At one point or another in the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, we are demonstrated a pictorial representation of the TOK course. The traditional TOK diagram revolves around the knower(s). Orbiting around the knower(s) are the ways that a knower shall use, like a resource to understand and explore the world around them. One of these resources is sense perception. Our senses are inputs in our body that we use to learn and expand our knowledge of our ever evolving world. Along our journey of learning and expanding our knowledge, we will, and always continue to discover truths.
For example, it is a hot day, and you want to drink the cold glass of water in front of you. But how do you know that what you see is in fact a cold glass of water? Should you trust your senses, in this case, your sight to pick up the glass of water and drink it, or ignore them? The truth is then what we interpret from that data that our senses are giving to us. In certain contexts our senses are useful to the truth attaining process and to different degrees, but they neither give nor withhold truth from us. It is what we make of our senses that give us truth.
Knowledge areas that pertain to attaining truth via our senses are human science and history. There are also many everyday life situations as to when to consider trusting your senses to achieve truth, such as whether you have all senses or not, the effect of mental illness and what is accepted in our present day society. Human science is the area where we are seeking to know meaning- related realities1 that are not bound to specific time and places. When performing scientific experiments it is given that you will use and trust your senses to give you the right answer.
But sometimes our senses are deluded from the truth because when performing scientific experiments, you will want your hypothesis to prove right. So in order to find the real truth, truth is attained by making other people repeat the experiment, so that answers are not biased. When many different people have observed at different times, given that they all have 5 senses, then and only then can you judge if your senses have actually told you the truth. One of many famous repeated experiments are Galileo Galilei’s dropping of different objects from the leaning tower of Pisa.
His experiment was to prove that all objects, whether one is lighter or heavier than the other, falls at the same rate. (Trubin) Scientists that have repeated this experiment with their own senses and arrived at the same conclusion as Galileo are: Giuseppe Moletti, Jacopo Mazzoni, and Simon Stevin. They have seen that the objects fall at the same time and heard one thump in the ground. So their senses have permitted them to obtain the common truth that all objects fall at the same rate during and after observing the fallen objects.
It is then useful, in the realm of science, to rely on your own senses as well as the senses of others to obtain truth. History is another area in which this topic is related to. It is the area where we are seeking to know meaning- related realities 1 that are bound to specific time and places. Everyone has views and opinions; which are influenced from their upbringing, society and culture. Thus their views and opinions will sometimes be the same and sometimes will not. So when a group of people witness an event, their own opinion of what happened will not always be the same, even if they saw the same event.
An example of this is the movie Vantage Point. The plot of this movie is that there was an attempt of assassination on the President of America and is told from several different perspectives. (IMDb Inc. ) The movie presents the perspectives of a news producer, the Secret Service agents, a troubled police officer, an American tourist, the president’s view and of the terrorists. This movie shows that our senses do not give us the total truth due to different views, but it is what we make of all the different perspectives all together to get the truth behind all the perspectives, meaning truth is found discursively 2 .
Although those areas only permit knowing what our senses do to present truth in science and history, now when do we trust our senses to present truth in everyday life when we are performing everyday familiar conscious acts 3 ? Here we must examine situations when we must consider trusting our senses to get to truth: whether you have all senses or not, the effect of mental illness and what is accepted in present day society. Having all senses is the optimum amount of senses that a human being can have. It is a privilege and fortunate event of having all of them to rely and trust on in your life’s daily routine.