The Worldwide Tutor
Page last updated: 2 Feb 2019
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Explore a range of examples and ideas for your Essays and Presentations and leave your comments.
By ToKTutor, Sep 23 2018 11:29AM
'Not waving but drowing', by Steview Smith.
Stevie Smith’s poem is a powerful example of when the failure to take on contrasting perspectives becomes a life or death matter. The poem is woven out of different perspectives – the speaker’s, the dead man’s and the bystanders’ – but the tragedy of the poem is that none of them ever coincide. In relation to our Q, the tragedy is that no one knew the crisis in the dead man’s life; nobody actually knew the man at all. On one level, the idea that the man ‘loved larking’ suggests he brought on the tragedy himself: he always projected the stereotype of a happy-go-lucky man who no-one could take seriously. So, from everyone’s perspective, he looks like he's messing around when he’s waving from far away in the water. Hence the almost unsympathetic excuse that he died of a heart attack because it was ‘too cold’. On another level, perhaps his humour was a façade to hide his deeper hurt: he was projecting a comic mask of himself to compensate for the ‘cold’ he felt continuously in his life. So, from his own perspective, he was really asking for help all along. Hence the threefold echo of the expression, ‘not waving but drowning’ to underline the emotional pressure he was under. The message of the poem seems to be that the distances and barriers people put up between themselves mean that they cannot see beyond the narrow perspective of their lives to acknowledge others’ suffering. The universe described by Smith’s poem is a bleak one, inhabited by indifferent, unempathetic beings, trapped in their own small worlds and alienated from others. In this universe, the nurturing of contrasting perspectives is crucial but always appears out of reach…
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…