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The arts knowledge questions

The arts knowledge questions

Knowledge questions (KQs) form the heart of the TOK course, and provide us with the opportunity to discuss, explore, and sometimes argue about the way in which we acquire, use, and evaluate our knowledge about the real-world.

Although the arts knowledge questions that you see here link primarily to this area of knowledge, many of them link to other AOKs, and themes, so one of the first things to consider is how they relate to, and impact on, other aspects of the course.

Knowledge questions on the nature and scope of the arts

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for TOK
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

What is art?

Is originality the most important characteristic of great art?

Can art every be truly original?

What is the purpose of art?

How distinct are the different fields of the arts compared to other areas of knowledge?

Who owns art?

Can the future of art be predicted?

How can the arts help us to make sense of events in society?

Does art to make us see the world differently?

Knowledge questions on the relationship between the arts and values

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the arts and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for TOK
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

What is the relationship between art and morality?

How closely related are aesthetic judgements and moral judgements?

How do the arts shape our ethical outlooks?

Are artists ‘moral experts’?

Should we consider the moral integrity of the artist when we judge art?

Is there ever a justification for censorship of the arts?

What role do moral themes play in the creation of ‘good’ art?

Can art be immoral?

Should ethical constraints be applied to the arts?

Knowledge questions on the communication of ideas in the arts

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Can artistic knowledge be conveyed in an alternative way?

Does having a message always undermine the integrity of art?

Is art a way of communicating that “bypasses reason”?

What are the dangers of relying on images to give us insight about the world?

Is the message of works of art more important than the technique and execution?

Is all art propaganda?

Knowledge questions on the arts, perspectives, and context

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Or is our judgement of art determined by our need to confirm our own social and political outlooks?

How much do we need to know about the social, cultural, and historical background of a work of art in order to understand it?

How do our perspectives and biases affect the way we interpret art?

What determines the way works of art are interpreted?

Can we talk in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art?

Is artistic meaning created by the artist or the audience?

Should all artistic productions be ‘colorblind’?

Does the subjective nature of the senses support the work of artists?

Knowledge questions on the creation of new ideas in the arts

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Has art developed over time?

Can genuinely new artistic knowledge ever be created?

Does art ever become obsolete?

How has technology influenced the way in which art is created and viewed?

Is artistic knowledge fundamentally empirical?

Do Eureka moments (in the arts) exist?

Is new artistic knowledge created as a way to challenge convention?

How does our use of social media shape our perception of art?

Knowledge questions on becoming a discerning knower about the arts

  • These KQs on the arts relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

What gives people authority when it comes to artistic evaluation?

Is the consensus truth test ever a valid basis of (artistic) judgement?

Do we judge art purely via its provenance?

Is the artist responsible for all the meaning found within their art?

Is it possible to objectively evaluate art?

Has the role of the critic changed over time?

Make the most of this content in the classroom!

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (which we update every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking suggestions, guidance on the key concepts, and other ideas. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

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