Notes on Perception

I’ve been rolling things around my head about perception – it’s a fairly interesting topic.

– What’s a good definition of perception? I’ll start with: to be aware of something in a way that establishes some kind of relation between the perceiving agent and the perceived object. Broad and vague enough?

– Not being a materialist, I’m fine with thinking of God in terms of perception. Torrance makes a good analogy:

‘What is meant here by ’empirical’ is not just that which is sensible and tangible so much as the experienced imperceptible and intangible. For an analogy taken from natural science which may be helpful, reference may be made to the spacetime structure of the metrical field, which is inherently invisible or unobservable but which is nevertheless regulative of all our creaturely and phenomenal experience.’ (‘Reality and Evangelical Theology’, p. 39)

– So perception is empirical, in the sense of being an aspect of our conscious experience, but it’s not limited to the sensible only.

– Things that puzzled some philosophers, like distance (Berkely) can be seen as our perception of a kind of ontological relation (maybe). Distance isn’t a thing out there that we see – I don’t see a tree, and another tree, and then a third thing called distance – but I’m aware (I perceive) the distance between the two trees as an aspect of their relation. It is real, but it’s not a real ‘thing’. Perhaps an example from particle physics, where the relations are as important as the actual particles themselves.

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