The philosophy of perception: understanding the puzzle of perception:

Most of traditional philosophy of perception is motivated by a central problem, known as the problem or puzzle of perception. As Valberg puts it, the puzzle stems from an antimony -- namely, two independently plausible but jointly inconsistent claims:

(1) Perceptual experiences directly present us with ordinary mind-independent objects and their properties.

(2) In having a perceptual experience, what we are directly aware of are internal mind-dependent objects and their properties.

If we interpret the 'object of experience' broadly enough so that instances of properties (property exemplifications) may count as objects, then the general puzzle can be put in terms of qualities or properties (not just objects):

(1*) Perceptual experiences directly present us with ordinary mind-independent properties of objects.

(2*) In having perceptual experiences, what we are directly aware of are qualities that are somewhat mind-dependent and intrinsic to these experiences (i.e., not the properties of external objects)

As we have seen, there are very good reasons to think that the claims in both pairs are true. (1) and (1*) are just the default commonsense view that is so ingrained in our daily lives that we can hardly be serious in attempting to deny them -- it is not even clear that we can deny them. This is being "open to our experience". On the other hand, once we start reflecting on various possibilities (for instance, possibilities inherent in what we know about causal processes underlying perception, possibilities involving perceptual illusions and hallucinations, the perspectival variations involved ordinary veridical perception, scientific results about secondary qualities, etc.), (2) and (2*), too, seem almost self-evident.

Philosophical theories of perception we have discussed so far are, fundamentally, attempts to solve this basic puzzle. Sometimes, as in sense-datum theories, they take the form of justifying why we should embrace (1) and why this is less problematic than is thought to be. Sometimes, as in representationalist theories, it takes the form of explaining how (1) and (1*) can be true despite the phenomena that seem to suggest that (2) or (2*) is true. But in one way or another, all philosophical theories need to explain or explain away the difficulties that arise in dealing with problematic phenomena. All philosophical (or for that matter, scientific) options attempting to solve the puzzle involve theoretical difficulties and undesirable consequences. The job of philosophical theorizing then is to find the theoretically least costly options and maximize explanatory utility while satisfying as many commonsense constraints as possible. Of course, what is more or less costly partly depends on what principles you take to be more or less negotiable. But it all comes down to making the best rational case for the most defensible position -- all things considered...

Write an essay in which you develop your own response to the puzzle of perception. This requires a good grasp of how the puzzle is generated in the first place. So present a way the puzzle can be generated by examining one or more of the standard arguments that sense-datum theorists used to establish the existence of sense-data as the direct of object of experiences. Then present your own views on how to best respond to the puzzle. This requires presenting the positive part of the theory of perception you want to hold and defend it against some of the objections you take to be most pressing.

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The puzzle of perception is a philosophical conundrum with implications for other fields of study, such as scientific observation, because the conundrum puts pressure on the idea of the experienced world versus the reality of the world. The puzzle of perception states that there are two conflicting orientations by which all of us constantly confronted by; how the world is experienced by us contrasted with the accuracy of the claims we make about that experience. That is to say, every person is a unique entity with unique senses. If every person is unique, it is reasonable to state that every person's experience is unique, like snowflakes. Snowflakes grouped categorically are all of the same meteorological phenomenon, contrast, people grouped categorically are all of the same characteristics: we all have senses and a brain and thought processes by which we understand these processes. However, like the unique patterns of each individual snowflake, we all have unique interpretations due to these processes of understanding our senses, resulting in an experience. The puzzle of perception seeks to render an explanation for this predicament of how and why there are discrepancies in one person’s experience from another, similar to how science explains with the effects of temperature on water crystallization is the reason behind unique snowflake shapes. However, both philosophy and science have not yielded a definitive answer in the puzzle of perception....

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