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Linking Questions: History and Ways of Knowing


Boats
In this post I’d like to present a list of questions linking History with the different Ways of Knowing for classroom discussion.

Linking the different Areas of Knowledge (AOK) with different Ways of Knowing (WOK) can be quite challenging at times. I now attempted to link History with Language, Logics, Emotion and Sense Perception.

History and Language:

  • Does the way (the language) that certain historical events are presented in history books influence the way that the reader understands these events?
  • What role does loaded language play when talking about historical events?
  • What role do connotation and denotation play when talking about historical events?
  • How can language introduce bias into historical accounts?
  • How does language help or hinder the interpretation of historical facts?

Continue reading »

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What are the four Ways of Knowing (WOKs)?


old arches
In this post, a quick introduction into the four Ways of Knowing (WOK)!

So, you are now sitting in front of your computer reading this very post about the Ways of Knowing. How do you know that? Honestly! How do you know that you are reading this text right now? Is it because someone told you? Of course not. You know it because your senses tell you so. You can read the text with your eyes (vision), you hear the sound of the computer fan humming (hearing), and you feel that you are sitting on a chair (touch).

Philosophers have identified these four ways of knowing: Sense Perception, Language, Emotion/intuition and Logics/Reason. Pick one fact that you know and ask yourself what the sources of this piece of knowledge are. From where do you know it? You will soon discover that it is possible to trace you knowledge back to one of these four Ways of Knowing. Let’s start with a little example: “I know that atoms exist”. How do you know it? Have you ever seen, heard or felt atoms before? I can hardly imagine. Sense perception is therefore an unlikely source. Do you intuitively and emotionally feel their existence? Hopefully not! The most likely source of this knowledge is that someone told, most probably a teacher, you or that you read about them. The source of this knowledge is therefore language. Continue reading »

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Does Language Influence our View of the World?


Dry leaves

We use language to describe our subjective perception of the world. If I say “I feel cold”, then I use language to describe how I feel. This is nothing new. The interesting question now is: does it also work the other way around? Can the language that we use influence the way that we perceive and view things?

The idea that that the language that we use can influence the way that we think is nothing new. According to the Sapir-Whorf-Hypothesis (also known as linguistic relativity) language does not only reflect our way of thinking, but is also able to shape it. This hypothesis became known in the 1950s. People from different cultures and languages view the world differently and organize their reality differently. The way that they think is influenced by the grammar and vocabulary of their language. To bring it directly to the point: there are certain thoughts and ideas that can only be thought in a particular language. These ideas do not exist in other languages. In this episode I’d like to give you several examples that illustrate this point. Continue reading »

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Is the Word “scientific” Overused?


 

Tropical sunset
In this edition I want to give a little warning. Sometimes the words “science” or “scientific” are used to increase the value of certain claims, even if the use of these terms is not justified.

There are many claims out there that give the appearance of being scientific but they are not. Sometimes claims are shrouded in fancy language and sophisticated vocabulary – very serious sounding stuff. “It’s gotta be true, it sounds so scientific!” The media is full with claims that sound scientific but are not.
Continue reading »

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What is the “4-Ears Model” of Communication?


 

Fossil
According to Psychologist Friedmann Schulz von Thun, when a person talks to another person he/she is passing on four different messages. This communication model is called the “4 Ears Model” and is useful in understanding why people misunderstand each other.

Alice and Bob are both sitting in the car, Alice is driving. They are waiting at an intersection, the traffic light is red and then changes to green.

Bob: The traffic light is green.

Alice: Don’t be so impatient!

… and they start arguing. What went wrong? According to the psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun, a message that is passed from one person to another person carries four pieces of information: Continue reading »

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There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating; people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.

- Oscar Wilde -
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