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Essay question: "To gain an understanding of the world we need to make use of stereotypes."

Areas of knowledge: social science and art

 

Im saying that we need them to understand the world..

 

I need a different perspective about if we need stereotypes to understand the world!

 

Thank you!!!  :blowkiss:

 

 

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Well you could go for the rather obvious point that whilst stereotypes can help us make sense of the world, they can also give us a version of the world which is not true and which prevents us from acquiring the actual truth. For instance, I could say that I have a stereotype that all american people have no knowledge of the 'outside world'. This would allow me to navigate my way through conversations with said people in a more useful fashion than if I didn't have the stereotype, for instance by avoiding topics that I think they wouldn't know. However many american people actually do know stuff about the rest of the world, much more than I do, and because of my stereotype, I would sometimes get it wrong and it could be really embarrassing. So actually it's really not a good stereotype to have. That's a kind of weird example (not sure why it popped into my head) but that's the same for all stereotypes throughout history. I mean how did we have a slave trade and so many people treating black people like sub-humans if it wasn't for a stereotype which let that happen. Stereotypes (in the form of mass ignorance) can actually be really dangerous.

 

Basically, stereotypes go both ways. They can help us but they can also lead us into misinformation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Essay question: "To gain an understanding of the world we need to make use of stereotypes."

Areas of knowledge: social science and art

 

Im saying that we need them to understand the world..

 

I need a different perspective about if we need stereotypes to understand the world!

 

Thank you!!!  :blowkiss:

 

I'd think that firstly you have to get a sense of what "an understanding of the world" is. While we think of stereotypes in the common fashion, like attractive girls are dumb, Jews are stingy, brown and bearded = terrorist, its quite different in terms of ToK. It would be interesting if you applied the definition of "stereotype" to a social science, say economics. You find that it is quite essential due to the modeling tendency of economics, where you've got a number of very obvious stereotypes. For example, Veblen goods: Rich people are more likely to buy a luxury good if its price increases. However, at the same time, much of economics is also attempting to amalgamate theory with reality - i.e. merging stereotypes with the truth. If this were reliable, then we would tend to treat economics much more as a science rather than a social science :D So that's one way you can go against the use of stereotypes in attempting to understand the world through social sciences - they're simply not very reliable. 

 

In the arts, you've got a much wider range of discussion for understanding through stereotypes - think of all the archetypes found in Renaissance paintings. You literally can't understand the artist's intention if you didn't understand certain popular stereotypes of the time. In addition, there is some merit to the concept of stereotyping the artists themselves: 19th/20th century French guys liked to paint clouds and call it impressionism, which might affect your judgement of a work of art that came from those circumstances but not necessarily conforming to that movement! 

 

I apologize if all this isn't too relevant to your question, but they're some things to think about in terms of your AoKs. It's an interesting topic :D

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