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Page last updated: 16 Sept 2018
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Explore a range of examples and ideas for your Essays and Presentations and leave your comments.
By ToKTutor, May 13 2018 08:49AM
Example for Question 2:
The Bwiti cult of the West African region propose a creation myth: there is a greater spiritual world underlying the world of nature. The souls of the dead pass into this spiritual realm, carrying with them personal knowledge that could be useful for the tribe. Gaining access to this knowledge isn’t a matter of believing in a set doctrine; it’s a matter of individual experience. Initiates of the cult go through rituals and a rigorous process of cleansing before they set themselves individually on the spiritual path or quest to the other world. One ‘technology’ to help gain access to this world is the ‘iboga’ tree root which works by transforming the mind’s perspective as a way of gaining entrance to the spiritual realm. In other words, the hallucinogenic properties of the iboga root enhance the initiates’ personal ability to assimilate the lost knowledge. In fact, the magical properties of the tree root were so respected that some believe the iboga tree to be the same as the biblical Tree of Knowledge. In the second half of the 20th Century, the psychoactive or mind altering effects of the plant were technologically harnessed to treat addiction by means of the drug Ibogaine. The method was two phased. Phase 1 the ‘visionary phase’ in which addicts’ senses are intensified to bring about dreamlike or psychedelic experiences. Phase 2 is the ‘introspective phase’ which brings a more reflective or analytic calmness which is part of the therapeutic effect of the drug. In Phase 2, addicts’ minds are supposed to be focused on personally assimilating the source of the trauma that caused their addiction in the first place. However, the side effects, such as slowing of the heart rate, vivid hallucinations or muscle stiffening, are part of the reason why Ibogaine hasn’t been approved of ongoing medical use.
By ToKTutor, Mar 18 2018 05:00PM
Example for Question 1:
Classifying the disparate evidence as to the origins of the Earth’s geography has lead to a revolutionary (in the Kuhnian sense) progress of knowledge. ‘Catastrophism’ is part of the paradigm which explained that the Earth’s formations were shaped by devastating environmental factors such as a worldwide flood. This was replaced by ‘contractionism’ which, in brief, explained how the process of cooling and shrinking created the formation of the land masses as we see them today. To account for why identical fossils were discovered in different continents, experts proposed the mechanism of ancient ‘land bridges’ which have now submerged undersea. Alfred Wegener’s ‘continental drift’ theory proposed a radical new paradigm of thinking: the Earth was originally one landmass, Pangea, before drifting apart and stabilising into its present formation. Right up until the 1960s, Wegener’s idea was discarded partly because the theory lacked an explanation of the mechanism for such drifting. Today we know that this mechanism is ‘plate tectonics’. This mechanism explains how the Earth’s crust is broken into rigid plates which generate movement through a process of convection. The relevance of all this to knowledge is that it illustrates how the need to classify or organise knowledge into neat categories may help to refine our knowledge. However, sometimes for new knowledge to emerge, it takes a transformation of thought, perspective and methodology. The resulting acceptance of new knowledge may take time and cause much individual suffering…
By ToKTutor, Feb 26 2018 09:25AM
Example for Question 1:
In the 21st Century, it’s almost clichéd to assert that Science and Religion don’t mix well. There is some overlapping of these disciplines, as evidenced in the debate between Creationists and Evolutionists, but on the whole, there seems to be a consensus that Science should keep a distance from any knowledge claims made about non-physical, non-empirical phenomena like the existence of divine beings, miracles and the afterlife. Of course, there are some exceptions, like John Polkinghorne, of scientists who are also deeply religious, and who use the scientific method to draw the limits of scientific knowledge. There have been numerous occasions, however, in which the discipline of the scientific method has been employed actively to ‘prove’ religious knowledge claims but have lead only to confusion. Consider, for example, Duncan MacDougall’s attempt to weigh the soul. Under the challenge to refine the evidence to support his claim that the soul weighed 21 grams, MacDougall set up an experiment to photograph the soul at the point it left the body. Ultimately, his ideas were never accepted fully into the body of scientific knowledge, owing to flaws in his methodology, the smallness of his sample size and imprecise measuring tools. However, if MacDougall’s approach to the overlapping of Science and Religion didn’t strictly lead to a ‘confusion of knowledge’, it highlights, much like Polkinghorne’s work, what it means to work at the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Even today, when we approach the edge of scientific knowledge about our universe, such as the existence of dark matter, we can be overwhelmed by the same kind of mysteriousness that we sense when contemplating a universe inhabited by a divine force...