Importance of ‘Ways of Knowing (WOK)’ for your IBDP TOK!

Having a good understanding of the ways of knowing is paramount for IB DP students as it is an essential component of the TOK essays and presentations. But, do you know what the term ways of knowing actually means? 

Let's forget about the textbook phrasing.

The ‘Ways of Knowing (WOK)’ is the path through which we apprehend knowledge, the method through which knowledge appears clearly to us.

In general, there are 8 ways of knowing but in IBDP you will be only focusing on four ways of knowing:

  • Language
  • Sense Perception
  • Emotion
  • Reason
  • Imagination
  • Intuition
  • Memory
  • Faith


What is language to you, merely a way of conveying your meaning to the other person? Language is a technique of signs based on specific practices through which we try to send some information to others. 

For Instance, if you say the word Good Luck to a person who understands English, he or she will get it because you share the same language vocabulary. Therefore, the purpose of using language is to transmit some meaning. Likewise, you can only use a specific language for a specific group of people, For example, If you have to say Good luck to someone who only understands Spanish, what would you do?

You will give him/her thumbs up, so use a sign to convey your point even if the way is flawed. This is one of the important points in your TOK. 


Faith is also a way of knowing, how you do understand the term faith? A belief, trust, or confidence in something may be spiritual trust. When we normally talk about faith, it doesn't mean religious faith such as faith in God. No way, it has nothing to do with religion. It is a method of understanding and believing in the world. A person can be committed to an idea, belief, company, or organization based on faith. But, if you are choosing faith in your TOK you should consider faith as a way of knowing. One disadvantage of faith is you cannot confirm it therefore it can conflict with evidence.


Intuition is having a gut feeling, a prior sense, or emotion about something which hasn't occurred yet. Intuitions can be based on previous experiences or ventures. For instance, if you visit a doctor, he will have intuition about the disease you have because of his previous experience so he will judge your disease by his intuition. But, it is still a prediction. Not really, an outcome is reliable therefore intuition as a way of knowing is limited and has limits that make it hard to obtain a reliable conclusion.


Emotion as a way of knowing is quite strong. A way of making sense of what we go through, and obtaining ideas through experiences is called emotions. Yet, the emotional way of knowing has its limitations such as it can convey knowledge to a specific person, not to a set of people. Therefore, being a powerful way of knowing still emotion is not quite dependable.

If you are looking for more guidance regarding TOK, Blen is here to support you.

Click below to read more about TOKs.