There is only one aspect of life that all animals possess which enables them to acquire information about the outside world, even though the only ones capable of developing that information into knowledge are human beings, as we are the only living organisms with the ability to think and evaluate our situations; whereas other animals react by instinct or reflexes. We all know our 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. As a knower, I can say that senses are the link between our body and the external world.
They are the medium which we use in order to gain knowledge about what is happening outside us. In this essay I am going to talk about 2 out of the 5 known senses: sight and hearing – for those we use the eyes and ears as sensory devices-. As regards the sense of sight, many people claim that this is the most reliable sense of all. This is mainly because people believe that nothing can fool their sense of sight. If we see a car in front of us, we know that it is actually there. The same example can be applied to the slice of bread we might see in our daily breakfast.
But how can we be sure that it is really there and that piece of bread is not just a mere image created by our own brain? , Taking into account that there is a really complex system going on inside our head since the outside stimulus is captured by the retina until a projection of what it is outside is reflected in our brain. The answer is that we cannot, but just a few people around the world accept this idea and they are sceptics. That’s the basic reason why most people just believe what they see and rely on their sense of sight. In that way, as we believe what we see, therefore we know it.
In other words, we know what we see. We are constantly acquiring new information from the environment by watching thins happen outside us. For example, in Biology, the visual sense is one of the most important of all the 5 senses, as the basics of biology are mainly based on observation. If we take the example of the Ecology topic, what we do is to observe the living organisms and how they develop and react in their own ecosystem, and in order to do that, we must use our sense of sight; for example, watching how many species are there in a rainforest environment.
But as a knower, some of my past experiences demonstrated me that the sense of sight is not always reliable. Once, I was in a car with my family and the temperature was really hot, over 30i?? C. I was looking through the window and suddenly I saw a huge pond in the middle of the motorway. I asked my mom if there was a river flowing through the pavement and if there was a bridge to get through it. A moment later, we were getting closer and closer to the pond and I discovered that there was nothing, my sense of sight was fooled somehow.
I explained what had happened to my mom and she told me that it is an optical illusion cause by the heat in the air which creates a watery image inside our brains. This is just a simple example of how knowledge acquired with our senses is constantly being shaped and modified. Which derives in new or “better” information, which always gets closer to the truth but it can never be fully reached. As a knower, I imagine myself in located at the beginning of a short corridor where I can see a blurred image of the truth in the end.
When I walk 2 steps further, the truth moves 2 steps further away and it seems that I can never reach the end of that corridor, which seemed so short at the beginning, and then I find myself right at the beginning once more, and I realise that the truth-seeking process is infinite. Talking about the sense of hearing, there are millions of opportunities in our daily life where this sense takes over the other ones and the only thing we can possibly do is believe what we are hearing.
For example, if two different people hear the same song, one might say that the song is amazing while the other one might say that it is awful and needs a lot of improvement. Well, the truth is that the concept of “good” or “bad” is only determined by the personal opinion and is based on many factors, such as culture, language or even beliefs. There are some gifted people around the world who are known as savants and in some cases, it is been proved that they are able to hear conversations and music pieces outside the common range of hearing that most humans can.
But those are just exceptions. In real life situations, that does not normally happen and as normal human beings we use our sense of hearing just as we use our other 4 senses to gain information from the outside world. In conclusion, I can say that neither the visual sense nor the auditory one is better than the other one, as they are not perfect and do not show how reality ad truth really is, but is just a way of getting closer to the truth, like the steps we are constantly taking in the corridor of life, trying to seek the truth and gain knowledge about the external world.
What happens in our day-to-day life is that people use one of those two senses sometimes slightly more than the other one, but none of them are to be compared, as they are just two different ways to acquire knowledge. For example, a musician which is constantly being exposed to hearing musical pieces and instruments would be using the hearing sense over the visual one, whereas an archaeologist uses the sense of sight over the auditory sense.