Posts Tagged ‘how do we see’

The correct way to describe your eye? It is a light-sensitive organ.

Mmm…Ok. So, what’s the catch?

That’s all it does. Being sensitive to light

It is not a world-sensitive organ.

The eye does not know the difference between ‘wood’ and ‘table’. It just receives light. The eye does not even know which it should see as a whole and which it should see as a part. In other words, when you look at a car, the eye does not know that the wheels, hood, chassis, exhaust pipe, sunroof e.t.c are not separate objects, but are to be seen together as a car.

I am not saying that the eye is useless or it doesn’t exist. The fact is that the eye by itself doesn’t see apples, iPhones and Porsche’s. A small child’s eyes, an ant’s eyes and an elephant’s eyes get the same light as yours does, but you see a Porsche, they do not. In fact, we can’t be sure what they see. They might just be seeing a bunch of hazy dust particles.

Secondly, for us to really start seeing something, the lens in the eye has to focus on something in front of us. It involves us applying some effort on a muscle in the eye, to form a line of sight. Other light falls in our peripheral vision; which means we somehow already choose what we want to see, before we see it.

Still not convinced? Let’s say, you got to work 5 days a week. Each day, you pass by so many people. It’s not the same set of people every day, same place, same time. So, if you are a rational person, you should be seeing everything and everyone as new every day. But you don’t. Why? In fact, if you behaved that way, people might think you are neurotic. Most likely, you don’t even notice all the new people milling around you in the New York subway or on the city street. Why not? Your eyes still see them. It’s because, you choose not to see them (notice them).

So, instead of saying the ‘eye sees’ and the ‘ears hear’ , its more useful to say that all our sense organs are doors through which only their specific objects enter our awareness

‘the eye door receives color’

‘ the nose door receives smells’

‘the tongue door receives flavors’

‘the ear door receives sound’

‘the body door receives touch’

None of them, by themselves,knowwhat it is they are seeing, touching, tasting, smelling or hearing.

Now you may think, “that’s weird. All it needs is the eye and an object for me to see.” Sorry. That by itself cannot help you see. We can give a blank stare to the person talking in front of us, and our mind is elsewhere, probably at home, wondering if we left the lights on. We are blissfully unaware of what the person in front of us is doing, till something catches our attention and makes us focus back on the person in front of us.

So, there is something else going on.

It’s still the world that I see right now

Even as a CCTV camera, the eye is rather poor. It cannot see all frequencies and its sensitivity to color is also not perfect. In fact, bees can see more of the spectrum than we can.

Even the other sense organs have limitations of their own, like the eye does…for example, you can’t sense all sounds through your ear. You can only hear a narrow range of frequencies and over short distances. You can’t generally hear the sound of a fly flapping its wings.

Even light takes time to travel and to reach our eyes. It may be just a brief journey, but it still takes time. So, the image of the person you are seeing right now, is technically from the past, and not the present. When you look up at the starry night sky, you are seeing the past. The light from those stars left millions of years ago and have reached you just now.

So, how do we construct an idea of the world based on inaccurate, incomplete data received from all these sense organs? How can you trust them to show you what the ‘world out there’ really looks like?

See this!

For example, the eye is not a motion-sensitive organ. It is only a light-sensitive organ. So, how do we see things move? When we say ‘a thing is moving’, ask, which sense door receives movement? We cannot find an answer

Movement is not light

Movement is not sound

Movement is not touch

Movement is not taste

Movement is not smell

Yet we see things moving in the ‘real world’.

So, is it the world you see?

Hmm…compared to this, our exploration in the world of atoms was like a walk in the park.

The next time, when you look into your lover’s eyes, you can say “Honey, I love those CCTV cameras”

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