When Should We Trust Our Senses to Give Us Truth?
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Our senses are the connection between our minds and the environment, through our senses we receive information from the external environment, senses perception were delivered to our mind to interpret and process the truth, which simply means the fact and reality.
The senses of a knower include sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. To find the truth through sense perception, knower has to compare his sense perception with his pre-existing knowledge that is gained from previous experiences, in order to judge whether the piece of information is congruent.
Senses perceptions are often affected by the context with environment, personal expectations and beliefs.
Context is a factor that influences how we see things differently, when we perceive knowledge, we consider and accepts our senses perception in the context of the environment. We always looking for a meaning in ambiguity cases, so our senses perception differ in different context.
Senses perception is heavily influenced by our expectations, Representational Theory of perception states that perception is more than just capturing an image it is also about processing. Because our mind can fill in a picture to fit our own past experience or expectation, we naturally filter out abnormalities. For examples, we may fail to notice spelling mistakes because we are expecting to see particular words or letters. Therefore what you perceived and what was physically present was probably different.
Our senses perception would also be affected by our beliefs, and cause our preferred ways of interpreting things. A child may be convinced that a monster is hiding under his bed. His belief that it is real will cause him to think he hears the monster’s roar even it is just noise from machines, he might also feels the monster moving but in fact it is only the wind is blowing. Yet, his belief and his fear that there is a monster is never a truth and is never becoming real no matter how strong his senses tell him. People always relying on their senses to give them the truth while senses are the primary source of human to find firsthand knowledge. In fact, perception may not bring us the truth, because they are just ideas that senses bring into our minds.
“Our perception is limited by the nature of our sense organs.” Sometimes the ability of our senses are not perfect enough to tell us the truth. For example, if a tree falls in a place where nobody lives, nobody hearing anything doesn’t means that there is no sound created by that tree. What it means is that we are not able to sense things that are too far away from us.
Our senses can sometimes be wrong. If we are all observing the same object, we are likely to see the same color which is the color of itself. However, depending on the angle of sunlight shines to the object, the color would be brighter to some people and darker to the others. In this case we should not trust our vision to give us the real color.
Sometimes the images or sound deliver by senses could be fake, a realistic example is that a person taking drug would possibly experiences illusion, or auditory hallucination and his senses perceptions are hiding the truth. Similar circumstances for people who are disable to see, hear would not perceive the truth if they are depending on their weaken senses.
Although some senses can be misleading, some senses are designed to protect our bodies. A knower would be able to analyze a potentially dangerous sensation within a moment, and to determine if the sense was truthful and if necessary react in time. Therefore we should trust our senses under dangerous condition where senses perception is sensitive and warning us to make quick reaction.
We should also trust our senses when exploring new discoveries. A knower would not be able to use his pre existing knowledge to determine whether his senses perception gives him the real information. The only method is to trust his senses, relying on senses to seek for truth appears to be dangerous but they are the basis for all explorations particularly in sciences experiment, scientist depend upon apparatus and their senses perceptions very much, which are mainly observations.
For a knower who looks for truth with his senses without evaluating, truth could be confused by misleading perception and false beliefs. In contrast, for a knower who does not use his senses wisely, he would not be successful in acquiring knowledge and the truth.