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Philosophy Pre-AS Task
"Things are exactly the way they appear to be". Do you agree?
I do not entirely agree with this statement, because things can appear to
different individuals in a different way, and people base their knowledge of the
appearance of things mostly on their own experiences and perceptions. For
example, a person may think that oranges are sweet, but another may taste it
and find it sour, therefore to the second person, oranges are sour. As people
perceive things, such as taste or colour, differently, this produces the question
of which `taste' or `colour' the object really is, and whether it actually has a
certain quality (or even exists), or is just dependent on the viewer's
Also, the position of the person looking at something often changes the
appearance of the object. For example, just looking at an object at different
angles produces a different appearance of the object each time, but our brain
puts it together and tells us that it is all the same object. The brain `corrects'
our perceptions due to similar experiences throughout our whole life.
When our eyes receive light, the image that is formed on the retina is
actually upside-down, but our brains also `corrects' this and turns it the right
way up. It is believed that babies see everything upside-down for the first few
days, because their brains are not yet used to vision and have not had enough
experience. This further challenges the idea of whether what we see is actually
like what it seems, as most of our perceptions are based on experiences, and
experiences are different for each person and may not be entirely accurate or
Another example of the position of viewing an object affecting its appearance
is if a human is looking at a mouse and vice versa. To the human, the mouse
seems small, since he/she is looking down at it, yet to the mouse, since it is
looking up to the human, the human seems big, and the mouse may think that
itself is `normal size' and it is the human who is big.
Also, some humans have a faulty body, such as poor eyesight or hearing,
which can produce different visions of the world around them from those who
have healthy eyes, ears etc. For example, a short-sighted person will see a
blurry object, but knows that it isn't really blurry. But would they know what
the object actually looks like; even if they wore glasses, how could they be
certain that what they are seeing is what it actually is, if they are looking
through an artificial lens?
There are other examples of our senses misinterpreting the world around us,
for example, hallucinations, mirages, and even dreams. In a dream, we often do
not think we are in a dream but think that this is real life, then we wake up and
realise that it was in fact a dream. How do we know that the life we think we
are living now, is not a dream? We actually don't, we just think that it isn't a
dream because we have been living in it for a long time; we haven't yet `woken
So, we must conclude that things are not exactly as they appear to be, as
peoples' views of things are different from each person, as our sense can be
unreliable or not accurate enough.
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