“We see things not as they are but as we are.” Discuss this claim in relation to at least two ways of knowing.
“We see things not as they are but as we are.”
This statement can be interpreted in different ways, but the way I interpret it is that opinions and perspectives vary from person to person, due to the variety of personal factors that make up their identity. These factors can include personality, age, culture, race, life experiences, interests, career, and countless others. There are two ways of looking at this statement, literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, I will explore what factors cause differences in vision in people. In the figurative sense, I will discuss what factors play a role in differences of opinion and perspective in people.
In order to start discussing this statement, we must first define it. We are going to define “things” as objects, people, issues, and situations in the world around us. We are going to define “see” both in the sense of visually seeing with your eyes, and looking at issues from a different mental perspective.
You can think of this statement in a literal sense, where we define the word “see” as what someone physically sees with their eyes. This statement is true in that sense, in situations such as in that of a colorblind person, or a blind person. From a medical point of view, people having visual problems can be a result from illnesses or diseases such as glaucoma, optic neuritis, Ischemic optic neuropathy, or lobe tumors (1). These visual problems affect a person’s ability to gain knowledge through sense perception.
According to Plato, all of our knowledge is based upon perceptual experiences, such as seeing or hearing. Sense perception is a way of knowing, and I agree with Plato that it is ultimately our only way of knowing. Everything we learn is learned either through our senses. We learn by reading with our eyes, listening with our ears, smelling with our noses, tasting with our tongue, or feeling with our skin. Maybe one day in the future a method of gaining knowledge directly into our brains via Bluetooth will be invented, but in today’s world we rely on our senses. My point is that if the ability to see (one of our only methods of gaining knowledge) is affected, it will result in limited knowledge.
When looking at the statement from a literal perspective, it is true to a certain extent that we see things as we are. It is true that those who have been afflicted with the causes I listed above do physically see things differently than others; however there is no way of accurately knowing if someone else sees something exactly as you do. I have wondered for a while if what I see through my eyes is the same as what someone else (who does not have vision problems) sees in theirs. What if the color blue to me, looks like the color yellow to someone else, but they still call it blue?
I doubt that the writer of this claim was thinking about eye damage, so I’m...