Material Idealism

Synchronicity is in full force and effect. I’ve been on holiday for the past week and a half during which time I’ve read twice over Being You by neuroscientist Anil Seth, who also competently narrates an audio version. I enjoyed it, though it was on one hand too general and on the other hand oddly specific. I expect to summarise it presently.

Meantime, I just watched this interview with Bernardo Kastrup, of whom I’ve only recently become aware, and he makes some of the points Anil makes, but I feel his logical leap to the spiritual realm is a bit premature and wishful thinking on his part—sort of a God of the gaps approach.

Bernardo is the author of Why Materialism Is Boloney.

Russell Brand interviews philosopher and author Bernardo Kastrup

I find his analogy equating human perception and an aeroplane cockpit on instrument control is apt, and I fully agree that humans are limited by their sense organs and limited cognitive faculties. so there exists more than we can measure or even perceive.

I recently read an article about a recent discovery where artificial intelligence identified a new dynamic variable in physics.

It stands to reason that there are a great many things about nature that are flat out not only NOT PERCEIVABLE by us but INCONCEIVABLE by us

Bernardo Kastrup

Aristotle is responsible for the notion that humans are limited to 5 senses, a myth still propagated by education systems. We are all familiar with the five basic senses:

SensePerceptionSensory Organ

Touch limits the scope of the somatosensory system that extends tactile mechanoreception perception with thermoception, which not only perceives the temperature of external objects and environments but includes receptors necessary to regulate internal body temperatures.

SensePerceptionSensory Organ
VestibularEquilibrioceptionInner Ear

Equilibrium or balance is yet another sense.

Perhaps it’s that vestibular sensation feels different to the rest, and so it gets marginalised.

Apart from the senses in and of themselves, we know that different life forms with analogous sense receptors perceive the world with different levels of acuity and resolution as well as range.

Dogs hear sounds at higher frequencies. Whales hear lower frequencies.

Birds see at a faster ‘frame rate’ than humans. In fact, a bird watching a film would not see the contiguous frames as fluid motion but would likely perceive the frames like a flip book progressing too slowly. Their visual acuity is also sharper, effectively giving them a higher DPI resolution. Thankfully, our visual system doesn’t provide a dithered or pixelated representation.

Some animals also ‘see’ images on infrared or ultraviolet frequencies.

Human eyes are front-mounted and provide binocular vision and depth perception. Internal mechanisms give the appearance of a continuous view. In fact, our eyes have a very small focal width, but they flit and flitter to capture snippets that are stitched together to give the impression of a scene. This is a Gestalt consideration.

Side-mounted eyes operate at a different level. For example, a pigeon needs to continually bob its head to render a stereoscopic view. Similarly, internal mechanisms stitch these images into a cogent environment.

And then there are compound eyes. Despite the manner these are depicted in movies, it’s likely that the visual system composites the facets into a single view.

Where humans can sense depth, distance, and direction with their eyes and ears, sharks can sense direction with their ‘nose’s.

Whilst humans have some ‘awareness’ of pheromones, this awareness is heightened in other animals via vomeronasal organ perception.

The notion of time is another perception, but we don’t even have a decent definition or understanding of time, so we’ve got a while before we figure this one out.

In addition to these human faculties, we understand that animals have others we had discovered.

SensePerceptionExample Species
MagnetoceptionMagnetic fieldsbirds, cattle, bacteria
EcholocationSpatialbats, cetaceans
ElectroceptionElectric fieldsfish
HygroreceptionMoisture levelsinsects

The addition of these other senses is borderline trivial insomuch as they each sense known phenomena. The question is whether some animals sense phenomena yet unknown.

I had more I wanted to say, but my time was occupied gathering these lists. Perhaps when I return to comment on Being You, I’ll share more.


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