ToK Vocabulary: The Complete List of Terms Explained

The ToK course is challenging, interesting, and equally rewarding if you get it right. In the course are dozens of terms and concepts that take time to grasp. However, only a few terms in the ToK vocabulary are important to the course.

In this post, we list and explain only the most important and frequently used terms. You’ll find these concepts incredibly helpful for the Theory of Knowledge essay and the ToK exhibition.

Our goal with this article is simple:

We want you to stop wasting your precious time on trawling through phrases you’ll never in the ToK course and instead read, understand, and memorize only what’s important. 

Key Takeaways

The most important terms and phrases used in the ToK course are: 

  • Truth
  • Knowledge
  • Ways of knowing
  • Areas of knowledge
  • Shared knowledge
  • Personal knowledge
  • Paradigm shift
  • Premise
  • Empirical knowledge
  • Rationalism
  • Truth test

ToK Vocabulary List Explained

The following is a brief explanation of the most important TOK terms:

1. Truth

Truth is complicated because no one can agree on what truth is. However, there are theories that enable people to have a sense of how complex truth can be.

  • Truth Based on a Personal Belief: Some people believe that education is the path to a successful career. Some strongly feel that money can solve all the problems in the world. These statements are true to those who believe them, hence “truth”.  
  • Truth Based on Statements: If two or more assertions coincide (or come together), it constitutes to truth.
  • Truth that Depict Reality: The Correspondence Theory of Truth states that truth depends on an individual’s current situation. For example, if a car is hooting outside and someone asks, “Is a car hooting?” there can only be one true answer.

2. Knowledge

In the realms of TOK and philosophy, knowledge signifies a grasp of a subject, either theoretically or practically.

Plato conceptualized knowledge as a justified and true belief, proposing that it rests on accurate assertions about tangible entities.

There are four unique categories of knowledge in philosophical discussions:

  • Semantic Knowledge: The knowledge comes from the definitions of words (semantics). Essentially, it stems from commonly accepted meanings of terms that describe forms.
  • Logical Knowledge: It refers to knowledge drawn from the connections between concepts and interactions that adhere to the principles of logic.
  • Systemic Knowledge: It refers to knowledge acquired over time through education and research, and it has deep roots in disciplines such as Mathematics and Geometry.
  • Empirical Knowledge: Empirical Knowledge is information acquired through the five senses.

3. Ways of Knowing

In the TOK course, ways of knowing refer to the means by which we know what we claim to know. You can also think of it as the methods that people use to understand the reasons or mechanisms behind events.

The means are language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. 

Ways of knowing are important because provide essential information and insight into the world, which can subsequently be developed into knowledge.

4. Areas of Knowledge

Areas of Knowledge in TOK refer to the unique structures within which we understand the world. 

IB students must study and understand five AOKs, which are Mathematics, Humanities, History, Arts, and Natural Sciences.

Note that all AOKs feature disagreements between professionals and the public, information passed down to generations, disagreements between subject experts, paradigm changes, and historical discoveries and innovations.

5. Shared Knowledge

Within a group, certain thoughts and perspectives gain approval from the majority, if not all, of its members. This kind of knowledge is common in the group, distributed collectively.

Take our planet, for example. Many individuals embrace the widespread agreement that “the earth is round”.

Few people arrive at this conclusion individually. Many depend on the acknowledgment of this understanding within their group.

6. Personal Knowledge

Personal knowledge is information an individual believes, often rooted in personal experiences witnessed when alone.

For example, if your cherished mug breaks and you’re the sole observer of it slipping from the counter, you alone hold the understanding behind that event.

7. Paradigm Shift

A paradigm shift is a change in one of the areas of knowledge. More often, a paradigm shift relates to a shift in the people understand things or in the way they understand things.

For example:

  • The evolution of photography, and particularly the shift from photographic film to digital photography, changed the way people take photos.
  • The change from Newtonian to Quantum Mechanics completely transformed how we understand modern physics.

8. Premise

A premise is a statement on which you build an argument, as it serves as the foundational for all logical arguments.

Note that a premise cannot be true.

9. Empirical Knowledge

Empiricism signifies justification drawn from experience. This means that empirical knowledge arises from observing, experimenting, and directly engaging the senses.

10. Rationalism

Rationalism is a philosophical stance where reason holds the central role in determining truth and knowledge.

Here, we reach to the “truth” through deduction drawn from logical conclusions based on intuition or inherent knowledge rooted in a core set of guiding principles.

11. Truth Test

Truth tests criteria used to assess the validity of statements and assertions. The three main tests of truth are:

  • Coherence test: The coherence test checks if something is sensible, consistent, and logical.
  • Correspondence test: It evaluates evidence and reasoning for alignment with reality.
  • Pragmatic test: This pragmatic test assesses the practical usefulness and effectiveness of a subject.

Get Professional Writing Help

TOK is a complex course that demands hours of reading and attention to details. So if you’re already feeling the intensity of the course in the first or second year, we’re here to help.

Take advantage of our TOK essay writing service and get professional help from expert writers. Whether you don’t have a strong background in TOK or you just need help to get the essay done on time, you can benefit from our writing help. 

Our team focuses on in-depth research, custom writing, reliable customer support, and timely delivery.

Leave a Comment