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Survival of the Synesthesia Gene: Why Do People Hear Colors and Taste Words?

  • David Brang mail,

    dbrang@ucsd.edu

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America

    X
  • V. S. Ramachandran

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America

    X
  • Published: November 22, 2011
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001205

Reader Comments (3)

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Literary, Biblical and Rabbinical Sources on Synaesthesia

Posted by yeruham on 27 Nov 2011 at 11:28 GMT

Some literary sources on synaesthesia, not mentioned in Brang and Ramachandran's bibliography, are:

Leavitt, June O. The Mystical Life of Franz Kafka: Theosophy, Cabala and the Modern Spiritual Revival. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. 147-149 Etc.

Dann, Kevin. Bright Colors Falsely Seen. New Haven: Yale UP, 1998.

Downey, June. “Literary Synaesthesia.” The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 9(1912): 490-498.

The Biblical source, Exodus, XX,14 (in the Hebrew and XX,18 in the King James), should also be of interest. The King James mistakenly translated the word RO'IM (seeing) as "perceived", perhaps because the translators could not accept that the Bible might speak of seeing sounds. But Rabbi Avraham Even Ezra (c.1089-c.1164), commenting on this Biblical verse, explained synaesthesia as possible because "all the senses are connected in one place". Even Ezra was a philosopher, an astronomer and an astrologer. So it might be worthwhile to look for much earlier scientific discussions of synaethesia than are generally recognized.

Very best wishes,

Yeruham (Frank) Leavitt

Senior Lecturer Emeritus
Medical Ethics Centre Faculty of Health Sciences
Ben Gurion University Beer Sheva, Israel
yeruham.l@gmail.com

Competing interests declared: I mention my wife's new book, June O. Leavitt, The Mystical Life of Franz Kafka