Thursday, February 13, 2014

An infinity of perceptions

A while ago I posted From time to time the breeze blew open his unbuttoned jacket which contained an anecdote from Thomas Edison about the tendency for people to not pay attention to familiar details.
For example, the average person's brain does not observe a thousandth part of what the eye observes. The average brain simply fails to register the things which come before the eye. It is almost incredible how poor our powers of observation--genuine observation--are.


The eye sees a great many things, but the average brain records very few of them. Indeed, nobody has the slightest conception of how little the brain 'sees' unless it has been highly trained.
I just came across this strikingly similar comment from Gottfried Leibniz.
At every moment there is in us an infinity of perceptions, unaccompanied by awareness or reflection; that is, of alterations in the soul itself, of which we are unaware because the impressions are either too minute or too numerous.
Interesting to see two great minds addressing the same issue across the centuries, one from a quintessentially practical perspective and the other from a philosophical cast.

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