What does perception mean?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Perception is the awareness, understanding, sensing, and thinking about the environment: the ways in which we observe the world. And I mean environment in the largest possible sense; everything in and about the world.

Perception was historically understood as a passive act whereby objects in the world leave sense impressions on us (through the 5 senses) and then we organize those impressions through memory and through learned and instinctual structures. However, perception has also become understood to involve an active component wherein, to some degree, we consciously and/or unconsciously structure what we perceive in the world. For example, there is the duckrabbit example from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations where he shows how one picture can be seen in two different ways. See the last link below. Wittgenstein even supposed that there is more to it than a mere mental choice of seeing a duck or a rabbit. This has led to speculation in the philosophy of perception that we may in fact have a part in creating the world we perceive. In other words, there is speculation on how much our perception actually affects the world we perceive and how much is subjective interpretation of the external world. 

Also, belief systems play a role in perception. This is a more conscious, and usually social, role. A typical example is someone born in an oppressive society who has never seen or considered an alternative way to live; he will be blind to the fact that he/she is oppressed. 

Perception is the way we observe the world; that is, how the world leaves impressions upon us and perhaps even how our mental functions leave impressions on our perception and on the world. The study of perception involves investigating how our senses, mental functions, and culturally learned systems of thought affect the act of perceiving the world. 

sid-sarfraz's profile pic

sid-sarfraz | Student, Graduate | (Level 2) Salutatorian

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Perception is interpretation of data (events, occasions, messages, accidents, ideas, actions, thoughts etc) by our brains. It includes a person's concepts, knowledge, ego or pride and self respect. In short how a person look at different things, having different perspectives, his thinking and knowledge, his goals, his beliefs, his abilities, etc.

It basically means how a person understands various things having his own point of view. In simple words perception is opposite to reality. Reality is the truth that we have to face but perception is something that we ourselves think or create in our minds.

Perception basically depends upon the following factors:-

  • Psychological State
  • Past experiences
  • Knowledge
  • Concepts
  • Experiments

The perception process can be step-wise written as;

  1. Coding
  2. Symbolize
  3. Receive
  4. Combine
  5. Perception
  6. Recreate

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