Do We See the World as It Is?

After we wake up in the mornings, something fascinating is happening, something we hardly notice. It’s smooth and transparent, yet fundamental as we navigate our world. We hear the alarm ring, we open our eyes and make our way to the kitchen. We smell the milk we use for our coffee, is it fresh or spoiled? We sense the temperature; is it cold, shall I wear a sweater today? We navigate our lives with the help of a fascinating process: perception.
For us to act safely and with purpose, we must first collect information from our environment using perception. Perception is an automatic and intricate process of data collection and evaluation to sense what’s useful or beneficial for us and what’s not.
Perception is an all-encompassing faculty. It includes not only the five senses to collect information from the exterior environment but also many senses that collect information from our interior environment; for example, a sense for balance, temperature sensors, or proprioception which allows us to sense where in space our body parts located. Nearly all perception occurs subconsciously. If we were conscious of the myriad of data processed each moment; we’d be overwhelmed. Instead. Only the information that is novel or critical, becomes conscious for higher level consideration.
An interesting feature of conscious perception is the feeling that we perceive the world the way it actually is, but this might not be the case. The philosopher Thomas Metzinger calls human beings “naïve realists” because we assume that the world is actually the way we see it, that we perceive our surroundings directly and completely. But in fact, our brains generate a virtual world inside our minds. The data that our senses collect is analyzed and organized into a coherent mental representations. Our brain then attempts to make sense of the torrent of information by applying a host of biases, prejudices, conditioning, hunches, and guesses so it and has meaning for a civilized primate. It‘s a crucial step in order to initiate behavior that keeps us out of trouble and optimizes our chances to flourish.

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  • Our Take

Our Take on Perception

Being Human ,

The ability to perceive our environment and extract information evolved in a far simpler world than we live in today. Drenching in a deluge of information, filled with endless opportunities and threats, much of our attention is now trapped in the thinking mind. As a result we’re often disconnected from our sensing body. We live in the future, worrying about myriads of possibilities while neglecting the experience of being alive in the moment.

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