TOK: Sense Perception

by 042690 on September 2, 2017

Our minds don’t allow us to perceive the world as it really is, but instead, as how we are engineered to perceive the world (through our experiences). While there are problems with our perceptual systems, that doesn’t necessarily mean that knowledge that we gain from our senses is completely unreliable. For example, how we see color is just from our own perspective, and can differ from person to person.

Taking the arts as an example, people can see many different things from a single image or painting simply by observing it. These are called optical illusions. People could be looking at the exact same image but could see completely different things. For example, in the image below, one person could see the back of a young girl’s face, while another could see the front of an old man with his eyes shut and both would technically be correct. The experiences and knowledge that the person posses will shape what they see first.

Areas of Knowledge such as mathematics can help us verify our senses. For example, in Math, we don’t use our sense perception in certain situations but instead we use formulas and calculation. For example,  it doesn’t really make too much sense to rely on your sense perception to guess the amount of candies in a jar, but you can use precise calculations and mathematical formulas to make a fairly accurate approximation on how many candies are in the jar, without actually having to open the jar. This again goes to show that sense perception can be useful, but there are times that it should not be relied on when making guesses and inferences.

While watching things like videos, humans will focus on certain things, especially if they are told to and as a result, they will ignore other, often obvious things that occur in the same video because they are so focused on that one thing. For example, in class, we watched a video and had to count the # of passes that three people made. During the video, a human dressed as a gorilla walked into the middle of the frame, stared at the camera, and walked off. But some of us were so focused on counting the # of passes made, we completely ignored the fact that the gorilla walked by. This is because humans can only process so much and if they process every detail they were shown, they would be worn out extremely quickly. This shows that the human senses can be reliable, but only to an extent as the senses can only take in so much detail.

A counter argument to the claim that information that we gain from our sense perception can be reliable is that if the knowledge we get from our senses can be flawed, other presumptions made from our sense of perception could also be equally flawed. However, I think that the knowledge that we have derived from our sense of perception is something that humans have relied on for centuries and is knowledge that we have known to be true for centuries.

In conclusion, there are some problems with our sense of perception, and it is not always the best thing to use. However, that does not take away from the fact that knowledge gained from our sense of perception can be reliable. Our senses play a massive role in our lives, and as a result we will gain lots of information (sometimes reliable, sometimes not) from our senses.

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