Human Capacity for Knowledge essay

That man has the capacity to know or acquire knowledge is a given. Man indeed has the capacity to understand and perceive reality, and therefore gain knowledge. However, to argue for this established fact – that man is capable of knowing – is almost idiocy in that, as all famed philosophers know, one must start with a premise. And what is a premise but a self-evident statement which can be proven by demonstration of facts taken from what is reality. The next series of questions in order which need to be answered are: “How have we come to know what we have known?

” and, “Are we sure that our perceptive senses are not tricking us in convincing us of what is real? ” To answer the first question, of course, we know what we know because we have the senses necessary to perceive reality. Reality is that which exists apart from being perceived by the observer. It is still real, even though it is not caught by all of man’s cognitive senses. In this sense, reality is different from illusion. Reality is based on what is true, whereas, illusion is simply, a “false impression.

” With those who engage in drug-induced trip, as with people in psychedelic era, hallucinations were common. While under the influence of psychedelic drugs, men and women see objects which are not real but only pigments or colors of their drug-induced imaginations. These objects are, of course, a “trick” of the mind, and thus, not real. And so, given this example, it is true that man can be deceived. Nevertheless, it does not at all suggest that the perception of what is true reality is, therefore, impossible for humans. It only proves that the mind may, in some instance, be fooled.

According to Thomas Aquinas, truth is established when the intellect conforms to the object that it understands (McDowell, 1999). In other words, when someone has made a statement regarding a thing, the statement must correspond to the reality of the thing. The statement must agree with the thing being described. It has to reflect accurately in its description the thing which it describes. For example, one states for a fact that there is a man standing across the street. The statement can be easily verified by two or three observers.

The three, of course, may contradict one another (if one, or two of them, are schizophrenic) and thus, confuse the whole issue. However, the likelihood that the matter will be at once settled by the three confirmatory observers is not at all far from happening. In fact, that there is a man standing across the street, will likely be either affirmed quickly if it is true, or not, if the statement is false (that there is, in fact, no man standing across the street), the moment three observers (also across the street opposite the man on the other side) are asked.

Without a shadow of doubt, humans are capable of knowledge. Difference between What One Believes and What One Knows Anybody can easily believe what he/she observes (by the senses) to be true. However, there are some who are inclined to believe that people tend to put their faith in unknowable – things which cannot be verified or perceived by the intellectual faculties of man. This is simply not true. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, man in his arguments, always starts in premise or presupposition.

A premise/presupposition is a principle – a self-explanatory basis of the truth. For example, why would anybody argues for the existence of God or a Creator, if not for the fact that the whole creation points to a Creator who created it? No one believes a thing which to the best of his ability to conceive is really not there. Basically, we believe what we know is true. It’s almost impossible to differentiate between belief and knowledge.

Although, there are some who would say with much irony that they believe in things which they have no knowledge of. There are those who do not believe unless the thing is verified by their physical senses – seeing, hearing, smell, touch, and feeling. Their reason is dictated solely by their senses. Therefore, to these, belief is different from knowledge. For this writer though, one believes because he knows.


McDowell, Josh. 1999. The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. By Here’s Life Publishers, Inc.