Senses are the means by which we receive information from the environment, this information is then interpreted in our brain, just the way a computer process raw data by interpreting the data and producing something meaningful to the user. Therefore the way the brain will interpret what an individual has received from his/her senses will affect his/her perception i. e. the way one interprets and organizes their sensations.
This therefore affects an individual’s ability to obtain knowledge, as an individual’s emotions and reasoning become tainted by their perception of an issue and therefore their ability to seek truth because, knowledge was defined by Plato as “Justified true belief. ” Therefore that belief must be true and has to be justified, for it to be considered knowledge, thus to obtain the truth we must justify our beliefs.
However this definition of knowledge seems to be ambiguous to me because there are certain knowledge claims that are considered as true by some and false by others, and yet to classify a claim as true or false an individual must have knowledge about the claim he/she makes before regarding it as true or false. A good example is the existence of the soul in human beings, the soul as defined in the 2004 Encarta encyclopedia is “The immaterial element that, together with the material body, constitutes the human individual.
” The existence of souls is both believed and disregarded by people all over the world, some say they do believe in souls because of their religion, or because they have communicated with the souls of others they have known and yet at the same time other do not believe in souls as they feel there is no evidence to support the existence of souls. All the groups mentioned above have their beliefs on the issue of souls but it is impossible to tell which group’s belief is true, and therefore which group has knowledge of the existence of the soul is an unanswerable question.
Our ability to seek the truth depends on how we perceive our sensations and without perception the information that is obtained through our sensory organs is useless, the same way crude oil is only useful to us when it has been refined, and our perception is affected by a number of factors, therefore our ability to obtain the truth depends more on our perception then what our senses give us, because two people can be exposed to a similar experience but the knowledge they will obtain from the experience may be totally different from each other, due to their different perceptions from the experience.
Our perceptions primarily affect our reasoning and if our perspective is not biased we use deductive logic to arrive at a conclusion and thus we end up obtaining knowledge. A factor therefore that will affect our ability to obtain the truth is our bias.
If a person is bias then their ability to seek the truth will be skewed in such a way that the person will not take in any new knowledge that contradicts with their existing opinion on a particular issue, even though the sensations he/she receives are indicative of knowledge that is contradicting to their existing knowledge, hence their perception is somehow controlled in such a way as to only obtain knowledge that is in line with or strengthens their views on an issue.
However an individual with a bias on a particular issue may be compelled to obtain more knowledge on the issue at hand so as to strengthen their truth on the issue. But an individual with an unbiased mind will be able to gain more knowledge as they are more open to the different views regarding a knowledge issue. Emotion can also affect the seeking of truth, because when we are emotional we tend to move away from making logical decisions and instead move to giving fallacies, regardless of what input our sense give us, therefore making it difficult to obtain the knowledge that is against one’s version of the truth.
A good example of such a situation would be my love for the TV series “Nip Tuck” when I was in year 10; I loved everything about this series and would never skip an episode as I thought it the best thing I could possibly do with my time, and when “Nip Tuck” went off season I was devastated, as I matured, I figured out that my devastation was because of my lack of separation between the facts and my emotions, therefore my emotions lead me to a reasoning that I would not survive without the show, as David Hume perfectly puts it “Reason is a slave to emotion” .
This affected my reasoning and therefore my ability to separate the truth from the false, that indeed I can live a normal life without “Nip Tuck”.