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

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TOK Essay 1 / 2012

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

Name: Ashley Tan (1)

Class: P5

Supervisor: Eric Lau

Word count: 1585

We interact and understand the world’s various facets through our senses. Our sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch allow us to perceive the surrounding environment as well as to gather information and formulate truths about the world. Our senses are the raw data that we absorb, which our brain processes and interprets, forming our own knowledge and truths. However, will we know whether this truth is really the truth? Our senses can only be trusted sometimes and they do have their own limitations and restrictions. Hence we can never be certain of the truths that we conceive. Thus this essay will address certain situations in which we are able to trust our senses, and situations in which we are not.

I believe that truth is something that has been thoroughly tested but not falsified. This means that a truth is only a truth when it has been completely examined by comparing and assessing it to other factors of the environment. However the notion of truth varies in the  areas of knowledge. In the area of the sciences, the truth is made up of hard facts and supported by theories that have been tested, but the truth is only the truth till a new breakthrough has been founded, that will develop on the previous truths. In the area of history, the truth might not be accurate as the events that have occurred were in the past and inference has to be made.

Our senses are the ones that gives us information directly from our surroundings, and all five senses work together in order to allow us to understand our environment. When we see a plate of food, we smell the food, and we go over to taste the food. If we see the plate of food, but when we go over to taste or touch it and the plate of food is not there, we will know that it is an illusion. Here the coherence theory is used, which states that a truth is only true when it is supported by other truths. Therefore all our senses are required to combine and work in tandem to allow us to formulate truths about the environment around us.

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Firstly, we are able to trust our senses when we can verify the information or truths with other people. If the majority believes that it is a truth, then it most likely is as people tend to believe those who are similar to themselves. Furthermore, when a larger group of people collate the information, there is a higher chance that the information collected is true and more accurate. In history as an area of knowledge, eyewitness accounts of historical events are necessary for information to be collected, as the event that is seen by a person’s very own eyes ...

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