Sense and Sense-ability

Question from Dante:
I came up with a notion that i have been musing over for months now. It’s an evolutionary notion/question. I will not use it to make any assertions but I would be interested to hear what any sages would have to say and how they would address it. So here goes….

Realism/rationalism is based firmly on a permutation of inputs through our 5 senses, processed through our brains using the tool of what, contemporarily, we agree to be science. In an evolutionary sense, starting with the primordial soup, the first unicellular organisms would have started out with some sort of sense analogous to the tactile or chemical. As we climb the evolutionary tree with time, we find further senses appearing, which did not always exist – till the present time when we are aware of 5 ”top-level” senses which we use to experience our reality. processing their input to produce our rationality.

Here is the ‘punch line’:- Evolution is ongoing. Therefore we have no basis to presume that life on our planet has reached the zenith as far as the development of senses goes. Or do we? Beings on this planet billions of years from now ( it is not irrational to postulate) would have further progressed the sensory perception – 6 senses? maybe 7 I dont know. But I do know it is arrogance to decide that evolution does not progress beyond five, just because that is the limit of our sensory perception at this stage of evolution.

This is my question – is it not true then that our knowledge’/’rationality’/’reality’ even science has to be at least to some degree subjective? At the very worst erroneous? Are we really masters of this universe with the tools we use at this stage of evolution – FIVE SENSES????

Answer by SmartLX:
No, we are hardly masters of the universe, and yes, our senses are highly subjective and very often erroneous. We have far more than five senses now – look up proprioception and chemoreceptors, for instance – but in the future we might develop more of them and improve our existing senses. Regardless, it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot in the universe we currently have no way of sensing or detecting, near and far. Reality goes way beyond that which we’ve seen and recorded.

So why ask this on an atheist site? Most likely because of the possibility that senses we don’t yet have might be able to detect the influence or even the direct presence of a god. Sure, it’s possible that we could discover a god in the future, if we become capable of looking in the right way. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s no substantive evidence for a god available to us right now, and no good reason to believe in anything but the possibility of a god.

3 thoughts on “Sense and Sense-ability”

  1. [This is my question – is it not true then that our knowledge’/’rationality’/’reality’ even science has to be at least to some degree subjective? At the very worst erroneous? Are we really masters of this universe with the tools we use at this stage of evolution – FIVE SENSES????]

    We can accurately measure the speed of light. We discovered that virtual particles pop into and out of existence all the time. We can understand and map magnetism.

    Do we really have just five senses? No. We’ve developed a whole range of tools and devices to collect data on things that are physical bodies cannot possibly pick up. We have created many artificial senses so that we can further our understanding of the world around us.

    I completely agree that there is some subjectivity in everything we experience. No doubt about it. But while we aren’t masters of our universe, we aren’t so far off the mark as to be totally erroneous either. From a common sense point of view, why would we evolve the five senses we do have if they weren’t able (to a fairly accurate degree anyway) to give us the right information about reality? It flies in the face of logic and what we know about natural selection to think our senses would develop in a way that wouldn’t allow us at least some accuracy in perception.

    So while we aren’t perfect, and the input we receive is subjective, we are pretty close to the mark. And we’ve made up for our shortcomings just like the first humans did – we made tools to make up the difference…

    1. I suppose my point would be that at the contemporary stage of evolution, the being is limited even in its notions and concepts of stimuli and phenomena to be experienced, by the extent of sensory development ( and/or technological advancement) at that stage. (Think The Matrix, if you will).

      A two dimesional intelligent being would have its intelligence of its universe limited within the boundaries of two dimesions. It might experience the effect of the third dimension but does not have the notion of a 3rd, so will force whatever experience of the ‘esoteric’ into its 2 dimensional intelligence – which is not necessarily useless or wrong but naive from the point of view of a 3 or 4 dimensional intelligent being.

      1. Indeed Dante, as the book Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott so eloquently explained in 1884. The difference there was that a three-dimensional being chose to make itself known unambiguously to certain two-dimensional characters, who had to concede the existence of the higher dimension. Until that happened, the 2D beings had no reason to think there was anything more than the possibility of a third dimension, let alone speculate on the nature of beings who lived in it.

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