Trusting the senses

I haven’t been able to forget a comment David Abram made during his keynote at a conference I attended in the spring. He said even science, devoted as it is to studying the material world, in practice acts as if the world of the senses is less real than some other, subtler world that can be perceived only through instruments of technology. Someone from the audience asked, even biology?

Even biology studies a world not immediately available to our senses. The sensuous visible world of our flesh-and-blood encounter is taken as secondary, to be explained in reference to some other dimension hidden behind the scenes.

Electron microscopes, Large Hadron Colliders, radio telescopes—the data they disclose often receives more attention than that disclosed by the human senses. As if the senses cannot quite be trusted to give us accurate information about the world.

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