As discussed in Chapter One, we gather a great deal of information about the world through our senses. Humans, however, do not have to rely only upon their personal senses to gather information about the world. They can also make use of extrasomatic (meaning "out of the body") senses. These extrasomatic senses provide indirect impressions in three different ways: mechanical, associative and vicarious.
Mechanical extrasomatic senses are instruments and machines that can perceive what humans can not. Many kinds of machines have been invented to extend the range of human senses.
To augment vision it is necessary to detect a larger segment of the electromagnetic spectrum than just visible light or increase the resolving power of the lens in the eye. These must then be altered in some fashion to make them visible to the human eye.
The microscope and telescope interpose new lenses between the eye and the object being observed. These lenses expand the resolving power of the eye by refracting the visible light rays. This in effect spreads the light rays. It makes it appear that the too small or the too distant to see are bigger than theywould be to the unaided eye and they thus become visible.
Radio telescopes, X-ray machines and infrared film and nightvision scopes can allow a human to see mechanically or by computer generated views far above and below visible light. A nightvision scope gathers and intensifies ambient light and boosts it to make things visible. Infrared and ultraviolet films and machines alter the electromagnetic frequency of the light and transposes it up or down into the visible range. X-ray machines and telescopes and radio telescopes detect X-rays and radio waves, feed the relative intensities of these waves into computers which then translates them into visible colors that are arbitrarily chosen to represent certain frequencies. Under no circumstances can the output of these machines be considered the actual appearance of what they detect -- they are merely compromises, often arbitrary, made to accomodate the inadequate visual equipment humans have.
Microphones, amplifiers and speakers are used to increase the range of human hearing. Microphones of great delicacy can detect vibrations too slow or too fast for human ears. Amplifiers increase the volume. Frequency converters change the speed of vibration, either speeding them up or slowing them down to the audible range sounds (the conversion is consistent so that the relative pitches remain thesame -- only the absolute pitch is altered).
In addition, there are visual representations of sound produced mechanically. Audiometers, audio digitizers, and oscilloscopes can produce a visual rather than aural record of sounds that can then be analyzed. They will not, however, give you any idea what the actual sound is like.
However, no machine can replace the sense of touch, and the most advanced gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (a machine designed to detect, analyze and identify minute quantities of molecules that humans can smell or taste) is not even close to as sensitive as the human tongue and nose, and the latter has only one-millionth the sensitivity of a bloodhound dog's.
Of course, the above has very little to do
with the average person since the average person does not walk around with
either a radio telescope or a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer. Average
people depend on their own senses to identify what is in the world around them.
In addition, people design instruments and machines to detect what the builders
expect to detect: if the unexpected appears often it is rejected as anomalous,
a flaw in the equipment, or misreading of the data. A prime example of this is
Of course, it is not necessary for the average person to possess or even be aware of the existence of any of the mechanical ways ofgathering information. It is only necessary for the average person to have access to the second or third kind of extrasomatic senses -- associative or vicarious.
The second kind of extrasomatic experience is that which comes from association with others. These indirect impressions start coming in at birth and continue all your life. Association with other people provides you with language, attitudes about life, politics, religion, other people, food; in short, everything that allows you to function in any particular society.
Associative impressions often have the effect of direct impressions, becoming a part of your thinking without conscious thought or manipulation. Can you remember learning your native language? Can you remember studying a foreign language? The former came through associative impression, the latter through vicarious. Yet the former, although obviously not a direct impression (the sounds of the words, yes, but not the syntax or grammar), it nonetheless has the effect of being a direct impression.
Here again there is a problem. Associative impressions depend on with whom you associate. Your indirect impressions about race can depend on whether you associate with the NAACP or the KKK; on politics, Republicans, Democrats, Marxists, Nazis, etc.; on religion, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, fundamentalists, Muslims, Buddists, etc. Nonetheless, unless you were raised in a barrel and fed through the bunghole, associative impressions are impossible to avoid.
Associative input leads to how people behave through a series of steps, starting with emotions. Emotions, loosely defined asfeelings, are the result of peoples' a priori assumptions. A priori assumptions are those conclusions based on theory rather than experience or observation, premises arrived at without examination of evidence. In other words, the belief that something is simply because it is. The basis for a priori assumptions leading to feelings is one's culture and upbringing. Sociologists call it socialization; I call it programming, a more apt term in today's computer age. Programming is the instructions on what to do with information that is input and how the results should be output. In human terms, programming tells you how to regard what comes in through the senses. This includes somatic, mechanical, associative and vicarious input, and how you should react to that input.
The basis of programming is culture and upbringing. Your basic instructions on how to regard the world first come from your family. From birth your mother, father, and siblings consciously or unconsciously tell you what everything around you means in their terms. If they are deeply religious, you will be told that being deeply religious is the way to be. If they are bigots, they will tell you that their prejudices are the correct way to regard other people. They often do not tell you this in words but in their behavior and attitudes which you pick up and, since that is your model of behavior, imitate.
Most people accept such programming unquestioningly since Mother and Father say "that's it". What you receive are your family's a priori assumptions, which they received from their families, etc., until they arrive at you.
Naturally, alterations appear in the programming. If they didn't, humans would still be in caves, eating what doesn't try or at least doesn't succeed in eating them first. People are capable of altering their own programming, although the "if it was good enough for grandpa, it's good enough for me" attitude still exists in many.
Nonetheless, the basic progra mming from birth will often be the one that people accept in most situations. Thus, even the most determined advocate of women's liberation may think a disparaging "women drivers" when he or she gets cut off on the road. The most enlightened non-racist, because a member of the Ku Klux Klan raised him, may react negatively to the approach of a strange black man simply because he is black. When such a person, who has consciously altered his or her programming, reacts as described above, he or she may feel ashamed. That, however, doesn't negate that the reaction did indeed take place.
The family is not the only source of programming, of course. As a person gets older, other influences come into play: school, church, peers, teachers, den mothers, anyone and anything that provides ways of regarding the world and the people in it. Such secondary programming can have less weight than the primary, familial programming. It not only is occasionally contradictory to what the family says, but is also presented intellectually rather than emotionally, with explanations and rationales rather than "because I say so". Nevertheless, secondary programming, given with enough power and/or by a person with parental authority will remain with a child for life.
Programming continues throughout life, as long as theperson is willing to accept new input and attempt to integrate it with old. There are, naturally enough, those people in every generation who refuse to believe that anyone could have a different programming than themselves. They therefore refuse to accept ideas other than those that relate to their own programming. A recent example comes from the 1960s, the era of the hippie and the hardhat, the longhair and the redneck. Neither faction was willing to accept the other's ideas, because neither was programmed to accept the same things as axiomatic about lifestyle, music, patriotism, appearance, or many of the other parts of life and living based on upbringing. Many people, of course, were able to see that what they believed was not necessarily what everyone did or even should believe. They thus mollified if not modified the hatred between varying points of view.
What will often happen with programming is that many people regard their programming as the only right and proper thing to do. For example, in this country, people regard cannibalism as evil and disgusting. However, that is simply because American programming is to think that.
In other societies and cultures, such as
In American society people's programming says that all people have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Since this is the case, it is the American duty to insist upon these "rights" everywhere in the world. This even includes those societies that don't want it. For example, American women have gone to Middle Eastern countries and seen, and in some cases experienced, an attitude about women that says they are to remain in the home or other form of seclusion, must keep their faces covered, are not to wear make-up or dress in clothing that shows their bodies or limbs. In other words, that they are not allowed to be "themselves". The visitors have complained and tried to "liberate" that culture's women so they might enjoy the "benefits" that American women have. However, many of the Arab women that Americans wanted to liberate have complained that they don't want the "benefits" of "liberation". They are happy being superior to men in all that matters to them. Men are stuck with the outside world, working to make money, dealing with feyhdin, talking to people they don't even like. The women stay in the home because they like it there. They cover their faces because it makes them more mysterious and attractive. They don't wear make-up because they wish to look like themselves and not artificial. They don't wear Western clothing because their own clothing is more comfortable. They get education, coddling, courtesy, and a life that they consider quite easy. Why exchange it for the life of a man, with all his worries and need to go out in the world? American women consider Arab women downtrodden; Arab women consider American women overbearing, pushy, interfering and artificial. Again, programming is at the base of the disagreement: American women are programmed to want equality with men and a sense of self. Arab women are programmed to think they are superior and privileged in many ways. They share in the "self" of the man without having to work for it. They don't want to be equal with men as that would entail a lowering of their status. The two views are mutually exclusive; they are also both right.
Whatever the programming says is right is what people believe is right. It is the "belief" from the previous sentence that is next in discussion of emotion. Programming leads to belief: what a person is programmed to believe is what that person believes. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree" was a motto for many of the English public schools. It meant that if the teachers lead the child in the right and proper path, i.e., the glory of the British Empire, the necessity of spreading the Anglican church, the attitude that Kipling called the "White Man's Burden", etc., then the child would spread these ideas as a matter of course because the child believed that such ideas were the "best of all possible worlds". Those children raised by devout Jews, Catholics, Fundamentalists, Buddists, Hindi, etc., believe that being Jewish, Catholic, Fundamentalist, Muslim, Buddist, Hindi, etc., is the only way to believe. Anyone who believes otherwise must be an infidel, pagan, or worse, and must be shunned, ignored, proselytized or even killed.
What leads from a person's beliefs is that person's attitude toward the world and the things in it. If a person was programmed by his Ku Klux Klan father to believe that blacks are an inferior race, then the attitude of that persontoward blacks will be condescending, superior, perhaps patronizing.
Note the word "attitude" above. That is the next level. What someone believes about something influences that person's attitude toward it. When you believe something is bad, your attitude toward it is one of distaste. When you believe something is good your attitude is one of approval. Your attitude leads to the final level. Behavior is the final level.
It is what people do in response to a stimulus, the external manifestation of their attitudes. The emotion of love can result in behavior usually seen only in spaniel dogs. Fear can make you run. Hate can make you kill.
This is what politicians, demigogues, and advertisers try to influence, what people actually do in response to a stimulus. It may be to vote, riot or buy, but behavior is the final goal.
Associative input can take on the force of "universal Truth" to many people. Since it is what they are told is the way things are, then it must be the way things are.
Associative senses are based on the somatic, mechanical and associative senses of the people with whom you associate. It is therefore as suspect as somatic and mechanical senses because it is as subjective.
A third kind of extrasomatic senses are vicarious in nature. Such extrasomatic senses include printed material such as books and newspapers, films, video and audio tapes, and radio and television. With these it is possible to be told or shown what other people have sensed, either directly or indirectly. For example, this bookis an extrasomatic sense for you, the reader. In this book I describe various indirect and direct impressions that I have experienced. In this way you experience them as well, second-hand.
Such sources of information have the built-in drawback of being constructed from the limited senses of the authors. Add the complicating factor of the limited communication media of words and images rather than a direct communication of the sensations experienced and vicarious experience is a mere shadow of the real thing.
Nonetheless, vicarious input has the great advantage of being objective to you, of not being created from your own personal view of what is. It opens up the possible ways of viewing things, including some that quite probably would never occur to you. For this reason vicarious input is deserving of an indepth examination, Chapter 3, NONPERSONAL EXTRASOMATIC INPUT.
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