Tok: Advantages and Disadvantages of Sense Perception as a Way of Knowing? Essay

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Sense Perception as a Way of Knowing? What is Sense Perception? Sense Perception is our primary Way of Knowing. It includes all our 5 senses- sight, smell, touch and taste. It is the reason we are what we are today as the human race, the most advanced species on this Earth. It is our basic point of entry into this world. For example, as a child we see people walk and the way they walk and without reasoning it out we learn how to walk, or sitting on a chair, we don’t ask why he or she is sitting on the chair we just know that a chair is meant to be sat on.

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This is why I say it is our ‘primary’ Way of Knowing, and then comes reason, emotion and language. Even though there are several advantages to sense perception, there can also be several disadvantages. Sense Perception has its limitations. For example, if we see a book, we don’t know what it is or what it is used for until we have been told, which is language.

Therefore sense perception cannot help us understand the entire world around us entirely on its own, the other Ways of Knowing play their vital part in our lives as well.

And Sense Perception does not help us form our beliefs; we use a combination of reason emotion and language to form our beliefs. Since we are born we are told there is god and depending on what religion our family follows we are told to follow, this is solely based on Sense Perception, but as we grow older we start using reason, emotion and language in a more advanced form and so we can decide what religion we would want to follow or not follow any at all. In Igatpuri we went trekking which is an adventure activity; if we used only Sense Perception it could be very dangerous.

As while we are trekking we always have to see where to take our next step and will we trip or not, we can only make this decision after we have reasoned out what will happen if I place my foot here or there. Most of the times I would just stick close to one person and place my foot exactly where they placed theirs, this required only sense perception but I can say for sure that no two people have the same balance so if the person walking in front of me does not fall at a slippery place it is not for sure that I also won’t.

Therefore, how reliable is Sense Perception on its own? Not very. In fact it can be deceiving on its own. Sense Perception is a very superficial Way of Knowing. And ipso facto it can lead us to many truths but all very superficial in nature. For example, when we see a table a dog, we know it’s a dog because we’ve taught about it or read it in books when we were a child; the truth is it’s just a dog.

Now take for example a sick dog, Sense Perception alone cannot lead us to the fact that it is sick, we see certain symptoms which can tell us if it is sick or not, for example if it is lying in a certain way we reason it out as to why it is lying in that particular way, is it normal or abnormal? Therefore the truth that Sense Perception alone could tell us was just the superficial truth. Sense Perception is often intercepted by our other Ways of Knowing – Reason, Emotion and Language. We watched a video in class about eye-witnesses and how they detect the culprit among all the suspects.

This was a very fascinating video about a woman who was raped by an African-American and while she was being raped she managed to get a very good look at the persons face. After surviving the horrendous crime, after a while she was called in to look at a series of pictures of suspects, she identified a picture as the culprit. Then later she was called in to identify a person from a line-up of suspects, much to her surprise she picked the same person as she did from the pictures, this made her sure it was that very person who had committed that crime against her.

Later we realise it was another person all this while who looked similar to the person she picked out, this makes us wonder- how much can we trust our senses? Her decision while picking out from the people was largely affected by her emotions, since the actual person was not there in the line-up nor in the pictures, her emotions led her to believe that it was that similar looking person. ‘The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. ’ -ROBERTSON DAVIES As it has rightly been said by Robertson Davies, our mind manipulates our senses in such a way so that it does not get confused.

For example if we see a five-legged cat, our mind might oversee the fact that the cat has five legs because our mind is prepared to see a cat with only four legs and since it is not prepared to see something unusual it generally manipulates the results to ease its nerves. Even our beliefs tend to fog our thoughts, through Sense Perception we have always heard that there is God and that God exists in some form, but has anybody even seen God? I don’t think so.

But when we want something really badly, like just before am exam or test we tend to depend on some form a God, when we ‘pray’ for an easy paper, this is due to our emotions but according to our Sense Perception there is no God. Language always affects our Sense Perception, when people tell us things we tend to start looking at things differently, for example if somebody tells that somebody else is weird, when we meet that person we will already have an impression of that person and our senses will start look for evidence that he or she is weird.

So these three Ways of Knowing come together to affect and manipulate our Sense Perception. After weighing out all the advantages and disadvantages of Sense Perception I can definitely say that even though it has its limitations, it is a very vital part of us and without it we would be handicapped. It defines us as human beings and without it we wouldn’t be such a superior race as compared to other species as we are today. ‘Truth is universal. Perception of the truth is not. ’ –ANONYMOUS

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