First I will have to define “pursuit of knowledge”. Under the phrase “pursuit of knowledge” I understand seeking to gain knowledge in one way or another, so in this Essay I will look at how Language and Perception work differently in doing so. Language is a key tool in pursuing knowledge: it incorporates communication, speech and any form of written script. To pursue knowledge research is essential, and all of the above are part of research: communication to talk to witnesses and script to learn from old books etc. for instance. Of course one needs to communicate with people to gain knowledge, and this will be done in a language both share so they can understand – not in gestures or such because speech is what is used in most types of communication.
Perception is used in the pursuit of knowledge at the very beginnings of pursuing knowledge. Pursuing knowledge does not occur where two people talk about doing something, but it starts where one person perceived something happen and decided to investigate – otherwise, where would our ideas come from? Perception is defined as the way of knowing something using our senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Sight is the most common one in pursuing knowledge, for example watching lightning strike a tall pole but not the man standing next to it and thus finding out about the way lightning behaves.
Hearing is probably the second most important sense for pursuing knowledge; when you hear an animal call you have never heard before you might pursue that noise to find out what type of animal it is. Touch, smell and taste are less important in my view, but still are essential in pursuing knowledge. The senses can also be combined in pursuing knowledge; for example in sound and how sound travels: You see somebody shooting a shotgun at a rabbit which is in the middle of you and the shooter, and you only hear the bang a second after the shot being fired. If you only had one sense, for instance sight, you would not have been able to stop and think “surely I must hear the bang as soon as I see the shot being fired.”
In comparison, I think that language is a lot more sophisticated in the pursuit of knowledge than perception, which in turn is more simple and pragmatic: Language is more sophisticated because firstly, language can be conserved for thousands of years and with modern technology probably more, which is vital to be able to let generations after us know what happened during our time and the technology we invented and so on.
Language can be sent everywhere around the globe by modern technologies such as emails, letters, phones and faxes, so the language will not have to stay in one region, but it can reach people literally everywhere so they can benefit from that language. Of course they may only speak a certain language, but these days it is very easy to translate from one language to another. People can discuss their findings using language, which is important to include other people’s views and maybe rethink ideas so they can improve. However, Language is so sophisticated that to use it you have to first grow up and be able to communicate properly, learn to read and write and use technologies such as computers and telephones – which is expensive so that people in poorer countries cannot take full advantage of them to pursue knowledge.
Perception is so simple that within a few years of being in existence, humans can start to pursue knowledge: infants start to consider why certain LEGO bricks work together and others don’t – surely not something really worth investigating, but surely it has to start somewhere. Later on in life, perception becomes a bit more intricate in the pursuit of knowledge; senses are used to carefully analyse things:
Music is listened to in order to find out what instruments are part of the piece, a doctor might touch a patient in certain places to find a broken bone or a tumour, the development of bacteria under a microscope can be watched carefully by a pharmacist to find out whether a medicine works or not, a fire-fighter can smell a burn and come to some sort of conclusion as to what is burning so that the right method of extinguishing the fire is used, and a wine taster uses his taste to find out whether the wine is good or bad, and what flavours are in it. The most important point though is that perception is the ground to being able to pursue knowledge by language, because everything has to be perceived first to be able to talk about it or write about it. Therefore I think both are important, perception being more basic and elementary and language the development thereof.