We can define conflict as a disagreement between two parties. It is a state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash. Human perception is the way we see things using our senses. It is the way we depict our surroundings by using sights, sounds and smells. But as with all things human, perception has its flaws in that our senses can be fooled as it is limited. Perception is a double-edged sword – it can betray us if we take it too much for granted, or it can yield the most important revelations if we just open our eyes and look.
Perception is important in most areas of knowledge including the natural sciences. Perception is essential to make observations that will back up scientific hypotheses about natural phenomena. However perception in this case is also aided by technology – the instruments we use to aid perception like microscopes and telescopes. The natural sciences deal with how a natural phenomenon occurs and tries to explain the complex methods of nature. It involves acquiring knowledge through direct observation of phenomenon and utilizing controlled experiments in order to support basic assumptions.
This process is that of induction, where the scientists use results accumulated throughout various applications of their experiment to draw conclusions. Therefore we can come to the conclusion that without perception and our senses, scientific theories and knowledge would not be born. For example, the discovery of penicillin would not have happened if Sir Alexander Fleming had not been observant enough to notice that a blue-green mould seemed to be inhibiting growth of the bacteria. Hence observation is an essential part of gaining scientific knowledge.
However our natural senses aren’t fine enough to pick up on some scientific phenomena. This is why we require the aid of technology. Our senses tell us that a table, for example, is a solid object; science tells us that a table is mostly empty space. It’s not so much that there is a difference between the solid table and the “mostly empty space” table; it’s that our direct perception of the table gives us an intuitive mental model of the table that is different from our objective, physical model.
Our mental model is a rigid, infinitely-divisible, solid mass, whereas our objective model is a bunch of tiny particles that are attracted to one another. However if our senses were actually refined enough to detect the empty space without the aid of instruments and experiments, then we would definitely see that the table is made up of tiny atoms, each made up primarily of empty space. But as our senses cannot pick up on these minute details, we have to rely on experiments to prove them. It has been scientifically proven that an atom is made up mostly of empty space through various experiments.
It is true that we require our senses to observe and to get the thought process going – we wonder why things happen the way they do and try to explain their behaviour. But in the end we cannot rely on our senses alone to prove a complex hypothesis that requires technical data and thorough examination. If we only used our senses to explain the things around us, then science will be virtually non-existent and development would not be able to take place. Science is a way of a way of using the senses to come to a conclusion about the universe and how stuff works.
If we blindly believe only what we can see with our naked eye, then we would still believe that the earth is flat and that the moon give out it’s own light. Science uses perception in it’s initial observation, but to actually come to a conclusion about a fact, we have to use logical reasoning and fashion our theories to agree with the basic, proven laws and principles of science. Take the example of light and heat waves. They are both electromagnetic waves and this is a proven scientific fact. However, the human senses perceive these two as two completely different things.
The human senses cannot see that they are both types of radiation but at different frequencies. Here again, we require further analysis than just what we see. Also in cases of optical illusions, we see different things if we look at the picture in different ways – our senses can easily be manipulated into perceiving a thing as something entirely different. In this question, both the statements that the table is solid and is made mostly of empty space are essentially correct. This is because a table is a solid – this is a true fact.
And the scientific definition of solid is a collection of tightly packed particles, a particle being an atom or a molecule (a molecule is made up of a number of atoms). It has been scientifically proven that an atom is mostly empty space. Hence we can conclude that the table, which is made up of these atoms, is mostly empty space. Therefore we can see that the two statements made in the question do not really raise any conflict, except for an uneducated person who does not know the theory behind the tiny particles called atoms.