Knowing versus Perceiving Thyself?

People often say they know themselves. Others, are more skeptical to jump to such conclusions. But, what does it mean to know yourself?

Knowing yourself would involve knowing the mechanisms behind your behavior; it would be about the workings of the mind, the internal world, the body and whatever else is associated with our ideas of self.

This might be crudely possible. There are always parts of the mind though that really can’t be put into words, but regardless, what about perception?

If I stare at my dog and my dog stares back at me, what is truly going on? Well, for one and interaction is going on. We each are having an effect on one another. He is watching, or perceiving, me, and I him.

But, neither one of us are perceiving ourselves.

We go around the world observing, our eyes stare out at the world and at ourselves, or at least the parts we can see. My hands primarily are of great importance and usually highly involved in my field of vision, but so are my arms, torso, legs and feet.

But, let us pretend there are no mirrors of reflective surfaces in the world I live in, then what about the rest of my body? I am left to know them solely by touch and their motion.

Our world is becoming increasingly visual, but perception is not just about sight. It is our primary sense we use, but does that mean the others are less worthy of our respect. Moreover, what other worlds or mental, neural representations do these other senses map for us?

So, I guess my question of if we can perceive ourselves can be answered with the most famous answer in psychology, “Well, it depends.” If our definition of perception is visual then, no, we can never truly perceive ourselves. Mirrors don’t really reflect how you actually look and neither do videos, or pictures. There is always something missing from those forms and the forms of you viewed from the eyes of another person.

But, you can perceive yourself through sense of touch, which I would say is our second most used sense.

I’m curious for feedback on ranking our senses. My list would be:

  1. Sight
  2. Touch
  3. Hearing
  4. Taste
  5. Smell

Of course, each person’s answer should vary and there is no right or wrong answer.More interestingly, I am interested if there is some other abilities one might consider a sense, type of sense, or subset of a sense.

Thank you for reading.

2 thoughts on “Knowing versus Perceiving Thyself?

  1. I may be very wrong as it’s very late and I’ve been working all day. I work/study in psychology and neuroscience field, so this question is actually very interesting. Sensation is the actual stimulus picked up by the brain, and perception is the way we interpret the sensation. So we can perceive the world around us, and if we have pattern of the similar perceptions, can’t we say that we know ourselves? Or at least we know the way of our individual mind internalizes our world? But I think we can only partly perceive ourselves. We can touch our skin, so our brain can gather that sensation and create a perception. But like you said, we can’t ever truly see ourselves. Sight is an important sense. Maybe we can only partially perceive ourselves. I don’t know if that helped or even made sense lol. But it’s something to mull over.

    1. Very interesting comment. I really agree on the idea of partially perceiving ourselves and moreover our perception of self is constantly changing. So yes, I think through patterns of similar perceptions we can at least get an idea of self, but it changes and also is subject to our memory. We are always living in the moment that feels the most current and then we project to the future and reflect on the past from the fleeting point called the present. But at each moment in life that I have lived I have always felt my ‘self’ to be at the forefront of my evolution. So, defining self through the lens of yourself would be an impossible task in my opinion. Just stuff to think about. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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