• Jack Cummins
    496
    On a daily basis we are aware of the world as encountered through our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touching. Is this a useful means of encountering the world, as we know it? Does it reach the limits of experience for the baseline, as the starting point of our philosophy adventures?
  • tim wood
    5.7k
    Any suggestions for alternatives?
  • Jack Cummins
    496
    I believe that the sensory experience is an important part but is limited in the face of our own experience of the experience of ego, mind as an abstract part of identity and as an multidimensional experience.

    I am into understanding the senses, especially for creative writing and believe that this should be carried forward into philosophy too. But I am inclined to think that the senses are a mere baseline.

    I am inclined to think that there are aspects of experience which can only be touched upon by few, philosophers or creative artists, but this is speculation. My point could be crumbled by the dagger of philosophy, but it may survive in the writings of the broken philosophy, of those whose egos have been torn asunder through the harsh lessons of those who are torn asunder by painful experiences, but hopefully this is part of the raw material for philosophy.
  • Banno
    10k
    I believe that the sensory experience is an important part but is limited in the face of mind and multidimensional experience.Jack Cummins

    Mere mysticism. Here the conversation must end.
  • Jack Cummins
    496
    But is this an abstract an of identity or is it the basis of the life as we know it on a daily in its most raw form,?
  • Banno
    10k
    I've no idea what you are asking. Is it profound, or just muddled.
  • Jack Cummins
    496
    I am sorry that my message is blurry but my mum is almost snatching my phone from me ,
    puzzled by what I am writing .

    What I am trying to say, not sure if you or others will understand, is that our senses are important for understanding our human quest It s our whole inheritence of thought which is the subject matter of the dilemmas of life at this point in time.
  • Banno
    10k
    As the article I linked above points out, the information from our senses is brought together into a unified whole. The resulting integration is indeed more than what is provided by our senses alone.

    Add to that the history of our sensing; the stuff about how the world has behaved in the past; that's more than we are sensing now.

    And add what has been said and heard, what we understand from being part of a community.

    All of this might fit your description of sensing as a mere baseline.

    But if you want to add something supernatural, something mystical, then I'll not be joining you.
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    I do believe that the use of the five senses as a whole is extremely important, which you argue, including reference to an article, which you say that you are including as a link. I think that you actually forgot to include the link.

    I am not really arguing for supernatural extras as such, but do think that our whole way of philosophising cannot be reduced to the senses or the brain. Identity and ideas stem from our brain, but each of us as unique individuals develop a narrative, which is an interpretation of our sensory experiences. This narrative is part of the essence of our creativity.
  • Banno
    10k
    I think that you actually forgot to include the link.Jack Cummins

    Five?Banno
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    Perhaps we are left looking for a missing link like in Darwin's theory.
  • Coben
    1.7k
    Click on the word Five in
    Banno's post two posts up. I'm not sure you don't realize that's a link, but it seems possible.
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    Thanks, you are right and i hadn't noticed that the word Five was in red, so my eyesight is not as sharp as that described in the article. I have found the missing link!

    But I think that the real missing link is the 'I' of the conscious ego, interpreting sensory data.
  • god must be atheist
    2.4k
    Humans have more than five senses with the aid of machinery. We translate the machine-sensed ultra-human sensations into human sensations, and we interpret them, and bob is our uncle.

    Seeing in complete darkness is one. Accelertion sensing machines is another example. The sensing of voltage and current and resistance in electronic circuits. The sensing of gamma radiation. The sensing of many things I am too stupid to know about. The sensing of magnetic fields.

    Those who say to you that your idea is stupid, are stupid. They may call me stupid because I called them stupid for calling you stupid.

    You be the judge.
  • prothero
    342
    I don't think the five senses have evolved so much to help us "understand" the world as to allow us to survive and procreate in the world. In that respect the senses can be misleading with respect to the deeper nature of reality and are incomplete in showing us all of "reality".
    We have extended our perceptions of reality through instrumentation but even that project has its limitations with respect to the intrinsic aspects of nature versus the extrinsic measurable or observable aspects.
  • 8livesleft
    62
    Our human limitations are what requires us to be a part of a group to sort of give us a more complete picture - but still, the picture is still going to be incomplete as there are forces, zones, frequencies that humans cannot detect but are a vital aspect to the workings of the cosmos and the environment.

    One example would be the magnetic field, which many animals use to navigate but some we can barely even detect.

    Maybe, if we were to integrate better with nature, we might be able to get a better understanding of these other forces that would make our picture of reality more complete.
  • Jack Cummins
    496
    Bertrand Russell said, 'We have acquaintance with the data of the outer senses, and in introspection of what may be called the inner sense- thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.' I think that the role of introspection is important in understanding how we engage with the senses. We are not just machine-like channels, taking in the vast sensory world. We would be overwhelmed. We take an active role in selecting meaningful experience, and this has been recognised in field of the psychology of perception.

    I am suggesting the importance of mind in enabling us to be conscious creators of meaning. This is not denying the insights of neuroscientists, but I disputing the more behavioural perspective. The point which I am making is that we have choice in selecting, as minds, in selecting how to engage with the outer world.

    This enables us to build an inner world and autobiographical constucts, interpreted in the form of language. What I am saying may be seen as obvious, or some may dispute it, but I think that our role as architects of our inner world is essential to being human and to our freedom to find pathways to revision our lives.
  • god must be atheist
    2.4k
    I don't think the five senses have evolved so much to help us "understand" the world as to allow us to survive and procreate in the worldprothero

    Understanding processes how they work is a vital part of survival skills. Their precision with correspondence to reality is key. More precision, better survival.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    A small tidbit from many years of painful and painstaking research - food is the only thing that stimulates all five senses. Food can be touched (with your hands), seen (with your eyes), tasted (with your tongue), smelt (with your nose), and, finally, heard (with your ears). No other thing can stimulate the senses in such a comprehensive manner - our relationship to non-food things is exclusive to one or more but never all of the senses available to us.

    A song is for the ears, A painting is for the eyes, a perfume is for the nose, a massage is for touch, and as for the tongue, it's the point where all the senses intersect.

    There's something special about food and if one looks at the cortical homunculs (ref: wikipedia), a sizeable portion of our cerebral cortex is dedicated to the tongue. Go figure!
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    Yes, of course it is true that food is one aspect which which engages in all the senses. When I went to creative writing workshops, which encouraged engagement with the senses, I saw this exploited to the extreme when a woman wrote about tasting the lasagne on someone 's mouth while kissing them.

    Another issue about multiple engagement with the senses is the whole phenomena of synethesia. I do have some experience of this because I sometimes feel able to see sounds. In particular, if I close my eyes while listening to music I can see visual images. However, I think that this blending of sight and sound may be because at a certain point in development the eye and the ear develop from the same nodule. Some people have a certain amount of natural synethesia naturally but of course that can be simulated by mind altering drugs.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    Complete synesthesia or fivefold synesthesia is different to what I'm talking about. Synesthetes with fivefold synesthesia experience different sensory perceptions via association and not because the trigger itself has the necessary stimulus to fire the concerned neurons. Food, on the other hand, has all the stimuli to engage all five senses.

    To elucidate my point, imagine a synesthete X who when recalling a certain telephone number experiences the smell of roses. Numbers, we know, don't have odor molecules and so it's impossible for them to even smell let alone give off the fragrance of roses. In other words, numbers lack the necessary stimuli to fire our olfactory neurons and so, synesthesia in this case is closer to being a hallucination.

    Food, on the other hand, has all the stimuli necessary to engage all five senses i.e. the activation of all five senses while eating is quite far from being a hallucination.
  • 8livesleft
    62
    I am suggesting the importance of mind in enabling us to be conscious creators of meaning. This is not denying the insights of neuroscientists, but I disputing the more behavioural perspective. The point which I am making is that we have choice in selecting, as minds, in selecting how to engage with the outer world.Jack Cummins

    Yes indeed. We can only absorb a limited amount of information and so we naturally end up filtering what doesn't fit with our world view.

    So, 2 people can live in the same neighborhood and one can perceive a nice safe place but the other may see danger around every corner.

    Besides mere filtering, we also end up reinforcing this belief - by keeping company with like minded individuals, favoring publications and hobbies that suit their perception.

    So what is basically a shared reality becomes split into very different worldviews.
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    Yes, I can see your point that food is the one aspect of the world that depends on the the multiple use of all the senses and this is probably due to the wiring of the brain for survival.


    I think that the whole idea of filtering can be traced back to the philosophy of C D Broad which draws upon the ideas put forward by Henri Bergson in 'Creative Evolution.' Broad spoke of the nervous system, including the senses and the brain as having a 'reducing valve' and being 'eliminative' and the role of this in perception.This is connected to the selective aspect of our interaction with the senses.

    In thinking about the way we filter our sensory experiences it is likely that we often filter information which fits into our world view. It probably occurs subconscious in filtering our information to fit into our thought system and probably at the worst it sustains prejudice. But mindset is probably also a factor. For example, if one is feeling low in mood it would be more likely to tune into hearing comments of a critical nature. Concentration and attention also play a factor. I know that when I have been told that when I am concentrating fully on something, especially reading, I can become almost oblivious to my sensory surroundings.

    Yes, I am sure that when we go out and about we look for elements of life where we meet people with similar views but this is probably going into the area of social psychology. But the basic questions of the world of the senses itself at the heart of questions about how we acquire knowledge and the basic emphasis of the important of the world of the senses is the main argument of empiricism.

    Your question of where shared reality becomes split into different world views is complicated because it involves the whole question of the development of belief systems. But in terms of the senses we could say that each person's sensory aspect is unique, as conveyed in the way in which each of us draws a picture differently.
  • 8livesleft
    62
    It probably occurs subconscious in filtering our information to fit into our thought system and probably at the worst it sustains prejudice. But mindset is probably also a factor. For example, if one is feeling low in mood it would be more likely to tune into hearing comments of a critical nature. Concentration and attention also play a factor. I know that when I have been told that when I am busy concentrating on something, especially reading, I can become almost oblivious to my sensory surroundings.Jack Cummins

    I can totally relate haha

    Anyway, yes I agree that all those things come into play in adding obstacles to how we see or don't see things.

    I believe this is why it's necessary for us to be with others to sort of calibrate our view of reality. Even if we're of the same mind, like you said we'll never experience something exactly the same way and so we need to agree on some standards or some base concepts that are true regardless of our perception.

    That's kind of why I don't like how divisive media can get. It's pegging people into either being this or that when both views are important.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    Yes, I can see your point that food is the one aspect of the world that depends on the the multiple use of all the senses and this is probably due to the wiring of the brain for survival.Jack Cummins

    It's all in the head or in the skin rather :chin:
  • Book273
    78
    food is the only thing that stimulates all five senses. Food can be touched (with your hands), seen (with your eyes), tasted (with your tongue), smelt (with your nose), and, finally, heard (with your ears).TheMadFool

    Food and Woman: for all the same reasons.

    I have patients that experience "hallucinations" involving all five senses, would they, therefore be experiencing an alternate reality?
  • Jack Cummins
    496

    I have known people who have experienced hallucinations in about two senses at once but never in all five at the same time. The multisensory hallucinations must be a challenge for the doctors. Perhaps they have got hold of the strongest skunk weed possible.The closest to this that I can think of is the mescalin altered world which Aldous Huxley describes.

    Huxley states that, 'Under a more realistic, a less exclusively verbal system of education than ours every Angel(in Blake's sense of the word) would be permitted as a sabbatical treat, would be urged and even, if necessary, compelled to take an occasional trip through some chemical Door in the Wall of transcendental experience. But the current world of psychiatry seeks to forbid this transcendent, alternate reality, even when it is achieved naturally.

    If William Blake was alive today he would almost certainly be likely to be subject to the administration of a whole possible range of antipsychotics to subdue the angels and demons. What a loss for the world of art and literature it would have been without Blake's altered reality and as far as I know he did not have paranoid delusions.
  • Bitter Crank
    9k
    Is this a useful means of encountering the world, as we know it?Jack Cummins

    It's what you got, so you'll just have to make do with it.

    "Life" built up these senses (and the additional ones that @Banno listed) over the preceding many, many millions of years. Sensory apparatus and neural processing had to be sufficient to allow animals to cope with and survive a complicated environment. We share these senses with lots of other successful animals.

    Does it reach the limits of experience for the baseline, as the starting point of our philosophy adventures?Jack Cummins

    Well... in order to have an experience, you have to have both sensory apparatus and adequate neural processing. Our vaunted neural processing allows us to get out ahead of ourselves enough to have all sorts of adventures, philosophical and otherwise.
  • aRealidealist
    102
    The main premise of sensualism, i.e., that all our knowledge involves sensations or sensory-information, can be reduced to absurdity, if one first attacks their distinction of sense-organs & sensations or sensory information.

    For, if all our knowledge is obtained by sensations or sensory-information, & the latter are what are caused by, & not what are the causes of, the sense-organs (otherwise, we’d have to say that sensations or sensory-information are the causes of, & so existed before, the sense-organs [an absurdity]), then, logically speaking, we could never demonstrate (according to the very same main premise of sensualism) that the sense-organs, in fact, exist. In other words, if the sense-organs supposedly are what are the causes of sensations or sensory-information, & not the effects of them, & all our knowledge solely involves sensations or sensory-information, we then could never, therefore, actually sensibly demonstrate the causes of sensations or sensory-information, i.e., sense-organs, because our knowledge solely involves the effects of them, i.e., sensations or sensory-information; & as no effects can be identified with the causes of them, our knowledge as sensations or sensory-information can’t be identified with the causes of them, i.e., sense-organs: we thus have no sensations or sensory-information (which, according to sensualism, can be the only basis of knowledge) of the existence of the sense-organs (a contradiction against their very own claim).
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