Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Perception

"Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgment. And, to say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and a vapor, and life is a warfare and a stranger’s sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." - William Blake

"To assume that anything can be known in isolation from its connections with other things is to identify knowing with merely having some object before perception or in , and is thus to lose the key to the traits that distinguish an object as known... The more connections and interactions we ascertain, the more we know the object in question." - John Dewey

"Mental activity, which works in its way from the memory-image to the production of identity of perception via the outer world, merely represents a roundabout way to wish-fulfillment made necessary by experience. Thinking is indeed nothing but a substitute for the hallucinatory wish; and if the dream is called a wish-fulfillment, this becomes something self-evident, since nothing but a wish can impel our psychic apparatus to activity." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"It seems evident, that men are carried, by a natural instinct or prepossession, to repose faith in their senses; and that, without any reasoning, or even almost before the use of reason, we always suppose an external universe, which depends not on our perception, but would exist, though we and every sensible creature were absent or annihilated." - David Hume

"Nothing can ever be present to the mind but an image or perception, and that the senses are only the inlets, through which these images are conveyed, without being able to produce any immediate intercourse between the mind and the object... The mind has never anything present to it but the perceptions, and cannot possibly reach any experience of their connection with objects. The supposition of such a connection is, therefore, without any foundation in reasoning." - David Hume

"Nature... is frugal in her operations and will not be at the expense of a particular instinct to give us that knowledge which experience and habit will soon produce. Reproduced sights and contacts tied together with the present sensation in the unity of a thing with a name, these are complex objective stuff out of which my actually perceived table is made. Infants must go through a long education of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired perception." - William James

"Whatever you believe is true - for you. We do not act outside of our perception of reality." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"We may say that we are immune from bondage in so far as we act with a distinct knowledge, but that we are the slaves of passion in so far as our perception are confused... In truth we will only that which pleases us: but unhappily what pleases us now is often a real evil, which would displease us if we had the eyes of understanding open." -

"We might get to know the beauty of the universe in each soul, if we could unfold all that is enfolded in it and that is perceptibly developed only through time. But as each distinct perception of the soul includes an infinite number of confused perceptions, which involve the whole universe, the soul itself knows the things of which it has perception, only in so far as it has distinct and heightened [or unveiled] perceptions of them; and it has perfection in proportion to its distinct perceptions. Each soul knows the infinite, knows all, but confusedly." -

"Perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understanding as do from these receive into our understanding as distinct ideas as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense. But as I call the other sensation, so I call this reflection, the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operation within self... These two, I say, vis. external material things, as the objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within, as the objects of reflection, are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings." - John Locke

"Since the mind, in all its thoughts and reasonings, hath no other immediate object but its own ideas, which it alone does or can contemplate, it is evident that our knowledge is only conversant about them... Knowledge then seems to me to be nothing but the perception of the connection of and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas. In this alone it consists. Where this perception is, there is knowledge, and where it is not, there, though we may fancy, guess, or believe, yet we always come short of knowledge." - John Locke

"We must not, therefore, wonder whether we really perceive a world, we must instead say: the world is what we perceive... To seek the essence of perception is to declare that perception is, not presumed true, but defined as access to truth." - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"We live in a narrow reality, partly conditioned by our form of perception and partly made by opinions that we have borrowed, to which our self-esteem is fastened. We fight for our opinions, not because we believe them but because they involve the ordinary feeling of oneself. Though we are continually being hurt owing to the narrowness of the reality in which we dwell, we blame life, and do not see the necessity of finding absolutely new standpoints. All ideas that have a transforming power change our sense of reality." - Maurice Nicoll

"Man’s actions proceed from his innate character and the motives acting upon him. What is conscience and the perception of right and wrong in actions that follows from the consciousness of freedom? That is a question for ethics." -

"This deity who is manifesting himself in the activities of the universe always dwells in the heart of man as the supreme soul. Those who realise him through the immediate perception of the heart attain immortality." -

"The experience of beauty is pure, self-manifested, compounded equally of joy and consciousness, free from admixture of any other perception, the very twin brother of mystical experience, and the very life of it is supersensous wonder... It is enjoyed by those who are competent thereto, in identity, just as the form of God is itself the joy with which it is recognized." - Visvanatha Chakravarti, fully Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura

"Perception... is a constant communion between ourselves and the living world that encompasses us." - David Abram

"In that continuity of becoming which is reality itself, the present moment is constituted by the quasi-instantaneous section effected by our perception in the flowing mass; and this section is precisely that which we call the material world. Our bodies occupies its centre; it is, in this material world, that part of which we directly feel the flux; in its actual state the actuality of our present lies." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' chinks of his cavern." - William Blake

"Buddhist Sutra from Sanskrit “The Heart of the Prajnaparamita” - Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. The same thing is true with feeling, perception, mental functioning and consciousness." -

"(Paraphrased by Lyall Watson) Our knowledge of all things is determined by our perception of them, and that perception is a construction based on local expectations." - J. W. Connor

"It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject: the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to the enterprise, thought and perception of an individual." - Alexander Fleming, fully Sir Alexander Fleming

"One must remember that practically all of us have a number of significant learning disabilities. For example, I am grossly unmusical and cannot carry a tune. We happen to live in a society in which the child who has trouble learning to read is in difficulty. Yet we have all seen dyslexic children who have either superior visual-perception or visual-motor skills. My suspicion would be that in an illiterate society such a child would be in little difficulty and might in fact do better because of his superior visual-perception talents, while many of us who function here might do poorly in a society in which a quite different array of talents was needed in order to be successful. As the demands of society change will we acquire a new group of "minimally brain damaged?"" - Norman Geschwind

"When I began to examine just how wealth is created, it seemed to me plain that it arises not from taking, but from giving. People get rich by giving rather than by taking, and this seemed to me to be a very important perception, because the reason for the crisis in capitalism today, it seems to me, is not its practical achievements, but rather the perception of its moral character." - George F Gilder

"I don’t see any reason why we should have less confidence in this kind of perception, I.e., in mathematical intuition, than in sense perception, which induces us to build up physical theories and to expect that future sense perceptions will agree with them and, moreover, to believe that a question not decidable now has meaning and may be decided in the future." - Kurt Gödel, also Goedel

"As soon as any one belongs to a narrow creed in science, every unprejudiced and true perception is gone." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Without my work in natural science I should never have known human beings as they really are. In no other activity can one come so close to direct perception and clear thought, or realize so fully the errors of the senses, the mistakes of the intellect, the weakness and greatnesses of human character." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Things as they are are changed when we demonstrate a new reality. A very small change in perception can result in a change in behavior and, cumulatively, in a very large change in cultural patterns. Our purpose and destiny are encoded within us. But they do not automatically propel us to the next act in our day, let alone the next stage in our evolution. Our Fourth Instinct allows us to see that next stage, and our free will enables us to act on it so that it can become a reality." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"The nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral, those with dualistic perception regard suffering as happiness, like they who lick the honey from a razor’s edge. How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality: turn your attention within, my heart friends." - Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche or Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje

"Every kind of art is beautiful, as all life is beautiful, for much the same reason: that it embodies sentience, from the most elementary sense of vitality, individual being and continuity, to the full expansion of human perception, human love and hate, triumph and misery, enlightenment, wisdom." -

"It is the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." - Charles Webster Leadbeater

"We find the attribute of unchangingness always associated with the highest level of conscious experience. The experiences of truth are always similar. There is the changing mind, following time and change; and the unchanging mind behind it. There is the order of natural reasoning that goes with changing phenomena, and another above... The source of all truth lies in ‘unchangeable truth’ which is above the level of reason, and it is the internal perception of this unchangeable truth that endows man with the highest grade of being." - Maurice Nicoll

"Learning is the perception of differences; wisdom is the perception of similarities. The final statement of wisdom must be: Omnia sunt unum in Deo." - Walter Gorn Old or Gornold, born Walter Richard Old, pseudonym Sepharial

"There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics... they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Old age brings us to know the value of the blessings which we have enjoyed, and it brings us also to a very thankful perception of those which yet remain. Is a man advanced in life? The ease of a single day, the rest of a single night, are gifts which may be subjects of gratitude to God." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"Genius... in the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one, and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art." -

"If one should tell of a telescope so exactly made as to have the power of seeing; of a whispering gallery that had the power of haring; of a cabinet so nicely framed as to have the power of memory; or of a machine so delicate as to feel pain when it was touched - such absurdities are so shocking to common sense that they would not find belief even among savages; yet it is the same absurdity to think that the impressions of external objects upon the machine of our bodies can be the real efficient cause of thought and perception." - Paul Reichmann

"Perception, as we here understand it, hath always an object distinct from the at by which it is perceived; an object which may exist whether it be perceived or not. I perceive a tree that grows before my window; there is here an object which is perceived, and an act of the mind by which it is perceived; and these two are not only distinguishable, but they are extremely unlike in their natures." - Paul Reichmann

"The only road to a fuller grasp of Reality is the exploration of 'super-normal' perception." - Albert Schweitzer

"Perception is based, to a very large extent, on conceptual models - which are always inadequate, often incomplete and sometimes profoundly wrong. This complex situation arose because signals from the environment itself can be inadequate. The sort of information we need is not always available. And so, knowledge from the past, mixed up with assumptions about that knowledge which may be more or less appropriate, are used to augment information provided by the senses. Which means that our perception of any situation depends only partly on sensory signals being received at that time. And it is only a very short step from there, to perception which occurs in the absence of all immediate signals and has to be labeled “extrasensory”." - Lyall Watson

"True wisdom consists in the ready and accurate perception of analogies. Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter it is deceptive." - Richard Whately

"It is that faculty by which we discover and enjoy the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime in literature, art, and nature; which recognizes a noble thought, as a virtuous mind welcome a pure sentiment by an involuntary glow of satisfaction. While the principle of perception is inherent in the soul, it requires a certain amount of knowledge to draw out and direct it." - Robert Aris Willmott

"We have in dreams no true perception of time - a strange property of mind ! - for if such be also its property when entered into the eternal disembodied state, time will appear to us eternity! The relations of space as well as of time are also annihilated, so that while almost an eternity is compressed into a moment, infinite space is traversed more swiftly than by real thought." - Hubbard Winslow

"Aloneness is inevitable in being human. People cannot accept this. They should be aware of it and use it. It heightens your perception." -

"Reality doesn't bite, rather our perception of reality bites." - Anthony J. D'Angelo

"Man only knows that there exists something more in the things than perception gives because this other element lives in his inner being. Thus world knowledge and self-knowledge are inseparable." - L. Francis Edmunds

"Physically man can never arrive at more than a partial view, or better still, his partial view of the phenomena; to this extent all scientific conclusions would appear to be subjective. Morally considered, the matter goes further… the truth at which the experimenter arrives will depend on the character of his experience and on the power of his perception which he brings to bear upon the phenomenon. What we `see’ of the world depends on what we are capable of seeing." - L. Francis Edmunds

"With the perception and idea of wholeness, we stand within the phenomena." - L. Francis Edmunds

"In our loss of the perception of the Void and our conviction that particular things are finally real, we come to believe in the separate, isolated reality of some enduring self within us for which we a plan and hope great things. Alas, we are frustrated in our hoping because all through our lives our hopes are incompletely attained or, if fulfilled, strangely unsatisfying after all." - Douglas A. Fox