Sense perception


Our senses are our primary way of interacting with the world. Long before we have learnt how to use language, or reason, or be anything like in control of our emotions, we are able to make use of our senses. The Oxford English dictionary says…


sense [perception]


noun 1 any of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, by which the body perceives an external stimulus. 2 a feeling that something is the case. 3 (sense of) awareness or appreciation of or sensitivity to: a sense of direction. 4 a sane and practical attitude to situations. 5 reason or purpose; good judgement: there’s no sense in standing in the rain. 6 a meaning of a word or expression or the way in which a word or expression can be interpreted.
verb 1 perceive by a sense or senses. 2 be vaguely aware of. 3 (of a machine or similar device) detect.
— PHRASES come to one’s senses 1 regain consciousness. 2 regain one’s sound judgement. Make sense be intelligible, justifiable, or practicable. Make sense of find meaning or coherence in.
— ORIGIN Latin sensus ‘faculty of feeling, thought, meaning’, from sentire ‘feel’.

It is the first part of this definition that interests us – ‘sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch’ and, ‘external stimulus’. Questions that we need to think about in order to understand sense perception include, how do our senses work? And, to what extent can we trust our senses?

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