“The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility.”

I recently went through a defining moment in my relationship with my mother when she told me that she had a miscarriage. There have been few moments in my life in which i’ve been faced with an issue that forces me to question the foundations of right and wrong beyond anything trivial like cheating or stealing, and this was one of them. For some reason, when it’s concerning a life, particularly one that hasn’t even begun yet, everything seem so insurmountably grave. I had originally found a photograph of her positive pregnancy test on her laptop and was furious for her being pregnant. I handled the information disastrously. I justified my bad work ethic in school by saying that I didn’t have to try because my opportunities were being taken from me anyway because would have to stay home instead of going to college so I could help her take care of her new baby. We had an actual conversation later and she explained that she had gone to the doctors where they said it was a false positive due to the miscarriage. The roller coaster of blame and fault had come to an unexpected end and the only thing left was to look at the debris and try to figure out where everything went wrong. Why were my actions so missguided and how did I believe I was justified when leading my crusade?


Her miscarriage prompted me to reflect and find closure, so I looked at my issues with her withholding knowledge about the pregnancy to begin with. I questioned whether the ethics of disclosing knowledge is determined by the people around you or if you determine it yourself. In this situation, I believed that her ethical responsibility to tell me was greater than her desire to keep it to herself, thus making her personal judgement of ethics void to my outside consensus. This was a selfish outlook that forgets the power of personal choice. I could not make her talk to me in the same way that I wouldn’t want her to force me to talk about something. It wasn’t even a lie, but an unasked for piece of information that would have never come to light had I not pushed the envelope. A personal choice has to power to act without prompt, but It would be naive to overlook influence. The entitlement of my position is determined by the power that comes with being a daughter to a mother in society, and being a daughter to a mother in our family arrangement. The world’s point of view, my point of view, and her’s are all weighing in on the consensus of right and wrong. The complexities are only beginning and only get more complicated with each incoming variable that’s thrown into the mix, so for analyzing purposes the question will be limited to the possession of knowledge and the ethical responsibility that comes along with it.
Ethics is a special area of knowledge that isn’t found in the Diploma hexagon so its not discussed too often in TOK. Are there any objective ethical rules, or does every moral judgement depend on the circumstances? Even though it’s not explicitly a way of knowing, we can see it in Emotion and Reason. In order to talk about reason we have to address its confusing proximity to logic. Logic is the deducing of valid conclusions from given starting points or premises. Human reasoning can be delusional in nature, so conclusions cannot be strictly deduced from their flawed premises. My mother’s reasoning cannot be blamed for coming to the conclusion that her pregnancy was something that I didn’t need to know about because human reasoning is flawed to begin with. If I am to apply this conclusion to all aspects of the senario than my reasoning that my need to know was greater than her discretion cannot be blamed either. Once those differences become moot the next differences between our judgment comes from our experiences as members of the mother daughter relationship. We have a unique level of openness between us that would not necessarily work in any other pairing. By way of my personal point of view and under this doctrine of openness a pregnancy would be immediately on the discussion table between us, but it is impossible to know what rational she was following when given the same positions and influences she decided to keep it from me. The next level is cultural influences and for this, we have to assume that standards of rationality and norms of reasoning are inherently grounded in society and the social etiquette we subscribe to. We as individuals cannot define the limits on the Areas of Knowledge, they set their own requirements for the types of reasoning that is accepted. Therefore, as her position within our family dynamic as my mother, and her social standing as the mother her judgement and conclusions based on reasoning holds a greater importance than my reasoning that’s inexperienced and lacking title.


Self-Made Society

Gender norms are projected throughout all aspects of western society. From before a child is born they are embedded with the social roles that that their gender has predesignated for them. The impact that gender has on western culture has been continually tested throughout the years, and has become more prevalent in the modern day. Current policies have enticed discussion that demands to know the differences between man and woman.  

The different dynamics between men and women are a result of exaggerated disparities between our biological differences that are inflated by social constructs. Even though -biologically speaking- there are two sexes that have been historically necessary for reproduction, with the introduction of new technology that could eliminate the need for opposite pairings, and the widening gap for the different professions that certain genders are supposed to practice, it becomes easier to ask the question : What is gender? And what does the disruption of binary gender mean for the future of America?

To understand the issues of gender roles and the impact that they carry in real world applications, we must look into the feminine and masculine qualities.  The image of masculinity is inherently limited to the opposite of feminine qualities. In an effort to distance themselves from the negative connotations of feminine qualities, such as weakness and a loss of power they render themselves to destructive habits such as violence and alcoholism. If the restrictions on gender weren’t limited to out binary constructions perhaps in the future the definition of what it means to be a man can at the least include the acceptance of emotions that would create healthier platforms of expression unconnected to violence or excessive alcoholism. Men can end up contributing to just as dangerous, if not more, drastic development of negative masculine characteristics in place of ethical human qualities that could be mistaken for feminine. The idea of masculinity being held by only members of the male gender adds to the toxic nature of the current mascusculine ideas. For example, a person who identifies as a woman but has masculine characteristics or roles, does not need to degrate femininity or use violence to portray these roles.


The mistake of correlating all feminine attributes to immediately equate toxic femininity removes to opportunity for men to explore the different levels of the human experience. When we break down these assumptions our previous definitions of binary gender can no longer exist so that creates the need for new definitions of gender or the lack of gender at all. Not just America but the world has functioned under these descriptions forever so the future of America will have to re-shape itself under new doctrine.
It is no longer accurate to organize gender based of reproductive organs and understanding this is partially attributed to the acceptance of the spectrum of sexuality. If a characteristic of a man is to be sexually attracted to women and pursue the conquest of women, than what does it mean for men who aren’t attracted to the feminine figure? An article done by the Population Institute called The Deconstruction of Gender discussed the range and influence sexuality has on gender : “At the U.N. World Conference on Women in 1995, feminists claimed that the sexuality of multiple genders found expression as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, hermaphrodite, transvestite and transgender, the latter group being further sub-divided into those who were awaiting surgery, those who had surgery, and those who had surgery but now wished to revert back to their original condition.”

No grades No problems?

Last semester I found myself fighting to get a letter grade instead of trying to learn the information and I realized that throughout most of my high school carer I haven’t made much of an effort to become involved in the information sole because of an interest in it but rather in order to get by. In out TOK class Mr. Brewer said that there won’t be any more grades in the class anymore because the unique style of learning that is grown from the IB program cannot be restricted to a rubric the same way that an AP class would be. I’m supportive of the change because one of the aspects of being in an AP class that I didn’t like was how structured it was. The focus of the class was to cram information in a structured format in order to know everything that you need to know in order to meet all of the requirements on a test. Even in my other classes that aren’t strictly AP the teacher will blatantly say something along the lines of, “The main purpose of this class is to prepare you for this test. ” In the very best classes you can be lucky if you get some exploration style learning along with the actual preparation for the exams. In TOK there is a test but that isn’t the main focus of the class so it makes sense that there is a unstructured grading system for the unstructured learning style.

Plato’s the Cave Essay Reflection

In our Plato’s the Cave Essay we were told to provide a brief summary of the allegory he used and how it relates to at least two Ways of Knowing. We had to support our claims with real world examples and fit the people in the chairs facing the wall, the images on the wall, the fire and figures tending it, the “sun”, and the “Truth-bringer”. I wanted to relate the cave to the mindset adopted by being in a certain situation, in this case the high school situation. Doing high school as a real world example is a bit of a cliche in the first place but I didn’t really take it anywhere beyond that. A lot of the deeper claims I made later came from my analysis of the actual cave later on. I knew that I had an issue with the stress of standardized testing but beyond that there wasn’t much substance.

I really loved my introduction because it centered the theme around the expansion of knowledge being dependent on the room we are given to think, I made gave the example of understanding that the earth is spherical rather than flat even though we personally haven’t mapped it out. Throughout the rest of the essay though This concept isn’t touched on again. Its often difficult for me to create a thesis and stick with it as I continue to write because the inflow of ideas becomes too much for my fingers to process. In all of my writing I have issues with structure. “What the people are perceiving isn’t any less true than what the figures tending to the fire observe, but it is necessary because it would be too much for them if they were introduced to the whole truth all at once. “ Here we can see another strong idea that was introduced without much explanation as to how that ties into my theis. Originally, I had a whole paragraph tying some of these Ideas together but it was too much for the word count so I had to cut it with the expense of coherence.

If I had been assigned this essay today I would have made my thesis not as complicated so that I wouldn’t have to explain so much in my writing. The length that I was given required a lot more condensed understanding of the allegory. I wish I had created a different real life example other than just “high school” so that I had an easier time characterizing the different obstacles in the Cave. in the end the essay wasn’t bad, It just tried to talk about a lot of different things that didn’t have anything to do with the original topic.

Radiolab Reflections- Your Future Self

I would define happiness as being content : the serenity that comes from being at peace with where you are. So the question is, “How do you become content with your life?”. Most people in my life would say that you can’t get anywhere without going to college because you have to do that to get money, to live comfortably, to be happy. But if we do that, How can the life before we reach that goal be happy if we are unsatisfied? In NPR’s podcast, Invisibilia, they talked about the danger of your future self and how our goals can be harmful.

I would argue that the flaws in striving for your happiest future self is that because we are living things, we will always need things and therefore have desire so being truly at peace can never be achieved. The second you set a goal you become unsatisfied with where you are, and even after you reach it you will just set another one. To live is to strive. When the principle of the school put high school teens under hypnosis it negated any possibility for variation or unhappiness. My peers and I often struggle with the difficult question, “what we desire out of life?” “what do you want to be?”, similarly to the recording of the children in the high school. We are forced to decide who we want to be according to our sewed teenage versions of desire and when we pull a career out of a hat we limit the possibility of who we may grow to be. The use of hypnosis offered a shortcut to an already flawed system. The goals we set for who we want to be will change as frequently as we change as people, so to place further constrictions on the human experience took away any option that the people who killed themselves in this story could see, Their future self died.

Some would deem deciding a path towards your future self necessary to get on with life and to reach happiness, but its important to not get swallowed up in the rhythm of it and understand that happiness is relative and change is inevitable.


Map of my Mind Reflection.

In my map of my mind project I worked very hard to create as much of an authentic map type as I could while maintaining my own twist to it. My love appreciation for maps stems from my father who played table top games with me like Pathfinder and they relied heavily on the map because it was one of the only visuals you get when partaking in the imaginary world. My history teachers helped me understand our past through maps. The shifting of power and where the line is drawn in the sand is an obvious relation to our typographical trace, Because we use them to help us best display our message, the message is often a reflection of the creator. It is in this way that by creating my map with references to the ones old sailor’s used and fantasy maps I was able to make it properly represent me and the collection of ideas that has brought me here.  While it took groundwork and time, the map still falters when it comes to telling the truth, the whole, truth , and nothing but the truth. It wouldn’t hold against a judge of my personal verity like Kamiya’s map would. Kamiya didn’t hold back when she told the story of her life to the class and wasn’t ashamed or felt the need to take it back. She was the first one to present and I immediately started thinking about how I could have done mine better. She talked about her hardships and didn’t try to hide things with a complicated design because she didn’t need to. I forgot to talk about my parents or my strife and I didn’t mention most of the things I love. The closest I got to honesty was when I put in the Pit of Selfishness. because I didn’t bare my soul in the presentation I so ill do it here. That pit was drawn with branching streams because it leaks into everything I do like a virus. When i’m with my family I don’t wan to always hang out with them because I’m to selfish to set aside out different opinions. I am not through in my every day tasks because my energy is too precious to be spend and I am lazy with school because my time is more precious than that of my teachers or parents and I forget that other people have lives. If the map of my mind had been a true reflection of myself there would be cracks and pits and places where the sun never shines because the gospel of the soul isn’t so refined.

Ways of Knowing Project Post-Lesson Reflective Writing

How do you know from emotion? Our group presented a project that was supposed to try and answer this question as well as pose thought provoking questions, but I fear we went in over our heads.

Everyone in the group played a part in our final presentations and with each person came all of their ideas. We had 20+ slides and covered a wide range of content because we could and we thought we would need it. When you tell a student that the’re going to have to teach the class fro the entire period it becomes very daunting, and as an effects of that we overcompensated. The first activity that we did was an extremely effective ice-breaker. After we paired the class up with someone they normally wouldn’t talk to, we told the to draw from a jar of complements and insults, and then describe to their partners how they felt about it. Its impossible not to feel a little bit silly when you’re talking about “the way that made you feel”, the exercise forced them to recognize the ways emotion, while sometimes subtle, is present everywhere. With that concept in find they were ready to listen to the rest of the presentation.

The audience was laughing and posing 3 interesting questions for every bullet point that we had. In retrospect that could be taken as us having too many bullet points, but at the time I thought we were doing really well. A friend brought up the fact that our presentation followed almost the exact same structure as hers did and wondered if we copied it. I immediately said no because it hadn’t crossed anyone in the groups mind that we were doing the same things the group before us had done. I started to think about it. We both had entertaining icebreakers where we paired everyone up, showed some slides from the power point and went to a video, and we both had a main text from Radio Lab. I would be upset too if someone had done almost the exact presentation as me. If had the opportunity to go back and change something I would format the structure differently and cut out the slides we did on basic emotions and some of the slides that built up to our main point of reason and emotion going hand and hand.

False alarm, it’s only Saturday.

Have you ever been woken up by your alarm to get ready to go to school and you just don’t feel like moving? Maybe you stayed up too late doing homework or more likely on your phone and are too groggy to peel the sheets off. Its happened to me more often than I’m willing to admit, but in that moment I begin to negotiate with myself so that the need to get out of bed becomes more pressing than my laziness. We rationalize our actions so we have a reason to do them. I thought of my friends I wanted to see that day and the plans we made for lunch. I think about how behind I’ll be on the next test if i’m not present in class to pay attention. You may have someone you love, a pet, a parent, a need to make breakfast, or brush your teeth. The list extends forever and it is only through these goals and responsibilities that we find we have any reason to get up in the morning. I believe we create our own purpose.

In my Ib English class we read a book called the Stranger by Albert Camus which talked about existentialism.

  1. a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

When I delved a little bit deeper into the author I found his theory in Philosophy, A quest for truth Vol.6. He believed that the only important Philosophical question is, why not commit suicide? Camus often references the greek myth of Sisyphus, wherein man is condemned by the gods to roll a huge stone up a mountain, watch it roll down, and retrieve it, only to repeat the process again, endlessly.

The story of Sisyphus is rather bleak but Camus chose to embrace it. He says, ” A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world.-  All healthy men have thought of their own suicide, it can be see, without further explanation, there is a direct connection between this feeling [of absurdity ] and a longing for death. – Belief in the absurdity of existence must then dictate his conduct. ”

When I wake up in the morning I may need some convincing to get ready and do the things I need to do. These things I am aware of are just means to an end that leads nowhere, but I have hope in the absurd. I believe that we create our own meaning in life whether thats a holy book, family, friends, education, or most importantly food so that we don’t feel pointless or empty. It’s so easy to stare into the face of darkness and feel it crush you. To scream out the question of purpose only to have no answer, so I just stopped asking the question. When I hear the story of the man who rolled that stone up the mountain I find myself already looking for a purpose, a will, even if its just to watch the sunrise. It’s the fight to feel something in this world that makes it all that important. We choose to care and give ourselves because it makes us feel more alive, so I embrace the groggy feeling I have at 6:30 in the morning and reject the idea of going back to bed because today I have things to do, today I have a life to live. I reach over to my phone willing and able to except the challenges that the day has readied me to face, I turn off the tone and check my calendar to see what is on the agenda but false alarm, it’s only Saturday.