Exploring the senses in history and across cultures.
Constance Classen

“Worlds of Sense” is an historical and cross-cultural study of the senses and the ways in which different cultures “make sense” of the world. In the West we think in terms of visual models such as “world view”. The Ongee of the Andaman Islands live in a world ordered by smell and the Tzotzil of Mexico hold that temperature is the basic force of the cosmos. What different modes of consciousness are created by treating smell or touch as a fundamental way of knowing? How does the sensory order of a culture relate to its social order? Is there a natural order of the senses? By asking such searching questions of different cultures, Constance Classen aims to illustrate that the differences in sensory perception can be striking. “Worlds of Sense” argues that perception cannot be treated as a purely physical act but that the list, hierarchy and ordering of the senses are deeply related to time and culture.