Ib Tok Essay

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IB Diploma Programme
Theory of Knowledge Essay

Topic:
Can we know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge? Consider history and one other area of knowledge.

Candidate Name: Akanksha Vardhan
Candidate Number: 002602-064
School Name: BD Somani International School
School Number: 002602
Word Count: 1597









Can we know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge? Consider history and one other area of knowledge.
Bertrand Russell, the 20th century British philosopher, once said, “Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.” [1]In our daily conquest to acquire “justified true belief”, [2]it is important that we are aware of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ influences that contribute to the experience, the pursuit of knowledge, in a way that we are able to consciously weigh the validity of our knowledge claims.

Many romantic writers and poets in the early nineteenth century emphasized the importance of emotion in making sense of the world. John Keats once said, “Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon by our pulses” [3] referring to the superiority of our core emotions (happiness, fear, anger, surprise or even disgust) - the strong feelings deriving from our moods, circumstances or relationships with others[4], in gaining an accurate picture of the truth.

However, is it possible that the ‘truth’ itself is more complex and what we know via our emotions is only half the story? Can we always rely on our emotions to provide us with certainty? In my opinion, emotions may motivate us to acquire knowledge and provide insights regarding our likes and dislikes, but given the subjective nature of emotional instincts, we cannot know when to trust emotions as one of our primary sources of knowledge about the world. Other…...

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