It is mainly through seeing the world that we appraise and understand it.

puppy dog eyes

Seventy percent of the body's sense receptors cluster in the eyes

Though most of us don’t hunt, our eyes are still the great monopolists of our senses. To taste or touch your enemy or your food, you have to be unnervingly close to it. To smell or hear it, you can risk being further off. But vision can rush through the fields and up the mountains, travel across time, country, and parsecs of outer space, and collect bushel baskets of information as it goes. Animals that hear high frequencies better than we do — bats and dolphins, for instance — seem to see richly with their ears, hearing geographically, but for us the world becomes most densely informative, most luscious, when we take it in through our eyes. It may even be that abstract thinking evolved from our eyes’ elaborate struggle to make sense of what they saw. Seventy percent of the body’s sense receptors cluster in the eyes, and it is mainly through seeing the world that we appraise and understand it. Lovers close their eyes when they kiss because, if they didn’t, there would be too many visual distractions to notice and analyze – the sudden close-up of the loved one’s eyelashes and hair, the wallpaper, the clock face, the dust motes suspended in a shaft of sunlight. Lovers want to do serious touching, and not be disturbed. So they close their eyes as if asking two cherished relatives to leave the room.

by Diane Ackerman (October 7, 1948 – )
from A Natural History of the Senses, 1990, Vision: the beholder’s eye

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