Humans have more than five senses, according to how “sense” is defined. As usual, there is a range of opinion about the subject, so the reader is welcome to plow through the debate elsewhere. But, however many there may be, the brain must coordinate sensory information as perception.
I think that there is an aspect of perception that sets some of us on a special path through reality: the aesthetic conclusion or judgment. For social humans this perception is attached to other people and is experienced as emotion, as connections to family and friends, but emotions are short-lived and fickle. The euphoria lasts but a few seconds and people are stuck trying to regain those feelings of “aesthetically pleasing emotions” by obsessively manipulating their own feelings and the feelings of others. For all but a few relationships, it’s an exercise that is doomed.
If emotions are the aesthetics of life, life will be perpetually dependent on momentary satisfaction, followed by a letdown (change in body chemistry) and the subsequent struggle to regain the external certification of self-worth that comes after social acceptance. Emotions are temporary reactions to the environment, but this doesn’t stop modern social humans from elevating “feeling” to an experience that dominates everyday life. This dependence restricts aesthetic satisfaction to a fleeting experience that lacks continuity; and when emotional connections aren’t there? The artificial “high” supplied by drugs and other addictive behaviors is pursued.
Other animals experience their environments via a wide variety of senses, many of which are entirely alien to humans, and even with technical help, we cannot “see” or “hear” the electro-magnetic spectrum as many animals experience it. Aesthetics may or may not be expressed or experienced in a fish or a bear; we tend to assume that “lower” animals are robotic and lack deep connection to the environment.
Aesthetics may exist as a reference point around which an animal’s behavior is contained; interaction between the bear or bird and its physical environment achieves equilibrium, and allows for rest, recuperation and play.
I think that “aesthetics” has a similar source in humans; awareness of what constitutes equilibrium can be formed or “intuited” – a state of calm, receptivity, a “joining with” nature and one’s surroundings; a letting go of the attempt toimpose behavior on oneself and other human beings. It is commonly believed by social humans that a specific cluster of behavior defines “being human” and can be applied to every human on the planet. Imposing our own warped and egomaniacal conditions on other humans is disastrous, and yet we persist with all our might in remaking the world. What we have managed to do is to create environments that are disordered, unhealthy and out of balance: social environments lack “aesthetics” as the fundamental guide to optimum functioning – nature’s primary aesthetic.
I would have to say that exposure (confinement) in a chaotic or unbalanced environment is the trigger for many of (my) Asperger symptoms. When I was a child, my reactions were unconscious, immediate and inexplicable to other humans. I was told over and over that I ought to love “people” events: crowds of pushing, shoving, loud, incoherent, aggressive beings – with no escape. I was supposed to say things I didn’t mean, to suppress my awful discomfort, to pretend that unlike the bear or tiger, I had no internal sense of my proper boundaries. Only after a lifetime of living with “invasive and alien” social requirements have I come to understand that an intuitive “aesthetic” that is inherent in animal sensation may underlie the conflict.