The Way We See And Understand Things – Essay

This is a famous quote and it is really significant in our world and in our lives in the recent time. First of all we need to look at the two most important two words ‘see’ and ‘understand’ in the quote. The see word correspond to “perceive with eyes” [1] while the understand world correspond to “perceive the meaning of something [2] “. As we can see according these definitions we can only reach the complete knowledge if we not only see things but we need to understand them at the same time. This claim shows a great influence of our beliefs and experiences on our view of the world. This is because our beliefs and experiences, the things that make us who we are, are an influence on our ways of knowing. Since our ways of knowing are the ways that we form our views and understanding. Emotion and Sense perception, in particular, are greatly affected.

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This quote brings up many questions like: Can you say that the human mind shapes the world according to its knowledge requests? Does culture, our believes limit the way we ‘see’ and ‘understand’? Do we experience the same reality? In this essay I am going to analyse this quote according to in the relation of emotion and sense of perception and reasonsing , and trying to find the answers to the question what are stated above through couple of examples.

The sense of perception according to the general definition is the physical response of our senses to stimuli. I have often wondered how we can perceive the same things differently, then I realised as the animals perceive things in dissimilar ways the individual human perception varies from individual to individual. It is an extreme thing, but a couple of people suffer in the world from synaesthesia, it means they can ‘smell’ colours instead of seeing them and perceiving with their eyes or they can ‘feel’ tastes, or some people in the world have sixth sense, they can feel danger forward, but in usual people experience the same things but the sense of perception has another element, it is the interpretation. What we sense (smell, sight, sound), we usually interrupt in different ways, that is why we each have a unique view of the world.

If you look at this picture what do you see? I asked 3 people and all of them came up with a different answer for this question.

The answers were:

The grey figure is swimming for his life. The black figure is sticking up his arms.
They could also both be swimming.
The black figure would then be breast-swimming.
It could also be the grey figure waving in greeting towards friends, and the black figure raising his arms in victory.

Through this example we can see how people see the same picture but understand and interrupt so differently. The reasons for that are the usual perceptual learning does not work in such a situation like this picture. Perceptual learning is the increase in ability to absorb information of one type of information from the environment as a result of experience or practice [4] . In such a situation our brain does not have answer for it, because it has never experienced or practiced these kind of pictures, that is why usually people see and then understand, interrupt the same picture differently. The other scientific reasons for the question are we all have different education level, different attitudes, even particular moon could affect our perception and interruption and yes our believes and culture limits our perception, and the culture could change our conception, perception of something. For example in the Western culture the dog is pictured as beloved pet, the best friend of man while a guard dog is treated as a working animal or in the Muslim culture the dog is the symbol of the an unclean animal, it should be kept of a home or Chinese people like it as a delicious dish. I have a personal experience how people feel so different about the dog, me and one my friend from Malaysia went down the seafront, we found a dog down there, and I went there stroke the dog while my friend just run away, that is the story how I learned the dog is not loved in the Muslim culture.

As I stated above even the emotions affect how we perceive things, therefore it affects what we see and our understanding. Emotion as a way of knowing is integral with human awareness and is instinctive. How does the emotion linked to the perception? We cannot perceive someone else’s emotional state, but our senses give clues how the others fell or what mood they are in. When people communicate, observers gain information from seeing their actions, during these actions observers see the same things, but these actions could mean more for one of the observer, because he or she can read body language. For example the head resting in the hands and eyes downcast means for an experienced body language reader his or her partner is bored, while to others it does not mean anything. Furthermore obviously if we’re feeling a certain way we’ll react to things very differently than when we are in a different emotional stage. People often say the love is blind, and it is really true. When we are at this emotional stage we are blinded by love, we can not see the mistakes and disadvantages of the other person, who is in love does not see and understand the other person as the outsiders. She or he just sees the good things, is shaded by a cloud, by his or her emotions so therefore she or he does not experience the same reality as the surrounding people. People usually have different emotions towards the same things, these emotions could affect their seeing and understanding, because of their economical status, culture or even the particular situation, our gender, our culture.

If you see somebody get mugged by someone I think you would feel sad towards the one, but actually you do not really care while who got mugged probably fell horrified, feared. We can see from this example how our emotion changes according to the particular situation. We cannot see and understand the same thing in the same way, because every single unique people have touched differently emotionally. We feel differently towards the same ethical problems, dilemmas, situations, but I think often our emotions are socially and culturally constructed. If we think about at a funeral, people have to feel sad, they need to cry. Are they true feelings? Often people have to have the same emotions, but I think these emotions are not true or real. Our culture, our outside world limits our emotions, therefore as it is one of the ways of knowing, it limits our seeing and understanding. The emotions can greatly affect our perception, so it is sometimes not reliable. We often feel emotionally strong towards which is not true, or we do not it is true or not.

That is why often call the reasoning as help. Reason is basically logic leading us to find the truth. We use past experiences to work out what has happened in situations, for instance, if it is wet on a pavement in the morning, due to past experience, you rationalize that it has rained the night before .

Scientists apparently see and understand the same reality. They use different methods reach the same reality, they can use the deductive reasoning or inductive method. They experiment on it to produce data to prove or disprove their theories about the world. They use different methods, but at the end they get the same understanding of an experiment. The scientists think the past is fixed, is it? The things that have happened are a constant, so to speak. Then how is it that historians ‘see’ and ‘understand’ those events differently? I think our perception of the history is greatly affected by our culture or our believes.

Finally I think we do not access to the reality as it is in and of itself, and that our perceptions of it is coloured by the way our mind shapes it. So, it turns out that the way we see the world tells us more about ourselves than it tells us about the world as such. Modern rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, and, arguably, Kant) all hold (in some form) that the way we see the world is really just a function of how the mind works. For Descartes, there is an “act of intellection” in every perception, and for Kant the “pure Concepts” of the Understanding determine how we see the world. I think world is too complex, and we watch the world through different glasses, some of the glasses are shiner or darker than the others, it affects our ways of knowing, and we are determined by our ways of knowing, that why it affects our seeing and understanding. Therefore we should reverse the claim: what we see and understand is limited by the world outside – the very ‘things’ that we see shape our understanding.