My talk will not be a point-by-point refutation of any and all modalities ever nominated as candidates for a human sixth, or seventh, or eighth sense. Rather, I discuss the implications of, and socio-philosophical anxieties surrounding, the explicit endorsement of any sixth sense, or of any set of senses beyond the canonical five. What is it that holds people back from formally affirming other senses? And what are the consequences of such longstanding, often vehement resistance? I address the Western cultural historical (and emotional-logical) grounds for resisting any sixth sense.
Hillel Schwartz is an independent scholar with a PhD from Yale University. He has taught contemporary dance improvisation, early modern European social and cultural history, religious studies, creative writing, and the history of science, medicine, and technology in 5 university departments. As co-founder of Sage Case Management (San Diego), he spent 5 years helping those confronted with urgent, complex medical issues, out of which came Long Days, Last Days: A Down-to-Earth Guide for Those at the Bedside (2013). Also a poet and essayist, he has published in more than 50 journals in 5 countries and collaborated in translations of 5 books by the eminent Korean poets Ko Un and Kim Nam-jo. His own scholarly work includes The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles (1996) and Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (2011). In the fall of 2014 he was the Holtzbrinck Fellow in Cultural History at the American Academy in Berlin, researching changes in the nature, notion, and experience of “emergency” since the late eighteenth century. When this research is concluded, it will result in his 6th full-length book.