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Sophie Rand

Student Engineering, The Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science and Art

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Can we ever know how another person "senses" the world?

In my Bioelectricity class this week, we learned about the cells
in our body that help us sense our environment: chemosensors in our
tongue that help us sense taste, for example, the photoreceptors in
our eye that sense light, and the hair cells in our ears that sense
the mechanical vibrations of sound, to name a few.

As a result, I recently revisited my answer to the age-old question of
“how do I know that the blue I see is the same blue you see?” that was
so startling and exciting to most 3rd graders playing baby Kierkegaard
a little bit differently. An answer could be that we just have to
trust that perception is guided by biology and that humans are
biologically identical to within 80% of our biological systems.

This answer, of course, raises new questions: even if you and I may
perceive the same blue, is that blue "real?" Where does sensation
leave off and perception begin, and how may we trust ourselves as we
try to compare them? Can we ever know how another person "senses" the
world? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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    Feb 15 2012: I think you can make an educated guess. You are basically asking the old question of How do you know what somebody is thinking ?
    To 100% certainty you can't. However if you pay attention to people in your everyday life, your family, friends and co-workers, their thoughts, opinions,reactions, etc. become known. In your question of seeing the color blue from one person to the next and using third graders as the example...take them someplace where there are many shades of blue and see what each one gravitates towards.

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