Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

Schmeltz's picture

Dickinson Revisited

As we have been discussing visual perception, I am becoming more and more convinced that our interpretation of Emily Dickinson's poem is correct. However, the presumption that my experience of things is not the actual experience of things, but rather a brain construction, is still a challenging concept for me to accept.  I do not find the explanation to be wrong or insufficient in anyway, it just has raised a lot of questions for me about what actual capabilities and experiences I have, "I" meaning my I-function. I guess I can make it simple for myself and just say the I am my nervous system and nothing more. I guess I could say there is no actual mind, soul, spirit, I-function except that which my brain creates. I guess I could also be less pessimistic and say that while I am my nervous system, I at least have a nervous system that is able to construct an idea of an of me, I, and Tessa. I can look at it as if I have a highly imaginative nervous system, a nervous system "wider than the sky", that is continuously producing complex compositions of the world. However, because I also have this idea of "I" and this idea of mind and soul lurking about in my brain, I become maybe a little bit disappointed that I am all brain. Yes, I am still underwhelmed by the notion that it is all brain even though this notion in a way expands my possibilities and capabilities.  I can do so many things without even thinking about it - without even having an I-function. Without my nervous system taking precedent, there would be no color, no 3D, no visual experience. My compositions, even though they in fact are not reality, are still amazing given the fact that it takes very little effort to create them. I look outside right now. I see blue sky. I can sense that there is wind outside by the way the trees are moving. Pink cherry blossoms. Green grass. People walking around and about. In seconds, I have created a picture outside without stressing or thinking. Just observing. No felt energy expended. Knowing that I am not really seeing what is out there is quite a trip, but I guess it does not make it any less brilliant.

Another question that keeps coming to mind is why do I even need this I-function? It is kind of getting in my way...

Also, in terms of the color, we said that yellow is NOT 550nm of light but rather the activation of 2 cones. It is the result of color mixing and the relative activation of one cone to the other. We said that the color we are experiencing is NOT the result of the wavelength of light, but rather the arbitrary distribution of photo-pigments. But is it not possible that the "color mixing" or distribution occurs in a way that produces a particular wavelength, say 550nm that is perceived as yellow? If 550nm is not yellow, and if wavelengths do not actually correspond to certain colors, why are we taught this idea?  
 

Reply

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
15 + 2 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.