Tok Essay: to What Extent Should We Value the Information We Draw from Our Senses?

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The Hot and Cold Chimneys exhibit at the Exploratorium consisted of three copper pipes extended vertically from a cabinet: one cold, the middle at room temperature, and the last hot. I was able to play with how touching one pipe affected my perception of the other pipes. I placed my left hand on the hot chimney and my right hand on the cold one. After waiting promptly 10 seconds I placed both hands on the center room temperature pipe. To the hand that had been on the cold pipe, it seemed hot. However to the hand that had been on the hot pipe it seemed cold. Even though I knew that the center pipe was at a lukewarm temperature, my senses were telling me otherwise. To what extent should we value information we draw from our senses?

Much of our knowledge of the world is gained through our senses of sight, hearing, touch and so on. Our information base is built from our use of sensory observations to learn a range of new material. With the inventions of telescopes, computers and microscopes were are able to continue to make new discoveries through the use of our eyes, ears, and sense of touch. Much of our knowledge seems to come from scientific observations, for example is why we now know of medicine that can be used to treat bacterial infections, due endless investigations with a microscope. It’s fair to say that a lot of our knowledge is based on experiential observations.

However, Philosopher Socrates would argue that the senses don’t grasp reality at all. The way things appear to be, aren’t actually the way they are. He believed that the body is of the imperfect, sensible world, while the soul is of the perfect, real world. The sensible world is what we see all around us, but it is only an illusion, because it’s always changing. The real world is invisible to us and can’t be seen or felt. Everything in the real world if perfect, unchangeable, but our body stops us from seeing this real world. He often uses the example of the straight stick placed in water....
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