About Seeing and Observing
“In seeing, you do not observe.” My paraphrase of Holmes’ admonition to Watson hits me right between my blind eyes! I often see and do not observe. Rather, I tend to see what I want to see and feel frustrated as a result. “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest…” (The Boxer, song, Simon & Garfunkel) Confirmation bias at its finest!
What does it mean to see? Vision is a perceptual process involving sensual data and interpretation. Seeing also implies understanding – “I see what you mean…”
What does it mean to observe? Again, two meanings – one is the act of scrutinizing and examining something with intent to understand (“I observed the candle, how it flickered and lit the room…”); the other, to act in obedience (“I observe the local traffic laws.”).
This ambiguity leads me to ask, could Holmes have meant that Watson would understand and yet fail to act upon that knowledge?
Focusing on just one definition for each concept, could seeing as perception and observation as obedience have within them the seeds of understanding my SELF?
Could the knowledge of oneself reside in observation of the person perceiving (“seeing”) – rather than of the laws themselves? I often “see” without observing that I’m seeing – I take my perception for granted. I simply trust my perception as right and that’s that. A means of keeping me firmly within the bubble and away from any real knowledge of SELF.
To see a law is to acknowledge and understand it (“I see that this must be so.”). To observe a law is to obey it (“I observe the law of gravity by falling.”). Could it be that in seeing (acknowledging) I do not observe (obey)?
Who Am I?
When I see and observe, I may open a window onto the Self I seek to know. By acknowledging the laws I subject myself to, and asking questions as to what, how and why I observe those laws as I do, I may find the answer to Apollo’s admonition, Watson’s seeing, and Holmes’ observation – “Who am I?”