In this guide, we give you a description of all the areas of knowledge in ToK. Whether you’re just getting started with ToK or you’ve been studying the subject for a while, you’ll find this post incredible helpful.

To begin with, areas of knowledge in ToK deal with what we know, and each is a system.

Within the scientific framework, for example, there is an agreement on how to conduct investigations and the accepted criteria for arguments and proofs.

In this respect, we can define an area of knowledge as a collection of knowledge that fits neatly within a single system.

Key Takeaways

There are 8 areas of knowledge in ToK, and they’re as follows: 

  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Arts
  • Natura Sciences
  • Human Sciences
  • Ethics
  • Religious Knowledge
  • Indigenous Knowledge

8 Areas of Knowledge in TOK Explained

The following is an explanation for the 8 areas of knowledge as taught in the Theory of Knowledge course:

1. Mathematics  

Mathematics begins with axioms used to prove facts and theorems with the application of deductive reasoning.

Assumptions in this area possess a level of certainty and, despite the rigid constraint of mathematical logic, mathematics remains creative and its practitioners must exercise considerable imagination.

Rather than demand an initial sense of vision, pure mathematics require an application of real-world situation using the same methods implemented in human and natural sciences.

After all, the research in human and natural sciences is mathematical in nature.

Furthermore, there exists a strong link between mathematics and arts, because the demand for artistic harmony and symmetry requires the application of mathematical frameworks. 

2. Natural Sciences

Natural sciences focus on the rules that govern nature. Notably, the regularities that we observe in the very nature that surrounds us are causal relations hips of the type “if A occurs, B will, too”.

Natural sciences rely on observation of the world to test assumptions about an issue. They mitigate the negative outcome of human expectations, aspiration, and preferences rather than developing a knowledge system independent of human participation.

To an extent, natural sciences attempt to stress the role of empirical investigation. Accordingly, scientific knowledge must stand up to experimental judgement.

3. Human Sciences

Human sciences feature disciplines from the group three of the IB diploma. The areas focuses on being human and examines the biological, cultural, and social dimensions of our existence.

As an area of knowledge in ToK, human sciences cover a varied disciplines, including geography, economics, psychology, and cultural, social, and anthropological anthropology.

A noticeable contrast between natural and human sciences is the definition of the term “science”. Human sciences are sciences because they require the application of scientific methods to determine the validity and reliability of hypotheses.

Unlike natural sciences, human sciences lack the actual rules devoid of expectations, which explains why they may rely heavily on statistical approaches to corroborate their results. 

4. History

To understand history as an area of knowledge in ToK, you need to ask yourself the following fundamental questions:

  • What exactly qualifies an event as historically significant?
  • How trustworthy are eyewitness accounts as evidence?
  • What distinguishes the methods used throughout history?

History looks at the chronological sequence of past records. Interestingly, History poses significant knowledge issue such as whether we can discuss historical facts and what counts as a fact.

By studying history, you can understand human behavior, as reflecting on the past makes it possible to predict how the future will unfold.

Historical evidences are equally critical, mostly because they raise the issue of determining the credibility of the evidences themselves

Another issue in history is the question of whether historical truths may exist independently of historians.

In this respect, historical writings are subjective because social and historical context can influence historians as well as what they can write.

5. Arts

Arts is human work that encompasses performing, literary, and visual arts.

In ToK, arts is a means exploring and experiencing the reality of being human. In addition to serving as a key cultural component, arts serves as the link between shared and personal knowledge.

Arts may include everything that creative individuals do, including but not limited to painting, dance, sculpting, and creative writing.

A point of contention is what constitutes knowledge in this domain.

Some people believe that all the information in arts is personal rather than shared. In this respect, creative knowledge is exceedingly difficult to understand or unattainable.

For others, arts bring out some of humanity’s most profound ideas. 

6. Ethics

When examining ethics as an area of knowledge in ToK, you have to consider the following questions:

  • Is there such thing as a moral fact?
  • Is moral knowledge a figment of our imagination or a genuine concept?
  • Is the rightness or wrongness of an action situation-dependent?

Morality is what differentiates human beings from animal, and therefore a critical topic in ethical debate in ToK is whether we can know if something is truly moral.

What differentiates mora values from other forms of values is that they represent duties of human behavior.

 As at now, there isn’t a universal agreement that morality is about following laws, as there is no agreement on the existence of moral principles.

Consequently, whether we should disregard moral standards, and under what circumstances we should do so, is a contentious issue. 

7. Religious Knowledge Systems

In ToK, Religious knowledge systems are areas of knowledge that provide answers to the issues of meaning and the purpose of human life. The systems consist of a diverse array of distinct systems and ideas.

Atheism, pantheism, and polytheism are examples of religious knowledge systems.

Some people believe that there is only one authentic religion. Others hold to the belief that religions represent diverse manifestations of the same fundamental truth.

This knowledge system covers personal and communal dimensions. Furthermore, it provides a strong framework for studying the link between the two dimensions.

Religion is a touchy subject, and for some people, the topic is so sensitive that it’s important to handle any discussion linked to it with caution. A reasonable explanation is that people have strong personal opinion regarding religious subjects.

Interestingly, a larger percentage of individuals view religion as a system that plays an important role in their perception of the world. This saturates their minds and affects their understanding of the other systems of knowledge.

Perhaps the best example is the belief that ethics and religion have a tight relationship. For what it’s worth, religion seems to serve as the current background for many people. 

8. Indigenous Knowledge Systems

This area of knowledge studies knowledge specific to a particular culture or civilization. It refers to knowledge produced by a group of people and assumes a dynamic nature as its defining element.

External and internal factors make indigenous knowledge systems dynamic.

Take the Maori knowledge systems, for example. They’re a synthesis of information acquired through the exposure to traditional knowledge and European culture.

Apparently, you can investigate this field of knowledge from broad and comprehensive perspective and raise a clear understanding of indigenous knowledge systems.

As you investigate this knowledge system, examine the decision-making process, holistic perception of knowledge, cognitive process, and communication strategies. 

Final Thoughts

Theory of Knowledge is a part of the IB program. To do well in the subject, you must study and understand the different areas of knowledge, so you have an easy time completing the related test.