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32 Senses of Perception

Guy Murchie illustrated his own books. From Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, An Exploration in Science & Philosophy. 1978, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

"A lot of people seem to think there can be none but the five traditional senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. In a way they are right, I suppose, if you assume that only the ones most obvious to humans are to be included. But surely there are more senses in Heaven and Earth than you or I have dreamed of. And I have increasingly had the feeling that the time has come when someone should pioneer into the subject as a whole with a fresh, untrammeled outlook. So, out of more than idle curiosity, I've jotted down a list of all I could think of and it came to 48, not even counting the "stage-in-space sense" previously described. Then, by combining the most closely related ones, I trimmed the number to 32. Of course a lot depends on how one defines a sense, and on arbitrary choices, like whether you decide to lump the sense of warmth and coolness or the sense of dryness and dampness in with the sense of feeling, and whether you want to include the senses (or are they instincts?) that animals, plants and (conceivably) rocks have but most humans evidently don't.

"Here is my list of the principal senses of all creatures:

 

The Radiation Senses

  1. Sight, which, I should think, would include seeing polarized light and seeing without eyes, such as the heliotropism or sun sense of plants.

  2. The sense of awareness of one’s own visibility or invisibility and the consequent competence to advertise or to camouflage via pigmentation control, luminescence, transparency, screening, behavior, etc.

  3. Sensitivity to radiation other than visible light, including radio waves, x-rays, gamma rays, etc., but omitting most of the temperature and electromagnetic senses.

  4. Temperature sense, including ability to insulate, hibernate, estivate, etc. This sense is known to have its own separate nerve networks.

  5. Electromagnetic sense, which includes the ability to generate current (as in the electric eel), awareness of magnetic polarity (possessed by many insects) and a general sensitivity to electromagnetic fields.


  6. The Feeling Senses

  7. Hearing, including sonar and the detection of infra- and ultrasonic frequencies beyond ears.

  8. Awareness of pressure, particularly underground and underwater, as through the lateral line organ of fish, the earth tremor sense of burrowers, the barometric sense, etc.

  9. Feel, particularly touch on the skin and the proprioceptive awareness of intra- and intermuscular motion, tickling, vibration sense (such as the spider feels), cognition of heartbeat, blood circulation, breathing, etc.

  10. The sense of weight and balance.

  11. Space or proximity sense.

  12. Coriolis sense, or awareness of effects of the rotation of the earth.


  13. The Chemical Senses

  14. Smell, with and beyond the nose.

  15. Taste, with and beyond the tongue or mouth.

  16. Appetite, hunger and the urge to hunt, kill or otherwise obtain food.

  17. Humidity sense, including thirst, evaporation control and the acumen to find water or evade a flood.

  18. The Mental Senses

  19. Pain: external, internal, mental or spiritual distress, or any combination of these, including the impulse and capacity to weep.

  20. The sense of fear, the dread of injury or death, of attack by vicious enemies, of suffocation, falling, bleeding, disease and other dangers.

  21. The procreative urge, which includes sex awareness, courting (perhaps involving love), mating, nesting, brooding, parturition, maternity, paternity and raising the young.

  22. The sense of play, sport, humor, pleasure and laughter.

  23. Time sense and, most specifically, the so-called biological clock.

  24. Navigation sense, including the detailed awareness of land- and seascapes, of the positions of sun, moon and stars, of time, of electromagnetic fields, proximity to objects, probably Coriolis and other sensitivities still undefined.

  25. Domineering and territorial sense, including the capacity to repel, intimidate or exploit other creatures by fighting, predation, parasitism, domestication or slavery.

  26. Colonizing sense, including the receptive awareness of one's fellow creatures, of parasites, slaves, hosts, symbionts and congregating with them, sometimes to the degree of being absorbed into a superorganism.

  27. Horticultural sense and the ability to cultivate crops, as is done by ants who grow fungus, or by fungus that farms algae.

  28. Language and articulation sense, used to express feelings and convey information in every medium from the bees' dance to human literature.

  29. Reasoning, including memory and the capacity for logic and science.

  30. Intuition or subconscious deduction.

  31. Esthetic sense, including creativity and appreciation of music, literature, drama, of graphic and other arts.

  32. Psychic capacity, such as foreknowledge, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychokinesis, astral projection and possibly certain animal instincts and plant sensitivities.

  33. Hypnotic power: the capacity to hypnotize other creatures.

  34. Relaxation and sleep, including dreaming, meditation, brainwave awareness and other less-than-conscious states of mind like pupation, which involves cocoon building, metamorphoses and, from some viewpoints, dying.

     

    The Spiritual Sense

  1. Spiritual sense, including conscience, capacity for sublime love, ecstasy, a sense of sin, profound sorrow, sacrifice and, in rare cases, cosmic consciousness."

 

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