Improving your TOK cognitive toolkit #2

This session discusses three new ideas that I think are of use to all. Please see the previous blogpost to see what I am trying to achieve here. It gives a fuller rationale for dealing with these ideas in the way I have.

In this session we will look at three new ideas 1. “We won’t play nature to your culture” 2. “Everything’s a remix” and 3. “Language Judges”.

Over the term break I read a book that I haven’t looked at for over three decades. The book is called “To Have Or To Be” by Erich Fromm. It was so clear to me just how influential the book had been on me. I have included some long quotes within the presentation below, because Fromm relates his main thesis, that we have moved too far into a having mode and away from pure being, to learning. The quotes are of real relevance to us as we embark on a discussion of three new ideas.

In this incredible book Fromm, suggests that we even treat our ideas, beliefs and opinions as possessions and that this can inhibit our learning and make us less open minded. In discussion we can often be reluctant to “loose” the ideas and opinions that we “own” and this makes us stubborn and reluctant to devlop and grow. He also argues that our use of  language is influenced by the materialism or the “having mode”. We are less likely, he asserts, to say “I am troubled” in the post-industrial age, rather we say “I have a problem”.

I really reccommend everyone to read this book. It is as salient now as it ever was and is fresh in that it is both analytical and refers to political philosophy explicitly at the same time as discussing the nature of being, a subject that is usually dealt with with less rigour and analysis.

I make no apology for the text-heaviness of the presentation. This is meant as a resource that you can go back to. Each section ends with a summary of ways in which each idea can be applied.


1. “We won’t play nature to your culture”

Nature and culture are different. Sometimes however it serves a group’s interests to try and convince you that culture is nature. It is good to be aware of this and to start to disentangle that which is natural from that which is cultural. We will discuss gender identity, vegetarianism (sorry), social darwinism, Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony and the naturalistic fallacy.

2. “Everything’s a remix”

Here I argue that everything we dream up, invent or create owes a debt to others that have come before us. From the last slide …. ”

  • Raid, re-use and develop the ideas of others. Just attribute where appropriate.
  • Avoid being original for original’s sake
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel, just make it better.
  • Be aware that authorship and individual celebrity is cultural and not natural. Many cultures do not attribute art works. The so called “developed” world labels such work as ‘craft’. This uses language to demote the artworks of developing countries and maintain a certain cultural hegemony.”

3. Language Judges”

This is self-evidently about the way language, judges, excludes, blames and compartmentalizes.


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