How far can we rely on the knowledge available to us through perception?

Essay by Lotsis October 2005

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Perception is the knowledge we gain through our senses. This essay is to discuss the value of knowledge we get through hearing, feeling, seeing, smelling and tasting.

There is no doubt that humans can survive without some of these tools. Losing one, for example sight, makes the others stronger. But what if you had to do with none of these but one? We can be tricked in every one of these. Sight is probably one of the most important senses for many, but our eyes make us believe things that aren't really there when we're tired, sick, suffering from dehydration or on drugs. The internet is full of illusions starting from elephants with 9 feet and ending at white and grey being the same colour. Also, one eye would be in many ways useless without the other one. With only one eye it is very difficult to judge distances or see certain things clearly.

Nevertheless, sight is a very important tool in gaining knowledge of the surrounding world.

Feeling is probably the other favourite 'most important sense'. When you think of it this way, it is really difficult to understand that we get by with such vague equipment. Vague is the right word to describe feeling, as when we get into a hot shower we feel cold, but when we jump into a cold swimming pool after having swum in a frozen lake, it feels almost burning hot. Feeling offers us good things, of course, too: reflexes save us from many dangers, and of course the sensations of someone tickling your toes or holding your hand are important.

Tasting is basically useless without smelling. As they go hand in hand, it would be impossible to choose one of them to be your only sense. But then again,