Is there something universally beautiful?

The other day in TOK class we were debating wether something can be universally beautiful and we talked about the beauty of a women.

I think that beauty is on the eye of the beholder. Some people may think that this cubist painting is beautiful while others don´t find it beautiful at all.cubista-guitarra_jpg

The same can happen with a landscape, people may think that a snowed mountain is beautiful while other prefer a beach landscape. And it can also happen with people and with anything.

I don´t believe that something can be universally beautiful because not everyone has the same taste. But it is true that some things can attract more people that others, however that doesn´t make them more beautiful. I think everything is beautiful but some people can not see the beauty on certain things.


How does censorship affect the way we gain or investigate knowledge in the Arts?

Often, when talking about knowledge, one key factor is how the knowledge was gained: what experiments were done in Natural Sciences, what research was undertaken in History, or what mathematical process was used in Mathematics. This is, of course, because the way in which knowledge is gained usually affects the knowledge itself. One of the most important factors that can influence knowledge is the society in which it is produced or discovered, how its people react to it, and the censorship that exists in it.

A prime example of this is William Shakespeare’s “Othello”. One widely accepted theory about the play is that Shakespeare uses it to criticize the society of his time due to it being mysoginistic and racist. However, since he could not say what he thought explicitly, he had to add different connotative meanings in the form of symbols inside the play to express his criticism. Had he been able to express himself freely, Shakespeare would probably not have killed Desdemona, Emilia or Othello, he would have given them a happy ending instead. The society in which he lived in affected the way in which he expressed his knowledge, which therefore affected our way of understanding and investigating it. Had Shakespeare written Othello in today’s more open-minded society, he would probably have expressed his criticism denotatively. This would have helped us confirm what we can only speculate about now: that “Othello” was really about criticizing society.

As can be seen in the example, censorship usually affects knowledge in the Arts by having connotative meanings be used rather than denotative meanings. And while this may produce very interesting art, it is also a major setback in the search for knowledge: many different connotative meanings can be read in a single piece of art, and some of them may conflict with each other. In “Othello”, Desdemona may have stood up to her father by disobeying him and marrying Othello, defying society’s rules, but she also remained obedient to Othello even if it meant being mistreated, and eventually killed. Two readings can be taken out of this: that Desdemona was killed because she defied society and its view on her, or that she was killed because Shakespeare had no choice but to kill her in order to avoid censorship. Which one is understood may depend on the reader: members of a relatively more tolerant society such as ourselves will probably lean towards the second meaning.

So to sum up, the subjectivity of knowledge in the Arts makes it difficult to decipher, and censorship only contributes to this by not allowing us to have any confirmation of any theories we may come up with.

To what extent does the truth of a statement depend on the language used to express it?

Nowadays there are more than 7099 languages spoken in the whole world but the most important ones are English, Mandarin, French and Spanish.

We use language in order to transmit an idea, a fact or even feelings. There are several ways of language such as verbal and non verbal. If we talk about the verbal language it can perfectly be a conversation between the president  of the country and his secretary, and if we look at the non verbal language it can be a traffic sign or the social media.

All the languages can be spoken but, Can the language in which you speak change the truth of the statement?

There are several answers to this and we could debate it for a very long time but here we have an example in which it didn’t happen and one that did happen.

For example in Chemistry, the creation of the periodic table was made from two different scientists that were from different countries. One was Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, who was from Russia and the other one was Lothar Meyer, from Germany. In the 1800s there was a difficult communication but both of them didn’t communicate at all. They used all the notes the previous scientist left in history. Those notes were probably in their mother tongue language. Those notes were in French, English, German and Greek. With all the knowledge they had, they got to a point in which both of them created the periodic table, one that is the most similar to the one we use now. All of that without communication and just by interpreting the notes in other languages.

The second example was the one in which two friends are talking. One is from England and the other one is from Spain. They are both talking in English but all of a sudden they get into an argument and they leave. The Spanish girl goes and talk with her mom. She is translating everything into her mother tongue language and obviously there are some expression that English has but Spanish not, so she will be saying with her own words, the conversation she had with the other girl. In this case, she will change the truth about the facts and the statement, because probably she will not have said the same words that both of them used while arguing.

To sum up, in my opinion I think that knowing a variety of languages is really good for your future but when it comes to tell someone what you heard or seen or lived in another language you have to be careful and try and say the exact same thing because otherwise you’ll be changing the situation.



HELLO in eight different languages

Does art have to have a meaning?

Many people suggest that art has to have a meaning and has to be understood in order to be art. But is this true?

There are many definitions of art and it depends on the person. Maybe someone finds that bullfighting is art while others find that the sunrise is art. I think that art depends on the eye of the beholder. But art doesn´t allways have to have a meaning. There are many art pieces that don´t have a meaning and is the spectator who gives that meaning.

For example, in abstract art, the meaning of a painting depends on the person. But every art piece has a meaning and every artist makes an art piece that represents something and has a meainng at least for them. If the spectators don´t understand the meaning that is another thing, but for the artist it does have a meaning that is why they do it. For example, when I went to the MOMA in NY, I saw an apple. I didn´t understand why and apple was in an art gallery, but the artist thought of a meaning for that art piece and that is why it was exposed on an art gallery.

All in all I do think that art has a meaning at least for the artist. No one makes an art piece that doesn´t have any meaning for them. But not everyone understands that meaning and depending on the person it has one meaning or another.

To what extent should true art be recognised by experts?

This is not an easy answer because many of the methods of judging are very problematic and many of the criteria used to assess art are antagonistic. Some examples can be popularity, financial value, art historical significance, or aesthetic sophistication. All these things could be at odds with each other. In order to know wether it’s good art or not, it has to meet a list of requirements.

However in my personal opinion, I think that most of the Art is recognised by experts, because they are the ones that choose the paintings in this case, and decide they are good enough to be exhibited in a museum. The quality of a museum  is determined by its Art. So in this case, the better the art critics and experts choose the paintings, the better the museum will be. An example for this, is the Lovre Museum in France, considered one of the best museums in the world, whose experts are said to be according to their website: ‘Always keeping a close eye on the art market and maintaining regular contacts with major private and corporate donors, collectors, dealers, antiquarians, corporations, and patrons’. Sometimes, this method is unfair because it is based (not always) on popularity or personal interests among other ones.

There can also be errors in the experts’ methods. A really interesting example is when kids’ art looks like modern art and sometimes even experts make a mistake and confuse it with big pieces: “Antiques Roadshow expert mistakenly values school art project at $50,000”.

But there is an exception, when an up and coming artist isn’t well known yet, the work is can be true Art, but until art critics don’t discover him/her, he/she won’t become known by the public and that’s a disadvantage for him/her.

All in all, most of the art is recognised by experts when it fulfills a list of features that makes it good. However, there are a lot of artists that make art that aren’t known yet, and maybe they’ll be after their death. Or even sometimes where the experts’ method isn’t accurate or is based on economical interests, convenience…

How certain is scientific knowledge?

Since the beginning of time the human being has tried to understand what we are doing here and if there is a purpose for us to be here. Obviously science has evaluated a lot since those days. But still people in those ages had their own “scientific theories” of what was going on. As they didn´t had much information and knowledge about anything at all, they created religions, so they believed in gods that had created them, and they had to be loyal to them in order to live. Everyone thought that was real, and nobody contradicted that gods were real. The same happens if you advance a little bit in time. Two hundred years ago there were many things proved by science that now a days has been proved to be false. So how certain is scientific knowledge? It is not as certain as we think it is, all the time scientific theories that everyone believe to be true are found with missing things that make them not so true. In many years probably all of our theories will be disproved and substituted by others. Even it they have been scientifically proved, there would be found new things that now we are not able to see. Thats why scientific knowledge isn’t certain, we never know everything and we never know the hole story.

To what extent can shared information change personal knowledge in the arts?

The arts is probably the most subjective area of knowledge, and so opinions and pints of view are the basis of the transmitted knowledge. Although it can focus on internal human behavior or it can also be a tool to keep the ‘status quo’, I’ll look at society criticism through the arts to try to answer this question.

Whenever a book is published or a drawing exposed, what they both transmit becomes artistic shared knowledge or information. On the other hand, what each cba7b1e331a3c95dadd5776dc864e3f6one of us as an individual believes is our personal knowledge. However, this type of knowledge is much weaker since we should have clear ideas in order to stand up for our thoughts.

The thing within the arts is they have developed so many manipulative skills and defending your ideas is much more difficult when you are ingeniously being persuaded.

Taking as an example Shakespeare’s play Othello, we can see he specifically chose a black man as the main character in order to make people realize race shouldn’t determine a man’s position in society. Perhaps some watchers in the XVII century realized what the artist was seeking to express and their racist pain of view was changed.

However, this is also done in visual arts, where revolutionary paintings such as Napalm, Blansky’s famous painting of the Vietnamese girl, which complain about politicians or society as a whole. A lot of American citizens felt ashamed of their politicians when they saw this and maybe some of these were completely in favour of the current party before having seen the painting.


If we consider the media as arts, that’s the most powerful manipulative source of information to which we are exposed everyday. Besides, most people constantly have their minds changed by them.

In conclusion, after having analysed the meaning of each knowledge and the impact of art with an example, I consider the arts can definitely change personal knowledge and that’s one of their objectives: artists try to expose their pain of view in order to convince people about their way of thinking.

How do we know what makes us happy?

When we ask ourselves what would makes us happy that wouldn’t be a great problem. We would say the new phone that was launched to the market, a new car, or a bigger house.

In order to know what makes us happy, we can not state a rule, because it may change over according to their likes and dislikes. But we do know one thing. Everyone need the basics to be happy, such as a family, people that care for us or a job.

If we go deeper in the analysis, we would take 2 people. One that is a nun and one that is atheist. And if we ask them about their happiness, all the ways of knowing will start working together to create a piece of final work.

Normally not many people like to talk about one of the two ways of knowing  that I will talk  about in this analysis I will use them to explain it better. Those are faith and intuition.

Continuing with the example of the two people, if we ask them about what makes them happy that is related to the faith, obviously the nun would say that according to her faith, she is very happy, because she believes in things that the atheist doesn’t, like God. For example she would say that preach the religion makes her the most happiest woman in the world, when meanwhile the atheist person would say that getting the new Ferrari would make him the most happiest man in the world, because he doesn’t have faith in anything. Maybe he believes in karma or similar things but obviously not in God.

When we talk about memory, she would probably say that she was very happy because she finally found peace because of God and her status as a nun. That everything her memory thinks about is when she goes to church and helps the most disadvantaged. On the other hand, if we ask the atheist, he would probably said, if he is already working and with a family, the day he graduated or the day he married.

All of this analysis would lead to another question which is, to what extend do we need material things in order to be happy and satisfied?
In conclusion we can make the statement that everyone is different and this will affect the answer of the question depending if you are asking it to one person or another.

In my opinion this is quite a reasonable statement, due to the fact that no one in this world is equal, so the options and the feelings would change depending on our faith, on our memories, our intuition and all of the ways of knowing. But as I said in the beginning we all need the basics to be happy. If we don’t have those, it is very difficult to reach a lever in which you are really happy.






How important is it that the artists intention be perceived or understood by the audience?

Art is one of the areas of knowledge and the first one we are studying on our Tok course. Therefore, with the knowledge gained from the lessons I will answer this question.

Artists usually make art with an intention but that intention is not always percived by the audience or in some cases it can be misinterpreted. Depending on the piece of art and the artist,  the importance of the intention will vary.

In some cases the intention is clear and it is very important that it is understood by the audience in order to have the effect desired by the artist. For example Banksy produced in 2004 the piece of art you can see below with the intention of attacking consumerism and capitalism. In this case it is very important that the intention of the piece of art is percived and understood by the audience in order to have the impact it wishes to make.

Resultado de imagen de mickey mouse and ronald macdonalds with a girl

However, it is not crucially important for the audience to understand other pieces of art which intentions are less clear. For instance, imagine a toddler piece of art. The artist; the toddler, may have no specific intentions but rather he or she just makes art for the fun of it. In this case, for the audience which in this case will probably be a member of his or hers family or someone from school to understand the intention will not be important.

Resultado de imagen de toddler art

In conclusion, the importance of the artists intention to be understood or perceived by the audience can vary depending on the piece of art or the type of artist. Sometimes to understand the artists intention is crucial but in other cases is not that important.



Should art be beautiful?

Art is one of the areas of knowledge and the first one we are studying in our Tok course; that is the reason why I have decided to answer this knowledge question.

Art is defined by the dictionary as the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. In this definition we can see that art doesn´t necessary have to be beautiful but something that catches our attention.

In my point of view, some people can believe something is art while others don´t agree. For instance, think of a sunset, I personally believe it is art but some people won´t ever consider it a piece of art; they may argue that is something that happens everyday and without importance. Therefore, people can consider something horrible but shocking a piece of art; in other words, art doesn´t have to be beautiful.

The truth is, that in most cases art is beautiful, speacially in ancient times because otherwise that piece wouldn´t be accepted by the population as people related the beautiful with the good.

However, modern art is sometimes very abstract and can be found horrible by some people. Furthermore, toddler art, which can sometimes be confused with modern art can also be not beautiful for some.

In conclusion, as we have seen in many examples, art doesn´t always have to be beautiful although in the mayority of cases it is.



Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2017].