Seeing Is Believing

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 24 October 2016

Seeing Is Believing

Seeing is believing is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. In life we always use the rule until I see with my own eyes I will not believe. People are so accustomed to trust their feelings perception of objects, which often do not even realize whether feelings deceive? But we also can`t definitely state that human sense perception gain the absolutely wrong or right information. It depends on the frame of reference, everything is subjective. Inaccuracy of knowledge gained from experience is possible because of a huge amount of limitations on our sense perception. Every person is not identical and has different abilities. Also there are lots of paradoxes that people with healthy organs sometimes are further from the truth than people with some disabilities. The good example is the people with aphasia, which can always define the truth, using paralinguistic features and cues of intonation (for them the whole meaning of sentence make completely no sense). Naturally human senses has a limitations such as :

1) pair of healthy human eyes have a total field of view of about two hundred degrees horizontally – one hundred and twenty of which are seen both eyes, which results in the binocular vision – and one hundred and thirty-five degrees in the vertical (but these values tend to decrease with age). 2) normal human eye can perceive only light with a wavelength between 390 and 750 nanometers. 3) range of frequencies that the ear can hear, is about 20-20000 Hz. The main reason of inaccuracy of human sense perception are illusions. 1)Our powers of attention are limited, and some degree of concentration is demanded of us before perception takes place. In addition, we are selective about what we pay attention to. 2)Also what we perceive depends upon the conditions that obtain in our environment.

For example, a vase, which appears to be blue in a room illuminated by a normal white light, will appear black if we exchange the white light bulb for a red one. 3)What we perceive depends upon the relationship between the perceiver and what is perceived. (The sun and the moon appear to us having the size of a large balls, but we know them to be much larger.) What we perceive depends upon the state of our sense organs, their health and sensitivity. What we perceive also depends upon the state of our brains, for sense-experience depends upon the brain. (when chemistry of the brain is altered then strange sensory phenomena may result.) We tend to see what we are prepared to see. ( The expectations we have may be the result either of our general cultural background, or our past experiences.) We are likely to miss something we are looking for.

We tend to see what other people see.

First ideas whether we can trust our senses appeared 5th century BC in Greece. Those philosophies were scepticism and empirism. Scepticism is the philosophical view that it is impossible to know anything with absolute certainty, or to know the world as it ‘really’ is. Scepticim is divided into local (ordinary doubt) for example ‘is that bird or plane’ in other words the facts which can be checked and global also called as ‘philosophical doubt’ for example ‘are my senses mistaken all the time?’ – can`t be checked. Good example of global skepticism are the ideas of films “Matrix” and “Inception” (2010) with Leonardo DiCaprio, where the world of high technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, the idea of a film is detaching from reality, living in dreams and how to distinguish dream from reality. Empirist philosophers believe that the main source of knowledge is the senses and we can rely on them within their limits.

From the birth human has priory knowledge and during the life gain extra knowledge through sense-experience. There are primary and secondary qualities. In the truth of primary qualities (this is the table) we are sure in 100% but secondary qualities (colour, taste and temperature) are subjective. To summarize all above, ‘seeing is believing’ in terms of our senses giving us secure and accurate knowledge can`t be certainly true because we have to consider human nature limitations, surrounding influence, paradoxes, hallucinations, illusions. According to the philosophies I hold the middle ground between scepticism and empiricism. I`m sure in primary quality information gained from sense perception, also I think that we have to check ordinary doubt and secondary quality knowledge.



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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 24 October 2016

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