November 2023 TOK Essay Prompts Explained + SAMPLES
April 10th, 2023
The TOK essay prescribed titles for November 2023 are finally out. Since many students struggle with TOK essays, it’s quite good news that IB students have a lot of time to check those TOK prompts.
No more general words, and dry theory, I’m sharing a list of the TOK titles. I will start with a general list and move further to detailed explanations of each and give you examples. This can help you understand which one you will go for.
Moreover, I believe this can help you get started so that you know what exactly is required of you to work.
November 2023 ToK essay titles list
- Are facts alone enough to prove a claim? Discuss with reference to any two areas of knowledge.
- If “the mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s and the poet’s, must be beautiful” (G.H. Hardy), how might this impact the production of knowledge? Discuss with reference to mathematics and the arts.
- In the acquisition of knowledge, is following experts unquestioningly as dangerous as ignoring them completely? Discuss with reference to the human sciences and one other area of knowledge.
- Is it problematic that knowledge is so often shaped by the values of those who produce it? Discuss with reference to any two areas of knowledge.
- Is it always the case that “the world isn’t just the way I is, it is how we understand it – and in understanding something, we bring something to it” (adapted from Life of Pi by Yann Martel)? Discuss with reference to history and the natural sciences.
- Faced with a vast amount of information, how do we select what is significant for the acquisition of knowledge? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.
If you need assistance with your IB ToK essay, press on the picture above and order your paper. Now let’s move to the explanation part.
Title 1: Are facts alone enough to prove a claim? Discuss with reference to any two areas of knowledge.
This seems to be one of the easiest prompts to work on. But in some cases, when things seem too simple, there is a lot that has to go behind that. The keyword in this case is ‘facts.’ The title asks if facts alone are enough to help prove a claim. Another word that also needs to be focused on is ‘alone.’ The idea is to explore if only facts can help you prove a claim or if there are other factors that are needed as well.
A lot of us think that we know what ‘facts’ stand for. In some fields of interest, like math, it is very easy to chalk out what facts are. Say one plus one is two, is a fact in mathematics. But how does one decide what facts are in areas of knowledge like arts and human sciences?
These areas of knowledge are subjective in nature, which means that it can be very hard to differentiate facts in these areas of knowledge. Every area of knowledge that we talk about has a different way of classifying facts.
For example, when we talk about math, we can see that the Pythagorean theorem is based on hard facts, where we talk about how the summation of the square of the base and the perpendicular equals to the sum of the hypotenuse. So we can see that while facts are indeed sufficient in some areas of knowledge, there is indeed more probing needed in other areas of knowledge to help understand things better.
Sample of November 2023 TOK Essay Title 1
Below you can find an example of the November 2023 TOK essay sample on Prompt 1: Are facts alone enough to prove a claim?
To understand this better, it is highly advised that you also go through the different stages of knowledge that exist to help you understand how knowledge is produced here. Does it come solely from facts, or do you also need other types of evidence to help you reach a reasonable conclusion about things?
Title 2: If “the mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s and the poet’s, must be beautiful” (G.H. Hardy), how might this impact the production of knowledge? Discuss with reference to mathematics and the arts.
This title is very specific. Actually, I’m finding it super confusing and I guess it will be one of the less-selected November 2023 TOK prompts. Agree? Leave your comments below 😉
It is one that talks about the importance of math and how contrary to popular belief, it shares characteristics that are very similar to arts. Many a time, you must have heard that math is a very creative discipline on the whole. The idea behind this concept is that while the subject is highly objective, it does take into account many different factors, and all of these factors are ones that need to be taken into consideration when we talk about this.
One interesting example that we can see here is the concept of fractals. If you read up more about this, then you will find out that this has a lot to do with the artistic representation of mathematics. This raises a very valid question, which is whether art has only to do with how beautiful something is or is there more to it as well.
On the contrary, we can also see that there is a lot of evidence that shows that art is not all about being pretty. There is a lot more to it as well. An example can be seen in terms of the paintings and photographs that depict famous wars that happened in the world. While these aren’t pretty pictures, they are pretty much valid and prevalent, and they really help us understand more about different situations in terms of what we think or believe about them.
So the idea is to explore that does mathematics really have any value is the knowledge is produced but does not add any value? So if you go for this prompt, then you have to dispute the notion of this quote, giving your own two cents to the situation to actually explore what this is all about and how you can work your way toward things in the best possible way.
Title 3: In the acquisition of knowledge, is following experts unquestioningly as dangerous as ignoring them completely? Discuss with reference to the human sciences and one other area of knowledge.
Many students would find this title very appealing. The idea here is to explore to what extent exactly can we trust experts in any field to give us information about things so that we can base our behavior on them. The best way we can look at this is with the help of the Coronavirus pandemic that took the world over by storm.
Health experts told us that we have to get ourselves vaccinated and stay at home for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. We did exactly so because we realized that this was the best thing to do for people because we trust experts in terms of the knowledge that they have and the advice that they give us about things.
But what is also important to note here is that experts are not always right. They can also go wrong based on what they think and also have it in them to make mistakes. So this raises a very important question, which is what makes an expert?
So the idea is to explore this in a lot of detail. It would be very interesting to explore this with reference to human sciences, because the nature of the subject is highly subjective, which means that it can help understand what all it constitutes. You can explore this better by looking at what economists have to say about different situations and how that seems to be wise or not.
This is a very interesting prompt if you choose to go about it wisely and have sound examples to support your viewpoint about things.
Title 4: Is it problematic that knowledge is so often shaped by the values of those who produce it? Discuss with reference to any two areas of knowledge.
This is a very interesting prompt to work on if you take into account the fact that knowledge is produced according to the values of producers. We need to work toward understanding what the main problem is and how knowledge is influenced by different values.
Let’s look at this with the example of slavery. There was a point in time when people didn’t see anything wrong with slavery. They knew that slavery is prevalent and at that time, it was also very common to have slaves. But if we look at how problematic this is today, then you can see that no one takes into account slavery today. In fact, it is looked upon as something that is extremely bad.
So what we can see here is that the knowledge that we have is greatly influenced by different thought processes that make us understand things a certain way. The value system that we rely on here is something very important that we have to take into account if we wish to work a certain way.
At the end of the day, the knowledge that you have is dependent on what all you have learned so far and what this has taught you. Your lens might become outdated in the future, but the idea is to help you understand all of this in a much better way. An accurate depiction of things can only happen when you take all of that into account and try to understand things for the better. For some areas of knowledge, the issue of values is not very prominent, while for others, that is not the case.
So it depends entirely on what you choose to work with and how you think that affects the way that you think and work toward things.
Title 5: Is it always the case that “the world isn’t just the way it is, it is how we understand it – and in understanding something, we bring something to it” (adapted from Life of Pi by Yann Martel)? Discuss with reference to history and the natural sciences.
While this prompt may seem to be a little complicated at first, it is not really that hard to understand. In simple words, you are expected to work toward bringing your own perspective and interpretation of knowledge. It asks you how you understand things and how your interpretation of things makes you add value to the world. The idea here is that all of us have our own thoughts and ideas about things. The knowledge that we acquire is very different, and our value systems are very different as well. So this is something that we have to explore and try to understand in all ways. There is also a very wide spectrum that makes you understand what it means to bring something to the things that you learn.
With some areas of knowledge, this can be very easy to explain. Say if you talk about art, you can see how artists have their own thought processes when they paint a picture. Even if we talk about an abstract painting, we can see that there is a lot that goes behind all of that, and the main reason for that is that they have a specific thought process that they follow. But how we interpret that painting depends entirely on what our lookout toward things is.
So this is what we need to understand very well. So basically, how well you explore this prompt depends on the type of examples that you come through with and what all you help explain in the best way. So this is something that is very important and is something that you need to pay a lot of attention to, when working.
Title 6: Faced with a vast amount of information, how do we select what is significant for the acquisition of knowledge? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.
This title basically talks about big data and how there is so much information in the world that we actually find very hard to understand. You might have experienced a lot of this in your entire student life. When there is too much that you have to understand and study, it becomes really hard for you to retain all of that.
So the idea is to understand what information you will actually understand and retain, and what you will not. The idea is to know that some information is more valuable than others, so you have to be very mindful about what you think and do in this situation.
Similarly, in the real work, there is a lot of information that we have in front of us. It depends entirely on us what we choose to pick out as more important, depending on what our world view is and what we think is important for the acquisition of knowledge. Search engines have also given us access to so much information that it actually becomes very hard for us to pick and choose what we want to pay the most attention to.
TOK Essay Title 6 Example
Below you will find a link to the November 2023 TOK essay prompt 6 – Faced with a vast amount of information, how do we select what is significant for the acquisition of knowledge?
When we choose some knowledge, and we miss out on some other, it gives us a feeling of whether we are missing out on something important. So the idea is to understand this best and think about what interests us the most so that we can pick and choose very wisely.
Other TOK essay prompts from previous years with samples
In case you have overlooked any of the past TOK essay titles, along with their examples or topics from previous years, I am providing the links below.
The year 2023:
The year 2022:
Previous years’ prompts:
Ready to select your 2023 November TOK essay prompt?
With a better idea of what you have to touch upon in each of these, it will become much easier for you to choose things so that you understand all of it better and make a very wise choice.
You can always count on our service if you need assistance writing your TOK essay. Simply get in touch with our support team or place your order directly to buy TOK essay using our online order form.
Vasyl Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at WritingMetier. He is interested in education and the ways modern technology makes it more accessible. He wants to bring awareness about new learning possibilities as an educational specialist. When not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.
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