Apr 23, 2012

About Perceptions & Reality

Hello Young Philosophers,
Here's an assignment for the team and others who are interested.

Question: What can we trust more: a) our perception of the world Or b) our perceptions of the world?

My Argument

A) "Our" could imply that the perceptions are of one and the same person Or
Ax) "Our" implies that of humanity
B) "perception" => process of using sense data to form ideas about the world outside
C) "perceptions" => individual implementations of the process in (B) either spread out in time or 'maybe' spread out between different people (although the second does not sound very correct)
D) The process of perception is known to falter due to cognitive bias or incomplete or faulty sensory data
E1) However for most individuals it falters in the same way each time
E2) For others - may falter differently
Skepticism) A + B + D + E2: You can give NO garunty of what you know
Coherentism) A + B + D + E1: There would always be some bias in Knowing
Foundherentibilism) A/Ax + B + D + E1/E2: You need to establish "Reliable" methods which are in turn "Founded" on "Coherence" between common perceptions of most people. (requires C and not necessarily an efficient way, however, its the only path towards human knowledge)
Pragmatism/EmpiricismAx + C + D + E1/E2: Will have sufficient confidence in knowledge after having got the same picture from most people in areas where knowing is essential (read tangible/practical/useful)
Rationalism/Realism/ObjectivismA +  C + D + E1/E2: Only way to for you to know is to check for "Consistency" & "Coherence" between different ideas; "Rely" upon your past perceptions; judge your perception using these evidences; hence trust your perception.

Conclusion) For us to know  - Realism ... requires us to rely more upon C than B
ConclusionX) For us to know as mankind - Foundherentibilism requires us to rely more upon C than B


  1. Nishith Khandwala24 April, 2012 23:38

    What is a perception? It is how we perceive the world, how we understand the world around us. This can be done via our senses. But is it the only way to interpret the surroundings? Does it also matter whether the person belongs to a certain school of thought (ism) ? I mean - will the perception of a person also depend or alter itself based on the person's school of thought? ( I will further elaborate on this part in my essay in a formal and philosophical way. I have just jotted down the points in my mind)

    What is the difference between perception and perceptions? This can be interpreted in several ways:
    1) One person. More varieties or versions of perception by the same person of the same situation (at possibly different times). Chocolate milk -normally felt sweet.  However, after eating a chocolate, the milk felt less sweet.
    2) One person. Perceptions gathered from consensus or different people. In case of chocolate milk, most people perceive it to be sweet. 

    (the example of chocolate and chocolate milk could be used as an example to support that perceptions rather than perception can be more trustworthy)

    3) This point does not directly touch the topic of the essay. But, I feel this could be worth mentioning. Perceptions or rather the understanding of the world are heavily affected by the school of thought a person follows. If a person is stuck to one particular form of ism regardless of the situation, at all times, it may not be trustworthy. For eg. An empiricist or ,actually, a realist would argue that all stars appear to be equidistant from the earth. Here, we can see that the perception is wrong. Empiricism or realism could be  useful or correct in other situations, but, as in this case, it isn't wise to stick to one ism for all situations. Therefore, perceptions gathered from different schools of thought or isms forms a different interpretation.

    Some points revolving around the first two statements
    4) scientific method and general philosophy: in order to verify the hypothesis, not one but many experimental verifications are required in order to prove a hypothesis correct. Hence, it appears that perceptions are more trustworthy. However, we could counter argue that one experiment that yields contradictory results is enough to discard the hypothesis. Here, one perception appears to have more significance than many perceptions. But then again, we can say that this counter perception forms a part of the larger group of perceptions recorded in order to verify the hypothesis. Hence, it was the larger no. of experimental verifications carried out that led us to ultimately prove that the hypothesis is incorrect. Hence, more perceptions, according to me are more trustworthy.

    Therefore, I believe that perceptions rather than perception should be more trustworthy.

  2. What can we trust more: -

    - our perception of the world – A1
    - our perceptions of the world – A2

    “Perception” implies 2 things, while “perceptions” implies 1 thing.

    “Perception” (A1) implies 1) that there is only one perception. It could also mean 2) the concept of perception thus the idea of perceiving. In analysis of both phrases and deciding which we can trust more, we need to have an understanding of perception.

    “Perception” is the organizing of sense data (as defined by Russell) to gain some knowledge of the world. Sense data is a set of data, which helps to perceive an object. Examples of sense data include color, hardness, etc…

    The use of this sense data is to conceive reality (P1).

    “Perceptions”(A2) implies more than one perception or simply many perceptions. The nature of distinction between these “perceptions” is equivocal. Is one man’s perception of a sofa and a table, two different perceptions or is two people’s perceptions of a sofa different “perceptions?” These are implications to consider before deciding to trust A1 or A2.

    My perception of an object X, can be relative (P2) to certain factors, but it constitutes still the same perception. This is since we can define our perception of an object X, through perceiving the set of sense data S, associated with a particular object.

    My perception of object X, at factor A, maybe different to my perception of Object X, at factor B, yet it still constitutes perception of an object X. Factor can be anything. For example: perception of a table from 1 km away, will make it seem like a tiny object, while perception of a table from 2 meters, will make it seem like a large object. Another example is perception of table from below will be different to perception from the side. In both these examples, the factor changes, and the manner we perceive sense data S, changes. However this does not mean that these are different perceptions.

    This is because perception involves the use of the same set of sense data emanating from an object X, with a change in factor. However a change in factor DOES NOT imply a different perception (P3). This is because:

    1) the sense data does not change when factor changes
    2) further more the object in reality is only one things, not 2 or more things

    Point 2 is an important idea. Consider I can perceive a distant object as a baby. If I say I can also perceive the same object as a ball, it is implied that I have 2 perceptions of the same object. There arises a problem because 1) it is either a baby or a ball but only 1 of them, and 2) even if my perception is false (say in reality it is actually a dog) I cannot hold two contradictory perceptions of the same object. Therefore I can only trust a perception than perceptions.

    These factors may also involve a mental condition. When I am happy, I perceive a cloud to look like a smiley face and when I am sad, I perceive a cloud to look like a sad face. Regardless of the factor, both are part of my larger perception of the cloud and there is only a change in the factor.

    Because P1, we cannot say there are perceptions of the same thing, since perceptions are supposed to conceive reality and in reality an object can only be one thing. Further if we say a perception is different to reality, and a perception only infers reality, still, by holding two perceptions we are inferring 2 realities.

    To conclude, we can say 2 perceptions are possible (as it is only a matter of words). But multiple perceptions cannot be trusted because they do not lead to a coherent, logical world understanding.


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