On The Nature of Physical Senses
When we touch an object – anything – we “feel” it. We are told we are capable of this, that we have five senses. Touch, Smell, Hearing, Sight, Taste. We are told in grade school about sense receptors that “feel” things, olfactory receptors that “smell” things, ocular receptors that “see” things, the hearing receptors that let us “hear”, and taste receptors that allow us to “taste” things. So we believe it. We know it because we grew up thinking that we can do all these things and if we have these capabilities than all that we perceive through them, enable us to form a concept of our world based on these five senses. But are all these senses the only senses we have? Perhaps there are others. Perhaps the others may possibly alter our reality if we knew what they were, if we knew we had them, and if we explored the boundaries that defined their ability to perceive what IT, or THAT is.
We do know that our eyes only have the capacity to see up to certain dimensions of things. We can’t see the sub-atomic particles, we cannot see things that float around in the air that science itself has proved existed, such as microbes, invisible air currents etc. We can smell things, yet the sense of smell in some animals is much more sensitive then ours. When we put food to be discarded in plastic bags so that they don’t smell before we have the opportunity to throw them away, we assume that because the plastic contains the smells for us that will prevent roaches or mice from smelling them too. Yet isn’t that presumptuous of us to think this way, just because we can’t smell things? To conclude that this is true for animals or insects that exist in our reality along side of us? We know dogs have a different range of hearing than us; that they can hear things we cannot. Even taste, is quite dependent on the kinds and amounts of taste receptors our tongues contain. We presume a lot about our reality based on our five senses.
All of this is to propose that if our five senses are proved to be limited than our perception of our reality is also limited by their boundaries. If this is true, isn’t it reasonable to assume that if we could change the boundaries of those senses, our reality would change as well?
Suppose we have other senses. Some people claim to have extra-sensory perception. Is it also reasonable to assert that if we don’t have this perception, that it doesn’t exist for others? Just because we don’t see something, and in this case seeing is defined as “sensing”, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The first task then is to throw out what is acceptable and what is not. It is not reasonable, I propose, to say that since I can’t hear the sounds a dog hears, or the smells another form of life smells, that they don’t exist, simply because I cant smell or hear them. So too, if someone claims to hear voices, it may or may not be a symptom of mental illness, but it may also be a sense that someone has in some way been born with or developed in some unknown way in the course of their own lives that we don’t as yet know. It seems fair to keep an open mind then, about everything that others may see, that we cannot. It seems prudent to be open and see how things develop for ourselves over the course of our own lives. Perhaps we can develop some of the things we see others have that we don’t. Maybe we just need to try. But in order to try, we need to be open to it. If we immediately assert that because we can’t see this or that than it doesn’t exist, then we will be closed to ever developing anything beyond what we think we can develop. How reasonable does that sound? This is not a question of logic. This is a question of being reasonable and of being open to experiences we have not as yet had. It’s about being flexible, keeping the mind open to all things, as opposed to closed down because we don’t “believe” something that we really don’t know anything about, because our particular upbringing has discounted this as beyond our capabilities.
Is it possible that there are “nonphysical” senses? If so, what kind of senses are we talking about? We know that only a small part of our brain capacity is utilized. Could our brains be capable of some other kinds of perceptions? If so, what are those other kinds of senses? It may be reasonable to assert, some would say, that if the five senses were more acutely developed that we could extend them beyond the boundaries that we normally expect now and into some other level that we don’t as yet accept now.
Could we hear things we don’t hear now? Could this be true of the other senses as well? How do we know that some people who claim to have abilities beyond the ones we now know possible are delusional, or in some way lying or exaggerating their experiences? The truth is, although we don’t believe they have that capacity, we don’t really know what they are capable of. Just because we may not have these capabilities doesn’t mean we can conclude that it’s not possible for others to have them. Again, here we need to have an open mind to all possibilities.
A lot of questions are raised here, and admittedly not many clear-cut answers are given. But it’s too soon to answer some of these questions yet. Often, the pursuit of knowledge doesn’t find immediate answers, but rather raises more questions. Answers come when a new level of questioning is attained, then the openness to see the answers comes in its own time.
When other topics are discussed we will come back to the issue of the potential senses other than those that we now normally consider possible.