Bergson, Henri - Matter and Memory - The systems of the universe
Type of Spiritual Experience
The existence of synaesthesia serves to prove a number of things.
First, it proves that sensory experience is controlled by functions. Although we have form based equipment to capture the touch, the sight, the sound, the smell or the taste, the processing of it is done via function – so a sort of program that analyses and processes the information for us to make it meaningful.
Secondly it shows that the input from whatever organ or sensory apparatus is involved is turned into the same input ready for processing by the sensory systems. What enters the sensory systems is converted to ‘software’ and is no longer a sensory specific electronic signal.
Thirdly it shows that the sensory functions act in a not dissimilar way to the computer by processing the inputs to produce recognisable outputs. But in synaesthesia the inputs get sent to the wrong function. Thus a sound, for example, produces an image rather than nothing, an image may well produce a recognisable smell or taste. A sound may produce a recognisable touch sensation. And an image may produce a sound.
A description of the experience
Henri Bergson – Matter and Memory
How does it reunite visual extension with tactile extension? All that my vision perceives in space [can be] verified by my touch. Shall we say that the objects are constituted by just the co-operation of sight and touch and that the agreement of the two senses in perception may be explained by the fact that the object perceived is their common product?
But how could there be anything common, in the matter of quality, between an elementary visual sensation and a tactile sensation, since they belong to two different genera?
So we are now obliged to suppose over and above visual sensations, over and above tactile sensations, a certain order which is common to both and which consequently must be independent of either. We may go further; this order is independent of our individual perception, since it is the same for all men, and constitutes a world in which effects are linked with causes in which phenomenon obey laws. We are thus led at last to the hypothesis of an objective order, independent of ourselves;