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We see and understand things not as they are but as we are. In order to more fully understand and question this statement, it must be broken down to its core. ‘We see,’ is referring to the way in which I as a human perceive the world. If looked at from a visual perspective, one person will see a guitar in the exact same way as millions of others do. However, ‘see’ in this case is referring to the thought process that occurs in our minds after we use our five senses (touch, smell, hear, tastes and see) to perceive the object or idea and is very closely linked to ‘understand’ which is to think about and comprehend something.

The word ‘things’ is referring to anything in the world, whether it is a tangible object, a thought, a concept, a theory, an emotion, etc. The phrase, ‘not as they are but as we are,’ is implying that we see the world differently from everyone else as our past experiences mould the way in which we ‘see and understand things. ‘ Furthermore, the thesis statement is also suggesting that everything has one absolute, true form which exists and can only be seen through a person who holds no bias. Therefore, the way in which we view the world tells us more about ourselves, then the world itself.

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The question of whether this statement is true or not will be looked at through two ways of knowing, which will be emotion and sense perception in this case. I do not believe the knowledge claim to hold true for sense perception as my past experiences, upbringing and culture have had no affect on my five senses. I have lead different to every other human being on this planet, but I will still taste sugar as sweet or see the sun to be bright, just like everyone else. Whilst constructing this essay, my friend and I were asked a question to which we had very different answers.

Neither of us was right or wrong as the answer depends on the individual’s opinion. However, in the case of sense perception an opinion is not relevant as there is only one absolute form, only one answer. I have never had an argument with someone about how big something appeared to be, what texture something possessed, they way something smelled, etc. Hence, it is not the experiences I have had, but rather the experiences I haven’t had that have lead me to make this claim. It may be for this reason that I possess a bias view point on this knowledge issue.

Being a student who attend the Queensland Academies of Health Science, another bias I hold is my way of putting the natural sciences above all of the other areas of knowledge. I take SL Biology as a subject and it has taught me that there is next to no difference in the way one person perceives something (that can be picked up by our five senses) to another. A large portion of the human population, including myself, places scientific fact above all other forms of information as it is seen as being the most credible.

However, the millions who claim to “know” these scientific principles don’t understand any of it, but just accept it as fact on the basis it is ‘scientifically proven. ‘ I myself am guilty of this, as I don’t understand most of the things that my Physics teacher or the text book tells me, but I accept it as I assume that this information has come from a person who is far more intellectually superior than myself. Furthermore, my knowledge has been limited by the fact that I can only see the world through my eyes, as I have no experienced the way in which someone else acquires knowledge through sense perception.

A counter claim to my belief that ‘we see and understand things not as they are but as we are’ is untrue can be seen in human defects. I have a lot of trouble seeing without glasses or contact lenses, and in this way I see a passage or text very differently to those with perfect vision. Therefore, I am perceiving as I am, but this unique way I visually perceive things does not come from a bias which stemmed from a my past experiences, culture or upbringing. However, a visual stimulus which reflects one’s self exists, and is known as perceptual set.

Perceptual set theory stresses the idea of perception as an active process involving selection, inference and interpretation. Perceptual set is a bias or readiness to perceive certain aspects of available sensory data and to ignore others. However, in my personal experience visual perception does not always reflect a person’s bias accurately. I noticed this during a theory of knowledge lesson in which the class was shown a picture which was meant to be seen as either a rabbit or a duck. Seeing the duck indicated that your read from right to left (not the western world) and seeing the rabbit suggested the opposite.

All of the class members expect myself and one other, claimed to have seen the duck first even though a great majority only knew English. Furthermore, I spent the first seven years of my life reading only Japanese which goes from right to left, yet I still saw the rabbit. This has lead me to believe that the human sciences are unreliable in relation to that of the natural sciences; and thus the reason for my opposition to the knowledge claim when looked at through sense perception. Unlike sense perception, I find that emotion applies a great deal to the claim.

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