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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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  • S. N.

    • 0
    Feb 21 2012: I belive the percpetion of how others sense the world, is soley of their own. We may share ideas, strikingly similar to another, and yet maintain our own intellectual input/output not 100% same as other. Interesting indeed, and also opens the question of color being a learned behavior as well. Is the color blue a reality? Depth perception on colours based on photoceptors, seems somewhat unrealistic also, when we observe in the terms of "black/light". As mentioned before, when covering the shade of blue with black, blue does not exist. Just as, a pair of drapes, to change the appearance would be to withdraw or apply. A child completely visually imapired at birth, would be an example of attempted teaching to colors through smellng, tasting, touching, or hearing. Again, a child completely vision and hearing impaired at birth, would be an example of attempted teaching of colours through smelling, tasting, and touching. When we observe the way of coulor perception using the example of blind, and deaf, do we not have to also, need to acknowledge "speed" of scent? application of the scent to the taste buds? ect. ect. ect. Optical illusion is huge, as our own body of object has an application of bioelectricity. Thus raising a vast variety of questions of our own depth, and reflections...I would have to say we really cannot know precisely how another percieves, we have ideas only. Awesome question, thank you.

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