“We Are Told About the World Before We See It. We Imagine Most Things Before We Experience Them” (Walter Lipman) How Might Expectation and Previous Knowledge Affect Perception and Therefore Knowledge?

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Perception is a way of knowing and gaining knowledge. Expectation, the belief about the way an event should happen or behave, and previous knowledge, understanding and skills we gain after experience play significant roles when gaining knowledge. They frame and lead us into imagine before we experience. Our five senses let us see, smell, taste, feel and hear. People think that we believe what we see. However, we see what we believe. Lipman’s suggestion criticises the false of our senses and perspectives. This leads to the idea that our five senses aren’t much different from our so-called sixth sense, premonition, which is not scientifically supported. Lipman’s statement is tied to the idea that our knowledge has set up by other people’s previous ideas before we experience therefore affects our perception and knowledge.

Our senses have contributed in our life especially when gaining knowledge. We recognise things by looking, smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling. However, our senses have limitation. For example, our eye sights have physical difficulties to see objects far away magnificently. Dogs can smell, hear and even feel better than humans. Humans’ sensory organs are not so great.

Previous knowledge affects perception in art area as well. In late 1800s, when England just started to colonise Australia, not many people had seen unique Australian animals such as kangaroos and koalas. When painters attempt to draw kangaroos, because they did not know how they look like, they imagined and drew kangaroos based on the description made from people who had been to Australia and seen the kangaroos. In some of the pictures, kangaroos look like foxes. In other pictures, they look like rabbits or rats. Their previous knowledge on animals affected their way of drawing; they drew similar European animals. If five blind men who haven’t felt or smelt or heard about elephants before are to touch an elephant, each of them will have different responses. Their previous...
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