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To what extent do our senses give us knowledge of the world as it really is?

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´╗┐Ioanna Kourkoulou Ib1 TOK Group 2 To what extent do our senses give us knowledge of the world as it really is? At a first thought, anyone would argue that what we experience is actual reality ? there are no illusions, or misinterpretations. It is just information that we receive from the world. The question is: What do we make of this information? And how do we know that what we perceive is all there is? Senses, knowledge, perception; all of them are born in our brains. Since every Earth being ? not only humans ? is unique, as Biology and the DNA imply, can we really trust that our brains work in identical ways, without being dogmatic? So is there only one universal reality? The first, most obvious and most significant piece of evidence is our senses. We are all aware of the fact that senses are not the same for, let?s say, humans and animals (although they vary between human beings as well). ...read more.


But this may not reflect the truth. Past experiences can also affect our perception. For example, if you eat something that you enjoy, but then causes you illness you are highly unlikely to eat it again. Your senses, that might tell you that it is tasty, are overpowered by the strength of your unfortunate experience. Optical illusions and our tendency to identify familiar patterns in what we perceive fall under the same category. If you try to sing along with a song you hear for the first time, you find yourself following rhythm patterns of songs that you have previously heard. As a result in many points you fail to follow the melody of the song, but you trust your own one. Or when you see this picture: you vainly try to see an ordinary elephant with its four legs, but you cannot. Optical illusions are inexplicable; however, they work exactly in the same way. ...read more.


The experts were convinced that it was a red wine, so they subconsciously forced their senses to believe so, too. You can easily observe the power of expectations on yourselves, as well. Think of yourselves when you are shopping. People are always disposed to consider products that are expensive more qualitative. When you buy a cheap object, you usually tend to notice its flaws, while when you have something expensive, of an exalted brand, in your possession you keep on admiring it and praising it, although it might not bear a single difference to a less expensive one. It seems like our brain doesn?t passively take in perceptions. Most of the time, it distorts our senses and provides us with a mere subjective print of the reality. But what is reality? Who can define reality? Everyone can. Or no-one. Reality is different for each and every one. But if there is no objective observer of the reality, then there is no reality! We live our lives relying on our perceptions - we build our existence and our knowledge based on them. Our perception is reality. Reality is perception. ...read more.

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