The Five Senses

1.   Curate an optical illusion and explain how it works (if you can).

I chose this optical illusion because I thought it was particularly interesting. Why does our brain make a green circle rotating around the ring of pink dots? When we are focusing on the center cross, why do the pink dots start to fade away? I’m wondering if it has something to do with how focused we are on the one dot that our peripheral visions start to play tricks on all of us. Unfortunately, the website it was found on did not explain the magic behind this great trick.

2.   Choose one sense and an hour of the day. Record everything you experience through solely the chosen sense.

My allotted time for this section was Sunday morning, January 20th, from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM. The sense I chose to focus on was taste because it’s one of my favorites. Here’s what I tasted:

  • the saltiness of Goldfish
  • the sweet of syrup on waffles
  • the savory of waffles once the syrup is gone
  • the sweet beginning of orange juice
  • the bitter mid-after taste of the juice
  • the indescribable taste of water

3.   Respond to Hilary Lawson’s story about visual agnosia.

After reading this article, I imagined what it would be like for a student at our school to have visual agnosia. With all of the rooms looking so similarly from the outside, it would be almost impossible to find your way. Like the article stated, it would be like a city-dweller wandering around in the forest. All of the trees have the same general shape, but what’s the difference? For John, it is like that in the everyday world. What’s the difference between houses, roads, buildings, etc? These all have the same general shape as each other. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to see something a thousand times and still not be able to understand what it is. But, because John is so smart, he is able to piece together the information he can scrape up to place himself in this large, hectic world to complete one task at a time with tools whose functions are foreign to him.

4.   Which of the three “Theories of Reality” do you most adhere to? Why?

Personally, I believe in phenomenalism. I think that the world affects the people and the people affect the world, but there are still things we aren’t seeing. The world is a vast organism that can survive without the human race but without this world, where would we be? And who’s to say whether what we are seeing is true? Maybe the world is make of black and white but our brains love to see color so we paint a picture ourselves. This could be the source of why people see colors differently. But, I think there are so many possibilities that the human kind should understand that we can’t know everything; some things about our planet will forever remain a mystery.

5.   Give some examples of the way in which our beliefs, cultures, or moods affect the way we see things.

One big differing viewpoint between people is their opposing sides to political matters. For example, one’s political beliefs will affect how they respond to national taxation. Another thing that affects how humans perceive the world is anger vs. happiness. The organization “Seeing Red” really brings this fact to the foreground. What humans are doing is angering environmentalists and making them see the world through a filter of anger. Lastly, one’s religion determines how they perceive certain things in our world. A Jew may see something differently than a Christian who may see something differently than a Hindu.

6.   Regarding Pattie Maes’s TED talk on technology and a “Sixth Sense”, as well as the “Connecting” documentary film, what implications do you foresee for such knowledge or perception enhancers?

These two films are very contradicting. Pattie Maes is showing off this great new technology that would enable a person to use any surface as their personal computer. On the other hand, “Connecting” was showing us the negative effects of the technology we already have. The interviewees described that, although very helpful, things like smart phones are separating people and limiting face-to-face interaction. Our brains are hardwired to look at our phones or look up something we’re unsure about. With Pattie Maes’s technology, the answers would be at your fingertips. If everyone had access to this kind of technology, social interaction would cease leaving everyone to their personal cameras and fingertip caps, searching the web for pointless information. For example, if you met a new person, you would no longer have to initiate a conversation with them to figure out who they are. You could use them as a screen for your digital stalking of them. Personally, I think social interaction works wonders.

7.   Find an example of a logo or advertisement using the design principles of Gestalt. Identify if it involves similarity, dissimilarity, continuation, closure, proximity, or figure and ground.

The figure that I chose to analyze is the symbol for Android systems. What we perceive as a little green robot is really just a group of different shapes acting together to trick our minds. When we see these four different shapes so close together, our mind sees the objects as a unified whole. Android used the idea of proximity to portray a robot without drawing out a detailed mechanism. At the same time, this logo uses another one of Gestalt’s principles. Because all of these shapes are the same color and look somewhat similar (the arms and the legs, rounded sides, etc), our brains see the shapes together. This idea is called similarity because the whole object looks similar to the rest of it.

8.   Curate an article or video discussing any of the five sense perceptions. Try to find at least two knowledge issues or questions. 

Something I have always found intriguing is our perception of color. Why do we see color? Does everyone see color the same way? What if my blue is your green but we both were taught that these different colors are called red and therefore that is our red? So, I decided to watch a video called “How Do We Perceive Color?” In this video, a philosopher named Alva Noe describes different theories of color. Scientists explain that objects appear to be certain colors depending on the wavelengths they refract. On the other hand, most philosophers will tell you that an object’s affect on a person is its color. We associate with the object because of how it looks. But, Noe’s theory, which I agree with, is that color depends on how the object is looked at and the lighting surrounding the object. Light can change something’s color drastically and a leaf can appear to be different colors depending on the angle at which you are looking at it. It all depends. But, in the end, this is one of the oldest philosophical questions in the book that is yet to be answered in full.


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