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How many actual senses

  1. Nov 14, 2003 #1
    How many actual senses do you think we have? Cuz I think of hearing as just very sensitive touch and wonder how we sometimes know how something tastes from its odor or visa-versa...
     
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  3. Nov 15, 2003 #2

    Another God

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    well there are only five actual tastes (Sweat sour etc), and the rest of the tastes we experience are part of the smell sense.

    Personally, I believe the sense of balance should be included.
     
  4. Nov 18, 2003 #3
    But the sense of balance is really just part of the "touch" sense, since a feeling of being inbalanced is just the feeling of the fluid inside a certain compartment in your ears (can't, for the life of me, think of the name) washing up against tiny hairs...this is basically what I've read on the subject.

    Anyway, as to the original question of the thread, Aristotle (at least, I think it was Aristotle ), came up with a lot of generalizations in his writings, and this was one of them. He generalized all of the senses into five basic sets.
     
  5. Nov 20, 2003 #4

    hypnagogue

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    There has been some good discussion on this topic in this thread in Skepticism and Debunking:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7888

    Ironically, SelfAdjoint had this to say in that very thread:

    There are definitely more than 5 modes of perception that could rightfully be called "senses." A quick google search didn't give any definitive answers, but here is a (bit lengthy) excerpt from http://www.informationheadquarters.com/Autism/Sense.shtml:

    I think what we can take from this is that it's a bit arbitrary where we draw the line between senses (ie regarding taste as one sense or four), but nonetheless there are definitely senses that are not accounted for by the typically cited five.

    I don't think it's appropriate to regard equilibrioception (sense of balance) as merely a certain kind of tactile sense, as has been suggested, since if we accept this claim then we should also regard hearing as a kind of tactile sense.
     
  6. Nov 20, 2003 #5
    Does a sense of loss count?
     
  7. Nov 20, 2003 #6
    hypnagogue, thanks for the reference (to the other thread). However, I disagree that these generalizations (and that's what they were supposed to be ITFP) are inadequate. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't proprioception only possible after having first used the senses to get a "feel" for where things are "supposed to be"?

    Others have mentioned the "sense of time", but that is part of the circadian rythm, which is a secretion of hormones, which stimulate our inner sense of feeling, which is one of the five generalizations.
     
  8. Nov 20, 2003 #7
    Do you mean that you've lost count of the senses, or that you've lost sense of counting?
     
  9. Nov 20, 2003 #8

    Another God

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    Maybe he has count'loss sense?
     
  10. Nov 20, 2003 #9

    hypnagogue

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    I'm not sure about that one. Consider someone like an acrobat or an olympic diver, however-- once they are in the air, things move too quickly to rely on vision to get an accurate feel for their bodily orientation in space at any particular time. Any prior stable sense of orientation from the typical 5 senses is almost definitely lost, yet these people have amazing awareness of their orientations in space nonetheless. I think this is good evidence that proprioception should be called a sense in its own right, not something derived from the other 5.
     
  11. Nov 21, 2003 #10
    But these people are professionals, who have honed these abilities through training and constant practice. They, basically, evolved these talents, from having done it wrong so many times. I would say that this is part of what is usually referred to as "muscle memory", and...well...I guess that fits in with the "feeling sense" still, right?
     
  12. Nov 21, 2003 #11

    hypnagogue

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    No doubt that an acrobat must train extensively in order to perform the feats s/he does. But any musician not born with perfect pitch must also train extensively in order to hone in on an accurate sense of pitch. So the fact that acrobats must train to develop their skills does not automatically rule out proprioception as a sense in its own right.

    I'm sure muscle memory plays a part, but I would think that muscle memory only applies to repetitive motions, and cannot account for novel exhibitions of bodily awareness. For instance, if a basketball player makes an incredibly athletic layup around the defense, then s/he almost certainly is not relying completely on muscle memory, since this specific feat has never been performed by him/her before. It makes more sense to assume a dynamic sense of bodily orientation that applies to novel situations, and this is precisely what proprioception is.
     
  13. Nov 25, 2003 #12
    I have to agree Hypnagogue on this topic.

    I play basketball. Certainly there is some sense of muscle memory in the individual actions inherent in any athletic event(bouncing the ball so it doesn't hit your foot and comes back to your hand in a way which you have control over it, jumping and releasing the ball at the correct moment), but there is no muscle memory for a series of improvisations, I'd describe it more closesly as a learned reflex and a subconcious awareness of my body and how it moves. I don't actually think "My defender's hand is coming towards the ball, so i should move the ball to my left hand by bouncing it at an angle so that I will be able to both avoid my defenders hand and go around him while also making it bounce up into my left hand so i can again bounce it at the floor so it will come to the spot my hand will be after I run etc." but merely do it. Infact, often when I complete a series of improvisational actions, I do not even remember what I did, even though I may have never done anything like it before.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2003
  14. Nov 26, 2003 #13
    Oh, indeed not, but it does make proprioception seem like something of an unnecessary addition, doesn't it?

    Hmm...but wouldn't feats very much like this have been performed, thus making the probability of her/his doing it correctly that much higher (though not as high as the probability of doing something that s/he's done hundreds of times before)?

    Maybe...I'm not really sure either way.
     
  15. Nov 26, 2003 #14

    hypnagogue

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    I don't think so. I think human perception is better explained with proprioception. OR doesn't apply as a criterion for judgment of two separate theories if one theory explains things better than the other.

    Possibly, but in sports (especially basketball) you see all sorts of movements that are so novel that it makes more sense to assume a dynamic sense of bodily orientation to explain them than a framework that depends on past sensations being extrapolated into a future scenario where they no longer apply.

    Your standpoint-- as far as muscle memory is concerned-- to me seems somewhat reminiscent of classical behaviorism. But we already know that classical behaviorism cannot explain novel behaviors.
     
  16. Nov 28, 2003 #15
    If it explains it better only after having added the new assumption, then isn't it considered an ad hoc type argument?

    Besides, what would be the "carrier" or (perhaps) organ that produces proprioception.

    True enough. However, you still have the problem of what exactly facilitates proprioception. When you find it, it will probably be assimilated into one of the five main senses anyway :wink:. Seriously, I can't see what it could possibly be that isn't covered by one of - or a combination of - the five main senses.
     
  17. Nov 28, 2003 #16
    Proprioceptors


    I'm not sure you're understanding what proprioception actually is.
    It is an internal sence. It is how you know what position your body and limbs are in even when you're not looking at them.

    The "medium" of proprioception is nerves that terminate in proprioceptors - these might be likened to pain receptors or pressure receptors except they specifically transmit information about position to the brain.

    If your sence of proprioception cut out for some reason it would devestate your life. You would not be able to move any part of your body from one position to another without looking directly at it and doing alot of trial and error fumbling with muscle control. No other sence we have could be taken advantage of to fill in the gap left by the loss of proprioception.

    Oliver Sacks told the story of a woman who lost her sence of proprioception in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. The chapter is called The Disembodied Lady.

    Proprioception is as important as any of the classic five sences. To our great luck it almost never fails, but for the same reason most people live and die not even realizing they have such a sence.

    I believe balance and proprioception are separate sences in their own right and deserve to become number six and seven in the list of sences.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2003
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