Friday, February 24, 2012

Observation and Perception

 It's a wonder our planet doesn't wobble out of kilter and go careening through space, considering every human being perceives the world and its business differently.

Back in the 1800s, John Godfrey Saxe wrote an insightful poem about six blind men who were eager to know what an Elephant looked like....

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined
Who went to see the Elephant
Though all of them were blind.
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
'God bless me, but the Elephant
Is very like a wall.'

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, 'Ho, what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp,
To me tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear.'

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
'I see,' quote he, 'the Elephant
Is very like a snake.'

The Fourth reached  out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
'What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,' quote he.
'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree.'

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: 'Even the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan.'

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
'I see, quote he, 'the Elephant
Is very like a rope.'

And  so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long.
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.