Quotes on sense perception
These quotes on sense perception will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the role sense perception plays in our acquisition of knowledge?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as a way of knowing, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at previous TOK essay titles, and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it).
1. The nature of sense perception
We live on the leash of our senses.
Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.
The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once.
Knowledge, the object of knowledge and the knower are the three factors that motivate action; the senses, the work and the doer comprise the threefold basis of action.
If we look at the realm of knowledge, how exceedingly small and limited is that part acquired through our own senses; how wide is that we gain from other sources.
Terrible is the fight put up by the senses. Fight bravely! Conquer them you must.
2. Sense perception and emotion
Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.
Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.
3. Sense perception and faith
Faith indeed tells what the senses do not tell, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them and not contrary to them.
4. Sense perception and imagination
There are some things that are real, that you can see, that you can observe, like the moon, and grass and things. But for ideas to become real, they have to be played on your senses.
He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart.
5. Sense perception and language
Nothing we use or hear or touch can be expressed in words that equal what is given by the senses.
6. Sense perception and memory
You think about some of the most memorable meals you’ve ever had; the food will be good but it will often be about locating a mental memory and taste is inexorably linked to all the other senses and memory, so ultimately it is all about taste.
We are all instruments endowed with feeling and memory. Our senses are so many strings that are struck by surrounding objects and that also frequently strike themselves.
7. Sense perception and reason
Fear of error that everything recalls to me at every moment of the flight of my ideas, this mania for control, makes men prefer reason’s imagination to the imagination of the senses. And yet it is always the imagination alone that is at work.
The senses are of the earth, the reason stands apart from them in contemplation.
The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.
Every second of every day, our senses bring in way too much data than we can possibly process in our brains.
Where the senses fail us, reason must step in.
All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.
Nothing can be found in the intellect if previously has not been found in the senses.
8. Sense perception and the arts
Inspiration in Science may have to do with ideas, but not in Art. In art it is in the senses that are instinctively responsive to the medium of expression.
Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.
All fiction relies on the real world in the sense that we all take in the world through our five senses and we accumulate details, consciously or subconsciously. This accumulation of detail can be drawn on when you write fiction.
Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’
Edgar Allan Poe
9. Sense perception and ethics
All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.
10. Sense perception and human sciences
But the newest research is showing that many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don’t depend on information coming in from the senses.
11. Sense perception and the natural sciences
Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.
Edwin Powell Hubble
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