Last Updated 06 Jan 2022

Is Seeing Believing?

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‘Theory of Knowledge’ Name: Nkole C Date: 19th October, 2012. Instructor: Maurice H ‘Seeing is believing. ’ Belief is the mental reliance or acceptance of a condition. It causes people to validate and actualise what they have or get as information and consequently apply that to other situations in order to create new patterns- what is called Knowledge. ‘Seeing’ refers to the sensation of obtaining information through sight, or our senses.

People can claim to obtain their knowledge in many different ways which include senses, intuition or intellectual reasoning, past experiences, priori knowledge used to develop a new organisation of patterns and perception of what is to come which usually results from relating with past experiences and cultural beliefs. Humans refer to sight, hearing, smell, temperature or pressure and taste as the senses used to obtain knowledge. Intuition refers to the relating of a condition and giving an intellectually valid reason to come up with truth.

For example, we believe that three and four are greater than two, and so we can propose that there are numbers which are greater than two. This, in a sense, depends on the fact that we made true the fact that three and four are actually greater than two, which is a prior assumption. These different areas of knowledge all have their problems. However, true knowledge and the ways of obtaining it is something that has caused controversy among many scholars. On one hand is the idea of Empiricism while on the other hand is the idea of Rationalism.

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Empiricists are people who believe that whatever we know, and hence believe in, is gotten through sensory experience. They assert that the mind was as pure as white- defined as tabula rasa by them- and whatever that we know now as knowledge was installed or written on the mind by the senses’ experiences and absorbed into the brains. The information gotten in this way helps the human brain to relate this to other sensations and be able to make patterns to define new situations.

Empiricists argue saying that there is no innate knowledge which the mind had validated before sense experience, though there is priori knowledge which is actually true. To the empiricist, ‘seeing’ or sense sensation is the only way people obtain knowledge and therefore is-believing. Depending entirely on senses for true knowledge, however, has its own problems and can easily lead to someone obtaining the wrong information.

A defect on the sense organs like those due to agnosia and aphasia can lead to someone obtaining the wrong information since it is possible to speak in a way while the body language shows another thing. Senses also rely upon the environment to be able to function. A person who has never been exposed to the light will never know colours if they are exposed to them at a later stage in their lives. In their normal functioning, senses also have limitations in the way they obtain information. The human eye, for example, can only resolve up to 0. mm which means that points or lines that are less than 0. 1mm apart will be seen as a continuous line, which is false. The senses, no matter how true the information they get is, also depend entirely on the brain’s ability to evaluate the electrical impulses it gets from sense sensations which could be responses to chemical reactions in the taste buds and hair cells of the nose, frequency of light waves and difference in pressure of air in the eyes and ears respectively, or pressure and temperature in the skin.

It is clear that if the brain itself has a defect, the probability of which we cannot be certain, every bit of the knowledge that one would get would be untrue. Even when it is true, and so to argue the rationalists, the brain sorts out the small bits of information it gets according to the relationship with some prior knowledge, innate knowledge they call it. -------------------------------------------- [ 1 ]. http://www. thefreedictionary. com/belief [ 2 ]. http://plato. tanford. edu/entries/berkeley/ [ 3 ]. Definition gotten from hand-out given in class [ 4 ]. A condition that causes people not to get the tone of voice in speech and have to rely entirely on their ability to read body language to get in information. From class hand-out [ 5 ]. A condition that causes people not to make out complex pictures to be able to read body language. From class hand-out [ 6 ]. The allegory of the curve from hand-out in class [ 7 ]. From Biology text book

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