If we look at the claim "in order to find out how things really are, one must understand the filters through which one perceives the world," we have to make certain definitions. The first definition has to do with the two words "things" and "filters". Next we need also to agree upon what the word "perception" means. From there we can carry on our discussion and evaluation of the claim. According to Michael Woolman and his book Ways of Knowing, information is acquired through our senses that are later on processed by our brains.
It is a complex process that involves our five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. However, I believe in the context of the above mentioned claim it is more complicated and less straight forward. This is due to another essential word in this claim, which is "filters". I believe that the word filter here could mean a variety of things. It could mean for example our own opinions and beliefs concerning a variety of issues or things, those opinions are definitely affected by past experience, religious beliefs, cultural values, political ideology, level of tolerance, etc…
In order to elaborate on what had been said, one has also to give examples in order to discuss, evaluate and validate the claim. The first thing that springs to one's mind is the fact that the perception of the world is not as straight forward as one might have thought at the beginning. Religious extremists for example seem to tend to believe that their convictions are the only true ones. They do not have any empirical evidence that would prove that their beliefs are 100% true. However, they do believe so.
When those religious extremists launch their terrorist attacks on civilians like what happened in Egypt at Luxor in 1996 against around 80 Japanese tourists, they must have thought that they were doing so for a holy and a noble cause. Similarly the same thing happened during September 11th. Here the religious "filter" was quite dangerous, distorted and was of a very dangerous nature. The believer in those convictions seems not to have taken the time to stop and think about the agony he might inflict on others. "The holy terror" seemed to have taken over.
The perception of others' humanity seems to have stopped. The thinking seemed to have evolved around the cause of the extremist. Such ideologies are dangerous because they enlarge one world (the world of the believer) and diminish the world of the other with whom the extremists is disagreeing. The "filter", in this context, the religious ideology, seem to have given a distorted picture of the world at large and those living in it. We should also remember that beliefs are not always necessarily true. However, false beliefs held by many people make them act according to the convictions that deemed truthful.
This claim was reflected during the Medieval Ages when people believed that the earth was flat and acted accordingly. The "thing" here was the earth which is not flat but actually circular or rounded in shape, this is a fact that is now proven using satellite pictures and geographical discoveries. Nevertheless, the "filter" that perceived the earth as being flat was affected by a "filter" of bias and ill information. When explorers like Magellan took his long journey around the world, the misconception that the world was flat was proven wrong once and for all.
Progressively scientific knowledge was used since the beginning of the Renaissance to explain many natural phenomena that we experience through our life on earth. However, we should never belittle the effect of religious and cultural convictions because, at times, they tend to have a deeper effect on society due to their popularity. The "filter" in this context might be affected by superstition, fear or customs. The example of throwing a young beautiful girl into the Nile River by the ancient Egyptians was done in the hope of pleasing the gods so that flooding of the river would not occur and they would be guarded against evilness.
Lack of means and scientific knowledge to control those devastating floods had strengthened this belief in the past. In my opening paragraph I have talked about senses as being a major source of perception. However, I should remind myself that my senses might not always produce the right or correct effects. If I hear a strange voice at night fear can take over. Fear might prompt imagination to think that a wild animal is about to attack me. The "filter" of fear might exaggerate my anticipations. In the end the sound causing my fear would be no more than that of the wind for example.
Another important point that we should look at in connection to "things" and "filters" is political ideologies. If we look at the Nazi political ideology, people could be treated as "things," whose fate and beliefs were dictated by the state. The state decided what the students should learn in school, what the people should hear on the radio, and love of ones country was equated with loyalty to the Fuhrer and the Nazi party. The state seemed to have people's minds controlled by huge cultural as well as ideological "filters" that massively mislead them. A counter claim could pose itself here.
One could argue that people applauded the Nazi regime not because they agreed but rather out of fear. They were afraid of the consequences if they dared to appose. They feared the cruelty of the SS that could either imprison or even kill them. Many did not dare to show empathy to the persecuted Jews because the state decided that they were a dangerous element on the German culture and economy. The human instinct of self preservation should be taken into account in the context of this example as a reason why many people choose to remain silent and not to appose the Nazi cruel and unjust regime.
Another element that might have caused people's silence was misplaced anger. The deteriorating economic conditions in Germany were one of the factors that brought the Nazis to power. People might have chosen to believe propaganda that the Jews were the cause of their economic plight. Thus, they misplaced their anger because of their hardships on the Jews, that anger needed victims and scapegoats, and it seemed that Jewish Germans fitted that bill. Consequently Jews were "things" and the "filters" of anger was operating at a very high level. Another suitable example would be the war that was launched on Iraq by mainly U.
S. A and Britain. The main claim of the world powers was that Saddam's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, it was important to remove him from power to preserve international collective security. The perception of well meaning for the safety of humanity was created by both U. S. A and Britain. In this context Saddam became a "thing" and a menace that should be disposed. The pro anti Saddam media created an impression of a "filter" amongst people that the removal of Saddam was the only means to maintain collective security. On the other hand the pro Saddam regime media created another "filter".
Saddam was portrayed as a hero, a national Arab hero that was facing up to colonial and imperialist powers on his own. The nationalistic forms of media manipulated people's emotions and created the "filters" of hatred to the west in general, and in particularly U. S. A and Britain. To come back to the claim made by the essay question it is quite clear that political, religious and cultural as well as intellectual filters play important roles in the way people perceive the world. "Things", here, could be issues, people and beliefs. The interaction between any person and the world in which he/she lives in is very complex.
Therefore, the word perception should not be restricted to our five senses and the messages they send to the brain to be processed. Past experience, beliefs, the degree to which we can be objective as well as intellectual capabilities of analysis and reflection play important roles in the way we analyze and react to situations outside and inside ourselves. In conclusion the claim of the essay is a true one since it has been shown through the discussion the process in which our value system affects to a large extent our perception of the world.