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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 20 2012: Wow. This is all very interesting!

    sensory perceptions, consciousness and subconsciousness, emotions...It's interesting how other factors play into such a question: How can we actually 'feel' another person's perceptions?

    As some have stated, why would it matter- what joy or pain would that give us? And, if we felt anything at all (I doubt we won't) from "knowing exactly" how they felt in direct response to "what we actually felt"-- why should that do anything to us, according to the reality which we currently live all the while "apart" from knowing that possible experience? If we do 'feel' or 'sense' or even display the exact quintessence of their experience- should we say that we are now "them"? Or-- have we then engaged in some form of transcendental embodiment- in which we have or (possibly have) "become" greater than their actual being? such a question (and series of questions apt-to-be following) dictate that this question of the "'possibilities' of inter-subjective perception" is no longer in the realm of biology (as is asked)--- as biology is (if I'm correct)- strictly related to the applicable science of observable knowledge of living organisms. Am I right,

    Now... to answer (or presumably tackle) the first part of this series of seemingly unruly and somewhat meagerly-apt-to-be-justified probabilities (if they are not just questions, that is)- (in part, does it bring pain or joy): if pain or joy is (shall we say- variables of the two most extreme emotions)- why should we search for these extremes just to prove to ourselves the (currently doubtful) chance of our beings being given to another being's sensory perceptions? and for what--- a greater realization of self? is there such a belief, if the axiomatic response is discreetly directed towards the already standardized, and controlled reality that we currently live in?? Thereby, I'm saying, it is all very interesting, but there are other factors which downplay the endeavor.

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