IB Theory of Knowledge Essay: 7. "In order to find out how things really are, one must understand the filters through which one perceives the world." Discuss and evaluate this claim.

Essay by extreme_FredHigh School, 11th grade January 2004

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Reality can never be found through perception, for perception is unique and different for every living being. If every living being has a distinct view on reality, how can we know which unique view is the correct one? "A fool sees not the same tree as a wise man sees," says the great poet William Blake about perception. Perception like all ways of knowing has its limitations, and if we can understand these limitations, we may be able to winnow the unreal from the real.

From the beginnings of time, philosophers have pondered the nature of reality and truth. Plato first described the dilemma posed by perception in his "Myth of the Cave." The main idea expressed in Plato's allegory is that there is no way to know with certainty whether what one perceive to be true is actually true. Descartes in his "First Meditation" reaches this conclusion as well.

The only thing Descartes believes he knows for sure is that he exists; yet some modern philosophers disagree even with this restrictive view, asserting that nothing can be deemed true. Knowledge, by Plato's definition, is that which we believe to be true. The fact that knowledge has been extended, changed, and even refuted over the centuries indicates that we do not and will never have a total grasp on reality and truth.

Perception in the basic form is defined as that which one becomes aware of through the senses. However, the other broader definition of perception is that of which you achieve an understanding. If the broader definition is chosen, this opens the door to all the ways of knowing, including emotion, language, reason, and perception of course. However, if we use the first definition, we are limited to perception only as a way of knowing. Going by...