Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles Nov 2019

Friday, March 29, 2013

ToK Essay Prescribed Titles (November 2013): Question 5

“…Our knowledge is only a collection of scraps and fragments that we put together into a pleasing design, and often the discovery of one new fragment would cause us to alter utterly the whole design.” (Maurice Bishop)” To what extent is this true in History and one other Area of Knowledge?

Consider this oft quoted passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

Remember that from one perspective the Bible itself is a ‘collection of scraps and fragments’ woven together ‘into a pleasing design’ and to many millions it reflects the ‘whole design’ that God had in mind for every human being.

The various antitheses in the opening of Ecclesiastes are central to this design – they outline a pattern to our lives in every aspect of its physical and psychological manifestations.  The lines map out, in short, our destinies.  Now every individual will, of course, have a slightly different path than the one mentioned (not everyone will ‘rend’ and ‘sew’, for instance – unless you accept the metaphorical meaning of the words), but the essential idea is that we are each of us enmeshed in our own fate and thus our ultimate end (and thereby our beginning) is predetermined.

Philosophy students will raise all sorts of objections at this point, but let’s just suspend our disbelief and explore the possibilities of this position in terms of the KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS it raises: to what extent can we know the predetermined outcomes of our actions?  How far can we discover a path that changes forever this predetermined path?

Theologians have elaborated numerous responses to questions like this and the upshot seems to be: our lives are a constant struggle to know God’s will for us and once we discover this, it will change our lives forever; the path won’t change, but our attitude will or should.  This explanation accounts for people’s conversion experiences to belief in God as well as radically confirming believers’ own faith and sense of moral obligation to the Will of God.

Not everyone is satisfied with this answer, but you can see how it’s pretty consistent within the Christian belief system as underlined by the passage.

Besides, it’s wonderful poetry...

And if you’re interested, read T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets which makes ample use of this passage and other biblical allusions.

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