Making sense of our senses

I’m currently working on an acid logic article describing the senses (sight, hearing, taste etc.) and have been running up against some interesting thoughts. In a certain sense (ha ha!) we view our senses as part of ourselves, part of our essence. Part of what makes me me is all the things I’ve seen and heard. I am the culmination of my experiences, and experiences are really a collection of sensory input.

We also think we have a certain control over our senses. I look over here, and then I use my free will to turn my head and look over there, and then I decide to listen to this or that song, and then I decide to eat a hamburger and taste those succulent hamburger flavors. And in that sense (here we go again!), we do control our senses. However, if I happened to look over at a red flower, I have no control over the fact that I will experience the color red. The light waves bounce off the flower, hit my retina, and go into my brain and there’s nothing I can do about it. Or, if I happen to be standing outside and a dog barks nearby, I will have no control over whether or not I hear that dog.

With this view, there seems to be something oppressive about the sensory world. It is information flying in and we have no control over it. It surrounds us, assaults us, and overwhelms us. And, indeed, some people are driven insane by sensory input. We can pluck out our eyes, sever our ears, and burn our taste buds off at the root, but I suspect that, even deaf, we will hear the gods laughing as we break open our own skull and eagerly devoured fistfuls of our brain.

I hear Valentine’s Day is coming up.

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