Thursday, May 15, 2014
  Is coziness a sense?

Spring is continuing the step-function theme of this year. Cold mornings have held on with remarkable consistency. Morning walks still require a winter coat. But the step toward summer is coming.

Last night, for the first time, my usual blanket combination was too warm. I had to remove one layer ..... and I realized that one layer makes a HUGE difference in coziness. It's almost meaningless in terms of simple weight; the extra layer weighs maybe 1 pound over my surface, so it's a difference of .002 PSI on my skin. Can't possibly be important. But it is.

Templates. Baselines. Deltas. Over this long cold season, I've established a firm template of coziness. Removing .002 PSI causes a noticeable negative delta in coziness.

This seems to behave like a real 'compound sense', similar to income security or auditory satisfaction.

If a quantity or quality is a real physiological sense, it must show adaptation to a template and delicate differential sensitivity to deltas from the template. Okay, got that.

It also needs to have opposite endpoints, preferably with different connotations like light/dark, hot/cold, rich/poor. Not sure about that. Does coziness have endpoints? A picture in the news today helped me to say Yes.

Here's perfect negative coziness, the exact opposite of coziness:


Stuck on a narrow hard surface with no protection or cover anywhere; painful falls on two sides; noisy scary deadly monsters ROARING past constantly. Perfect negative cozy.

And high positive coziness looks something like this:


Coziness basically measures the existence and quality of a pouch. Surrounded on most sides by familiar things and familiar smells, weight on top, head or senses protruding.

Do plants know coziness? Of course. Roots covered with blanket of soil, stem protruding into the world.

Simple invertebrates are all about coziness. Corals and bryozoa: A hole in the ocean floor, proboscis or tentacles protruding. Crustacea and mollusks: a shell or carapace shielding most sides. Vertebrates have lost the tube or shell, so we have to seek part-time cozy. Most of us make our own cozy in one way or another. Nests, caves, holes in trees, walled cities, houses, beds with blankets.

Because cozy is a temporary thing that needs to be found or built, we need a sense that tells us when cozy is adequate, and gives us an alarm when cozy drops below default. So we have such a sense.

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