PerceptionPerception is the mental process of selecting, organizing and interpreting information gained through the senses. It is the subject of study in cognitive science.
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Perception defines reality
As we move about in the world, we create a model of how the world works.
We sense our world; the sensations map to percepts. However, these percepts are provisional, in the same sense that hypotheses are provisional, in the scientific method.
By learning new information, our percepts shift. Abraham Pais' biography refers to the 'esemplastic' nature of imagination. In the case of visual perception, some people can actually see the percept shift in their mind's eye. Others who are not picture thinkerss, may not necessarily perceive the 'shape-shifting' as their world changes. See gestalt.
The 'esemplastic' nature has been shown by experiment: an ambiguous image has multiple interpretations on the perceptual level.
These confusing ambiguities have been exploited for competitive advantage by some species, and even by some organizations; some insects, for example, mock the appearance of poisonous species; some marketing practices have even been named, such as 'bait and switch' in an example of ontological warfare.
A quantitative relationship between the intensity of physical stimuli and their perception has been stated in the Weber-Fechner Law
For many people, if the percept has no grounding in their experience, they will literally not perceive it. Percepts are analogous to concepts, in this regard.
The subjective nature of perception, and hence of cognition has been studied since antiquity, for example in the qualia which have been known since the Sufi thinkers, up to the present, in the subjective theory of value from the Austrian school of economists.