A Place Where The Eye And The Mind Meet
The eye sees in things what it looks for and it looks for what is already in the mind. Motto of The Scientific School of Police, Paris
The quote above explains the intersection of seeing and believing and describes the role of the eye and the mind. Seeing always involves an observer and the observer’s eyes and mind. This blog is to urge readers to be a self-aware observer — paying attention to the way they see things, and why. “Why did I see it that way and why did someone else see it differently?”
The eye sees things and the mind believes things. This is the subjective part of observation. Objectivity is the subject’s delusion that observation can be done without him. Heinz von Foerster. It will take a self-aware observer to understand the complex process of seeing and believing. Seeing and believing cannot be disconnected. Do we see what we believe or do we believe what we see? “Seeing is believing” is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that meant “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. It also became known to mean, “If I see it I will know it is true.” Buckminster Fuller, among others, pointed out the problem with this idiom: Seeing is believing is a blind spot in man’s vision.
Since then, a modern version of the idiom has emerged: “Believing is seeing.” This version suggests that your mind has an influence on what you see. (School of Police quote). Others have explained it as well:
Your beliefs are cause maps that you impose on the world after which you “see” what you have already imposed. Karl Weick
We tend to see more through our thoughts and opinions that through our eyes. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Being a self-aware observer is the “intersection strategy” to overcome this “blind spot” and to notice what your mind has imposed and/or how your thoughts and opinions have influenced. Seeing is done by an observer, and the observer is also a believer. Whatever you see is what YOU see. What you see is not what everyone else sees; and it is not all there is. To be self-aware is to be mindful. Mindfulness is a way of looking into oneself and paying attention to what one is paying attention to and not paying attention to.
Be aware that what you see may not be reality. You see the sum rise and the sun set, but the sun isn’t rising or setting. You see the airplane getting smaller as it flies away, but the airplane isn’t getting smaller. The eye often needs the help of the mind when interpreting what one sees. Your mind may necessarily be interpreting what you see and/or unnecessarily determining what you see.
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. Anais Nin