This is a very deep philosophical question that western philosophers and scientists have been pondering literally for thousands of years and still struggle with it today. The perception is something which does really not exist by itself rather it’s an illusion. We will also be discussing that why many a times we get perceptions so wrong and why only few people understand it. There are many many philosophers, academics and neuro-scientists who are currently in the World’s top universities trying to understand this problem and they still are not getting it answers because it is a lot tricky and confusing.
This is not because I am saying that I am very much intelligent and other people don’t know much. It’s just that this problem which is commonly known to be the mind-body problem which we will resolve today. This problem has been resolved with over five thousand years by the saints and sages.
But the problem is that the modern western culture and the modern science don’t really go to these ancient sources to study them and to practice and to realize what they have realized. So we will be discussing this concept from a modern, materialistic and capitalist perspective. It’s actually not about the contradiction that I am talking about the perception and even then I am neglecting its importance. The perception about which I am trying to convince to all of you is that which is life-transforming and something which is as influential as anything in the world. If you grasp what I am trying to convey then you will be easily understading the core concept of perception. So the perception contrary to what most people are taught is not a biological or a neurological process and perception doesn’t actually occur. When we say that, we don’t mean, what others think we mean.
Obviously the raw data of perception is not deniable, so I am not going to deny the colors, shape, sound etc. Let us first of all clearify that what the word “Perception” actually means? In order to understand perception, we will also be discussing about the experiences, visual fields and all of the similar words for our ease. So whenever I will be talking about the visual field, ofcourse that’s the part of the perception, also there are the auditory fields. Your body sensations are part of the experiences and the perception. But when you will be able to grasp the concept of the visual fields then you will be able to understand well about the others fields of the perception that maybe experience and so on.
The perception or experience which we are talking about is the sensory bubble in which we are present. Whatever room you are sitting in, wherever you are, it does not matter. You are basically in this bubble of perceptions. This is how you interact with the reality. You know that humans are very visual creatures so for us it might be a visual bubble but ofcourse everything happening is happening inside this bubble. The words “Perception” and “Experience” are very sneaky words and they carry in a hidden metaphysics because perception and experience, the way they are used in language, they imply the subject and an object. This is a very deep point which many people overlook. Let’s say there is a perception or an experience but nobody is having it, this is what I mean by subject and object. So the subject is maybe any person A, and the object maybe the color red that the person is seeing at the wall, so basically what we mean is that the perception and experience requires the subject or someone who is having the experience, so lets say if there is a free flowing experience somewhere or a red color floating somewhere, then you might be saying that this is a wrong statement since its not possible that you have a red color floating in the universe. Someone has perceived it because that’s the impulsive metaphysics that comes with thinking about perceptions and experiences. So, if we open up our mind a little more and think about what does an experience or perception look like when we remove the subject or the owner of the perception or the experience and let us imagine if the color red is floating out in the vacuum of empty space, not something that is related to you. You maybe not seeing or experiencing it and that would mean nothing since you are splitting the object and the subject. The object or that thing maybe just out there in space without a creature or entity looking at it and experiencing it, would you still be calling this an experience, or a perception? If that was even possible, some may call this should be an experience or a perception and it’s not occurring to anybody or related to anybody. But then that really changes what we think or experience that what perception really is?
If it can be experienced or perceived without an experience or a perceiver, that sort of radically redefines what those terms mean and not just in a wording game type of way but in a very significant different way. So if we consider that if it could happen then the raw data of this experience, or perception would stay the same such as colors and shapes. But something that would happen is the radical re-contextualization such that the raw data of red is no longer yours and it’s no longer a thing that is happening to you. That is very significant. It’s been de-personalized one might say. And along with that its also no longer a biological, its no longer something related to your mind or body, its no longer even the part of your life because all of that assumes you or the subject that is part of this relationship with the object, its just a pure object we might say. Or another way to say is that we have removed the entire personal self hood out of this thing, and we have just turned it into a universal experience. So you might think of it as the universe that is experiencing the color red in the vacuum. We should not be thinking the universe to be the person or a thing but it’s just an object floating out there, sort of the way that you might have imagine e.g that an object might have been floating out in the vacuum of empty space billions and trillions of years ago. But we even think that there were asteroids, planets, stars, star dusts, nebulas, super-novas, black holes and stuff like that. So you might wonder that who perceived those, obviously nobody, there was nobody there to perceive them. And yet we think that there were those objects and they existed.
So I want you to imagine an object that existed all by itself in the universe with no one perceiving it. What that might be like? How the universe would would know or register that this object is there. This is a very deep problem. How does the universe even know itself, like if an asteroid existed ten billion years ago, so did the universe kind of have a database of all the asteroids that kind of know how many asteroids are in it. Well we might think it in that but still it’s not quite right because what does it mean for the universe like if this database exists, and some entity looking at the database, seeing at database, perceiving the database, no we can’t really say that because the universe hasn’t evolved to the point where there are sentient creatures. So we will be in a quite weird situation when we say that there is this database but nobody actually knows about it. So what does it even mean to say that there is a database? Because what we mean when we say that something is then we perceive it or someone perceives it. So this takes us to deep metaphysical oceans that are very much difficult in navigating but let us go to the current perception of reality which we all have. The perception which might get you confused about what perception is?
- What you believe is that there is an objective external material world and this world exists independently of you. This is what we all believe.
- There are two kinds of objects in this world. There are dumb objects like cars, mountains, rocks, buildings and planets. And the others are sentient creatures like humans, animals and birds.
- You believe that these sentient creatures and objects perceive the external world and that every creature has this perceptual field that is their perception of the external world.
- You believe that you were born into the world as one of these biological sentient creatures. You believe that this is what you are.
- You believe that the perceptual field that you have as one of these creatures is inside of the brain or is produced by the brain which is itself a dumb object or a rock which exists as part of the external world. You might say that how this dumb object called a brain can produce this perceptual field but nevertheless it does.