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"We see and understand things not as they are but as we are" IB TOK Essay

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Introduction

"We see and understand things not as they are but as we are" Discuss this claim in relation to at least two ways of knowing. An essay on the Theory of Knowledge anna� 6.11.2009 Word count: 1,600 Our world is unfathomably complex. The segments that each of us is familiar with and has some understanding of, are but the size of the electrons of a single molecule in a great ocean of dilemmas. Every "thing", that is to say, every entity, idea, or quality perceived, known, or thought to have its own existence1, has infinite forces acting upon it and we, the human populace of this world, cannot ever hope to fully comprehend even a single such Kantian "Ding an sich". Instead we rely upon what, as Socrates would have it, we think we know; the few "facts", perceptions, opinions and insights that we have acquired through our own sensual experiences and those of others that we may have heard. These are the factors that colour our thoughts and consequent opinions of "things". They are the factors that build up who we are and it is by them that we assess, interpret and judge the various situations we may find ourselves in. ...read more.

Middle

This is an area of somewhat less bias. Yet, similarly, just how necessary they may then be regarded, remains dependent on the various past circumstances of those shoe-wearers. On the other hand, the ever-present topic of fashion is a somewhat more subjective area; parallel to, as some would say, all other forms of art. Take one with a gothic style of clothing; they may well find their associates in such style easier to relate to, and perhaps more attractive, than those more faithful to a style of haute couture, and, naturally, vice versa. The most precarious variable to seeing and understanding is emotion. There is nothing like emotion; it is an invisible thread that tugs at us all. Perhaps a good way of describing how it effects our perception of the events around us is through politics. In November of 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British, declaring support for a Jewish "National Home" in Palestine. Each member of each party concerned; the Jews, Palestinians and British being key, saw and understood the declaration in differing lights- each according to their individual situation. As its effects were of enormous consequence, emotions clouded all aspects and the compromise of a "fair ruling" was never reached; even today the issues concerned remain unsolved. ...read more.

Conclusion

What we see by sight and primary senses is processed according to our knowledge needs (the conceptual way of knowing) and acclimates in understanding; what we want to be true and how we choose to subconsciously see and understand things depends on our cultural backgrounds (that differ both internally and among one another in their discipline, priorities and upbringings) regarding the development of our senses and linguistic skills, our emotions, our past and our entire environment. It is our personal traits; "as we are", that shape our conduct and fundamentally affect how we "see and understand things". We take in and process stimuli from the environment, most often according to our emotional knowledge needs, become aware of them, react to them and understand them, then by sieving strongly, commit them to mind and memory as subconsciously deemed appropriate. Yet, even were we able to see and understand things objectively; as they truly are, questions always remain: How can we possibly guarantee, despite all odds-such as evolutionary meanings (i.e. bright colour=poisonous), that we each see, under the same label, the same colour? Is it not entirely plausible that, due to the wide range of perceptions we are liable to acquire, we do not share our acumen of colour, nor of many other "things"? The answer to this thereby justifies endless further possibilities regarding our viewpoints on life, the universe and everything. ...read more.

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