Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Perceptions of Reality

I just read that a snail’s neurons pick up signals from the outside world so slowly that they literally won’t see events that happen any faster than three seconds. For example, if a snail was looking at an apple and you quickly snatched it with your hand, the sail wouldn’t detect your hand. To the snail, the apple would appear to vanish into thin air.[1]

In comparison to other animals, our nervous systems are also rather slow.

If seeing is believing…
What kinds of things could we be missing?
How do we know that the things we are sensing are REAL?
As a TOK student, how is your perception limited?

Also, consider this:
Atoms are made up of packets of energy, which are invisible with no mass or size. Also, every object is 99.9999% empty space at the atomic level. So at a deeper level, your hand is just invisible vibrations taking place in a void, which go in and out of existence millions of times per second.

How does this alter your view of reality?


[1] Deepak, Chopra. How to Know God. New York: Harmony Books Inc., 2000.


Mr. Pseudonym said...

It really doesn't.
Due to (over)use of the Pragmatic Theory of Knowledge I can say that that is, in fact, not the case at all. Just because some people may say that those things are true, they are without proof.

I will believe what I can see. The part about the neurons I know is true. When I see a movie, I don't see the black between the images, because my eyes render the image at the same rate. There might be some animals whose views are different, that really doesn't affect me.

As far as the atoms bit goes. I have never seen an atom. I have seen digital renders of atoms. Some are convincing. Most require as much talent as I have with a computer to produce. Until scientists give me real physical evidence that atoms are in fact just vibrations I have no reason to believe it so,

tsizzinc said...

Senses are just abilities mankind possess to run away from hungry lions. If men kind were born with heat sensing missiles that target those predators and make them prey, we'd all be blind.

Rachel said...

reading this post made my head spin a bit, and wonder about my perception of the world, and how accurate it is (as was intended). But the reason behind the effect is that I do not believe it. Like Wolf said, through the lens of pragmatism, these phenomena don't exist for many humans - all except scientists, who have motivation to believe/adequate evidence. On a surface level in my mind, I accept that atoms exist, since Mrs. Suto's taught me that all last year, and that was the premise I had to accept in order to achieve and A in her class. But I never proved for myself that my hand is "just invisible vibrations taking place in a void" etc. etc. Although I claimed at first to believe all that scientists claim about atoms and the nature of the material they compose, deep inside my mind, I know I really don't. That is why I didn't HL in chemistry - in the class I took as a 10th grader, some of the concepts were just too unbelieveable, though all are backed by years of experimental evidence.

Sierra Tamkun said...

I agree with Wolf and Rachel. It's not pragmatic for me to know about atoms. I don't need to know that to exist, to live, or to be happy. And the ydon't exactly meet the correspondence theory, do they? I believe they exist, because they meet the coherence theory, but that's really it. if you break it down to the atomic level, we are all just vibrations. Does that change the way we live? No, it doesn't, except perhaps to emphasize the idea that when we die, we become energy here on earth. We are vibrating energy, and that energy, when we die, will go back into the planet.

Kacey said...
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Kacey said...

The point of the post was to show how sight could be limited. If you only believe what you can see, you’re missing out on a lot! For example, can you see thoughts, inspiration or creativity? (Other than using PET scans, etc.) No. Not one of the five human senses can detect these things, but does this mean they aren’t real? Just as you don’t see the black between the images in a movie, you don’t see your hand going in and out of existence millions of times per second. Yes, this doesn’t affect the average person because it doesn’t align with correspondence or pragmatic theories – your hand still feels solid.

But with a little imagination, realizing that this reality is not be as concrete as you think – could change your life. It could open up you mind to many possibilities…such as the existence of a God, which is what Chopra was beginning to get at. With that in mind, such reality tricks can seem VERY worthwhile, and align perfectly with the pragmatic theory. They also can meet the correspondence theory, because according to religious accounts, meditation can give off sensations of floating, feeling very small or feeling very big. It can make this reality seem much more virtual or detached.

Broadening our perspectives of reality could be very beneficial. Just as the Native Americans didn’t see the ships, maybe we are creating a reality based only on what makes sense to us. How do we know that each person is seeing the same thing? For example, it can take people a long time to realize they are colorblind, because they have a misunderstanding of what color is. Maybe we are all ‘colorblind’ in a sense, from seeing something really big.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

I get that, in your mind, these facts have a huge impact on your life, and I can accept that, but let me ask you, if you could perceive these minute whispers, in and out of existence would you want to?

Think about a strobe light. Even when set as fast as it can be set it still makes you dizzy, just because you can still see the flicker only slightly. Now imagine that forever. This blink in and out, unending. After a while I wonder whether you would be glad that your perception is so broad or not. Ignorance may very well be bliss, just because of the very physical discomfort this causes.

Notice your point on that first line "[...] how sight could be limited [...]." Could, not is. In my mind, at least, those minute blinks you continue to talk about don't exist. As far as correspondence goes, there is no real proof of these phenomena, so how can I judge it as true based on fact. Even if some scientists believe that that is the case, and have a piece of paper with complicated math proofs showing how that is so, I ask them to show me an image. Once we get down to it, all of these things are theoretical.

To another one of the questions you posed: how do we know if the things we're sensing are real?
My philosophy what is real is only that which can be perceived. To point out your argument on thoughts, creativity, and inspiration. I can still perceive them. I do not limit myself to input from only my eyes, in terms of gaining knowledge. I open myself to sights, smells, sounds, tastes, sensations, and also innate perception from inside my mind. Intuition and all that jazz as well.

Kacey said...

True, a person can perceive thoughts and creativity. You got me there. Yet in my opinion, believing in only what you can perceive is limited, because evidence shows that perception can be effected by assumptions and what you want/don’t want to be true. The Indians not seeing the ships, the placebo effect, false memories, or tasting a food when you think of it, are all great examples of how our beliefs affect our senses. It gets back to whether ‘seeing is believing’ or ‘believing is seeing.’

The strobe light was a good analogy, and sure constantly living with one would probably be irritating at first. However, people can and will adapt to changes in their perception. For example, you can make a pair of glasses that flip the world upside down. At first, it will be very frustrating and confusing to see everything upside down, but after a while your brain will flip the images, and you can live with your new sight. Then, if you take the glasses off, the world would be upside down again (psychologists have done studies on this). Also, think of why people like strobe lights: they give you a feeling of ecstasy and challenge what you know. Experiencing these “minute whispers in and out of existence” would have the same effect.

Of course, broadening your perception is only worthwhile if there is a universal truth behind it. Playing tricks on your senses just to get a few moments of ecstasy is beside the point. Loosing touch with reality and with other people is not worth it, unless the ends justify the means.

Stitches said...

I know im jumping into this kinda late, but o well... i dont think that it changes your perception at all. Yes, it's an interesting fact, and definitely sparks the imagination, but it doesnt change my perception because it doesnt physically affect me. If there was a way to change my nervous system so that was how I actually saw, then yes, it would definitely affect my perception. But as a piece of interesting data, not so much