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Tok Sense Perception

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To what extent is sense perception a good foundation for reliable knowledge?

Sitting in this classroom today, I can see different things around me, smell different smells around the room, feel the keyboard underneath my fingertips, taste the apple I had during lunch and hear all the different sounds coming from all different people in the room. I can say I know this to be true because we perceive the world through our five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Knowledge is what we learn, what we gain from our own experiences and what we understand from other people’s interpretations. Our senses provide us with a journey, which we are able to take or reject.

Trusting our senses comes so naturally that we don’t realize what we learn from them. What we do with our senses differs from person to person. People depend on their senses and the knowledge it provides in order to survive. “Perception is the source of all of our knowledge about reality.” Perception is known as something that is automatic, mistakes only happen when your brain starts doing the analysis. Our senses provide us with information, although our brains interpret the information. Even though everyone interprets different things in different ways that doesn’t invalidate our senses in fact it gives us more information to rely on. I believe that sense perception can help us gain reliable knowledge because we rely on our senses in our everyday life because; our senses can prove something to be true or false. For example our sense of touch can prove something to be hot or cold. For common sense, pain is proof enough of the reality of an object, if it hurts then it is real. The five senses are an important source of knowledge; because they don’t reflect reality they actively structure it.

What we don’t realize is that because we rely on senses everyday we don’t realize that our senses deceive us into believing fallacies. We start to misinterpret what we see, we fail to notice details and whole ideas and we misremember what we have seen. A perfect example is magic or visual illusions, they are a perfect example that makes us aware of the caution we should take, and it makes us aware of the role that interpretation plays in perception. Another example is a dream or a hallucination; in the moment you believe it to be true because your senses are heightened they are in that moment. A personal example is that when I was younger I had a nightmare about Cruella Devil from 100 Dalmations and when I woke up I thought my mom was her because my senses made me believe my dream was indeed a reality. My senses deceived me.

Once in everybody’s life, we have seen something known as an optical illusion. Something that deceives what we see, something that we cant exactly decide on what it is. The problem with this is when we look at something, the first thing we do is we have to know what it is, so our minds make sense of something which is impossible, something that should be made sense of. Another reason that we can’t trust our senses is that our perception is influenced by our expectations. For example there is this triangle that says “Paris in the the spring” now when we read it we don’t read the second ‘the’ because we expect that it doesn’t. Perception is also influenced by language. For example there is this extract where all the letters of the word are messed up, but according to research it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are as long as the first and last letter are in the right place.

Another example is we condition ourselves to perceive or see certain things. For example in class we were told on the white team and how many times a ball would be passed between them. Being told what to do we condition ourselves to do this, so we focused on only the white team in the video? Because of us being concentrated on the white team and a ball going round, we didn’t see a cheerleader in the background doing a cartwheel. Our minds focused on what we were told to do, ignoring all and everything that was happening around. Therefore, this tells us that what knowledge we gain depends on how we condition our senses to perceive the world around us.

Appearance and reality can be very tricky to distinguish. I remember asking myself last month when I was very happy, is this real, or is this what I want my life to be? Without knowing, without realizing we prove to ourselves what is real and what is not by using the tests truth. When I was told about this, I didn’t even know what the tests of truth were. The first one is confirmation by another sense, if something looks like an apple and tastes like an apple, then we would conclude that its an apple. The reason we would use this is if one of our sense are wrong, like for example dry ice, when you look at it is steamy so we would say that it is hot, but in fact if you touch it, it is cold.

The second test of truth is coherence. When you see something that doesn’t fit into what you expect from experience of the world then you are most probably mistaken. For example when I was a little kid I used to spin around in circles until I was dizzy, and when I stopped I used to see the world spin around me. Although when I was not dizzy I knew that, that wasn’t true. Finally the third test of truth is independent testimony, testimony of other people. For example when I have put my mom’s phone on the table and I have seen it there, and when my mom asks for it, and its not on the table I ask my brothers and sisters to prove that they saw it there as well and my mom is most likely to believe me. We can say that yes our senses are liable to error; although in many cases we are able to correct our mistakes by appealing to our tests of truth.

In conclusion I do believe that what we perceive from our senses indeed provides us with knowledge that we use in everyday life. However I would like to believe that our senses absorb what we call raw data, and what we make out of that data all depends on what each individual does with that. We can’t perceive and understand everything around us, we can only interpret things in a certain way, and the way the it suits us best. Each person perceives things differently and reasons it as close as possible to their reality as they can. Our perceptions of things are what we want them to be, too often not what they really are, that is why we often disagree in many fields of life.

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