Sense of Taste

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

Sense of taste
The tongue is the organ of taste. In order to taste something, you must actually put it in your mouth. In addition, the substance must be dissolved
in water or saliva, as you can only taste liquids or soluble solids.
The observation of taste is made up of two components, the actual taste of
something and its smell. When something is in your mouth, its smell enters
your nose. When you put something in your mouth, its smell can change as
new scent particles are released. Actual taste is limited to four possibilities:
sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. If you hold your nose and put something in
your mouth, you will only be able to distinguish these four tastes. There would be no olfactory observations. If you couldn’t smell, all jams would taste the same: sugary and sweet.
The four tastes are perceived by the tongue which has four zones, one for each taste. The sweet zone is on the tip of your tongue, so you will
perceive this taste first. The receptors for sour and salty are on the sides of the tongue, and bitter is tasted at the back edge of the tongue. You cannot bear very strong tastes: with the exception of sweet, too much of any
taste quickly becomes an unpleasant experience. Children have the greatest difficulty learning to appreciate bitter foods, as bitterness is the quickest to taste bad. Even as adults, we can tolerate only a little bitterness. Sour things are often perceived as being refreshing, while salt is rarely perceived but draws out the full palate of tastes. For example, an unsalted boiled egg
has little taste, but once you sprinkle some salt on it, it tastes just like an egg should.
Our judgment of food, and whether or not it is healthy, is determined in part by taste. You can taste whether something is good for you or not, and you also know very well if you are taking that extra bite because you’re still hungry or because you don’t want to offend the cook. You can strengthen your emotive judgment by focusing your attention on how something tastes.

Exercises
Taste different foods, first while you are holding your nose and then without holding your nose. What observations can you make?
Make liquid solutions for each of the tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. You can make a bitter solution by steeping used coffee grounds in water. Brush each taste in turn on different parts of someone’s tongue. Do not let the subject know which taste is being brushed onto the tongue. Ask
the subject to describe his observations, and what he tastes.
Hold your nose and close your eyes, and ask someone to put something in your mouth. Do not move your tongue. Try to find out what it is. First, only rely on your sense of taste. Then feel it by rolling it around in your mouth. Then stop holding your nose so you can smell. Describe the differences in
your observations. At what point could you guess what was in your mouth?

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Sense of Smell

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

You smell things with your nose. Each time you breathe in, new scent
particles brush past the nasal mucosa deep inside your nose. The nasal
mucosa is connected directly with your brain by a short nerve so that you
perceive scents almost immediately. It is so fast that you can be taken by
surprise when you suddenly smell something. You cannot block out scents
without holding your breath, which you can never do for long. When you
have been exposed to a scent for a while, you stop noticing it, nor will you
notice a gradual strengthening of the scent. You only notice it if you go
away from it for a while and then come back to it. In that case, you will probably be amazed that you did not notice it before.
This can be illustrated by the following example. Once, my team and I had to clean the small intestines of a cow. In this procedure, the intestinal contents are slowly pushed out of the intestines. Even as the volume of drained intestinal content — and thus the smell — increased, we were hardly aware of the stench in which we were working. At some point we went for a tea break and only then, in the clean air did we notice the awful smell on our hands and clothing. When we went back to work, the stench was almost unbearable, but after a few minutes, we were again oblivious to it. It is possible for a strong smell to cause nausea. In that case, you remain focused on the smell and continue to perceive it.
Since you have to keep breathing, you cannot help but perceive scents. There is no way to block them out. You perceive scent immediately and classify it as distasteful or tasteful, pleasant or unpleasant, vile or attractive. Scent strongly influences your judgment. Your experience tells you that bad things or things that you dislike always smell. Volcanoes, rotting food and toxic substances all
have a foul smell. Natural substances that are good for you are not perceived as smelling bad.
In this way, your sense of smell forms one of the foundations of your moral judgment. Your sense of smell thus helps you to distinguish between good and evil. People can distinguish about 2000 scents, from roses and camomile to the smell of horses, goats, and cows; from milk, wine, cola, and beer to wood, cement, asphalt, and stone, and so on.
You recognize the scent of a fresh spring day or a scorching summer afternoon. You can distinguish the particular smell of a Tuscan village, a peat bog, a book-lined study, or a sick-bay. You can also smell someone’s mood:
someone who is afraid emanates different scent particles than someone who is at ease.
You respond to all these smells, usually without being conscious of it.
Observations of smell differ from other observations of, for example, taste and sound because scents are difficult to categorize and describe. Scents are often described by association: the smell of roses, blueberries, of fresh fruit, of grease. Or people might say: this reminds me of a head of lettuce, or of an
old shoe, or of grandma’s house. Smells can be described by using other observations which are associated with the smell. It is possible to determine the chemical composition of scent, and in many cases, it can be synthesized. Many of our perfumes and artificial scents (often called flavorings) are made
chemically.
Smells can bring back memories suddenly and strongly. You might be walking along a street when a familiar smell suddenly takes you right back to the past, and to the occasion that you smelt it before. For a moment, you are submerged by memories. This often happens without being consciously aware of
having perceived the smell. Scents and smells can affect you more strongly in this way than observations made with other senses. Our sense of smell is quite primitive compared to that of animals. A dog’s sense of smell is a million times
more sensitive than ours. A dog has no trouble smelling the fear of a passer-by and responds directly.
Because of the short reaction time, instinct is closely connected to the sense of smell. An animal’s behavior is thus determined to a large degree by what it smells. If your sense of smell was as good as an animal’s, you would constantly be making strong judgments and be incapable of more objective
observation. Your sensitivity to scents would leave no scope for a personal response, and your thoughts would be more instinctive. As a result, you would be at the mercy of what your sense of smell told you.

Exercises
Select some food and drinks, and describe their scent. When you have finished, take a short break, then smell them again and record any judgments they provoked. Did they arouse any memories? If so, describe them.
Go to a place in the woods, or in a barn or field, and describe what you smell. Which smells do you notice straight away, and which do you only become aware of after some time? What sort of judgments do you make?
Smell the different types of animal feed in a barn. Describe the smells and also describe your first impression of them (tasty, disgusting, etc.). You can do this exercise with other objects, too, such as plants, animals, foods, textiles, detergents, and so on.

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Sense of Balance

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

We use our sense of balance to orient ourselves in the world. Observations
made with this sense let you know what is up and down, left and right, in
front and behind, above and below. The sense of balance perceives the
smallest changes in your vertical position.
Your body has a dynamic equilibrium. You maintain your balance by making
very small adjustments in muscle tension in muscles all over your body.
Every time you stand up you have to rediscover your balance, by using this
sense.
Your organ of balance is not the only organ that you use to maintain your balance. Your eyes are at least as important to orient yourself in your surroundings. Your eyes see vertical and horizontal objects
which confirm the information given by your organ of balance. Try walking in a room where everything is at odd angles. Your balance could be so distorted, that the surface of the water in a bucket (which is in fact always horizontal) would appear to be sloping downhill.
The organ of balance is situated in the petrosal bone and is made up of three semi-circular canals which are perpendicular to each other, and the sacculus and utriculus. The three semi-circular canals are filled with a fluid that moves with every movement of your head, thus registering changes in direction.
Because they are at right angles to each other, they can perceive movement in every direction. The sacculus and utriculus perceive the linear position and linear displacement. In the sacculus, a gel-like substance with a calcule made of calcium-carbonate crystals rests on a horizontal layer of sensory cells.
During vertical acceleration or deceleration, such as in a lift, the sensory cells detect a change in pressure from the calcule. At constant speed, the pressure on the sensory cells is constant, so you do not notice it.
The utriculus also has a calcule, but it is situated against a vertical layer of sensory cells. These cells detect changes in horizontal acceleration, such as when a car accelerates or pulls over. Again, constant speed is not detected.

Together, the three-dimensional planes in the organ of balance cover
all the degrees of movement in the joints. See figure 4: the ankle,
knee, elbows, shoulder and jaws are in the same plane as the organ of
balance.
When you observe other objects, you are using your organ of balance
in different ways. First, to determine the position of the object in the
surroundings, taking the horizon as your orientation. Secondly, to
observe whether something is standing straight up, or leaning, and
whether something is actually horizontal or only seems to be. You can
detect how far something is out of true. Finally, using your organ of
balance you can detect whether something is out of proportion, e.g.
whether the length is in proportion with height.

Exercises
Spin someone around a few times while holding him, and observe his eye movements. Keep holding him after you stop spinning him. What is his balance like after having been spun around? What observations can you make, and what observations did the subject make during and after spinning?
How does he perceive his surroundings?

Do this exercise again with another subject, but this time let the subject go after spinning. What observations can you make now?

Blindfold yourself and then try to balance while standing on one leg. Then do it without a blindfold. What is the difference?
the organ of balance: maxillary joint, shoulder joint, elbow joint, hip joint, wrist joint, knee joint, ankle joint & ear

Find some trees whose trunks rise almost straight up, but not quite. Observe these trees, and determine what would be the ideal position or angle of the tree-trunk. Repeat this exercise with observations of branches. An excellent tree for this exercise is a mature beech whose branches bend down low to the ground. Record the length, height, and girth of various mammals. How do these measurements relate to each other? Can you make any statements about the harmony of these proportions?

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Sense of Movement

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

Sense of Movement or Muscle Sense
The previous two senses observed the body’s boundaries, the body’s internal
state and the space it takes up. The sense of movement, or of muscles,
enables you to perceive your body’s movements and posture. Your body –
limbs, eyes, mouth, tongue, forehead, chest – is never still. All these
movements are perceived, and very accurately, too. You can perceive a
0.038-degree turn of the elbow. Not only do you perceive your movements, but you are also aware of the exact position of your limbs and all the other
moving parts of your body. At any given moment, you know exactly where
your arms and feet are. This is essential information; if you are going to execute a new movement, you have to know where the movement is to begin. You don’t even have to think about this, the sense of movement is always present. The muscle sense is situated in spindle-shaped receptors in the muscles, which measure the degree of tension in the muscle fibres (figure 2) There are similar receptors in the tendons. The bending and
stretching of the limbs are perceived by receptors in the joint tendons and in the surrounding tissue.

Your sense of movement is primarily focused on perceiving your own body, but you often also use it to observe things around you. In observing moving objects, your sense of movement works together with your sense of sight, so that you can see the type of movement taking place and estimate the speed of the moving object. In order to determine the object’s shape, your eyes follow the outline of the object and shift to and from details that attract your attention. Painters use this roving habit of eyes to guide you
through their painting along a chosen course. The movements and shapes are observed by the movement sense in the eye muscles, but the eye itself only observes the colours. You can also perceive the movement of a branch in a tree with your muscle sense, by imitating the movement with your arms. You could also imagine the movement, and imagine how your eyes or arms
would likewise move. This is called sensorial fantasy or muscular imagery, and you can apply it whenever you want to observe and imitate shapes and movements. Think about: the gait of a horse, how a cow or a
pig lies down, the motions of leaves, the arrangement of branches in different trees, and so on.
Movement and feeling are connected. This is evident in our body language: the welcome indicated by open arms, the dismissal expressed by a throw-away wave of the hand, and so on.

Exercises

• Perception of precise movements

Take a piece of paper and a pencil. Close your eyes, or ask someone to blindfold you. Draw a house or a three-master. The first time, draw it as you would normally draw, occasionally lifting your pencil off the paper. Then draw it again, but keep the pencil on the paper all the time. You could also do
this exercise on a blackboard, so that others can observe you as you draw.

• Perception of larger movements

Draw a straight line on the pavement with chalk and then draw a circle about ten metres on. Connect the two with an undulating line. Your drawing should roughly resemble the figure below. One person stands behind the start line and then walks along the undulating course and places a small object in the circle. The subject then goes back to the start line and repeats the exercise
blindfold. You could vary this exercise so that the subject first observes the course from the start line, and then walks it blindfold and places an object in the circle.

• Observing position and movement

Ask someone to blindfold you and to put your arm in a certain position. Describe the exact position of your arm, which muscles are activated and which are not. Then let someone change the position of your arm just slightly. Again, describe the position of your arm and the muscles used, and
describe the changes that you perceive in your arm. Split into two groups. Form rows, facing each other, and put your hands flat against the hands of
the person opposite you. Make circles and other movements with your hands, varying the pressure on the other’s hands. Describe what you feel: the pressure, tension, relaxation and movements.

• Imitation

Describe the motion of a moving organism, either human or animal. What is the motion like, which parts of the organism are moving, could you imitate the movement?
Stand in front of a large object and observe it while someone else observes your eyes. Ask this person to describe your eye movements.

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Sense of Life

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

Sense of Life

The sense of life is the internal sense of your organs and internal life processes. Your life sense tells you that you are full, that you have
indigestion, or that you have to go to the toilet. You do not sense anything
as long as your life processes are all following their normal, harmonious
course. You do not register the life sense until one of the life processes is
disturbed, or when you are ill. Other examples of observations made by your
life sense are stomach-ache, congested nose, or sinusitis. You do not perceive
your organs or life sense unless something is wrong.
Pain is a serious disturbance that is also perceived with the life sense. Your life sense tells you that you have cut your finger, that a muscle hurts or that you bumped your knee on the table leg. Generally, your life sense gives you information about your physical situation, your health, vitality, illness, or pain. The life sense uses the vegetative nervous system, which has connections with all the internal organs. Another type of observation that the life sense can make is the perception of your body as having substance. Your life sense makes you perceive yourself as a physical, material body. If you only had a
sense of touch, you would only be able to feel your body’s boundary, so that your body would feel like an empty shell. Normally speaking, you are not consciously aware of your body or your organs. Your attention is not
drawn inward, and this enables you to focus on the world around you. When you are sick or in considerable pain, you are less attentive to your surroundings. The following anecdote illustrates what might happen if your sense of life isn’t functioning properly. One afternoon, a couple went to visit friends and left their son at home. When they came home, they could
smell scorched flesh and saw their son playing with a candle. He was holding his fingers in the candle’s flame and watching them turning black. He did not feel any pain to warn him that what he was doing was dangerous. This insensitivity is a symptom of leprosy. People with leprosy do not feel pain, so they do not notice when they get cuts or infections, and subsequently do not treat them. The wounds become infected and the infection can penetrate deeply into the body and result in disfigurement. Pain (and your life sense) is a sensory warning system. If you didn’t get a message that your stomach was
full, you would not know when to stop eating. You would not go to the toilet if you couldn’t tell your bladder was full. Pain protects you from further injury. A stab of pain warns you that you are cutting your finger and should stop. If this sense did not function, many safety measures would need to be taken in
order to prevent injury and accidents. Your life sense is directed at the perception of your body; you perceive your life processes with your life
sense. But you can also use your life sense to make external observations, by using it in combination with other senses and empathizing. With practice, you can observe:
• health, vitality, and illness in other people and organisms.
• pain suffered by another person or animal. You can feel the other’s pain when you see something happen because you have felt that pain before yourself. You can feel this pain directly, it doesn’t take much imagination. You must beware, though, of transferring human feelings to plants or animals.
• the space that an object occupies in its surroundings. Is the space it takes up satisfactory, is it filled harmoniously or not?

Exercises
Inner observations using the life sense. Perceive the state of one of your organs (stomach, intestines, lungs, heart). Then drink a few glasses
of water or jog around the block, and repeat the observation. Have you ever felt an organ? For example, your lungs, heart, bladder, spleen, liver, muscles. What did you observe, in which circumstances did you feel the organ?
External observations using the life sense. Health, vitality. Observe the vitality of a tree. How can you determine its vitality: what part does your life sense play? Make an observation of the health of an animal, e.g. a cow. How can you determine its health, what part does your life sense play?
Pain: observe the pain of another person or animal. What do you experience, where do you experience it, what feelings go through you?
Space: observe the space that is filled by an organism (plant, tree, or animal). Is the space filled harmoniously or not?

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Sense of touch

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.

 Sense of touch
Your sense of touch, or tactile sense, is made up of a very fine network of
receptors in your skin, forming your body’s largest sensory system. Because
there are so many sensory nerves, you can feel the lightest touch. The skin is
your body’s shield, and touch makes you aware of your boundaries. Your
sense of touch only gives you the experience of being touched by a ‘thing’.
In order to know what is touching you, the observation needs to be
expanded with your other senses: by looking at what’s touching you, feeling
its structure or its temperature.
The sense of touch is formed by a large number of tactile organs situated just under the surface of the skin between the epidermis and the dermis (figure 1). The tactile organs are simple receptors connected by nerve axons. The receptors sense pressure on the skin and that is how you can feel touch.
There are tactile organs all over the body. The distance between the receptors determines sensitivity, which differs for different parts of your body. Fingers, tongue, lips, nose, and forehead are very sensitive to touch, meaning that these parts have a higher density of tactile organs. Not surprisingly, perhaps, these are all important parts of the body for feeling or touching. Other areas, such as the back or the soles of the feet, have a lower density of tactile receptors and are less sensitive to touch. Observing with twelve senses
It is necessary to use your other senses, such as movement or sense of temperature if you want to know more than simply the fact that something touched you. You can use your sense of movement to explore the object with your hands, to find out its shape, its external structure, and so on. Yet it is still difficult to determine what it might be. Your sight will give you the most information. Your tactile sense delineates your body. It indicates where you end and something else begins.                                                                                    Without the sense of touch, you would not feel this boundary, and you would not know where you stop being. You would literally be boundless and flow into the other. Without a sense of touch, you would have no physical self-awareness.

hair
sweat glands
tactile organs and nerve axons
epidermis
dermis
subcutaneous tissue
veins
sebaceous glands

Exercises
This is an exercise for two people to discover the density of tactile organs on different parts of your body. Take two pins and hold them at a fixed distance from each other. Then press them softly onto a part of the subject’s body (e.g. underarm, hand, finger, fingertip, back, shin). Does the subject feel one or two pricks? Reduce the distance between the pins until two pin-pricks are felt like
one. Repeat this on other parts of the body, such as a fingertip, palm, back of the hand, or leg. Close your eyes and ask someone to give you an object at room temperature. When you first receive it, do not move your hands, try to feel what it is only by using your sense of touch. Then start feeling
it with your hands, describe the object, and try to experience what it is.
One person is blindfolded. Someone she knows stands in front of her, and she must find out who it is by feeling the person’s face.
Ask someone to blindfold you and try to solve a wooden puzzle using only your sense of touch. This exercise demonstrates that touching results in a different perception of sight. Take two trees of different species and examine them visually. Then go to each tree and touch the trunk. Describe the
difference. You could also do this exercise with other objects instead of trees.

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