TOK Nature of sense perception Q1A) In what ways does the biological constitution of a living organism determine, influence or limit its sense perception? B) If humans are sensitive only to certain ranges of stimuli, what consequences or limitations might this have for the acquisition of knowledge? Ans-A- The biological constitution of a living organism has a mammoth influence on the sense perception of an organism. The biological institution of an organism can even enhance or degrade the level, degree and method of sense perception by an organism.

Take the Homo sapiens or rather humans for example the relatively strong eyesight causes the overdependence on eyesight and eyes and the other senses are therefore held in less importance and dependence. But in the case of a blind human the other senses sharpen (sense of smell, hearing, touch and taste). Another example one can take is a nocturnal animal such as the owl. The owl has eyes as well but the eyes of an owl are far different from that of a human. They can see far more clearly in the night which causes the owl to be crepuscular the main activities of living in the darker hours rather than the day.

Plus owls have an impressive sense of hearing which help them in their day to day activities. Imagine if owls did not have different eyes would they still be crepuscular? I definitely don’t think so, wouldn’t this alter the way the general owl lives, and they’d probably change from being hunters of the night to being hunters of the day. Imagine a polar bear without fur; could the polar bear survive in the harsh climate of the arctic?? The fur is fundamentally a means of the polar bear to retain heat and not freeze in the deadly climate of the arctic.

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Without this biological externality wouldn’t the polar bear feel a lot colder perhaps would change or alter the polar bear’s sense of touch not just because of the effect of the cold but because without the fur the skin of the polar bear will be in direct contact with outside stimuli. Ans-B- Again I would have to say this would have enormous consequences (though human beings are already limited in the ranges of stimuli for example humans can only hear to a certain amplitude of sound and a bar minimum as well of amplitude) if the range of stimuli to be perceived is even narrower than it already is .

The limitation would be immense, an impressive amount of scientific discoveries and other discoveries are from the perception of certain stimuli. Imagine what would occur if Isaac Newton never perceived or saw the apple which fell from the tree that incidentally happened to be the inspiration of his Theory of Gravitation. If perhaps humans didn’t have the ability to see underwater (though that is already limited) would the already sparse information about aquatic life be even scarcer then it already is? Q2) What possibilities for knowledge are opened to us by our senses as they are?

What limitations? Ans- That depends from person to person as well as species to species. In the case of the human being I believe an enormous amount of knowledge is opened to us by our senses but though the bulk of the knowledge is not perceived/noticed or rather assimilated into the consciousness of an individual. With ones ability to taste a lot of edible food can be identifiable as well as knowledge in the art of cooking. Or even think about an individual human beings ability to see through ones eyes, (in color!! an endless amount of things can be seen by those eyes. A tremendous level of discoveries has occurred solely because that very pair of eyes. But the eyes also cause an individual to become adjusted and unaware of ones surroundings-meaning for instance if one enters a new school the first few days that individual may be totally absorbed, awe and interested in her/his surroundings. But after a month or time the student becomes dull towards his/her surroundings (the school) the familiarity by sight sets in.

So the student may become nonchalant towards the school not noticing changes new things appreciating the delight of seeing. This is the drawback normally when an human individual becomes familiar one also becomes nonchalant towards the surroundings somewhat like mechanical this hampers ones progress from attaining new knowledge from attaining greater understanding. This abstruseness is of human nature, can that really be based on familiarity when does one really become seriously familiar with ones surroundings??

Q3) Is the nature of sense perception such that, as Huxley suggests, sensations are essentially private and incommunicable? Ans- Firstly I can give no definite answer towards this query for I have no idea by which Huxley based something as definable as to be a symbol. Though by symbol I define that as something as perhaps as an object or book perhaps. Though he says that it is “incommunicable” at second hand so that means one may express ones own sensations perceptions etc through symbols but for it to be able to be directly expressed seems like a colossal/herculean or rather impossible task.

The symbols meant by Huxley may be something by which represents an specific inclination towards something individual may express oneself perhaps an article of specific clothing support towards for example a band. Sensations an individual owns are I believe essentially private but I believe can be communicable. An example of this can be taken in the very context of TOK which essentially teaches us to broaden our horizons and in many cases we have to describe our own perceptions. The world is rather made up of a rather great amount of knowledge, relationships likes dislikes based essentially of sense perception.

In many cases an author can write distort his own story to make anew and reach the reader perhaps even the reader’s senses, (using the imagination). Limitations of sense perception Q1) To what extent do our senses give us knowledge of the world as it really is? Ans- The response to this question is based solely on ones exposure and own naivety. Our senses are as it is limited in a number of ways, in addition of humans being heavily dependent upon the sense of sight. The senses allow us as humans to construct reality for ourselves. But it also what ones senses see and what is imbibed analyzed and understood.

Also the culture, society area where one is raised which makes a difference in how that individual sees the world. In less modern times and still today in contemporary society with globalism rising in popularity throughout the world, there were and are extremely parochial or conservative societies, cultures and individuals. Imagine an isolated town or village or even a tribe or city perhaps a country, which as the isolation describes has very little contact and information of the world outside the boundaries of the town/village/tribe/city.

What would the inhabitants of that town/village/tribe/country think about the outside world?? What would influence them?? There own surroundings culture and heritage, would most probably give them a sort of shape of how the world should be. Taking other animals into this context for example dogs are animals which can see only in black and white have weak eyesight though have relatively stronger senses of smell and hearing imagine if a dog could see colors and had stronger eyesight, would that reduce the dogs strength of smell or hearing?? I imagine that the dogs’ way of seeing the world would probably change greatly.

Distinguishing between colors may create a higher complexity in the mind as well in terms of processing information. Wouldn’t the dogs shift in their view of how “world as it really is” due to the exposure to colors. If I take myself for an example, reading literature plus news articles, as well as watching television and having lived in a multi cultural society for a period of time as well as the education I am currently receiving in the IBDP have given me a great load of information and have helped me make the basis of my own evaluation of the world.

In my case it’s practically all of my evaluation has been based on my senses. Though I believe seeing the world as it is, is truly an impossible task for the world is ever changing (my own belief) plus the world has remained a mystery to wise men throughout the ages quite justifiable because how can one really see the world as it is, till date there are still an umpteen number of things regrettably unknown an example the shroud of doubt arising from the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

Q2) Does the predominance of visual perception constitute a natural characteristic of our human experience or is it one among several ways of being in the world? Ans- Though visual perception is dominant in human beings; there are other methods by which we as humans perceive things around ourselves. Visual Perception definitely does play a great role in the general experience of a person as a human being. But many others for instance the blind have been able to have their own human experience without sight (though at points of time it is said that words can spark visions in the mind).

But if one had only the gift of sight that could lead to a great number of misgivings. The manner by which someone perceives and another uses body language may be vastly different. This can lead a large number of misunderstandings, for example in TOK class when we were to see various movie clippings without sound then with sound, the sound definitely enhances and elaborates the situation and clearing the mist around the scene (it would be interesting to hear a clipping without seeing it). In class we also eard something without being able to see it (that object used in temples) as a class many of us associated the sound with other sounds we have heard to guess the source but only one us was correct that time. The point I’m trying to come at here is that each way of being in the world is in a way incomplete without the other ways (that is what I believe). Q3A) What is the role of culture and language in the perpetual process? B)-Given the partially subjective nature of sense perception, how can different knowers ever agree on what is perceived?

C)- Do people with different cultural or linguistic backgrounds live, in some sense, in different worlds? Ans-A- Perpetual process, though in many ways definable I believe is the everlasting process of perhaps life, or rather the continuous process of accumulating knowledge or exploration into new grounds. I think with the evolution of language in the world and globalism has helped bring down barriers and connect the world. Even culture, with the evolution of globalism and language is itself evolving to imbibe other cultures and customs.

The passing of knowledge has greatly increased, along with the accumulation of knowledge and collaboration. Literature as well, the most popular religion throughout the world Christianity’s world famous holy book the bible would never have been spread throughout the world without language as well as probably restricting the followers. Language in itself has been very important in the formation of civilizations-hence culture. Language itself has been the foundation of the formation of many of the worlds cultures.

Ans-B- Different knowers can come to agree as I have seen in many cases, by collaborating and working together to form a theory. The objectivity of sense perception can easily be taken care of but the subjectivity of that is much harder. It depends greatly upon the circumstances, for example I shall take the scenario of a store burglary- 2 knowers claim to have seen a man rob the store but there descriptions do not match. The case can be given a definite answer if there is a surveillance camera in the store. Though the 2 men to not come to agree a decision is made based on the camera.

It is very difficult for knowers to agree on a subjective thing, such as sense perception this is the reason why in TOK we often come up with different answers and even the disputes which take place throughout the world because of the subjectivity of sense perception. A knower may see the same thing but not come up with the same conclusion. Though a knower may influence or rather persuade others to that individuals way. Ans-C- Yes in many ways one may be able to say that an individual of a different culture or linguistic background may or rather can by many said to live in different worlds.

Culture is the way of living and spoken language a form of communication. One as an individual may create reality in the form of that culture one may base his/her views of the world based on that culture. I shall compare 2 hypothetical people a person from a largely chauvinistic and racially discriminative society and another person from a comparatively egalitarian society how would these 2 differ from their views wouldn’t there mind sets probably vastly different though there are some exceptions to individuals who do not conform and imbibe societies laws as law in their own minds eye.

The world though only one can be seen different in many ways plus culture is the way of living if a certain culture is dependent on fishing and anothers on agriculture I believe that the worlds would be vastly different though the main aim SURVIVAL and SPECIES (SS) is the same. So at least in some sense the linguistic and cultural background of an individual does influence his/her world. Q4A) How, and to what extent, might expectations, assumptions and beliefs affect sense perceptions?

B) Do knowers have a moral duty to examine their own perceptual filters? Ans-A- Take this situation- imagine if a conversation is going on between 2 knowers one of the knowers says “UCK” instead of the 4 letter word. The other knower will probably have not heard the UCK and immediately connected it to the infamous 4 letter word. This would be an example of expectation something taken for granted a word that is over used and that individuals consciously assimilates that to the 4 letter word.

Assumptions can also greatly hamper sense perception take for instance an example of an individual who has a bad or dark impression of another knower. If the knower with whom the bad impression is being associated with is seen by the other knower doing an act the knower will probably take the negative aspect and that will influence what that knower has “seen”. Assumptions often become “fact” to a rather obstinate view restricting the knower from exploring new areas or aspects of knowledge.

An assumption can be seen as to have taking something as for granted. Assumptions expectations and beliefs can often and do often have affects on the emotional state of the mind which may sway the coherency of the mind and alter the way the sense perception is imbibed in the consciousness of the knower (in the present state). Ans-B- LINKING QUESTIONS Q) What can be meant by the Panchatantra saying, “knowledge is the true organ of sight, not the eyes”?

Is it necessary to have clear ideas to see? Ans- Knowledge is after all what many strive for under the curtain of adventure or mystery or fantasy it is knowledge which is being sought or conveyed that is what I believe. “Knowledge is the true organ of sight, not the eyes” I well to agree to this though in the literal sense this remark is way off the mark. But subjectively speaking it seems to strike true to me as a learner and knower.

With knowledge one may actually see the world in a whole new light, the eyes give us the gift of sight but knowledge gives enlightenment deeper understanding of the complexities of life and our surroundings. One cannot survive solely with eyes but one may be able to survive with knowledge. Knowledge is a amalgamation of various aspects of life and the world in a sense both subjective and objective but that objectivity is based on the solving of perhaps a past subjective crumb of knowledge.

After seeing a tree one may enjoy the aesthetic qualities of the tree and the physique/externalities but around the tree lies a great mystery. After learning about the xylem and phloem, about transpiration, photosynthesis and a great other number of things I as an individual saw the tree differently I with that knowledge as a learner grew more aware of my surroundings. If you can see something that may be great but if you can understand that’s deeper and creates greater awareness perhaps even greater query or uncertainty into that small crumb of knowledge.

There are many who I have heard of and personally observed who have rather being in “love” or interested in the finished product are interested understanding what has been created the core of that creation. “Seeing is believing” does belief so easily fall upon viewing the visual aspect, or rather why not seeing in the sense, knowledge using that knowledge seeing by sight is just the accumulation of knowledge but knowledge is not just gained by sight it is gained by a far greater number of things which makes it a greatly intricate and dense.


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