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TOK Essay, Esa Oittinen 1,397 words Prompt #2: When should we trust our senses to give us truth?

Try to imagine you are somebody who has just witnessed a piece of artwork you have never seen, or viewed footage of something you never knew about. When you experience this particular entity, through any of your five senses, then you instantly make a claim about it. Weather it is something we feel we know about it, or how it makes us feel, we create a truth based upon what we are seeing. Some people believe that we can trust our senses to give us the truth about what we are seeing. Basically, they believe that our senses will always give us the truth on something we experience. Others disagree and believe that we can only trust our senses until we study into something further. In other words they believe that we can accept what our senses have told us to be the truth, until we discover otherwise through investigation. In the Areas of Knowledge of both Art and history, both sides argue when we can trust our senses to give us truth, whether it be all the time, or simply until we have more imperial evidence (which is basically a way of saving overwhelming facts). Recently, I watched a video about a woman named Teri Horton. Teri had acquired a painting through a thrift store that she had believed to be an original work done by the artist Jackson Pollock. However, when Teri went to show people in the art world, they rejected her painting as an original. This included people who collected art and people who worked for International art institutions. Teri decided to do a fingerprint analysis and found that there were matches between the finger prints on the painting and the finger prints of Jackson Pollock. This still did not stand with the art community and Teri still hasnt sold her painting. The important thing to understand from this situation is that neither side has trusted anything except for their senses to give them the truth on whether or not the painting is an original Jackson Pollock. One person on the side that believes it is not a Pollock was quoted saying that the reason he believe this was because It didnt sing like a Pollock. Him and others who inspected the painting did nothing else to check for it to be a Pollock. They didnt look for records of him or for other pieces of evidence. Even after there were fingerprints found on the painting, it was simply ignored by many. Teri was said to believe that the painting was a Pollock, not based upon something she could research, but basically on the concept that the painting looked like one to her. When we look at both sides it is quite easy to see that there is an obvious case of believing what our senses originally tell us, not what further research may show. Both Teri and the inspectors both took a stand on whether the painting is or is not a Pollock. Even after fingerprints showed that Pollocks finger was definitely on the painting, inspectors still believed what their senses had originally told them, which was that the painting could not be a Pollock based upon what they saw. This is a prime example of a situation in which both sides chose to trust their senses to give them truth about a piece of art, and I believe that this is the case for many other instances of art.

Another personal example of trusting our senses to give us truth is when I watched footage of WW2. Footage from World War 2 is extremely easy to view, and is a great way of learning about the

War. I am a big history follower, and love to learn about historical events by watching videos about that time period or reading articles online. A lot of times I watch footage from World War 2 and see prison camps that held Jewish prisoners to Germany during the war. Whenever I see this footage I draw truths from what I am seeing. For example, I see that the prisoners are malnourished and dying, and that they are being separated and treated like animals by the non-jewish German army. I take these images and I instantly take away from it that the German army committed these crimes in order to create an Arian race. I dont draw that truth from anything other than what I hear Hitler saying on behalf of the German army, and the people I see that he put into these camps. Basically what I mean is that I can trust my senses to give me the truth about what happened in Germany during World War 2, because I saw and heard what happened. I can instantly trust my senses to give me the truth about what happened, and no further research is required. If I am to trust my senses to give me truth every time I see something in History, or try and judge who made a piece of art, implications may arise. For instance, the people who are trusting their senses all the time to give them truth in the artwork may misjudge their senses in a case when an artist perhaps did create a piece, but did his style differently, causing collectors and inspectors to pass over an actual piece of work. Or if I was watching film that somebody edited, then I would not get the truth. So there are definitely implications involved. Contrary to the first belief, others believe that we can trust our senses to give us an initial truth, which we will use until further research and investigation is utilized. For instance, whenever I listen to a concert piece by a famous composer, I make assumptions about that piece and what its meaning behind it is. I allow what I hear to give me an initial truth about the meaning. I will then research into the meaning of the piece and if I find anything different about the meaning of the piece than the meaning I made for it, I switch over to the truth I found through that research. I find that this is a prime example of using a truth until that truth is disproven because it really is about taking a truth based upon what I heard, and keeping it until I find something different behind the artists meaning of the piece. This can also be said for some situations in History that may be found. Take the Salem Witch Trials. Townsfolk were having problems with what they believed to be witches. They would swear to see a witch, and would instantly believe some of their friends and family were witched. What they were seeing was actually just people acting goofy in order to scare the townsfolk, but they didnt immediately research into this, in this case, they trusted their senses initially to give them the truth about what they were seeing, and this turned the people into believing that the people acting weird were unholy witches, and accepted this as truth until they later on discovered that their senses were wrong, through an investigation that led them to the real truth. This is another excellent example of people trusting their senses to give them the truth, until proven otherwise through further research. An implication for this method, however, is that perhaps even the research that we do is flawed, and what we are researching isnt the truth either. Or perhaps when I listen to a piece and draw a truth from what I heard, I dont have to do any research because the truth I have about it is the only one I need. I personally agree with the second method. I dont believe that we can trust our senses to give us the truth for everything. I believe that we can trust our senses to give us that initial truth, and then we can use that truth until something we learn through investigation or research proves us wrong. Because whether it is in history or art, people use both methods of trusting our senses to give us truth

and either one could be the right one. But no matter what, I believe that our senses can only be trusted for initial truth, and that further research or investigation is required to give us the final truth, be it in art or History.