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We Are Told About the World Before We See It. We Imagine Most Things Before We Experience Them (walter Lipman) How Might Expectation and Previous Knowledge Affect Perception and Therefore Knowledge?

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Perception is a way of knowing and gaining knowledge. Expectation, the belief about the way an event should happen or behave, and previous knowledge, understanding and skills we gain after experience play significant roles when gaining knowledge. They frame and lead us into imagine before we experience. Our five senses let us see, smell, taste, feel and hear. People think that we believe what we see. However, we see what we believe. Lipman’s suggestion criticises the false of our senses and perspectives. This leads to the idea that our five senses aren’t much different from our so-called sixth sense, premonition, which is not scientifically supported. Lipman’s statement is tied to the idea that our knowledge has set up by other people’s previous ideas before we experience therefore affects our perception and knowledge.

Our senses have contributed in our life especially when gaining knowledge. We recognise things by looking, smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling. However, our senses have limitation. For example, our eye sights have physical difficulties to see objects far away magnificently. Dogs can smell, hear and even feel better than humans. Humans’ sensory organs are not so great.

Previous knowledge affects perception in art area as well. In late 1800s, when England just started to colonise Australia, not many people had seen unique Australian animals such as kangaroos and koalas. When painters attempt to draw kangaroos, because they did not know how they look like, they imagined and drew kangaroos based on the description made from people who had been to Australia and seen the kangaroos. In some of the pictures, kangaroos look like foxes. In other pictures, they look like rabbits or rats. Their previous knowledge on animals affected their way of drawing; they drew similar European animals. If five blind men who haven’t felt or smelt or heard about elephants before are to touch an elephant, each of them will have different responses. Their previous knowledge will play a big role here; they will think of something that they’ve felt, smelt and heard before.

There are many kinds of beliefs that have been affected by our expectations, previous knowledge and other people’s ideas. One of them is religion. In 1500s Europe, when most of people were Catholic, people believed that the Earth is the central of the universe as their religion told them to believe. Nicolas Copernicus stunned other people with his revolutionary work, �De Revolutionibus’, the theory that the Earth travels around the sun. People’s previous knowledge, that universe was a closed space bounded by a spherical envelope beyond which there was nothing, did not give any opportunity to Copernicus who in modern days is regarded as a fonder of modern astronomy. Drosnin, an American journalist, believes in the Bible code, the belief that the Bible is consisted of intentional predictions in coded form. He suggested several predictions; the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister, the possibility of nuclear holocausts and the destruction of major cities by earthquakes. Some of the predictions have become true, making other people amazed and believe in bible code despite the possibility that it could be coincidental. Because people believe that the Bible is something special, we expect more from it. Other books can have similar codes to the Bible. Many people believed in Nostradamus’ prediction that there will be the end of the world in 1997, and in 1997, even casual happenings such as apple drops for them seemed as the sign of the doomsday. Evidently, people are likely to see what they believe.

Pseudocyesis is another example that reveals how the expectations can affect what people see. Theoretically, if a women desires pregnancy badly enough she may interpret minor changes in her body as signs of pregnancy. The belief and expectation that they are pregnant affect their thoughts, perception and therefore also what they see.

We cannot rely on our sight abilities sometimes because human eyes sometimes make mistakes. In physics, it says that when a spoon is put in a cup of water, it looks bent because of light is being refracted by the water. The spoon is not bent but it looks bent. The �rat-man illusion’ and the �old woman-young woman illusion’ are good examples that reveal the faults of perception in natural science area. According to Bugeleski and Alampay, the subjects presented with pictures of animals and then the ambiguous �rat-man’ figure were more likely to



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