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When should we trust our senses to give us the truth?

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Theory of Knowledge Knowledge issue: "When should we trust our senses to give us the truth?" Sensory perception is the reception and interpretation of knowledge through sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. These five senses provide us with information as to what there is in the world and allow us to be aware of certain qualities of these things. It is exclusively through sensory perception that humans acquire knowledge of the external world, as all other ways of knowing are direct results of it. Emotion is chemical releases or nervous reactions in the body, both of which must be perceived, caused by the perception of an external event. Language is an external transmission of knowledge and therefore must be perceived to be utilized. Reason is the deduction or induction of knowledge and therefore must be based on an observation, which must also be perceived. Can this way of knowing be trusted? To determine the extent to which they can, I will examine the imperfections of the senses, and how reason and emotions may affect perception. Avicenna defined truth as, "what corresponds in the mind to what is outside it". Therefore, if the mind knows exactly what a table consists of at the most basic level, then one knows the truth of the table lying in front of them. ...read more.


When an artist paints a wooden table, he must recognize the various colour changes on the table, where it is lighter due to the way light falls on it, and even where the table appears white due to the reflection of this light. He must also notice that the shape of the table is only rectangular when looking at it from directly above, that there are always two obtuse and two acute angles when looking at the table from any other point of view. By noticing these details, an artist may reproduce what he sees and fool the mind into thinking that he has painted a brown rectangle. Thus, the role of the mind in acquiring sensory knowledge is to simplify what we perceive so as to be able to relate it to other experiences with an object that has been simplified to a similar thought in our mind. In relating these ideas, the mind is able to acquire knowledge of the object at hand without any more sensory testing. If this interpretation is gone about correctly, then it can be a great tool which allows at first induction and following this, the ability of deduction. ...read more.


Strong emotions may cause one to interpret a sensation in an incorrect manner. A man who hasn't drunk in a day, wandering through the desert may see heat waves rising off of the sand and interpret this as water evaporating form the surface of an oasis, a misinterpretation called a mirage. This man sees something that resembles the water that he craves desperately and due to his state is unable to reason properly, causing his emotions to convince him that what he sees is water despite this assumption being unreasonable. Another example is the traditional saying that he "is blinded by love". This phrase signifies that someone is unable to reason properly and interpret the actions of anther due to their overwhelming desire to love someone. To conclude, our senses cannot give us the truth of an object or event due to their imperfection. However, they do no not lie to us and are able to give us a certain truth, a partial truth. Once this sensation is recorded, we must be able to interpret this and though this may never be completely certain, it will be much more likely to be true if the perception corresponds with reason and that this reasoning is not blinded by emotion. As said by Descartes, the only thing I know for certain is "I think therefore I am." Word Count: 1590 ?? ?? ?? ?? Eamon O'Connor 1 ...read more.

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