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ToK Essay

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To what extent do personal attributes affect Ways of Knowing and why, if at all, does answering this question matter in the first place? Personal attributes affect Ways of Knowing is a large way, however answering this question is still important. Personal attributes are traits or characteristics that make people individuals. Personal attributes can be both physical and mental or physiological. This means that an individual's traits could be anything from the shape of their hands to how kind they are. The ways of knowing include: Perception, Reason, Emotion and Language. These ways of knowing can all be directly affected by a person's personal attributes. Perception is the mental and physical awareness of the world through our five senses. Personal attributes affect perception due the varying ways that the five senses can be damaged and therefore change the way that they interpret a situation or thing. Reason is a way of coming to a conclusion by using a deductive or inductive argument as well as logic. Personal attributes affect reason through their ability to trap us in our beliefs and not allow us to sort through our traits to derive better logic. Personal attributes affect emotion in a vast sense as they have the ability to determine how we use our emotions. Likewise, language is also affected greatly by our personal attributes as both mental and physical expressions of language can be interpreted differently through our physical and mental characteristics or traits. The following examples and explanations will depict the above situations of how personal attributes greatly affect the knowledge that we gain. Language is directly affected by personal attributes as they can greatly affect the way that people understand us through our verbal or physical communication. Language is derived from culture. In different cultures and different countries, different languages are spoken and the way that these cultural differences affect the way that language is learned. ...read more.


The six major emotions, sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust are said to be recognized in all cultures and countries. This week in my theory of knowledge class, I was shown statistics on how different countries thought of different emotions. In this chart of statistics, pictures that were shown to the different people who were tested were given. In some countries, the pictures of the emotions seemed to be universally known. However, in other countries, specific emotions did not seem to be known by the people who were tested. These were the six most known emotions, and I therefore found it surprising that not everyone knew what they were. It does however show that in different cultures or countries facial expressions of emotions may not be known to all of the inhabitants. The six emotions are said to be universally known but this study proved that cultural differences in many countries do not always see emotions in the same way or they may not be able to recognize some emotions. This study was done by Paul Ekman. It showed that happiness, surprise and sadness were the most universally recognized emotional facial expressions. The least recognized was anger. This can show that in some countries, anger may not be seen very often and is therefore not as widely recognized or else it could be shown through different ways. (See Figures 1 and 2 in bibliographic references.) At times, reason or rationale can be clouded by personal attributes. For example, I have had many times in my life where I make a decision that I feel to be rational because of my personal attributes. Last year, I had a close friend whose family suddenly found out that she had been bulimic for just over two months. I had only met this friend once as she lives in Israel but when she had stayed at my house for a month we had become very close friends. ...read more.


Personal attributes also greatly affect perception. Since perception comes from the five senses, it would make sense that personal attributes in this way of knowing would relate to any of the senses. Last year, one of my friends, Michael Wiese, had been born colour blind. When he came to school, he would sometimes be wearing socks that did not match or were not the part of the regulated uniform (grey socks). When we would ask him what colour his socks were, he would think that they were either dark grey or black, as he could not see that really they were burgundy. With this in mind however, he was able to know what a lot of other colours were. He had been taught by his friends and family to recognize what colours such as red, blue, green etc. looked like. As long as the colours were light enough he could almost always tell what they were. This personal attribute that he had from being colour blind, affected the way that he perceived the world around him. Even though he was able to work around his problem, he would never be able to see what each person thinks of as the true colours of the world. Answering this question is important in two main ways. The first way is that answering this question helps to give us a better idea of how our personal attributes affect everything that we do. This question also allows us to use our personal attributes to give our opinion on the meaning of the question. However, answering this question may not be necessary as anyone who would read what we think, may completely disagree, interpret our answer improperly. Overall answering this question is very important because it shows us that it is impossible to define reality. Reality is determined by how people interpret their surroundings and the situations that they are put in. Since I have shown that personal attributes affect the ways of knowing in a huge way, it can be seen that every person's view of reality is different due to their personal attributes. ...read more.

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