Can a black-and-white banana remind us to be better listeners?
When people looked at a grayscale photo of a banana, a part of their brains related to perceiving yellow became active, perhaps indicating that prior knowledge of the fruit's color was triggered. For more information about this study, click here, here, here, or here.
The banana research reminded me of some questions asked by Roberto Kaplan, optometrist and author of a book I am reading. He wonders how much of what we see is attributable to us and how much to the objects being seen. He includes a rather startling quote of Alfred North Whitehead, a version of which I now include:
Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent, the nightingale for its song; and the sun for its radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes of self congratulation on the excellence of the human mind. Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colorless ... .Dr. Kaplan adds:
If Dr. Whitehead is correct, and it is my belief that he is, then we must accept the fact that what we think we are seeing most assuredly tells us more about ourselves than it does about the external world.
If we do not know how much of what we see is coming from us and not from outside, perhaps that lack of knowledge should throw us into a place of intellectual humility. With the possibility of a high degree of subjectivity, could that humility lead to a greater and sharper degree of attention to (and mindfulness with) other people to see how they see the world? Particularly those with whom we do not agree?