Writing and Tok Textbooks Essay examples

Submitted By zhuangbility
Words: 876
Pages: 4

The search for "real, specific and detailed examples"
To summarise, your examples should be: real, specific, detailed, individual, accurate, referenced, analysed, relevant
There are also things to avoid. See THINGS TO AVOID. (below) These include: meaningless statements, generalisations, pseudo-examples, stereotypes, dictionary definitions, cliches, ToK textbooks, extreme statements, relativism

That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."(Christopher Hitchens) Do you agree?

For the title above think of two examples you would use to illustrate different sides of the title. Find a reference online for each of the examples you have chosen. Write the title, 2 examples and their reference links in an email and send to your partner.


Read your partner's email. Analyse the examples you have received. Go through the features as follows:

REAL? You know what that means.
SPECIFIC AND DETAILED? Are there enough details to understand the example?
INDIVIDUAL? Is it an original idea and not a well-worn cliche?
ACCURATE? Check the source. Does it back up what your partner wrote?
REFERENCED? Could you easily find the source?
RELEVANT? Did it fit in with the title?


1. General meaningless statements such as "Since the dawn of time man has been obsessed with knowledge". The essay does not need a romantic lead-in. You can start it straight away. Like a film the first paragraph should be packed with ToK action.

2. Gross unsubstantiated generalisations such as: "Americans see wealth itself as a moral good". Be very careful with the use of the word all. Check carefully what it is you want to say. Ask yourself whether it is necessary for your essay to make such a sweeping statement?

3. Pseudoexamples. These are fictional examples usually based on stereotyping: "An Israeli would regard the wall as necessary while a Palestian as an infringement of basic liberty". In such as situation find a statement by a real Israeli and a real Palestinian. Worse are examples which typecast Areas of Knowledge: "A scientist would look at the statue and try to work out the forces in it while an artist would react emotionally to it". The reaction of most examiners reading these lines is to write in red pen: "Would they?" and knock off some points under category A,B or C or combinations of these depending on the context.

4. Dictionary definitions. These are usually not at all helpful in clarifying ToK concepts. These are best dealt with in your own terms. What do you understand as knowledge as opposed to belief, subjective versus objective, inference as opposed to deduction? It is often useful to see a concept in comparison with another related concept and think of examples of one that are not examples of the other. Small examples that illustrate the way in which you see concepts are very useful. On the whole avoid being 'bogged down' by definitions. If one had to define Art before writing any essay on it then one would hardly get anywhere at all.

5. Be careful with examples or ideas taken from textbooks – especially those designed specifically for ToK. Textbooks used in a authoritative way without critical evaluation often lead to poor ToK essays. The examiners are interested in what you have to say not the author of a textbook. If you use a textbook make sure you stand back and