Call for Resurrection of Teaching Sensation and Perception Courses

Call for Resurrection of Teaching Sensation and Perception Courses

Margaret Lutze

When I started teaching 25 years ago as an adjunct professor at universities in the Chicago area, many Psychology Departments had requirements for students to take Sensation and Perception classes, and I was often asked to teach these classes. Throughout the years, these departments dropped the classes on Sensation and Perception as well as classes dealing with the brain and behavior or biological psychology because the full-time faculty had other interests. Historically, however, Sensation and Perception classes were required courses for a degree in psychology. Indeed, psychology as a discipline began with the study of the senses and how they related to perception.

Perceptions are the basis for our concepts of the material world, and we describe “reality” according to our perceptions, and many have refused to accept the possibility of any reality beyond the material world we perceive. As one of the most exciting developments in science, since the time of Einstein and colleagues, physics has begun to provide us with information that says reality goes far beyond the material world we perceive. We are living in a time when new ideas are continually being presented about time, space, and consciousness.

Here I argue that the loss of an education in Sensation and Perception is a great mistake. Likely, most do not realize how this information is very important in today’s world. It is important to recognize how the new ideas about the universe and reality have taken us beyond the material world of Newtonian physics. Yes, Newtonian physics remains important for building bridges and navigating in our world, but we now know there are laws and relationships that exist beyond Newtonian laws. We now have hints about a reality that is difficult to imagine and suggests a new understanding of consciousness.

The new concepts that are being brought forward by physicists and others are hard to grasp and can also be unsettling. It is hard for people to let go of their grip on a material world as described by Newtonian physics. It can be made easier, however, with knowledge of the limits of sensory systems and how they present us with only “slices” of information about certain energies. Understanding our universe through new physics must be complemented by an understanding of sensation and perception. I, therefore, call for a renewal of interest in educating university students and the general public about sensory systems and perception and how they are limited. There is likely much more to the universe and reality than what we perceive with ordinary consciousness.

Dr. Lutze, was trained in vision science, specifically color vision, at the University of Chicago and received her Ph.D. in 1988. After a few post-doctoral fellowships, she taught classes in biology and psychology at various universities in the Chicago area: Northwestern University, DePaul University, and Loyola University. She retired in 2017, and since then she has had time to reflect on her teaching career and developments in academia over the past 25 years. She became familiar with new physics during the course of her teaching career, where she realized the significance of understanding sensory systems.

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Published on February 21, 2024