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    How to Know the Truth

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    Symptomatic for how human beings convince themselves of the truth, the man resorts to the ultimate authority: himself. What he sees must be true. Unfortunately that source of knowledge is erroneous. To avoid the well-known limitations of our perception, illustrated by optical illusions, other factors influence one’s senses, and their ability to tell the truth. Although such things as “the Sixth sense” and other intuitions have been argued to exist, the term, senses, has a physical root. As mentioned, emotions tend to color our perception of the world. Like alcohol, love affects the physical aspects of humans.

    Besides serotonin,13 other hormones have increased activity in the brain’s perceptive judgment centers. In context to “truth,” it shows interpretations of observations can be distorted by perspective and other factors, such as emotions. Synthesis of information from any source without this tool of knowing is hard. How would it be possible to reason if necessary observations of premises cannot be made; to hear authoritative accounts; have emotional sensations without touch? It is relevant to ask if it is at all possible to know the truth; when no ways of knowing are impenetrable to error.

    Before jumping to conclusions, one could attempt to limit the spectrum where truth occurs: Truth is limited according to some given parameters. 14 These truth factors, however, better eliminate false statements than point out true ones: They filtrate less qualified guesses from better. The pragmatic theory is a down to earth approach where truth extends from reality: if something works in reality, then it’s true. This goes with the method of science: A hypothesis is established and tested under observation, thus mounting in a conclusive acceptance/rejection of the hypothesis’ validity.

    The theory gets support from such examples, since it is true that it works in reality. Nevertheless, its basis is inductive reasoning and perception, which are no guarantees of the truth. Peter could test the hypothesis that his wife committed adultery. In favor of the proposition, it coheres/corresponds to observations from reality: Phone-calls, noises, etc. Truth, however, doesn’t follow logically. To claim so is invalid because the secret calls could be related to something else. 15 Truth is transparent. Knowledge isn’t solely justified by factuality, because such is not entirely justifiable.

    16 The gap between certainty and the hardly quantifiable reliability of a knowledge claim has to be compensated for by conviction/faith. 17 Peter, therefore, is left with different knowledge claims to be justified/rejected, and with the task of defining the truth-spectrum. In context to the prescribed question, the likeliness that a tool of knowing will deliver one the truth is in the end dependent on one’s belief. It would be rather nice to conclude that the most likely way of knowing the truth is through perception, since people tend to put greater faith in own observations and “seeing is believing,” but “tend” is not finite.

    Truth is defined individually be assigning a belief to a truth subject. Hence the most likely way of knowing the truth is the one in which the belief is the greatest: most often that is perception. Even with untrue dogmatism, beliefs are flexible in the long- run, so one should keep challenging ways of knowing to move closer to truth. By the way, Peter’s wife was innocent. 1 This is similar to that implied by the prescribed question. 2 Socrates once said that it is in human nature to desire the truth. 3 This will be discussed later. 4 In fact, emotions can distort the other ways of acquiring knowledge.

    5 In this book, Big Brother deliberately appeals to people’s emotions, in order to make them behave in a certain way. This is commonly known as propaganda. 6A psychologist would probably agree that we are slow to confront erroneous intuitions and get rid of them. 7 Reasoning can either be of an inductive or deductive nature. 8 I was once told this little story by my grandfather, a farmer, which is an excellent example in support of this idea: “I had a herd of chickens – cute little animals – which had come to rely on that I would feed them at a certain time each day.

    Foolish of them to think that certain: Because one day I came with an axe instead of feed. Don’t blind yourself. ” 9 Whether it is right or not to follow dogmatism is another question that arises, when knowledge reliance goes to such an extreme.

    10 This book was written by the Nigerian author, C. Achebe. It is about how inflexible beliefs can bring about the downfall of man. Another knowledge issue. 11 Incas, Moslems, Buddhists, Christians, etc. 12Archaeologist exposed as fraud. BBC News, 2000. 2 Jan. 2008 ;http://news. uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1008051. stm;. 13 Serotonin is often used in medicine as an anti-depressant hormone: It makes people look more optimistic at the world.

    Too much of it, however, is highly toxic… same with emotions and perception. 14 Those parameters are summarized in Richard van de Lagemaat’s TOK for the IB Diploma (Lagemaat, Richard. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ). They are divided into three theories: The correspondence-, coherence-, and pragmatic theory.

    15 From what I have heard, she is planning a surprise birthday party for the man, who is turning 40. 16 At least as far as human intelligence can grasp. Many things are beyond human understanding, which, for me, invokes humility faced with the immense everything. 17 In the end truth is formed by beliefs.

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