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

When should we trust our senses to give us truth?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Theory Of Knowledge Essay 1 Question #2: When should we trust our senses to give us the truth? Our senses are the primary linkage we have between our minds and the environment around us, the "faculty by which outside stimuli are perceived" (Newman); we rely on them for tactical, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and visual acquisition of knowledge. Our daily dependence on our five senses makes it even more fundamental for one to critically assess the information they convey - attempting to differentiate the truth from what is false. Truth is "a medium to express actuality" (Marian), and by assuming that reality can be known directly and certainly, the correspondence theory of truth suggests that truth is "when terms of true propositions map to elements of reality in a way that validates the proposition." (Marian) Discovering "truth" is based on the constant feeding of propositions to us through sense perception - and the ability to compare one's sensory perceptions to pre-existing knowledge and ascertain whether the information is congruent. In this essay, I shall attempt to show that sense perception cannot be trusted as an independent entity to give us truth, that only by striking a balance between trusting our senses and evaluating their congruence with pre-existing knowledge can a knower achieve perceptive yet insightful procurement of knowledge. ...read more.

Middle

However, occasions when sensory perceptions contradict a knower's expectations exist due to the unreliability of our senses. In the First Meditation of his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes writes:"Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses. I observed, however, that these sometimes misled us; and it is the part of prudence not to place absolute confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived." (Descartes) Not placing absolute confidence in our senses does not mean questioning every single proposition derived from sensory perception, but instead considering them carefully. When a contradictory proposition is exposed to a knower, an intuitive response would be to critically evaluate this using his past experiences and knowledge. For example, the case of spatial disorientation, "A state characterized by an erroneous sense of one's position and motion relative to the plane of the earth's surface" (Shaw) whereby pilots are unable to accurately interpret aircraft altitude, altitude or airspeed in relation to the Earth, having to completely disregard sensory information and place full confidence on reference instruments. Our sense of balance is regulated by our inner ear's fluid, and pilots are often exposed to 10 to 20 seconds of constant angular acceleration while flying, rendering the sensation of motion transmitted to the brain false. ...read more.

Conclusion

Charles Wysocki, a neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia claims that this derives from the nasal epithelium, and when the ability to smell a specific substance is missing, so is the response in the brain. This can be traced back to the receptor - when you can't smell a substance, the most likely explanation is that the receptor for it is not expressed well. (McKernan) The smell of freesias is a classic example, an estimated 10 per cent of the British population is unable to detect this flower's scent. Since our senses are variated from person to person, others would have a wider spectrum of information to work with and may come up with other hypotheses on the same environment, rendering it hard to trust our senses to give us truth in the objective sense. In most cases, sense perception is essential for us to gain some evidence to support our knowledge claims, whether this evidence may be trusted or not, corroborating with our past personal experiences. However at times, our senses may deceive, warp and disfigure in the form of sensory perception, affecting our judgement of truth. One must involve other ways of knowledge to accurately achieve perceptive yet insightful procurement of knowledge, and senses cannot function as an independent entity to provide us with truth. ...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. TOK - Can we rely on perception to lead us to the truth

    With this, it is proven that Perception is not the most reliable 'Way of knowing' and cannot answer some questions that may arise. But 'Reason' also has its doubts. By reason, we make assumptions that cannot always be true. By saying all humans are smarter than monkeys, we assume there

  2. To what extent can we trust our perception?

    If our sense organs were not selective during the perception of things, our reality would be nothing alike to what it is today. Furthermore, if a sense is a "a system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds

  1. Art is a lie that brings us nearer to the truth (Pablo Picasso). Evaluate ...

    In terms of rationalism we cannot trust what we have gained through our senses because they are deemed to be unreliable and the knowledge and understanding has not been reached through reasoning. Thus Art and paintings would not be deemed as a valid basis for knowledge based on the fact

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

    Sight is the recognition of different wavelengths of light, not a manner of acquiring knowledge of the true composition of an object. For example, a sheet of aluminum is composed of a mesh of molecules, but these molecules are too close together to allow any light to pass through them,

  1. when should we trust our senses to give us truth?

    mentioned that; 'anyone who can solve this problem of verifying knowledge will become the next millionaire'. I once tried to use a medicine on the internet that can heal pores and I assumed it would really remove those pores.

  2. When should we trust our senses to give us truth?

    His experiment was to prove that all objects, whether one is lighter or heavier than the other, falls at the same rate. (Trubin) Scientists that have repeated this experiment with their own senses and arrived at the same conclusion as Galileo are: Giuseppe Moletti, Jacopo Mazzoni, and Simon Stevin.

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

    Sometimes our imagination may be so wild that it may lead to the wrong conclusion of our senses. Or sometimes we sense something is right but known facts in our head may interact with it and make a wrong conclusion as well.

  2. Art is a lie that brings us nearer to the truth (Pablo Picasso). Evaluate ...

    However reasoning doesn?t always help us interpret a particular piece of work for the reasons that there are some literary works in which even reasoning won?t take you to the truth. For example, Alice adventures in wonderland is a novel full of fantasy and doesn?t have anything else that?s relatable

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