When should we trust our senses to give us truth? Does truth exist? This is one of the most pressing questions that keep revolve around the human mind. What is truth? According to The Oxford American Dictionary; truth is the quality of being true, true as in ‘in accordance with fact. In accordance with correct principles or accepted standard, genuine, loyal faithful. ‘ However we must be aware of the fact that truth is a subjective word. What is true for one man may not be for another, what is considered a ‘true story’ may not be considered so according to which country or culture a person lives in.
Our sensory perception is one of the ways of knowing. It is an extremely important part of our psychological and physical make-up. I believe we cannot live without it. I will be exploring several examples in this essay to ascertain whether we should trust in our senses to discover the truth or not. Humans can judge an idea or a fact whether it is true or false by using reason as well as their senses. I would like to argue that reason is not really accurate since I’ve always had a problem in determining whether the facts and ideas that I learn are true even if they seem reasonable sometimes.
The knowledge that we are obtaining is not always reliable. We need to question it. Most of mathematical or scientific knowledge is based on tried and tested methods. However when considering the subjects of history and literature one cannot be certain of the facts which have been interpreted and written by a subjective human hand and those facts must certainly be colored by the emotional and political state of the person who wrote them. How are we sure that the religious experiences we are having are true or are they just a result of some processes going in the brain?
How are we supposed to trust any explanations made by Jesus, Mohammed or any other religious figure if we don’t have any way of testing their ‘truth’? As far as religion is concerned I believe most people do trust their senses through their intuition, their deep feeling about the power of God. If they just looked at the scientific reasoned evidence their belief would be seriously undermined. When people look at the sky they often have a sensory experience that informs their prediction of the up coming weather, even the weather men, who rely on scientific testing and prediction often get it wrong.
Shepherds and Bedouins who have lived their whole life outside are often more accurate using their perception and experience. Today there is a lot of advanced technology that is making it even more difficult for people to decide what is true. How we are supposed to judge if something is accurate or reliable without our ability to test all the images and information given to us on the internet for example. During a recent talk at our school by one of the influential brains behind the Yahoo Empire, Yousef Fayyad, he mentioned that; ‘anyone who can solve this problem of verifying knowledge will become the next millionaire’.
I once tried to use a medicine on the internet that can heal pores and I assumed it would really remove those pores. It actually worked. I now believe in the claims of the product through personally tested experience. However, I cannot be sure that my skin would have repaired itself due to a change in my diet or lifestyle or just the time factor that may have coincided with the healing of my skin. If an explosion occurred in an isolated area with no one around will it make a sound or not? The answer would be yes. So truth is what really happened no matter how it’s reported.
A change in how the story is told will not change the actual truth but will change the way people believe this truth indeed. Therefore, if we can’t test the truth using our senses it will be extremely difficult to know if it is reliable and accurate. People search for truth in the environment surrounding them. Perception is the best way to allow people to connect with the environment through the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, intuition) where all of the senses play a great role in the process of collecting the information from the environment that surrounds them.
However, there’s a process of understanding and evaluating the information they gained which affects the truth in a certain way. Human beings have a limited ability to collect the information and recognize it where the human mind believes whatever the human want and feels. Let’s look at a glass of water you can believe that it’s half full or half empty. Therefore, we make up our own truth depending on what we allow ourselves to see. Therefore we must bare in mind that our perceptions though can be affected or influenced by emotional state or by altered from alcohol or drugs.