• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent can we trust our perception?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent can we trust our perception? Perception can be defined as the act of apprehending by means of the five senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell - although there are many other senses by which we can apprehend, such as pain, temperature, balance, internal senses, kinaesthetic, amongst others. Most of what human beings apprehend from the world around them is perceived by the senses. But perception is often selective and subjective, so can it really be trusted? Perception is a vital source of knowledge. Without their senses humans would be unaware of many things in the world. Losing one sense means losing an ability to perceive certain things e.g. if the sense of smell is lost, a human is no longer capable of identifying and distinguishing different smells. Also, perception is vital for survival - to cross the road, to hear the train coming, to smell when something's burning, to taste when something is no longer edible, to feel when something is hurting us. Our senses are the channels of communication between ourselves and the world around us, and without them we would also be unable to communicate and interact with other people/animals. ...read more.


There is also the fact that sense organs are unique and characteristic in different species. For example, dogs have a very good sense of smell, whereas their sight is not as developed as humans'. If dogs don't rely mostly on their vision, unlike humans, this means that they have a different perception of the world. Similar situations occur without moving away from the 'human world' - as a person loses a sense, another sense tends to over-develop, as in the case of blind people which tend to develop the ability of hearing. So, not only is their world different because they can not see, but because their ability to hear is more developed than the one of any ordinary person. Therefore, it can be argued that as we interpret what we perceive, using our sensorial perception, we create our own reality, which can never be said to be an absolute vision of reality. Also, perception is selective: we don't - and can't - be aware of everything that is happening in a given situation. As human beings, we don't hear every existing sound, we don't see every person in an area, and we don't notice everything that occurs in a given environment... ...read more.


Also, different people interpret messages in films/books/etc differently, according to their beliefs and awareness. So, if different people have different perceptions of the same situations, it can be argued that perception is not 100% reliable. To conclude, perception is a vital source of knowledge and it is essential for our daily survival. However, we cannot simply take the evidence perceived by our senses for granted - not only because we can be deceived and misguided by them (optical illusions, hallucinations, ...), but also because our senses are highly selective and our perception is distorted by our beliefs and opinions. So, if our perception of the world and of the vision of reality is mainly composed by our selective and distorted perception, this means that our world is composed by what we, unconsciously, chose it to be composed of, if our vision of reality is composed by what we unconsciously want to perceive as being real according to our beliefs, and if our senses can ultimately be deceived then we can't always trust our own perception of things, as it will never be an absolute and impartial analysis of information perceived by our senses. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. To what extent is the subjective nature of perception regarded as an advantage to ...

    is the key empirical technique in achieving the results. The example of the experiment evokes the knowledge issue of relativism. According to the belief of relativism all points of view are equal; no point of view has more authority over another. What poses an argument here is that if all points of view are equal then all answers are correct.

  2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Perception Deception

    Upon discovering something of this sort, most people would not assume that just because the father killed the dog in a fit of rage (without even meaning to murder), it is likely that he will kill them too. Additionally, most people would be angry yet after a while, relieved that the mother is still alive.

  1. ToK- Sense perception

    From this, I could conclude that pushing my friend in a middle of an argument is wrong and that I should never do it, as it can lead to further conflict. The limitations of sense perception in terms of Ethics lie in the differences between peoples' personal perception.

  2. Sense of perception

    Such as Arab-speaking countries will need people who are able to communicate with the Arab language more than the English language thus enforcing a change within cultures and language. Culture can also teach a person to smell, taste, and touch and hear throughout their own perspective.

  1. To what extent does Emotion colour our perception

    Without emotion, there would be no art in the world. The emotions an individual feels also has great importance when viewing art. For example, when I and my mother viewed a painting related to the background and culture of Pakistan, we perceived it differently.

  2. Language and Perception

    He jumps online to post it on every social networking site under the Sun. As soon as he gets on the internet, he gets curious. He goes to his favorite search engine and types in "1001 jumps with a jump rope".

  1. Why punish with the death penalty?

    Retribution was thought by Sir James Fitzjames Stephens not only as a way to teach a moral lesson to society, but also to repress the community?s resentment, hate and desire for revenge. Such views and the example of the Old Testament, goes proving that retribution is founded on religious sayings

  2. To what extent can we rely on our sense perception to interpret knowledge through ...

    Basically what Plato tries to explain to us about the Allegory of the cave is that there are two consisting elements of perception. This is sensory perception, which is the world?s appearance that we perceive from our sensory organs, and spiritual perception, where we neglect the world?s appearance of what

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work