Jessica Giannone, General Assignment Reporter-
Reflecting on all of the world’s greatest pleasures, whether they come through the senses of sight, sound, scent, touch or taste, if you had to pick just one sense to leave your “indulgences” to, which would you choose? Which second-nature capability, moreover miracle, do you take for granted the most?
When we talk strictly senses, we can say that they are no different from that of a dog. All animals, for that matter, can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. The difference is how those five senses are interpreted. These privileges that are experienced as pleasure (or pain) are a result of our values; our values are a result of our desires.
Is it obvious that I’m taking philosophy this semester? Anyway, we can only appreciate what we know, right? By this I mean a blind person probably values the most, let’s say, his ability to hear. You can’t exactly desire what you don’t know. However, it’s as though we only desire what we don’t have.
You can want what you have of course, but if you didn’t have any senses, which one would you yearn for the most? And would you know how to desire it?
Some pretty crazy questions I admit, but because most of us have all of our senses, it’s hard to imagine life without them, just as it is hard to imagine life with them if we didn’t have them. We are accustomed to defining our lives through our senses, but the same goes for the people who don’t experience them at all.
The point I’m trying to make is, we can’t exactly answer these questions because we wouldn’t know. We know what we have, and although we may “know of” what we don’t have, we don’t know “it.” Moreover, to value one sense over another is like valuing one leg over the other.
To lose a sense is a totally different story. When we think about it, the senses all intertwine. To read is to see, but the words aren’t just images. It’s not like you’re just viewing a sunset. Reading brings along other sensations as well; things that can be associated with memories of other senses. So the senses aren’t one-dimensional.
If I were to sacrifice one sense, I always said I’d pick smell. But when I think about it, if I couldn’t smell, my taste sensations would be different. The body’s “scent mechanism” is the strongest in regards to association with memory, so I guess I could rule that out of the list of sacrifices.
Taste doesn’t seem too significant when you consider life or death. You don’t need to enjoy the food to actually eat it. But again, some of my greatest enjoyment comes in eating food. I must sound like a pig, but c’mon, who could be miserable while they’re eating?
To experience the pleasure in what you feel, it would be completely different if you didn’t know what it looked like (and I don’t just mean in sexual situations). Imagine lying on a beach of soft sand caressing your skin, with your toes barely touching the edge of cool ocean water. Now imagine lying in a pile of ashes from the remains of a burned animal with your toes edging into a puddle of blood (morbid, right?). Ironically, these things would probably feel the same.
Obviously the other senses are already ruled off the list of sacrifices, but do you see the point?
We adapt with what we’re given, and although we can imagine more, what we have is all we can understand. Call it a desire, a value, a privilege, whatever you want. What you appreciate is all subject to interpretation. Just like you can’t long for the pleasure of something you’ve never experienced, it’s hard to label one indulgence as superior to the next.
It’s hard to choose just one sense, not because we are indecisive, but because we can’t imagine otherwise. After all, can you value just one pleasure?