This essay will attempt to show that the title claim is correct. In order to do this an analysis will be made to show how ways of knowing such as sense perception, emotion and reason have an impact on how the knower perceives reality and the world. This task will be carried out while taking into account the areas of knowledge and analyzing the way that humans produce their claims. Cultural views, past experiences and authority affect the way individuals create opinions and understand “new” things in their surroundings and the world at large.
Although two people may see things similarly, the understanding and value of the object will be completely different. This is why most of the time we do not understand ‘something’ in itself; instead, we see and understand ‘it’ as we are. We see objects and are not necessarily able to understand them the way they are. A reason for this might be that humans are unable to accept new information without inherent conditioning of their previous knowledge claims.
An example of this is the disease anorexia nervosa.
Someone who is anorexic has a distorted perception of his/her body – they see their bodies as they see themselves and not for what they truly are. Anorexia is a symptom of a society which constantly promotes a culture of beauty through media. With an increased population of children who spend a lot of time in front of television, there are more of them coming up with a superficial sense of who they are and what they need to look like. Images on T. V. and magazines spend countless hours telling us to lose weight to be thin and beautiful.
The facts are that “The average woman model weighs up to 25% less than the typical woman and maintains a weight at about 15 to 20 percent below what is considered healthy for her age and height. ”(Eating Disorders and the Media) An anorexic will see themselves as being fat even though they could be clinically severely underweight. This example concludes that the limit of a person’s knowledge controls their reality and that this reality, as it is based upon perception, is subjective. This claim can be reaffirmed by Carl Rogers when he says “The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived.
This perceptual field is “reality” for the individual. ”(Rogers) What a person perceives is real to them. Regarding a church, my religious friend might say that it is a place inhabited by the spirit of God. I, as an agnostic, would perceive it as a place of peace, quiet, and serenity. The church itself does not necessarily have to be defined as one thing as both of the opinions above are valid. There is therefore not a right or wrong interpretation. A physical description of a particular church would statistically be very similar if a large group of people were asked: ‘the church is made of stones’.
However, on a more detailed analysis, this definition would not apply. The church is seen physically the same way to everyone but its importance to people is what makes it very different. The way that we perceive an object reflects the way it really is, however, our different interpretations of the object means that we see the object the way that we are. The way of knowing ‘Emotion’ cannot be considered a way to obtain objective knowledge. Perception and interpretation always spark emotional response. It is through this that people perceive the way that something is.
Emotion shows how we value knowledge but it cannot be universally true due to its variations between people. An example of love raises strong emotion to all people. I had a friend who was in love with a boy who would treat her poorly. She did not smoke and he would blow smoke in her face. He would also say that she was fat and that her clothes were ugly. A person who is in love with another person would not be so ignorant and inconsiderate to his/her significant other’s feelings. Emotion has a way of clouding judgment as is the case with this example.
My friend’s love for this boy made her blind to his faults and the way she he treated her. She would make up excuses for his actions towards her. As an outside observer to this situation I was appalled at the way that my friend’s boyfriend treated her and was shocked that she stuck with him. This example proves that through emotional clouding a person will not perceive powerful and hurtful scenarios the same way that an outsider, with no emotional attachments, would. As emotion is completely personal and individual this shows that we see things as we are.
One might counter the argument above by saying that knowledge is not certain until emotion has come to clarify a situation. An example of this is regarding the global negative connotation concerning death. Death can lead to various emotional responses from person to person. While one person could be overcome by grief and spend a long time crying over the loss of said person, another person might react with rage and frustration and sometimes even blame the death on themselves. In both situations however there are different emotional reactions to the same situation.
One must acknowledge the finality of death. Death is something that can be viewed as it is and not as we are because emotion is a response to the unknown and uncontrollable natural phenomenon of dying. The culture that someone is brought up in is an authoritative figure throughout the lives of their followers. Different cultures have different traditions, religions, and morals which are systematically incorporated in their every-day lives. An example of culture affecting the way that a person lives and observes reality is the fundamentalist evangelical Christian belief.
This culture does not accept Darwin’s theory of evolution, even though it has been proved through natural sciences and reaffirmed by reasoning and deductive logic. Instead, they believe that God is the only person who can alter factors on the earth. They believe that God has created everything and that science does not overpower the will of Him. They are extremely driven by the Bible as a portrayal of truth and guidance. To this particular culture the Bible is their highest authoritative figure and they see the world as the Bible says that they should.
This example can be further aided by Karl Popper’s theory of falsification. Instead of proving their views through the stages of observation, information, generalization, theory, explanation and prediction, the hypothesis is made with the singular aim of testing to prove the contrary idea false. This means that they see things the way they are. Someone’s culture does not have to limit the possibility of having objective views. Respect between cultures enable people to see things from multiple perspectives without necessarily having to change their own ways.
An example of this can come from something as basic as taking your shoes off when you come indoors. In my Scandinavian culture it is custom to take off your shoes when you enter any house, this is contrary to the American culture where shoes are left on indoors. When I was little and was playing at my American friend’s house, my mother was angry to see that I had shoes on in the house. She told me to take my shoes off immediately. I got very confused because I did not understand why my mother reacted this way.
I knew that it was a custom to leave shoes on in an American household however my mother did not. Now, through increased experience, we understand the difference in culture and can see their rules the way that they are without the biases of our own culture. Although we believe and follow our customs, we do respect and adhere to the differences when they are met. Everything that we know is affected by our experience or culture. It is our job to view customs from both sides in order to function in the society as objectively as we can.
When a balance between views and opinions are found then an objective view can be determined. This will lead us to see things the way they are. The claim ”We see and understand things not as they are but as we are. ”, can through the analysis of this essay, be concluded as being valid. By tying together ways of knowing such as sense perception, emotion and reason with the everyday examples regarding the natural sciences and religion one can come to the notion that all knowledge gained from the ways of knowing are subjective.
The implications of this claim however lead to further questions regarding the truth of our reality. People have different interpretations of reality which create biases with regards to how a person feels towards a certain object or situation. For this very reason, although through our senses we could see objects similarly, a person does not have the full capability of understanding something the way it is.
Cite this essay
Different Interpretations of Reality. (2017, Mar 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/different-interpretations-of-reality-essay