Among the modern philosophers, it was Kant who looked-down upon our sense-organs the most, saying, it give us only ‘impure’ knowledge. It eludes us the vital knowledge of what the objects of our senses ‘in themselves’!
According to Kant, senses just receive random ‘sensations’ from the external world. It is the mind that has been equipped by nature, to translate these sensations into certain sensible ‘categories’, and then into proper ‘perception’ and knowledge. Such processing by mind include adding the spices of ‘time’ and ‘space’( modes of perception) also, to give them status of ‘perception’ and knowledge. He had not offered any sensible explanation, how mind was formed, or the how the SELF of man, the owner of mind was formed.
Above formulations of Kant have so far not encountered any serious objection. Even modern Science has got only some temporary solace from his harsh conclusion, that what science has at her disposal was only a bundle of such ‘impure’ sense knowledge, as the latter has no access to what objects are, in their ‘in-themselves’, original form. But he sanctified science, saying such knowledge is adequate to serve her purposes !
Kant had not specified, whether man can access the ‘things in themselves’ reality about objects in world ever via ‘intuition’ etc. He had not cared even to clearly define what he meant by ‘intuition’.
But one thing we could confidently observe, that by calling sense-information ‘impure’ chiefly on account of their being mere ‘sensations’ at sense-level, he treated ‘senses’ of man as mere ‘openings’ in the body. He claimed that the important aspect of ‘categorizing’ etc. of sense-data takes-place in the ‘mind’, or at brain level, in a further act of belittling the role of senses!
Kant concentrated more on the ‘processing’ aspects of sense-date, instead of understanding their more crucial, existential or metaphysical role. Here one need to abandon the notion that, senses consists only the external pieces in the body, linked to various brain areas for the process of sense-data. It is simple to consider the ‘senses’ as complete and stand-alone systems or organizations, irrespective of their part-wise or component –wise role. Otherwise, we will simply end-up doing a structural-analyzing of ‘sense-organs’, at the cost of ignoring their important, unique role as ‘windows’ towards existence.
Senses as devices or windows through which Nature opens herself
Purpose of this small write-is to present ‘senses’ as the most vital devices for man, with their role in giving different insights on the different qualities or ‘categories’ of existence. No one knows what is ‘existence’ in its totality, except what man is destined to see, hear, smell, touch and taste. It is from these basic qualities revealed by nature through the senses that the rest story about her assumed ‘totality’ has been worked-out by man.
If eyes reveals ‘sight’, ears ‘sound’ and so on…We have no insight to conclude that, the 5 known categories are the exclusive properties or categories in nature, through which she reveals herself to us ! Her colors and qualities could be much beyond what she had opted to share with living beings. The spectrum might be larger; we do not know. It looks sensible to conclude that, her intention was to give a particular experience of LIFE, in her specially chosen, or rather CREATIVELY chosen way.
Here we need not consider these sense-organs as mere openings that create ‘sensations’ into our mind, as once stated above. When we refer to senses, we refer to them as a complete system, that enrich man with continued inputs.
We should also note that, senses are not static devices as Kant hinted; they are dynamic systems, that change its nature of input every moment. They do not remain mere ‘sensation’ announcing- devices to mind, but every new experience adds-up to their receiving and interacting features. It is like them being a new ‘arithmetic-aggregate’ number at every new moment of time, for each person. A rose does not remain a rose that the eyes had seen it for the first time when the eyes see her for 2nd and 3rd time ! For a biologists, she is an altogether different object than for the owner of the rose-garden. Act of sensing, hence is an ever changing dynamic-process. They are the vital interface-devices for universe or existence with man, the input of the senses alters with every new experience of man. Rose might have created unimaginably different sensation in the eyes of our primeval forefathers the jungle !
The danger and risk of manipulated sense-organs that will give totally synthetic inputs to man, and to create them as totally synthetic beings !
Many a times, instead of remaining as virgin openings towards existence, passing her unadulterated signals, the SELF of man often turn themselves into synthetic beings, cutting all ties with Nature. Man even consider her a competitor, with whom he need to wage a war to survive ! ( see blog-post: http://argumentsagainstscientificpositivism.blogspot.in/2016/01/the-initial-motivational-energies.html)
Here, sense-organs get badly manipulated, or corrupted by the suggestions of the external-world and her ideologies and myths, that they no more remain as the nature destined windows for her pure passage of light and insight. Modern world is now aware of people and groups destroying old monuments, hate poetry, songs and beauty, get intentionally trained to bear pain &insult etc. Life has turned altogether a burden and a negative experience for millions today. Instead of senses ruling these men, they have been put under the control of various negative programming.
Mind here acts like a creator of synthetic realities of the stuff she gets from the world. Once trained or habituated, our senses entertain only particular inputs, in ways such past conditioning has set. Reasoning is ultimately as processing from the AVAILABLE, or SUBJECTIVELY chosen premises. It is like keeping one’s eyes and ears fully open and alert. If one chooses to be careless on this account, one might simply stumble and fall, or hit objects in the path.
Light on the above feature of sense organs was flashed here, in-order to show her fragility to succumb to external and internal suggestions and programming. Mind is such a mechanism, that she is helpless but to create REALITIES out of SUPPLIED, or AVAILABLE stuff at her disposal. She is not by herself CRITICAL, or analytical in nature. She is a slave of the whims of the ‘self ‘, her master.
Coming back again to the UNIQUENESS of sense-organs
To add further to the special features of our sense-organs, when we consider the particular range of each of our sense-organ, such as the range of the size of objects our eyes could see, and the range of distance she is able to see, what has been claimed above ( they being unique windows, nature has provided to man to revel herself in pre-destined manner) gains more relevance. Think of our eyes with sight-range to see microbes too ? Could we have been able to breath air or drink water if we were able to see all the microbes in air and water ? No. It might have been simply repulsive for us ! Normal life would have been difficult !
Similarly, if we could see all galaxies and beyond with our naked eyes ? Could our lives have been same if had such distant-vision ? Think on similar terms with ears; if ears were able to hear ultra-sonic signals too, could we rest for a moment in silence ? Silence for us is a state where we are not able to hear much noise. But if ears were equipped with ultra-sonic range, our life would have been unimaginably different !
Exactly similar is the case with all other sense-organs too, whether it is tongue, skin or nose.
The confusion about the processing part of sense-data
It is difficult to counter the stand of Kant that, there exists an organization within mind that ‘categorize’ the sense data into certain sensible divisions. But, it is more sensible to reduce them to just TWO categories, ie,, SELF and OTHER. Or in other words, what originated first in the mind of man was his consciousness about himself. Then he started observing everything else as outside him, in the category of ‘external’, or the ‘other’. It is this ‘self’ that gives ‘sense’ in its own way to other objects in the vicinity. More on this proposition is there at: http://anatomyofrealities.blogspot.in/2013/08/thinking-understanding-it-as-internal.html
So, mind, instead of processing sense-data into ‘perception and knowledge’ as thought by Kant, it is more sensible to say that, man’s self ‘receives’ sense-data, and assimilate them as per its special and unique needs and preferences. Conversion of them into perception and then knowledge has no uniformity, as it differ from person to person, and time period to time period in history, depending upon the knowledge status among men in world.
Does man has a 6th sense-organ, an all controlling one?
There might be some law, or inherent ‘category’ organization as to how self processes its all external objects. But, for this purpose, each species of living organism seems to have bestowed with another SENSE-ORGAN, which is internal, in-order to ORGANIZE its respective other sense-inputs per its biological and even spiritual needs !
This post wishes to propose here that, our familiar ‘faculty of Reason’ is this mystery ‘sense-organ’, that does the said job. According to the Nature bestowed biological or spiritual destiny of each species, this mystery ‘sense-organ’ exhibit very different faculties for different species.
The concept of the 6th sense of man is popular. But, its mystery might end here, when we learn about it, and its not yet comprehended role-range. After this exercise of learning all about our ‘faculty of Reason, we might say with confidence that, yes, indeed we always had a 6th sense !
Here, one important feature of man’s sense-organs, not yet in the popular awareness of man, is their certain inherent PREDILECTIONS; let us first observe those of our eyes. Though eyes see external objects, it also exhibit an inherent pre-liking for beauty, order or symmetry than chaos, &disorder.
Similar pre-liking and aversions are evident for Nose also. It has a pre-liking for fragrance than odor. It wishes to keep distance from objects and places of odor. Similarly, ears like melodies than cacophony. Disorderly sounds make us discomfort. Tongue’s famous pre-liking for sweet taste makes it a best example for what has been above proposed. Universally, some tastes are not palatable to human-tongue.
This knowledge about ‘pre-liking’ or predilections of sense-organs will be complete when we observe such predilections of this newly proposed 6th sense, our faculty of Reason. As this is a very special theme, deserving to be treated in a complete Book, this author has done it, by publishing an E-book titled, “ Is reason a sense-organ? A super-mind above the known-mind?’ at Amazon.com; it’s Amazon.com link is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008NOEE9I
Same theme is available at the blogger page too, presented in a different style, at link: http://philosopherskorner.blogspot.in/
Nature has made some sense organs in some species more powerful and special is common-knowledge; Eg. the famous extra-special smell-detection ability of Dogs!
We know that,some animal species are blessed with extra-ordinary night-vision!
Similarly, the sense-faculty of Reason is much advanced in man, than that of any other animal species ! It was this extra ordinary faculty that made man capable of developing his art of Logic, a discipline that instill ‘sense’ into whatever he think, act and verbally express. It insists that, whatever one presents afresh must be related to something already known to all, or at least both parties in the discussion/debate. Whether the relation, or order/consistency now being attributed to the ‘universal’ ( the already known or established fact ) in question is true or false, a quality that only a ‘sense-organ’ can detect, is what our ‘sense-organ’ of Reason always performs !
As well explained in the above referred book, as well in the blog-post, this unique sense-organ of man is capable of arriving at ‘self-evident’ ( in the plan of nature) axioms too, at many instances. For example, how the American Revolution leaders inferred that,
of man is ‘inalienable’ and ‘self-evident’ in Nature? No sensible man could
refute such axioms. Similarly, Science has a lingering sense that, they still
lack a ‘unified theory’ on all energy forms. Another example is, we always
‘sense’ when a logical inconsistency exists in propositions or syllogism. How ?
Though past philosophers and men of mind had attributed it to our ‘understanding’ or ‘intelligence, some vague terms with no one knows what they are, it makes complete sense in understanding our faculty of Reason as an internal ‘sense-organ’. It might be intellectually very demanding to realize this new proposal, but if the mind is open and inquisitive, it will not be tough. There is no better explanation !
Coming back to the chief theme of this discussion, it is evident now that, the role of sense-organs is so special and unique in knowledge acquisition for man. We exclusively depend upon them, for whatever Nature had opted to REVEAL to us. For this reason only perhaps that, the old school of philosophy believed,’ there is nothing in the mind that was not there previously in the senses ‘!
We make sense of the world and her objects by rechecking the veracity of every object by testing with other sense-organs. Something that appear sweet and palatable to the eyes, we taste it with tongue, to confirm the truth of what eyes observed first. What is seen and heard, we often touch to make sure that ‘eyes were not cheating’ us !
We give more deeper order to the world by applying our sense-organ of Reason, by checking whether what is present now could be logically connected to something already found as TRUE in the past, or elsewhere, or to the natural, self-evident plane of ideas that she seems to have access to.
This new role of Reason, totally different from that of the great man Kant, might be new to the world, not heard before. But why worry; check within each one’s inner-sense organ, as to what is more sensible, and what appeal more strongly to our sense of Reason ?
Man, it seems, destined to seek out spiritual truths about existence too, unlike any animal species. Hence, man constantly suffer from the pangs for knowing or seeking out truth ! It was this pangs that helped us to create Science. In future, the same urge of Reason will land us at the ultimate goal of Nature, making us aware of the extra-physical aspects of existence !!!
It is hence doubtless that, man’s primary and almost exclusive source of knowledge is our sense –organs. Russell said, whatever before our sense-organs are ‘atomic’ propositions ( Eg. ‘this horse is red’, etc) needing no syllogism to prove its truth.. Our ultimate check of truth and exactness is our sense-organs.
Mind can create synthetic realities, but not our sense-organs, if we allow them to be unaffected by our self-programming, willful or sub-conscious. It might be with the awareness about mind’s synthetic reality making habit , that learned sages advised man to live ‘mind-less’ or ‘without mind’, or without judgment, so that one could live receiving virgin inputs from mother nature/Existence !
One final point !
At a close look, a serious observer will find that, Truth, what ever kind it is,a scientific or otherwise, is basically EXPERIENCED by man ! Means, truth of every kind is some or other kind of ORDER. Such state of 'order' is fundamentally an abstract 'quality' of category in existence, hence could only be 'SENSED' by a particular sense-organ ! We find our well proven scientific theories exact; how many times we repeat the experiment, the result would be same. You do the experiment or I do it, the result would be same. But the crux of the matter, ie. when we say ORDER, or CONSISTENCY, we simply EXPERIENCE it, like we experience the truth of a tree before our eyes !
In other words, this EXPERIENCING aspect was VITAL in every scientific invention and discovery, but we falsely thought, it in some other way. Probably, when such a theory is observable by more than one person, we denoted it as an OBJECTIVE reality,meaning, it is not a private and subjective experience of one person, but a public reality, common to one and all ! In other words, what transformed, or attained the status of PUBLIC-REALITY, or objective reality was the 'SHAREABLE' factor of a private experience, without disturbing or violating the more fundamental fact that, man can only privately 'experience'every event of truth or ORDER ! It is like, what one experience ( after seeing by eyes) as a tree, when every other person also have the same experience, that is being a common object of one of our sense-organs, we named them as 'objective-reality'.
And, every such objective reality is, primarily and fundamentally a direct 'experience' for each person/each observer, by the work of some or other SENSE-ORGAN of man !
In still some other words, man does not, or can not have any experience other than and out side a SENSE-EXPERIENCE!
It might look odd, and even disturbing to our otherwise trained intelligence, but it is time for a thorough rethink, and paradigm shift ! Our theory of knowledge is in need of a total revamp. Role of sense-organs in the act, a total re-look too..
Authored by Voice of Philosophy,
( Abraham J. Palakudy, an independent, mind, Reason, polity and meta-physics knowledge seeker and researcher)