Species Specific Realities

Dolphins with their highly developed sonar senses, "see" with sound as well as we see with vision. They experience qualities that most of us know nothing of. (I say "most of us", since some blind people possess an echo location ability that may give rise to perceptual qualities of a somewhat similar, though less-developed, kind.) When a dolphin perceives you with its sonar, it does not perceive a solid body. Its sonar image is more like the ultrasound images commonly used to scan the fetus during pregancy. It can sense the shapes and movements of your internal organs. The beating of your heart, the churning of your stomach and the position of your muscles, are all visible to the dolphin mind. Perhaps this is why they seem to know our feelings. They may be seeing our inner trepidation as clearly as we see the frown on a person's face.

Dogs and dolphins are both fellow mammals. Other species, further removed from us, experience qualities that we know nothing of. Many snakes have organs sensitive to the infra-red range of electro-magnetic spectrum. Bees see into the ultra-violet spectrum, and their eyes are sensitive to the polarization of light; to them the sky looks different in different directions. Sharks, eels and other fish can detect minute changes in electrical fields. The realities that they construct contain qualities totally unknown to human experience.

The set of sensory organs with which we have been endowed only offer us a small window on reality. Much of the information in the physical reality is filtered out, leaving us with a very partial set of data with which to construct our picture of the world. In this respect the thing-in-itself is far more than our experience ever reveals to us. It contains a multitude of features of which we have no awareness whatsoever, and in many instances no concept of either.


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