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When Should We Trust Our Senses to Give Us Truth?

Essay by   •  November 11, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,191 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,185 Views

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Truth is a system of concept purporting to represent aspects of the world. Senses are any of the faculties by which the mind receives information about the external world or the state of body. The five traditional senses are sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch the combination of which gives us information about our world. But is it enough? And does this is give us all the truth we need to know? For example does our perception of things influence the truth that we acquire it? One major problem is that we are prone to optical illusion and so our truth may be distorted. Philosophers over the centuries to the present day have attempted to define truth and knowledge and ascertain the way in which we achieve this. In the first place it is necessary to differentiate between objective knowledge which is irrefutable and subjective knowledge which is dependent on our experience and involves sense - perception. The important word in the question is "When " as it suggests that sometimes our sense are not enough to provide all necessary truths. In an attempt to answer this I will examine the opposing theories proposed by two major philosophers of the 16th and 17th centuries and also evaluate modern day findings on this controversial subject.

René Descartes(1596-1650) became one of the most influential thinkers in human history, and is sometimes called the founder of modern philosophy. Descartes argues that mind and body are really distinct in two places in the Sixth Meditation. The first argument is that he has a clear and distinct understanding of the mind as a thinking, non-extended thing and of the body as an extended, non-thinking thing. So these respective ideas are clearly and distinctly understood to be opposite from one another and, therefore, each can be understood all by itself without the other. Two points should be mentioned here. First, Descartes' claim that these perceptions are clear and distinct indicates that the mind cannot help but believe them true, and so they must be true for otherwise God would be a deceiver, which is impossible. So the premises of this argument are firmly rooted in his foundation for absolutely certain knowledge. Second, this indicates further that he knows that God can create mind and body in the way that they are being clearly and distinctly understood. Therefore, the mind can exist without the body and vice versa.

John Locke ( 1632-1704) was an English philosopher, Oxford academic .He was an empiricist who felt that all knowledge has its origins in sensory experience. His theory suggested that when we are born with a blank mind. He states.

" Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without; how comes it to be furnished?... To this I answer one word, experience" ( Essay on Human Understanding)

In addition he proposed the theory known as the "Veil of perception" suggesting a barrier distorts first-hand knowledge .The theory states that what the mind immediately perceives are ideas, and the ideas are caused by and represent the objects which cause them. Thus perception is a triadic relation, rather than simply being a dyadic relation between an object and a perceiver. Such a dyadic relational theory is often called naive realism because it suggests that the perceiver directly perceives the object and naive because this view is open to a variety of serious objections. Some versions of the representational theory are open to serious objections as well. If, for

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