Sunday, March 18, 2012


While reading James Classics in the History of Psychology, a passage really struck me with an interesting thought.  James writes “Are not the sensations which we get from the same object, for example, always the same?  Does not the same piano-key, struck with the same force, make us hear in the same way?  Does not the same grass give us the same feeling of green, the same sky the same feeling of blue, and do we not get the same olfactory sensation no matter how many times we put our nose to the same flask of cologne?” (pg 3).  This passage made me instantly think of deja vu and the weird sensation that you have already experienced something that you have not.  James pervious mentioned that experience happens through sensation and each sensation you have is an experience.  I agree with that statement, but what about deja vu?  When a simple sensation makes me feel like I have already experienced that very experience before.  The last line in the passage I quoted mentioned the smell of a familiar cologne bringing up the same sensation as every time you smell it.  This line struck me in a personal way because I believe that our senses are a huge part of our experiences.  The sensation that strike out senses, like touch, feel or sound, help us to have certain experiences.  For me, there are certain smells and songs that can instantly bring me back to a specific experience or time in my life where those  sensations were a regularity of life.  With that said, I believe that sensations are what help form experiences and deja vu is evidence that sensations contribute largely to experiences.  

1 comment:

  1. Devin, I really like your comparison of the sensations to deja vu, particularly because I think most of us see deja vu as mostly a mental construct and not something entirely legitimate. Because most of us see time in a linear fashion, it's hard to wrap our minds around a moment happening multiple times. Therefore, our memories of sensations are just that-- memories. James casts sensations in a negative light in the sense (Pun!) that we too often use sensations (or perceptions) as a means of proof.