Sunday, June 11, 2006

Touch

After yesterday's post I got to think even more about feeling, and the more I do, the more mysterious the TOUCH sense becomes. It seems to be the black sheep of the senses.

For starters all the other senses have specific sense organs and they all take place in the head: sight - eyes, sound - ears, taste - tongue, smell - nose. But touch you can "feel" anywhere. Inside, outside, head, toe. So what is the touch organ? The nerve endings? Where are they located? Even better: Where aren't they located?

When people talk about chosing the last sense to lose (if you were confronted with such a choice), most people would say "Eyesight. Take everything from me but not my vision." But what about touch. I suppose zero touch would equal total paralysis. Now you tell me who is worse off - a blind man, a deaf man, or a paralysed man? In fact, when the prized sense of sight goes, it's touch that comes to the rescue. Think a blind person reading brail or walking down the road touching about with their stick.

I think the reason I'm so focused on touch right now is that touch is the sense that I focus on in my daily meditation sessions. Some people focus on sound. BPG focuses on touch. Feeling the tightness in my head, feeling the pain in my back, feeling the tickle of my breathe.

And which sense defines our humanity most of all? In 100 years time when AI beings are amongst us, which sense will they least be able to emulate? Shit, in a way, machines can already see and hear. But a machine that feels? That seems to me to be the last outpost of humanity. In fact, the day that machines can feel (I mean actually feel, not detect that there is an obstacle in front of them) is the day that humanity is obsolete.

But still the muddled meanings of "feel" persist. What does "getting in touch with your feelings" really mean? Or: "I'm feeling touchy".

Weird.



3 comments:

  1. Touch? There's only one sense and touch is it. Think about that for a bit. :)

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  2. And what about when you have lost your sight or your hearing, at least there will be that comforting touch of someone hugging you and loving you to help you on the road to recovery. Imagine not being able to feel a hug. Awful.

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  3. In the book "the man who mistook his wife for a hat" by oliver sachs there is an example of a woman who did actually lose her sense of touch! To move she had to look at each limb with her eyes and see where it was going! So if you're still interested in touch I would definitely recommend reading it! Plus its a really good book.

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