The first steps of a human consciousness as identified and trained in children by the world renowned Dr. Maria Montessori, were designed to explore and master the full range of Man’s perceptual capacity. Her work focused on the subtle differentiation and integration of all facets of each sense, by comprehending the graduations of differing yet similar existents. Her blocks of graduating dimension in length, width, height, weight and shape allowed order to be established by sight and feel, by each sense independently or together. Her bells of graduating tone awakened the mind to the awareness of and differences in, tonal quality. Tactile sensitivity learned by assessing and organizing shapes and textures while voluntarily blindfolded, led into the simplified causal connections of round pegs into round holes. The tying of bows, fastening of buttons, snaps, and zippers transformed fumbling motor skills into practical, graceful motion. Her methods held the implicit truth that differentiationis the key to comprehension, which laid the foundation for sound independent judgment. Bringing sense and order to our perceptual tools is the springboard to an elegant, intellectually and emotionally mature future.
By training the structureof a child’s consciousness, she prepared them for assimilating its future content.We use the four elements of a volitional consciousness—perception, identification, productive action, and reward—to validate and then store this data we then reference, in order to live. As a result, we have developed methods which measure and classify this data, according to the manner in which it was obtained. The first of our abstract creations was language;the second was mathematics.Their derivatives include the conceptual structure of genus and differentia,and the standards of measurement by which we identify and make use of the data received by each sense. Light and sound waves, the chemical compositions determining flavors and aromas, and the facets of touch: texture, pressure, temperature, sensual enjoyment and pain, can all be broken down into compositions and quantities along scales designed to be useful to Man. Such knowledge then leads to the means by which we can observe, measure and classify entities which exist well outside of our perceptual range. Every scientific and industrial instrument of Man is designed to extend the range of our senses, from the perceptual realm into the conceptual realm. We cannot see microorganisms, but with an electron microscope, we can. We can’t grab radio waves from the air for our own enjoyment, but with a receiver, we can. We can’t fight off menacing carnivores with our bare hands, but with the American Bill of Rights, we can.
Taking a few steps deeper can assure us of the proper foundation, as if digging into the Earth to view the roots of a tree. Moving from Dr. Montessori’s mastery of our perceptual ranges into adult conceptualization, we should validate its origin. The answer lies in mathematics and the physiological workings of the human organism—in how we deal with individual existents and groups of existents. If a number of sticks were placed before you, how many could you perceive before having to count? Looking at ///, its no problem. Looking at /////, most could still reproduce the picture with little difficulty. Move to //////, and most minds hesitate, and have to count. But show six as /// ///, and one has no problem grasping it quickly. The reason is the separation, which is the foundation and purpose of conceptualization: to bring information about the world into our perceptual range, so that it may be dealt with efficiently. Five to six units is the limit for most people, myself included, where the mind begins to reduce the complexity of input to manageable levels, along one of two roads: the conceptual and the mathematical.
Remember the scene in Rain Manwhere Dustin Hoffman’s autistic character counts toothpicks in quantities of 48, but cannot comprehend the concept “dollar”? That is an example of a mind whose full range is utilized perceptually, and cannot graduate to the next step of concept-formation. The perceptual faculty of a healthy mind permits only so many elements at once, and begins to condense information by the process of concept-formation, upon reaching that threshold. The creation of language and math is the means to that end.