In this blog I’d like to consider how our varieties of perception about the nature of reality and the world in which we live are based on visual analogies, and especially how these visual analogies typically operate below our threshold of conscious awareness as unexamined presuppositions. Differences in metaphysical and epistemological, and even aesthetic and ethical judgments are based upon these ways of seeing or perceiving ourselves in relation to the world.
How do you see the world? I am not asking WHAT you see but HOW you see. What is unconscious, automatic and normative in the way that you see? I’m not asking the question on a physiological level but the psychological and social levels, indeed, on the unspoken metaphysical and epistemological levels as well. Tell me HOW you see the world and I will tell you your operating worldview, that is, what you think is “really going on” and “what’s worth noticing.”
Consider the following questions:
Where do your eyes naturally look in search of what is really real? Do they primarily look up (like the Rational-Mystic Plato) or down (like the Rational-Empiricist Aristotle) in Raphael’s famous painting of the School of Athens?
Do they primarily look behind” or in front of, to the historical past or to the uncharted future)? Or do they alternate between these two?
Do they look “either here for the good or there for the bad,” like dualists, or do they look “first here, then there, and then in between,” like dialectical synthetic thinkers?
Do they primarily look “here, there, and everywhere,” (like the eclectic post-modernists), or do they look at all quadrants and all levels (AQAL) within a methodological integrative pluralism,” (like Ken Wilber and the trans-modernists)? [See my recent blog on the hidden connection between linguistic prepositions and theoretical propositions.]
Here are some more questions to consider: How do we look upon what we see? Do we look primarily with telephoto lens, or which a panoramic lens? Do we tend to go for the intimate close-up or do we prefer to step back to see the big picture? Do we look for the fine details or seek the grand overview?
Do we like to mix things up with the use of the “pan, zoom, sweep,” combining multiple techniques in our optical perception?
Do we prefer to notice the foreground or background, the explicit or tacit dimensions of visual perception? Do we rely upon monocular or binocular vision? Can we see things in three dimensional images, or does everything look flat and two-dimension? What about possible fourth or fifth dimensions of “seeing?” What do we do with the fact that prime reality seems to extend vastly beyond the limits of both our rational minds and five senses, and yet that our reason and senses do seem remarkably “fitted” to the exploration of the natural world?
Do we tend to look at the obvious surface or look for subtle depths? Indeed, do we tend to look for what the visible eye can see through the senses, or do we seek to employ our “third eye” to perceive a deeper reality that is invisible to the senses, and even to our scientific instruments?
And when our eyes look out upon the world, what is behind those eyes as a normative state of mind? What is the condition of our subjectivity and introspection, and how does it influence what and how we see the world that we perceive to be outside? Do we look out upon others and the world with “eyes” of craven fear, bitter jealousy, forlorn sadness, furious rage, agonizing perplexity, astonished wonder, exuberant joy, intellectual curiosity, impish delight or extravagant love?
What “doors of perceptions” have we dared to open? Which have we ignored? Which have we slammed shut in fear of the unknown?
Do our habitual ways of “seeing” the world correlate primarily with “genius type” who persistently seeks an ever larger, more comprehensive and encompassing view of reality; the “normal person” who is accepts the status quo without question; or the “histrionic type” who is constantly overwhelmed by “too much information” and no way to integrate it into any meaningful and coherent vision of reality?
These too are ways of seeing the world. We do not just see with the eyes. We see through the eyes, and what we see through them will depend upon the lenses and filters we wear. The problem is, we often are not aware of these lenses and filters, and of the profound influence they have upon how we interpret and apply our knowledge and experience.
If you answer these questions, I will tell you the hidden “metaphysic” that informs what you see not with but through your eyes.