Sense Perception Tyler Handin

Tyler Handin

Group: Ben, Hyo, Angela

Date: 01/31/17 - 02/08/17

WOK Badge: Sense Perception

Blindness, Sense Perception, and how it Shapes our Understanding of the World

Journal Entries

Journal Entry #1: January 31

Today I read about sense perception. This topic was extremely fascinating and very eye opening. I learned how our minds like to fill in the gaps for us and jump to conclusions in order to come to certain decision. For example, we looked at many optical illusions which showed us how we assumed things that weren’t actually there. Our minds do this in order to survive.

Journal Entry #2: February 2

Today we are trying to decide what we want to do for our badge project. I was extremely interested in the story about Moby Dick and how it relates to sense perception. His eyes are on opposite sides of his head so his depth perception would be off and his way of looking at the world would vary greatly from how we look at it. Likewise, the statement that Moby Dick would have two backs intrigued me. This is based off the fact that we cannot see our backs because our eyes face the other way. Moby Dick’s eyes are on opposite sides of his head making each opposing side the back. Therefore he has two backs. Furthermore, the optical illusions were very fascinating to me because it really made me think.

Journal Entry #3: February 2

What did I learn today? Today I continued learning about sense perception and the many different uses that come from it. I learned about empiricism which states that everything we know and all the knowledge we gather is due to perceptual experiences. Likewise, I discovered an interesting idea in which Moby Dick was applied. This story relates to Moby Dick and how it relates to sense perception. His eyes are on opposite sides of his head so his depth perception would be off and his way of looking at the world would vary greatly from how we look at it. Likewise, the statement that Moby Dick would have two backs intrigued me. This is based off the fact that we cannot see our backs because our eyes face the other way. Moby Dick’s eyes are on opposite sides of his head making each opposing side the back. Therefore he has two backs.

Journal Entry #4: February 6

Our group has decided to investigate and present on different perspectives that music can bring to someone. Depending on various factors such as the tempo, the key, and so on. We will investigate in great detail about this phenomena. We will likely play music for the class to listen to so they can get a deeper understanding of what we are trying to say.

Journal Entry #5:

Our group has decided to present on the phenomena of synesthesia. The dictionary defines synesthesia as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” The phenomena is rare and it is when one sense such as smell or color is triggered from another sense such as sound. Our idea is to have people in our class try and match colors with descriptions written on notecards that have abstract descriptions. For example, we would have the description of the color black be depressing and lost while red would be hot and vibrant. We chose this topic because the phenomena of synesthesia intrigued us greatly. We can relate synesthesia to sense perception because people who have synesthesia have an altered understanding of the world around them because they relate multiple senses to one specific sense.

Journal Entry #6: February 6

Today I learned about how our understanding of the world can be dramatically shifted based off of our sense perceptions. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard was an eye opening elective reading because it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of sense perception. For someone who is blind their idea of the world is dramatically different than someone who can see. For someone who is blind things like depth and focus do not matter. They focus on things like shape and rely on their other enhanced senses. People who are blind from birth have no idea of the concept of sight. They have learned to lead normal lives with their own sense perception.

Form, distance, size, and shape are meaningless to them and they have a hard time grasping these ideas that we take for granted.

Blind people who undergo cataracts surgery had gained a brand new sense

It’s as if we gained a brand new sense one day. We can’t even imagine what it would feel like because it isn’t part of our sense perception

Example: a doctor would give a blind patient a square object and a round object and the patient would be able to distinguish the two by feeling them as it is what they had been used to. However, after the operation the doctor would place the two objects in front of the patient this time only allowing him to look at the objects. Now he had no idea how to distinguish the two because he had no previous experience with sight. He had never matched the name to the sight.

Example: A patient called lemonade “square” because it pricked his tongue just like how a squares sharp edges pricked his hands when he felt it.

These people who were just given a new sense of sight, the whole thing is pure sensation with no meaning behind what they are seeing. They had lived their entire lives without sight and once they received it they encountered a whole new and confusing world. Their sense perception had been completely shifted and as a result they encountered a whole new understanding of the world.

Journal Entry #7: February 6

After reviewing with Mr Morrison we decided to change our idea. Instead of focusing on the phenomena of synesthesia we thought that using the prospect of being blind would connect better with sense perception. Since synesthesia is a rare condition that combines multiple senses it would be very difficult for us to comprehend it. On the other hand, we are able to grasp and understand being blind better than synesthesia. Therefore we decided to create a video where we will blind Hyo and have him feel multiple objects and try to guess what they are. We decided to do this because we will be able to show how our understanding of the world is altered due to our sense perception. In our case, removing sight dramatically shifts our sense perception because we are no longer able to see the object at hand. We are left to feel, taste, smell, and hear the object. Certain devices such as color, sight, depth, and focus no longer apply since our sight has been compromised. We are left to understand the world with our remaining senses.

Journal Entry #8: February 8

Overall I felt that our project on sense perception was a success. This project was a great way to help me gain a greater understanding of sense perception. By comparing our understanding of the world around us with that of someone who is blind was a great way to provide clarity about sense perception. The way we value and understand our surroundings is very different than that of someone who is blind. Things that we encounter on a daily basis like color and scenery and things that we value and at times take for granted. Whereas for someone who has been blind from birth things like color are impossible to comprehend because it is not part of their sense perception. As a result, their understanding of the world is drastically different than for someone who can see.

Knowledge Questions

To what extent is our understanding of the world shaped by our sense perception?

A: Our sense perception greatly shapes our understanding of the world. If we are lacking a certain sense (such as sight) our sense perception is altered. As a result, the way in which we view and understand the world changes completely. Certain things are impossible to comprehend such as sight for a blind person. Distance becomes altered and scenery becomes an insignificant factor. Values are shifted based on one’s sense perception.

Are any of our perceptions (absolute) reality?

A: Not exactly because our perceptions are based off our senses. If our senses are altered our understanding shifts. Your perception is your reality. Perception is not the same thing as reality and everyone has their own perception of the world making their own reality different than others based off of their sense perception and their experiences with them.

To what extent do you agree with the following claim: “All knowledge begins with sense perception”?

A: I strongly agree with this statement because all primary knowledge comes from experience. Even knowledge that has been passed on initially came from experience using sense perception.

Extension Proposal

I propose to add this resource to the elective reading list because it is extremely valuable and helpful when it comes to understanding the phenomena of synesthesia. It allows for the reader to gain a deeper and more in depth understanding of synesthesia and its condition on humans. It talks about the many types of synesthesia and how it affects a person. Moreover, it brings up how studying synesthesia is very valuable as it could provide answers when it comes to the human consciousness and how we bind all of our senses into a whole. When we are presented with a certain object we can see it, smell it, feel it, hear it, and taste it. When we combine all of these senses we come to a complete understanding of what the object at hand it. People who have synesthesia have additional perceptions that add to the concept of the object. By studying these differences we may discover how we are able to perceive our world. This resource is very valuable when it comes to synesthesia and how it relates to sense perception.

Presentation on Sense Perception

Supplemental Materials

Elective Reading: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Highlighted portions

Supplemental Material

This article was very helpful when it came to understanding sensory perception and how it works. I was able to relate it to our topic because it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the subject which helped me brainstorm.

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