own version. Unfortunately, the previous inventions was not efficient and affordable for commercial use and so it wasn’t successful and didn’t really impact the world in any way. Just like that, the value of the knowledge is diminished for almost forty years.
Through memory and sense perception, Edison picked up on this previous knowledge where he could then see the flaws of the previous attempts and by using reason analyzed and found ways to successfully experiment to build his own light bulb. Edison is also known to have over six thousand attempts of creating the bulb. Therefore by using his memory of what he made and by using his imagination, Edison was able to create a light bulb which is efficient and affordable from all of the knowledge that he had learnt. At the end, by using language Edison is able to introduce his light bulb and convince to the world that his invention is the best light bulb able to be commercialized making his personal knowledge turn into shared knowledge. Hence by using the previous available knowledge that didn’t really impact the world the value of the knowledge is not diminished but unlocked with the proper application.
In mathematics there are hundreds of equations that we know. However, with all these would what we know be useless if we don’t actually use it to benefit our lives? Pythagoras was a famous Greek philosopher born c. 570 BC who was credited most famously in mathematics where he contributed the Pythagorean Theorem. Supposing that Pythagoras didn’t share his knowledge to his students and to the world, his personal knowledge would have no value since it would not have impacted the society. In reality, Pythagoras did share his knowledge and it created a butterfly effect which in natural sciences means that his small discovery created a far reaching ripple effect impacting the world in different ways. Just one impact and his theorem is now the foundation for geometry and trigonometry, which is knowledge important in cartography or the practice of accurate map making. However, the real value of the knowledge comes because this unlocked the ability for operations of Global Positioning System or GPS that we take for granted in our lives today. Commercial airlines across countries, emergency systems, mobile devices, and more would not have been possible and would stay as imagination without the theorem and its application.
By using sense perception and reason, Pythagoras figured out in his imagination that it is possible to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle. Language enabled Pythagoras to communicate his findings by teaching his students. Language in the form of writing has also assisted his theorem to pass down teachings from generation to generations. Memory plays a big role in this too. By looking at history and picking the ancient theorem to be used and developed to adapt with more modern and better inventions. Therefore, sense perception, reason, and imagination working in conjunction create knowledge. Language and memory play a big role in making that knowledge valuable since these allow people to apply the knowledge and spark innovations in the world.
A downside to knowledge is that a number of them cannot currently be applied and simply stay as knowledge for the meantime. In my physics class, I learned how Stephen Hawking used reason to prove the theory of the existence of black holes and again using memory and reason to disprove it years later. Even though it is mathematically predicted to be correct that black holes exist, it is currently impossible for us to visit a black hole or even test the theories out because black holes are very remote from earth. Other than that, we are not even sure of our purpose of analyzing black holes other than curiosity. Therefore there is knowledge that might be important to us but might not be able to be tested out or applied currently because of our limitations. This means that even though the theories are important and have real value especially in the development of theoretical physics, sometimes we are limited by the current inability of application.
So without application knowledge may well be useless, the question is “to what extent can the value of knowledge be determined?” Essentially it is a matter of perspectives, because every knowledge can bring value if one knows how to utilize it. The pursuit of knowledge has been important for humans since the dawn of mankind and is apparent in the natural sciences. Wonder, or the desire to know something is what drives this and also why NASA gets funded over 18 billion dollars in 2015 just to learn about outer space. As laypeople, we might be shocked why billions of taxpayers’ money is used for this instead of welfare. However, to scientists learning about space is valuable to ensure the long-term survival of the human race. Since these valuable findings will be shared using language to help impact our lives. This is why depending on the context knowledge can have a great impact on the world and is therefore valuable for the people sharing the same interest.
To conclude, the quote “Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished” is right to a large extent where knowledge is valuable when it is applied and has changed the society in a certain way. On the other hand however, sometimes knowledge still has its own value and can impact the society even when there is a limit to its application.
“A Brief History of the Pythagorean Theorem.” Pythagorean History. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
King, USATODAY. “House Approves $18.5 Billion for NASA.” USA Today. Gannett, 3 June
- Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
“Light Bulbs: What Would Be Different Without Light Bulbs.” Dowsing Reynolds. Dowsing &
Reynolds, 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Master, Karen. “Why Do We Study Black Holes? (Beginner).” Why Do We Study Black Holes?
(Beginner) – Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Morris, Stephanie. “The Pythagorean Theorem.” The Pythagorean Theorem. University of
Georgia. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
“Why Do We Explore Space?” Why Do We Explore Space? Web. 13 Jan. 2016.