History and Philosophy Of Science | Sense Perception and Observation
X326 | 25100 | Jutta Schickore

Sense Perception and Observation
Monday, Wednesday
9:05 a.m.-10:45 a.m.

Sense Perception and Observation

“My eyes don’t tell lies.” Most people will agree with this
statement. Yet we are also aware that we are sometimes fooled by
visual illusions and that we often tend to see what we wish to see.
So should we really trust our eyes? How reliable are our senses?
Should we believe what images tell us? Such questions arise not only
in everyday contexts but also in scientific practice. Scientific
theories have to rely on perception and observation. But how can we
make sure that our expectations and assumptions do not distort the
data that we obtain? Moreover, many things that scientists
investigate can be observed only with instruments. How can we
guarantee that our instruments do not deceive us? And is scientific
observation different from other forms of sense perception? For
example, is there a difference between artistic appreciation and
scientific observation? In this course, we will explore how past and
present scientists and philosophers have approached these and
related questions. Topics include: The hierarchy of the five senses,
the senses and the intellect, optical instruments and their impact
on scientific practice, optical toys and perceptual illusions, image-
making devices and techniques of visualization in science.

The course will consist of lectures, readings, and discussions.
Students from a variety of backgrounds (including those with little
science background) are welcome.