My immediate response to the task of linking Chemistry to another subject was TOK. TOK is all about asking how we know what we know – and whether our knowledge is even legitimate at all. Personally, I can relate this a lot to Chemistry. In Chem, I am always questioning what we are taught and wondering how accurate it really is. The most frustrating thing, I’ve found, is that we can never know for sure. All our models and theories are based on observations – and most of the fundamental rules we have, we also simply don’t understand. For example; we don’t know what charge is. From middle (and even primary) school, we are taught that opposite charges attract and the same charges repel. We are told to accept it. But we don’t even know what it means to be positively or negatively charged. It’s just a way to explain the patterns that we observe. Another example could be energy – what exactly is it? Ability to do work, yes, but what is it?? A photon? Does that have mass? Energy can travel through a vacuum… To me, it is just all very fuzzy and confusing. If everything in Chemistry is based on these fundamental principles (which we cannot prove), is there really anything that we learn that is certain? Is observation the most accurate way to explain things? I would guess that many people would say no. Yet we base these entire ideas around simple ideas which we don’t really understand.
Similarly, in TOK, we question what we know and how we trust that. Is the scientific methodology the most precise way to explain our observed patterns? Who knows. We can never truly be sure of anything – except that we can be sure of nothing (what a paradox).
One question I have is to what degree of certainty can we have about the knowledge and/or the quality of our knowledge? Of course, never 100%, but how confident exactly are we?