Lenses of Perception An allegory of the theories of reality

Gray Box


Optical illusions (slanted lines gray box)

Food item (Oreo cookies) and strawberries

Common sense realism of…


Brand name

Past experiences

How it’s made (Natural vs processed)

Taste- really sweet (oreo)

Knowledge by acquaintance

Optical illusions

Past experiences (knowing it's an illusion)

Scientific realism of…

Food (surface level)


Daily values

Basically ignoring common sense

Performance Roles

Marco- instructor, presenter

Eduardo- scientific realism

Jeremy and Huy- common sense realism


Scientific realism -When I taste the Oreo, I’m getting a sweet taste, indicating the presence of carbohydrates. Just think about it, it’s a source of short-term energy. If they’re consumed in moderation, how can they be considered unhealthy…I mean, everything is technically organic, made from living atoms and comprising carbon.

Common sense- Don’t think of the oreo in terms of chemistry and biology, just think about the fact that they’re cookies. Sweetness indicates sugar, but I’ve learned from past experiences that added sugar is simply unhealthy and even addicting. I know that eating too many will hurt my diet and decrease my consumption of nutritious food.

Common sense 2- Come on, it’s a cookie. Since when was a processed chocolate cookie considered food for athletes right before practice?

Scientific realism- You might be right. Now that I combine my thinking with logic, it does make sense that Oreos aren’t all that great. I guess they can increase chances of diabetes, which I realize is a negative health repercussion. Thanks for helping me out here, I’ll try to avoid them as much as possible.

Wow, this strawberry is great. But dang it, we just agreed that this sugary sweet taste corresponds to unhealthy food and snacks.

Common sense- Strawberries are fruits, of course they’re healthy. They’re directly organic, no processed added sugar.

Common sense 2- A strawberry is a strawberry, it’s a good food whichever way you see it. Other knowers have all told me the same.

Scientific realism- Each strawberry is comprised of the monosaccharide fructose, but with the help of insulin it’s stored the liver as glycogen for later use. This is starting to make sense, thanks for helping me out with my diet guys!

Optical illusion 1 (lines):

Common sense- These lines are definitely slanted, isn’t it so straightforward! My senses are delivering, are you telling me my eyes are lying?

Scientific realism-Remember interpretation is a huge part of perception. Here’s a ruler, those lines are straight for a fact, just measure them. You’ll see that to observe the reality to the best of our abilities, you must learn to view only the relevant lines and then make observations.

Common sense- Wow, that’s pretty solid evidence. This is just incredible, can’t believe it’s the reality.

Teacher- Here’s a box now, tell me if you guys see anything

Common sense- Well, there’s a gray box, with a gray color much lighter in the bottom portion.

Common sense- I mean, it’s a skillfully drawn box.

Scientific realism- Wait guys, this is another optical illusion. You see, by adding the bright strip in the middle, the continuity was disrupted and the contrast between light and dark gray on the bottom square is highlighted. Take out the line, the effect disappears.

You taught me great lessons with food, but sometimes being straightforward deceives the senses into false creations. Be careful.

Teacher Great class discussions. So today we learned common sense and scientific realism have benefits and limitations as the situation changes, showing how the theories of reality must work in conjunction, along with confirmation with reason and intuition, and other such WOKs. Therefore, we can agree that senses primary function is not to give image of reality, but to provide tools for survival.

Presentation: https://docs.google.com/a/thevillageschool.com/presentation/d/1duNNU8zxtCVrGJDoyf8BWaFCJZbJI9VNOhEptshrccc/edit?usp=sharing

Sense Perception Journal


Today in class, we read about sense perception in order to get a grasp on this WOK and build up toward a project to display understanding. I learned that sense perception is comprised of two components: sensation and interpretation. Sensation is essentially what the world provides the knower, such as light. Meanwhile, interpretation is what the brain does with that sensation once it enters the brain. Through, these two components, senses provide stimuli which shape knower’s perspective.

I found it very interesting to hear that our senses exist to allow us to survive, but do not necessarily provide us with a coherent picture of reality. Now that I think of it from this angle, I realize that it’s true. For example, we humans can’t perceive infared light, and we can’t even begin to imagine a new color. Our senses are limitations, but they give us sufficient information to move on through life. We use coherence to confirm and validate the incoming information.


Brainstorm for project

While reading about sense perception, I was very intrigued by the different ways people view perception: the three main categories are common-sense realism, scientific realism, and phenomenalism. I was particularly intrigued with the idea that “to be is to be perceived,” meaning that we cannot know anything that is outside of our experiences. For instance, we did not live in the time of the Greeks, so we cannot say that 200 years ago, the sky and oceans are blue; this is outside the realm of our senses. I was fascinated by the idea that back if a tree falls in the middle of the forest but there is no one that sees or hears it, it’s technically a mute occurrence.


Daily reflection

After discussions of the sense perception chapter in class, I believe I have a sound knowledge of the chapter. I learned that optical illusions actually serve to provide us understanding of different concepts of perception, such as figure and ground, context, and visual grouping. I learned that senses are fallible because sometimes we make assumptions and fill in the gaps. Our knowledge cannot go beyond our own experiences, which are integral to empiricism and phenomenalism.


Essential question: What is the role of language in sense perception?

After watching the video on how the Greeks and ancient cultures viewed color, a whole new angle is taken on sense perception. I learned that what our senses tell us cannot simply be taken for granted; in ancient times, blue wasn’t defined as a color. Due to the lack of grouping, it was perceived (interpreted) to be indistinguishable from other existing colors, such as green. Thinking in this way is very humbling because it shows that we too may be wrong. What we see as blue today might take on a completely different 2000 years in the future. This made me realize how important background and culture are.

Furthermore, listening to the podcast “Why Isn’t the Sky Blue?” really makes me wonder if we currently see a color that we don’t know about. For instance, there might be a distinct color between green and blue, but since we don’t have a name for it, we inherently group that color with one of the other. Thus, in indeed appears that our sense perception is limited by language, because if we don’t have a discrete category or name for something, then it can’t be expressed to others. We may be able to perceive everything within the visible light spectrum, but perhaps we don’t see everything there is to appreciate because language itself confines us to categories for our thoughts.


Essential Question: When should we trust our senses to give us the truth?

As I read the chapter from Moby Dick in which the whale was described, I was astounded by how different the sight of a whale is compared to that of humans. Melville discussed that “the position of a whale’s eyes corresponds to that of a man’s ears,” and that they therefore have two backs and two fronts. This view really captured my attention, because it reveals that when a whale sees, it perceives two completely different images which are both processed by the brain. We as humans only receive one image which is reinforced by both eyes.

This raises the question of when we should trust our senses to give us the truth; ultimately, I learned that the whale needs it eyes to be on opposite sides because it’s such a large creature and the larger filed of vision provides a greater advantage for its life in the vast sea. Ultimately, studying Moby Dick allowed me to explore the diversity of the senses, and I now understand that sense perception varies for all creatures. This ultimately reveals that sense perception is an adaptive mechanism which works to allow greatest possibly of survival. They cannot be trusted to give us the absolute truth, but in conjunction with other ways of knowing such as reason and intuition, provide sufficient insight into truth to guide us through the of life.

2/6/17 -Project Planning

My group and I want to incorporate different perspectives by observing images. My idea is for each of us to take on a different view of sensory perception (common-sense realism, scientific realism, and phenomenalism) and outline their differences. I want our group to include some discussion in Socratic fashion to determine what we can and cannot know. In the process, we will disclose that the way things are seen is very relative to time, and that everything must be approached with an open mind. We will conclude that senses are there as a survival tool, not as a means to explore into the depths of reality. For instance, we need to receive light, but it’s not necessary to discern infrared radiation.


I learned that it’s important to communicate with the group and have diversity of opinions. Today, we were able to come up with a clear plan of the items we will use in the presentation (food: Oreos and strawberries, and two optical illusions) and have divided up the task such that there will be Jeremy and Huy as common-sense realists, while I will be the scientific realistic approach to the sensory perception. Marco will be the teacher and essentially summarize the findings. Our goal is to show that in different situations, there are limitations to both of these theories of reality. This shows that perception does not always provide reality, but there’s an inherent survival mechanism that the senses provide. The class will taste the food as well as get a chance to view the illusions and give their own input while formulating their stances. The class will learn the importance of finding coherence among the ways of viewing reality and learn that perception does not always reflect the reality. We will further exhibit the fact that common-sense realism is default and seemingly more prevalent in society.


For the presentation today, I want to ensure that our group delivers a flowing and comprehensive presentation, and that we’re able to work as a group to answer our essential question. I hope that our presentation reaches about the 6-minute mark, and that we’re able to successfully convey the importance of having multiple perspectives and develop coherence to find knowledge. We want to show that perception does not always reflect reality, but that in different situations there are different theories of reality that are more applicable. This proves that these theories cannot be considered exclusively, but rather must be utilized in conjunction. My goal is to additionally engage the audience by giving them the food to taste and allowing them to experience the optimal illusions as well, as we explain our views.

2/8/17 -12:11 PM

Today we presented our TOK badge projects, which was the culminating activity for this unit on sense perception as a way of knowing. I think that the presentation went well overall, but we could have developed the knowledge questions more and made stronger links between that KQ and our project. I think we were relatively successful in creating an allegory (portraying the the theories of knowing with characters for greater understanding) and showing the limitations of sense perception by itself. Ultimately, we were able to conclude that senses alone cannot provide us with reality, but using other WOKs such as intuition and reason, as well as interacting and Socratic discussion with other knowers, is the key to making the most of our senses.

2/10/17 -11:30 AM

As I mentioned previously, the badge project has gone very well for me. However, one component that I’ll work to improve for next time is the team participation. During our planning phase, discussions in class were dominated by Marco and I, but Jeremy and Huy did not provide significant input when we discussed the topics in the chapter and our ideas for the presentation. I created a script for them to utilize while presenting, and I think they did a nice job. Nevertheless, for the next badge I think electing a leader will be moe beneficial, as it will allow work to be organized and distributed for maximum benefit of all.

2/10/17 -Final Entry

In retrospect, this idea of having a badge project has been relatively successful, and I really enjoy this way of learning. I believe it allows us to learn the content (currently the WOKs), while integrating a creativity portion for us to explore the concepts we learned and apply them to real-life situations. In our group project, we took Oreo cookies and strawberries, tasting and examining them through the lenses of scientific realism and common sense realism. We performed an allegory in order to get a better grasp of the different theories of reality and how they influence sense perception. For instance, through the food tasting we showed that using common sense provides a conclusion as to whether food is healthy or not more quickly then a scientific approach in which ingredients are analyzed and scrutinized first. Through the discussion we had in the “class” setting for our presentation, we displayed the sense perception alone cannot be trusted to provide us with an accurate picture of reality. Instead, senses and interpretation is supported by reason, intuition, memory, and molded by the views of other knowers to guide us closer to the truth.

In our second example, we analyzed two optical illusions to expose the fallibility of human interpretation of visual stimuli. I played the role of scientific realism, showing that when viewing illusions, taking the scientific angle and looking deeper into the causes of the illusion is more beneficial. The majority of people, relying most heavily on common sense, look at the larger picture and see what they think should be there because they don’t acknowledge the effects. For instance, one illusion made lines appear curved, but I focused on the lines themselves and brought out a ruler to prove that they were straight. In the box illusion, one half appeared to be a lighter shade than the other; in reality, this was a trick resulting from a light region toward the middle of the box. In this scenario, scientific realism proved more instrumental in perceiving reality. Importantly, an integral component of sense perception is brought to light regarding sense perception: what our sense provide us with is a means to survive, not a means of coherently grasping all reality.

In actuality, doing this presentation after learning about sense perception taught me more than I expected and allowed me to really grasp the concepts explored in the chapter.

There knowledge questions encountered in the course of work:

* What is the role of language in sense perception? (Discussed in entry regarding the “Why the Sky Isn’t Blue” )

* When should we trust our senses to give us the truth? (From entry on Moby Dick)

* To what extent do our sense perceptions reflect reality?

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