Is it touch, sound or sight that is the beginning of knowledge? The objective of this essay is not to draw a set of dogmatic conclusions about the beginning of knowledge. Perhaps, it would be prudent to enumerate a few possibilities regarding the role of sensory perception in the early stages of schematic construction. There are more but let us explore a few. When we enumerate possibilities, we are speculating but within our scope so that we can be spared of speculation for its own sake. With respect to the first events that provide source for a child to absorb from, we can begin by stating that the first stage of learning is probably through instant reaction. At this stage, it would be difficult from our perspective to call this instant reaction as learning, when in fact it is responsible for development. We have either read or heard of stories where infants in the womb receive sensations and these sensations cause a reaction which triggers the starting point of their perception. In these stories, infants grow up under the influence of these sensations and depending on their intensity develop into ‘extreme characters’.
If I were to take up a case study in a particular mythology, a child becomes devoted to the concept of a compassionate being on account of hearing the chanting of the being’s name while in the womb. There is the converse scenario where some anxiety and agitation experienced by the mother causes the infant to develop with angst as the starting point. Without the child’s knowledge, gradually the basis of his/her schema is angst and learning too depends on the conflict the child experiences between the state of the unknown and the object or subject to be known. In the former example, the child may learn under the influence of the concept of a compassionate being. Learning, in this case happens by associating the object/subject to be understood with a mysterious being outside time and space. The inspiration therefore flows not from the world to the child but from the sensation experienced in the womb even without the child’s knowledge. In both the cases, learning happens. It is not as though one is more appropriate than the other. All that can be said is that as long as learning is experienced by the individual concerned there would be a change in behavior or state of mind.
If anxiety is the source of learning than the preference for a medium is also influenced by a certain conflict. If the concept of divinity is the source of learning than the preference for a medium could be influenced by imagery. In angst, the imagery may be absent but learning can happen by negation. This negation can be perceived as confrontational learning. Probably, we can say that this inference drawn from mythologies indicates that a sensation gives rise to an imagery which influences the development of an individual. If the theory is overstated than we do not have to immediately look at the genetic basis of learning preferences. Till date, it has been difficult to predict the learning preference of a child without the pursuit of psychoanalysis. Genetic explanations would be easier to decode by a specialist in Genetics. In any case genetics does not give answers to the nature of experience of an infant in terms of anxiety or tranquility. Only psychoanalysis can. Many children may not learn from physical sensations at all. They may learn more from sight or sound. The basis points to how the individual perceives the world at first sight. This could be the beginning of learning for that individual concerned. Once he/she is aware of the unconscious preference, this will facilitate lasting clarity from then on.