In my previous post, cckeiser asked me the following question:
Perhaps the best point to begin explaining Perceptionalism is to first explain Perception?”
I decided my response was post worthy. 😉
That is a very good question. Perception is fundamental to the philosophy of perceptionalism. If Perception is not understood, how can any insight be gained?
I think that we limit ourselves by only reinforcing the five senses. In reality, we have seven perceptions. We have visual perception which is our dominant one. The eyes allow us a tremendous amount of observational power. Everything around us is clearly an object or a person which cannot really be questioned. This person, this location, this material is clearly perceivable and therefore exists.
Then you have olfactive perception. A very subtle but very effective observational power into understanding and decoding the universe around you, because you must understand that the raw universe is absolutely full of sensations. While our perceptions allow us to understand the nature of that rawness, it also limits some sensational extremes. Look at a dog, able to detect and follow day old smells. Their perception of smell is much greater than ours. Yet nonetheless that ability to understand odors is a good defense mechanism built into our evolved bodies to prevent possible harm or help if we were living in a world where it became necessary to judge based on smell whether a food item was ok to eat.
Aural perception is only after visual for it’s perceivable power to our understanding of the raw universe. Hearing has allowed us so many advantages. From reacting to the hush of an approaching lion in a sweaty African night to the communication of ideas and memes throughout an ever growing complex web of unique individual entities, sound has been a huge uplift in our journey as a species.
Tactile perception fills our perceivable universe with much of the solidness that we’ve all come to depend on. This window into the raw universe allows us to reaffirm without hesitation the fact of our existence in the universe. We exist and this tactile perception supports us. The act of contact surrounds our world with solidity and also raises the question of what is this barrier between myself and this desk? A collective colony of complex systems working together to bring about your awareness of that desk.
Taste just doesn’t have a good synonym to go with perception. 😉 This doesn’t take away from it’s power as a discerning tool in your understanding of the universe. Food is critical to our survival and at it’s roots was a means to defend (again) against possible sustenance that may be harmful to our existence. Just because it has a positive side effect of making the world delicious doesn’t mean it’s not just as important as the other perceptions.
Mnemonic perception is not included in the senses as it’s not used to filter the raw universe in the moment. The recall of past events, encounters and experiences is fundamental in our evolution as humans. Again with it’s roots as a survival mechanism, mnemonic perception has evolved to allow us to make new connections between moments in our life in order to add to our complexity. The wonderful and terrible thing about memories is that they can be collectively recalled or collectively forgotten. Here also is where some of the limitations our perception begins to show. No two people remember the same exact thing. We all have our unique perception of an event filtered through the jungle of our traditional senses mixed with our concious perception.
As this is the newest of our evolved perceptions, conscious perception is also our most powerful. This is where the discovery of the self lies and is very ephemeral to our biological body. Our body is an evolved tour guide in a raw universe of perceivable sensations; yet it’s the ephemeral perceptions that influence us the greatest in our day to day livelihood and our understanding of the universe. Learning and discovering new things about ourselves and the raw universe around us are what make us complete as human beings. Life and the Universe are profound concepts to ponder, especially when our increasing awareness of the balance of the world clashes with our present day disregard for the impact our existence has on those others entities struggling around us.
This planet that has given birth to our species and allowed us to evolve has become a disposable playpen for our excessive lifestyle. The impact not only on our future generations but the rest of the species living here as well is approaching a ridiculous level of arrogance. Who are we to destroy mother nature around us? What gave us the right to judge, sentance and execute all the other forms of life and our unborn children? But I digress.
Ultimately, what lies at the heart of perception is an observer experiencing it. This is your self. What is the self? What is an observer? Well I guess this is your soul. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
As biological beings, our existence is based off of collective cooperation and competition of less complex systems. All of our cells working together to form organs creating a complex system to coordinate energy in order to house an ever growing interconnected neural network. This biological system then communicates with other systems creating ripples and then waves in the actions and reactions of other systems through a socialogical level. Herein lies the power of the internet as a tool to increase our complexity as a species by spreading ideas faster.
This complexity is I believe at the heart of spirituality. I think that the physical complexity of our brain is almost like a magnet to increased perception. It’s almost as if some perceptual energy is drawn to more complex systems. These are all guesses mind you, and here’s where I start to question myself.
I am a firm believer in science but am complelety unable to think of a way to test any of my theories. The closest thing to an experiment is the whole 21 grams question, that of whether our body loses some weight when we die. If this question is answered positively then that gives us physical proof that there is something there, some weight to a soul. The only problem with this question is that if there is no loss of mass then it doesn’t deny the existence of a soul and close the book on this chapter of human evolution. That question will always exist.
All of this perception adds to our self. Our self is the most important thing in our individual universe. The key to perceptionalism though is the understanding and empathy towards other selfs. They are there, just as solidly in their perceptual world are we are, existing just as us in their individual universes. The leap of faith is believing that helping them through their troubles will end up helping us in ours. That’s the connection that occurs when you have the insanely intricate pattern of connections that is our social existence.
Ultimately, believing in ourselves leads to us believing in others. Every single one of the 6.3 billion individual human beings out there has their own universe to deal with. Most are unpleasant. Some are tolerable. A few are pleasant. Each and every one of us should strive to make surviving in the raw universe for ourselves and the others around us an opportunity for individual growth. While pursuing your own path you can help others if you sense there is a need, and all that working together forms a system of cooperation and competition to acheive another level of existence. We may not even be aware of it implicitly – what does a neuron know of international politics? Despite this fact the ‘lowly’ neuron is an integral part of a more complex and perceptual entity – a human not being but perceiving.