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To what degree are we responsible for manipulating our own consciousness - Essay Example

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Blinders to the World: Limiting Sight's Influence on Human Consciousness Human consciousness structures itself around a fundamental feed-back loop, structured by the world around us even as we affect our engagement with that world through differences in perception or predisposition…
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To what degree are we responsible for manipulating our own consciousness
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"To what degree are we responsible for manipulating our own consciousness"

Download file to see previous pages This essay suggests that changes in that perceptival bias result in different perceptions of the world, different experiences of being, and ultimately a different structure for human consciousness—and that these difference can be, in many ways, better. Too often, we humans tend to believe that sight is a first, most fundamental sense. We map the process of understanding by way of visual metaphors—seeing someone else's point, having in-sight, pushing past old horizons. Even the idea of “understanding” implies standing upright, a practice that helped early humans differentiate themselves from other animals in part because of better sight-lines. This emphasis on sight has both biological and sociological origins, in that philosophy and art have often emphasized the visual over other senses. As Pallasmaa notes, the “invention of perspectival representation made the eye the center point of the perceptual world as well s of the concept of the self” (Pallasmaa 283). And yet, when we are deprived of sight, we do not lose our capacity to think or comprehend. Instead, it turns out the old cliche is true, and that the loss of one sense heightens the others. This is precisely what happened with John Hull, whose loss of sight—his “deep blindness”—was the “prerequisite for the full development, the heightening, of his other senses” (Sacks 507). ...
e “focus” on sight perhaps because it seems most obviously self-reflective; we can see ourselves seeing, a recursive act not with smell or taste or even sound. But our brains do not treat sight as if it is some singular sense, somehow greater or ontologically distinct from the rest of our embodied lives. Instead, “there is increasing evidence from neuroscience for the extraordinarily rich interconnected and interactions of the sensory areas of the brain, and the difficulty, therefore, of saying that anything is purely visual or purely auditory, or purely anything” (Sacks 514). In many ways we might even consider this myth of sight's preeminent value less for what it gives us as conscious being and more as what it takes from us. Whenever bias toward one perspective becomes pronounced enough that it begins to exclude other perspectives, or to limit the capacity to imagine alternatives, then the opportunity cost has become too pronounced. This seems to me to be what is happening with our culture's ocular-centrism; the emphasis on sight and vision encourages certain ways of being that are unfortunate: A culture that seeks to control its citizens is likely to promote the opposite direction of interaction, away from intimate individuality and identification towards a public and distant detachment. A society of surveillance is necessarily a society of the voyeuristic and sadistic eye (Pallasmaa 287). In today's culture in particular, with its readily available mobile cameras, social media, government surveillance, private surveillance, and the erosion of the cultural norm of privacy, it seems almost impossible to take issue with Pallasmaa's assessment: while we gain as a culture from the perspective we gain from our sense of vision, there is a moment wherein that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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