We See and Understand Things Not as They Are but as We Are

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“We see and understand things not as they are but as we are.” Discuss this claim in relation to at least two ways of knowing.

The way we attain knowledge will determine how we see and understand things, but no matter how we see and understand them, it will never bring us to the objective truth. We use our perception to “see” things and we use our reasoning to “understand” things. It is common, if not inevitable, for us to manipulate the information received using the ways of knowing into what we want it to be. Our manipulation of the information is influenced by our experience, schemas, emotions and even biological limitations. This is how we see and understand things all the time. This makes the information that we received subjective and that it will be only true for certain conditions. Thus, using our reasoning and perception, personal truth is obtained.

There are two types of truth, the absolute truth and the personal truth. For personal truth, known as the subjective reality, it is the belief where consciousness is primary, and that it will be true for that person only. Whereas for absolute truth, known as the objective reality, it is whatever is always true and everywhere. Using out ways of knowing, we will never get to the absolute truth. This is because we human kinds manipulate the information according to our knowledge needs, as the result, the information after manipulation will only be true for our self, but not as the things itself. For example, through our perception, we see the sun rises every day. However, assuming that the truth is the sun never rises; it is the Earth which rotates around the sun and created this illusions. In this case, our knowledge attained by perception is influenced by our expectation of the sun rises and our biological limitation of not able to receive all information of the truth. The claim in the title can generally applied to all human beings, but raises question because of the ambiguity lies in the question.

The claim clearly relates the knower to the truth; however, the nature of this relationship is ambiguous. Everyone are individuals, we behave differently and perceive differently. Although we see and understand things as we are, but how subjective we see and understanding the world will be different in each individual and varies when different ways of knowing are used.

Standing at different position will allow us to see and understand things differently. Suppose news on newspaper reported that the global warming is going to destroy our winter in 5 years time. An environmental system researcher may think of it as a disaster using his ways of knowing. For a winter clothing retailer, he may consider this as a tragedy by using his ways of knowing. Although they both look at the issue in their perspective, but isn’t it appropriate to say that the researcher is looking at the issue more as the way the issue is comparing to the retailer? The retailer, by perception, reasoning and emotion, he knows that people do not need winter clothes in summer; global warming is going to destroy the winter, and therefore no one will buy his clothes. When his business was closed, he will felt depressed, and therefore it will be a tragedy. However, for the researcher, he understands that the formation of global warming using his reasoning. He saw and studied how global warming took away life using his perception. He is richer in talking about global warming using his language since there are more vocabularies to explain global warming in the scientific area of knowledge. Both the researcher and the retailer see and understand the global warming issue as they are, but obviously, the researcher are looking at this issue more objectively because he knows more about global warming comparing to the retailer who has limited idea of what global warming is.

Not only how subjective we see and understanding something will be affected by our position, but also by our ways to attain knowledge such...
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