Knowledge begins with consciousness. I do not mean that consciousness is itself knowledge, but that if we are to know anything we must first be conscious of it. It is not enough just to be conscious, however, if it is to be capable of providing us knowledge. If what we are conscious of is not totally reliable and valid, no knowledge is possible.
The history of philosophy is largely the history of an assault on the validity of reason and knowledge. One of the earliest of those assaults was Plato's assault on the validity of perception. If what is perceived is itself deceptive, all knowledge based on it must be deceptive as well. Other varieties of the assault were made by Hume and Kant and almost without exception, all philosophers have accepted the repudiation of the validity of perception in some form.
Perception Is Consciousness
Perception is the immediate conscious awareness of all that one sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels, provided by the external sensory nervous system as well as all one is directly aware of as feelings and emotions including hunger, vertigo, nausea, fear, etc., (called interoception), as well as percepts provided to consciousness from memory. There is no other consciousness or perception.
What Are Percepts?
Percepts are what we are directly conscious of by means of perceptual qualities. The perceptual qualities are the attributes of whatever is being perceived by means of the sensory nervous system. The perceptual qualities include: visually: color and intensity; audibly: pitch and loudness; tactilely: pressure, temperature, and pain; olfactory: scent; gustatorily: taste, internally: comfort, desire, hunger, vertigo, fear, etc.
Conscious perception is the direct conscious awareness of all that can be perceived by means of the perceptual qualities.
Perceptual qualities are the qualities (attributes, characteristics, properties) of physical entities that can be perceived by means of the neurological system. Consciousness of the world is by means of the perceptual qualities, which are the colors we see, the sounds we hear, the textures, temperature, and weight we feel, the flavors we taste and the scents we smell, as well as all we feel by interoception of the states of the physical body.
The perceptual qualities are those qualities of entities we can consciously perceive. We obviously know a great deal more about entities than their perceived qualities, including their physical, chemical, and, in the case of living organisms, biological attributes, but all we know about physical entities we know by means of those qualities which we first directly perceive.
The perceivable qualities of an entity are all determined by the entire nature of that entity. All of an entity's attributes (its identity—see "Ontology Introduction,") are discovered by means of those qualities which can be directly perceived. No attribute of an entity can be changed without changing some aspect of how that existent is or can be perceived.
If any quality of a thing could change that was not perceivable in any way, the "changed" attribute would be irrelevant to either the nature of the entity or our knowledge of it. The change in perceptual qualities might be very subtle and require instruments or "experiments" to make them apparent but there cannot be a change in an entities qualities that does not change how it is seen, heard, felt, or tastes or smells.
For example, we cannot directly perceive a thing's chemical makeup, but the chemical makeup will determine how the thing looks, feels (weight and texture), smells, if it has an oder, tastes, if it has a flavor, and sounds, if it makes one. If it's chemical makeup were different, some or all of those characteristics would be different (and of course the existent itself would be a different one). This does not mean that some very different things might seem perceptually similar, at least without careful examination, (fake jewelry, for example), but they are exceptions, and even in those cases, how they look, feel, smell, taste, and sound is determined by their entire nature, that is, the physical qualities that are what they are.
Direct Perceptual Qualities
The direct perceptual qualities are limited to light color and intensity (hue, saturation, chroma, and brightness can all be reduced to these two) (vision); pitch, and loudness (hearing), temperature, pressure, pain, and 'muscle feedback' (feeling) scent (smell) flavor (taste) and internal perceptions of nausea, anxiety, excitement, pleasure, pain, fear, and panic, for example (interoception). Interoception is really a subset of feeling.
Some philosophers, like Locke, knew there was a difference in the qualities of things as perceived, but their attempts to explain the difference did more harm than good, resulting in such false ideas as primary and secondary attributes. All the attributes of an existent that are perceived are attributes of the existent, period. The difference is in whether there is a perceptual quality that directly corresponds to the attribute of the entity being perceived, or whether the attribute is perceived as a configuration or arrangement of direct perceptual qualities. The latter I refer to as indirect perceptual qualities.
Indirect Perceptual Qualities
Visually, the only "percepts" we have are color and brightness. By means of those percepts we directly perceive the color and brightness of the entities we see. There are, however, no direct perceptual qualities corresponding to all the other attributes of the things we see, such as shape, size, relative positions, and motion. We perceive those attributes of entities by means of the "direct perceptual qualities" of color and brightness indirectly, as configurations and arrangements of color and brightness.
This does not mean we do not truly see the indirect perceptual qualities. We do not see them as perceptual qualities but as configurations or patterns of those colors and intensity as they exist in the entities being seen.
For example, consider a nicely formed deep red apple. We can directly perceive the color of the apple (deep red) and since the apple is round, the "red" percept in our field of perception will be round as well. If the apple is large we will perceive a large round area of red in the visual field. There is no direct perceptual quality, "round," and no direct perceptual quality "large;" there are no shape or size perceptual qualities. The perceptions of shape and size are by means of the shape and size of the direct perceptual qualities of light, color and intensity, in the perceptual field.
[NOTE: The, "perceptual field," refers to all that one is currently consciously perceiving, that is, everything one is seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting, and experiencing internally. There is no actual "field" or "entity" that is the visual field.]
This difference between direct and indirect perception is true for all of perception. While we perceive pressure and temperature and muscle reaction as direct perceptual qualities, our perception of texture, for example, is indirect; it is a configuration of pressure percepts. If we touch a smooth stone the pressure percepts will be more or less uniform, and we call that configuration of pressure percepts, "smooth;" but if we touch a file or piece of sandpaper the pressure percepts will be discontinuous and disorganized, and we call the configuration of pressure percepts "rough." Smooth and rough are indirect percepts, but real percepts of the actual nature of the things being felt.
Indirect perceptual qualities also include some qualities of relationship, such as position and motion, or one thing being "above" another, or to the "right" or "left" of another, or something being "in" something or "behind" something. The perception of those relative qualities is the same as other indirect percepts, simply the way the direct perceptual qualities are "configured" or "change" in our perceptual field.
No Primary/Secondary Dichotomy
It is not my intention to correct every mistake that has plagued philosophy, but some are so common they have become ingrained and accepted without question. The idea of primary and secondary qualities is one of them.
The fact that the means by which we perceive color and shape is different is irrelevant to the "type" of qualities these are as attributes of entities. Color, shape, and size are all attributes of the entities perceived, but the perception of shape and size attributes are by means of the direct perceptual attributes.
The mistaken view of Locke and other 16th and 17th century philosophers, which is still taught and widely held, supposes that only "primary" qualities are actual attributes of things, existing in the "external" world just as they are perceived, but that "secondary" qualities do not actually exist in things perceived and only exist as perceptions. Primary qualities, it is supposed, are all measurable and include shape, size, distance, weight, and temperature, for example. Secondary qualities are not supposedly measurable and include color, taste, texture, scent, and sound. (These are not my lists.)
If there were a difference in these kinds of qualities, other than the fact they are different attributes of things, it is the so-called "secondary" qualities which are the truly primary. We see color, taste flavors, feel pressure, smell odors and hear sounds directly, and without those direct perceptual qualities, we could not perceive the so-called "primary" attributes of shape, size, distance, and weight at all. We perceive all qualities by means of direct perceptual qualities. We see the roundness of an apple, for example, because we directly perceive its redness, but we see it's roundness only because the redness we directly perceive has a round configuration in our visual field.
The claim of the primary/secondary fallacy is that while a thing's shape is exactly as it is perceived, it's color, as it is perceived, is only in our mind, not actually in the entity; that is, "there is no redness in a red apple." The redness we consciously perceive is, however, in the apple, and it is a real attribute of the apple in exactly the same way roundness is an attribute of an apple. The color of an entity is determined by it's nature, just as it's shape is, or it's weight is. An entity's color is determined by those characteristics that determine the wave-length of the light it will reflect, transmit, or emit, all measurable characteristics, by the way.
If there were no color in the apple, no other attribute of an apple, such as its shape, or size, position, or motion could be seen at all. The primary/secondary dichotomy absurdly asserts that we are conscious of all things by means of our direct consciousness of what does not exist—if red does not exist as an attribute of an apple we could perceive the apple at all.
The Sophist's Riddle
The sophistry that attempts to repudiate the validity of perception usually attacks the validity or color perception first. The supposed riddle is that color as described by science is not color as it is perceived. But that is true of all the direct perceptual qualities, like cold, hot, ringing, booms, whistles, salt, bitter, sweet, cinnamon or lemon.
All of these are exactly like color. Those qualities as we perceive them, cannot be described in physical terms. One can only be conscious of them by directly perceiving them. To use the physicalists language, there is no cold, hot, ringing, booms, whistles, salt, bitter, sweet, cinnamon or lemon, "out there." It is true if by, "out there," is meant some physical description that is identical to what perceived colors look like, hot and cold feel like, ringing, booms, and whistles sound like, salt, bitter, and sweet taste like or cinnamon and lemon smell like.
Physics and chemistry can, and do, explain what the physical qualities and actions are that are perceived as the named perceptual qualities of cold, hot, ringing, booms, whistles, salt, bitter, sweet, cinnamon and lemon, but what the physical explanations explain are what we perceive, not how we perceive them. If we are to perceive physical entities, and we do, they must be perceived in some manner. The direct perceptual qualities of entities are the manner in which the attributes which physics and chemistry describe are directly perceived. If we did not directly perceive the physical there would be nothing for the sciences to study. Our only means of being conscious of the physical is our perception of it.
Colors are how we directly perceive the light being reflected, transmitted, or produced by entities that are seen. The sophist's complaint that colors do not really exist (or only exist as a "creation" of the mind or brain) and are not attributes of the entities themselves means the spectrum of colors (a rainbow, for example) identified by science as a range of electro-magnetic frequencies is the identification of what does not really exist. Where would the idea of a spectrum come from if one had never been seen?
What the sophists and physicalists who deny the reality or validity of conscious perception actually prove is the fact that consciousness is not physical, and cannot be described or explained in terms of the physical. The color red is not produced by the physical because it is not physical, it only exists as the conscious perception of the physical. (See "The Nature Of Consciousness.")
[NOTE: The physical is all that is directly perceived by means of the direct perceptual qualities. It is that physical existence that is directly perceived that the sciences identify and explain, but the perceived physical comes first. If the physical that is perceived were not as it is perceived, if it were a deception in any way, since the perceived is all that the sciences have as evidence, all that the sciences conclude from that deceptive evidence would be deceptive as well. If there is a discrepancy between what is perceived and the descriptions of science, it is due to the inadequacy of science to perfectly describe perceived existence.]
Perception and the Neurological System
It is not within the province of philosophy to discover and describe how the physical neurological system works. That is the job of science. It is within the province of philosophy to describe what it must do if perception is to be valid. The following is a general description of the function of a neurological system that provides valid perception.
The neurological system, which includes the sense organs, both internal and external, as well as the entire nervous system and brain, is the means of providing to consciousness all those qualities and attributes of reality that can be perceived in their exact total context, including the state and nature of the perceiver.
This system makes available to consciousness everything pertinent to the organism that is in any way physically related to it. The neurological system presents to consciousness the light that is reaching the eyes, how and where anything is touching the organism, the sound that is reaching the ears, the chemicals in the air it is breathing, and those in whatever substances it puts into its mouth, as well as its internal physiological states; and it does this continuously. The level of sophistication of the perceptual system is determined by the sophistication of the organism.
Obviously, that which is presented to consciousness for which the eyes are the source are the percepts of light color and intensity; that which is presented to consciousness for which the ears are the source are the percepts of sound; that which is presented to consciousness for which the sensory nerves are the source are the percepts of touch, temperature, pain, and pressure; that which is presented to the consciousness for which the olfactory nerves or taste buds are the source are the percepts of scent and taste, and that which is present to the consciousness for which the internal senses are the source include everything from our sense of balance and hunger to all the emotions.
These are not presented to consciousness willy-nilly, so-to-speak, but organized by source and in the exact way and order they are derived. The eyes focus the light reaching them into an image, and the light and color components of that image are detected by the rods and cones of the retina, and that detected "information" is transmitted to the brain where the response of the brain to the action of those nerves is consciously perceived as the percepts of color and light that we call "seeing."
[NOTE: I have used the word, "information," for what the neurological network does to provide the neurological system what is required it to be perceived. I do not intend for the term, "information," to be mistaken for information in either the intellectual sense or computer sense. The neurological system is not a computer network, it is living tissue, and how it "communicates" what is stimulating the nerve endings to the neurological system to be perceived, while dependent on the physical system, cannot be a purely physical process, but a living process.]
The Function of the Perceptual System
The perceptual system provides immediate awareness of the entire field of perceptual qualities available from all the sense organs at every moment as consciousness. The field of direct perceptual consciousness (as opposed to that derived from memory) is all the perceptual qualities available from all the sense organs in the exact arrangement they are detected.
Perception, in function, is analogous to television. A television camera captures everything in its field of view, exactly as it is, without discrimination or organization. If that field includes people, objects, animals, and background, for example, they will all be captured. But they are not captured as individual entities and background. What is actually captured is the color and intensity of the light being reflected from every point in the scene. An object, for example, is not captured as an object, but as a collection of colored points within the whole field of colored points currently being recorded by the camera.
When the image is displayed on a TV, there is no special, "organization," or "integration," of the electronic data to "separate" and "make visible" entities in the image. The TV merely presents all the captured points of light in the exact order in which they are captured. Those that make up objects, are objects in the image, those that make up people, are people in the image. Nothing special has to be done to make them appear as objects or people or to separate them from the background.
The captured points of light represent the visible qualities of the objects and entities in the television picture. When the image is viewed, it is only necessary to present the visual qualities, that is, color and intensity of the points of light that were captured. What those points of light are qualities of is irrelevant, so long as they are presented in the same configuration that exists in the scene being captured. Those points of light that represent the visual qualities of each object will be those objects in the TV picture, without any processing or integration, because those objects, visually, are whatever those qualities captured and displayed are.
Perception works in a similar way. If the field of perception includes objects, animals, and people, it includes them. It does not include them as objects, animals or people. It simply includes all the perceptual qualities just as they are. Since the objects, animals, and people are whatever their qualities are, and those qualities are what the sense organs sense, those qualities which are an object, when perceived, is perceiving the object, and those qualities which are an animal, when perceived, is perceiving the animal, and those qualities which are a person, when perceived, is perceiving a person. Since all of these, as well as the background are only whatever their qualities are, when those qualities are perceived, it is the entities themselves that are being perceived. There is nothing else to perceive.
Insight From Ontology
Once it is understood explicitly, that an entity's identity is its qualities (characteristics and attributes), it is obvious, to perceive an entity, it is it's perceivable qualities that must be perceived.
Only those qualities of an entity available to the perception will be perceived of course, but it is entities, as they are perceived, that are real entities. All other attributes of entities are discovered conceptually, (by the sciences, for example), not perceptually.
Entities are whatever their qualities are. To be perceived, it is an entity's qualities that must be perceived, and that is exactly what is perceived. When an entity's qualities are perceived, the entity itself is perceived, because an entity's qualities are what it is.
Since entities are whatever their qualities are and it is their qualities that are perceived, it is actual entities as they actually exist that are being perceived. Though only the perceivable qualities of entities are available to consciousness, ontologically, all of an existent's qualities are implied by its perceivable qualities, else the physical sciences would not be possible.
Perceiving Things As They Are
Almost every theory of perception assumes there must me some process or mechanism for turning the "information" provided by the sensory nervous system into conscious percepts. These supposed processes or integrating mechanisms are never described, they are just assumed, and they are all fictions.
Perceived qualities do not need to be integrated into entities, they already are "integrated" in the entities themselves. What is perceived is that "integration" as a configuration of qualities, just as they are organized in the entity itself. It is not necessary to mentally "create" entities from perceived qualities because the qualities of those entities are already organized as those entities. To perceive those qualities in that organization is to perceive the entities.
The supposition that whatever is "detected" by the sense organs and provided to conscious must in some way be organized, integrated, or processed before entities can be perceived presumes the sense organs and neurological system in some way disorganize, confuses, or rearranges the qualities of things detected, and must then reorganize them in the way they were already organized in the entities to begin with.
To perceive an entity it is only necessary to perceive those qualities in the very configuration in which they are already organized as qualities of the entity. The qualities do not need to be configured or integrated all over again by the brain or any other organ in order to perceive those entities exactly as they exist.
How We Perceive A Red Rubber Ball
Imagine a red rubber ball sitting on a white table. Physics and physiology tells us, when we look at the table, the lens of the eye causes a miniature image of the scene to be projected onto the retina where light detecting rods and cones are stimulated to send sensory "information" to the brain. If we reach out and touch the ball, and squeeze it, the nerve endings in our finger tips and those sensing pressure and muscle tension are stimulated to send more sensory "information" to the brain. Though physiologists, particularly neurologists, have been able to detect and map responses of the brain to this sensory data, science has not yet been able to determine exactly what those responses are doing. In some way, of course, we know they are related to our conscious perception, but perception is not brain activity. Ultimately, from the perspective of philosophy, the exact relationship between that brain activity and our perception does not matter. What does matter is what the resulting perception is.
While we do not, and may not ever know, exactly how the brain's behavior is "what is presented to consciousness," that is perceived, it apparently is, or is at least related to it, because perception can be altered if that brain behavior is altered. What we know is the perception itself. What is not presented to consciousness is percepts of entities, such as a "percept of a red rubber ball." What is presented to consciousness are perceptual qualities in the form of patches of color of various shades, feelings of pressure and a sense of muscle action. There is in this case a round patch of red color someplace on a field of white and grey which is on a field of other colors and shading. There is also a pinkish blob of color that faintly resembles an octopus partly obscuring the round patch of red. When the tentacles of the pink blob move, the shape of the patch of red color changes slightly, and that is accompanied by a feeling of pressure on the fingers and a sense of muscle action. The patch or red and pink blob of course are the red ball and our hand and fingers.
It is possible to actually photograph the image that is projected onto the retina of the eye. If we should do that while looking at our red rubber ball, we would discover it looks exactly like the scene we are looking at (except upside down). If it were possible to photograph our perceptual field of vision while looking at our red rubber ball, we would discover the two photographs (that of the retina and that of our perceptual field of vision) were identical. Both would have a red rubber ball in them presented in the same way. Notice, absolutely no processing was necessary to create an "image" of the entity (red rubber ball) in the image on the retina. All that was required was for the colors, light, and darkness of the scene to be faithfully transmitted to the retina of the eye. Though it is not yet understood how, and except for the fact that it includes the perceptions of sound, touch, taste, smell, and internal "senses," as well as the visual, that is all the neurological system must do: faithfully transmit and present to consciousness all the attributes (color, temperature, sound) of whatever is made available to the senses.
All Perception The Same
Whether the perceptual field is an animal's, a young child's, or an adult's, when looking at the same scene, the visual fields will be identical. The animal will see objects, and may "recognize" some that it has encountered before or it's instinct provides recognition of as things to fear or things to eat. It will not be able to "identify conceptually" any of them. The child will see all the same objects, but, depending on age, may be able to identify some, such as Mommy and Daddy or his own toys, but things the child has not seen before, though seen in exactly the same way the adult sees them, he will not be able to identify conceptually. The adult will probably be able to conceptually identify everything in his visual field, but their will be nothing in that field that is not identical to what is in the animal's and the child's visual field.
[Note: This is a generalization, of course. Poor eyesight, some animal's inability to see color, etc. will cause differences in the visual field. Those differences are because all perception is contextual, and perceptual equipment is part of that context.]
Perception Contextually Perfect
There is a common argument meant to cast doubt on the validity of perception called perceptual illusion. A frequent example is the so-called "bent stick" illusion. The argument is based on the fact that a straight stick immersed half-way in water looks bent, implying that vision is an unreliable means of perception, because it can be fooled into seeing a straight stick as a bent one. The illustration actually demonstrates the validity of perception, however, not its vulnerability.
If our perception of the real world is to be reliable, it is the physical world as it actually exists we must be conscious of, and that is exactly what our perception of the world is. In the real metaphysical world nothing exists independently. The third ontological corollary of identity is: Anything that exists must have some relationship to everything else that exists. Those relationships, together with its state, constitute an existent's ontological context.
Almost every argument against the reliability of perception ignores or evades the fact that perception, to be reliable, must represent entities as they actually are, which includes their total present ontological context. A straight stick lying on the ground, and a straight stick immersed in water are not the same ontologically. If perception perceived these two different entities in the same way, that would be illusory.
What is held up as evidence of the unreliability of perception just happens to be evidence that perception is not only much richer than any of these critics supposed, but perfect and totally reliable, because perception is always contextual—every percept is an exactly correct representation of what is being perceived in its total ontological context. If this were not true, perception could not be the source of knowledge about existence as it is.
The ontological context of what is being perceived includes every relationship to that which is being perceived, as well as the state of that which is being perceived. If a white piece of paper is being perceived in the context of a red light, the paper appears to be red, which is exactly how it ought to appear in that context. If someone is wearing blue tinted glasses, everything being perceived will be tinted blue, which is exactly how it ought be perceived in that context. If white paper appeared white when illuminated with red light or if things were not tinted blue when one is wearing blue tinted glasses, perception would be deceptive, and that deception would inhibit, if it did not totally prevent, us from learning about the nature of light, for example.
Part of the total ontological context of anything that is being perceived is the perceiver. The fact that things appear differently to us depending on perspective has been offered is evidence that perception is unreliable. It is, in fact, more evidence that it is totally reliable. When we view the same thing from different positions, or under different conditions, the ontological context is different. If things appeared the same when we are close to them as they do when we are farther away, that would be a perceptual mistake. The wonder of perception is, that it always gets it right and automatically accounts for every ontological variation including those variations of which the perceiver is a part.
The fact that our internal states affect our perception of things is presented as more evidence that perception is unreliable. If there is a change to the state of some aspect of the neurological system, our perception will be affected by it. If the circulation in our arm is cut of temporarily, we have the "sensation" of "pins and needles" which itself is the perception of a metaphysical state, but that state will also make the things we feel with our "numb" fingers different than the way they will feel when circulation is restored. To expect something to feel the same in the context of being felt with numb fingers, as well as with fingers that are normally sensitive, ignores the fact that our perception of things is always in their total context.
Perception is never "mistaken." What is perceived is what is perceived—perception makes no judgments. All the mistakes that are made relative to perception are made conceptually and are about what is perceived, and never caused by perception itself. Whenever there is anything questionable about what we perceive, if something seems, "not right," it is not an indication that something is wrong with perception, it is an indication there is some ontological fact related to our current perception we are either unaware of or do not understand.
One other argument made against the validity of perception is that learning and experience change the way we perceive things. The word learning is used in a general way to account for all forms of changes resulting from experience, including non-cognitive habituation, development of physical skills and the content of memory, to cognitive conceptual learning. All of these things will affect how one responds to what they perceive, but none of them affect the nature of perception itself. A child that has not learned the alphabet sees a page of letters in exactly the same way an adult does. The letters are just meaningless marks to the child. Learning the alphabet does not change what those letters look like—if it did, the alphabet could never be learned. [Does it not occur to those psychologists who claim that learning changes our perception, since all we learn is based on what we perceive, if what we learn changes what we perceive, it would invalidate what we learned?]
There is some indication that learning has some small effects on some brain structure. Whether that really has any affect on the perceptual field is questionable. If it does, it would be slight, and would, in fact, be another example of perception accounting for an ontological fact which is part of the total context of what is being perceived.
Subjectivity of Consciousness
There are two things brought up against conscious perception based on the fact that conscious perception is private and no one can perceive or know any other consciousness other than their own.
The physicalists point out that since consciousness is a "subjective" experience it cannot itself be perceived as any physical thing can, and therefore cannot physically exist, and since they believe only the physical exists, consciousness cannot really exist. That is the extreme view held by behaviorists, for example. But physicalists are human and have their own consciousness and know they cannot really deny it, so they make another claim that consciousness is actually some kind of physical phenomenon. The second view is worse than the first. It contradicts the first correct view, that consciousness is not physical, but their prejudiced view that only the physical exists leads to the absurd assumption that consciousness is itself a physical phenomenon.
The other criticism of consciousness regards its validity. Since no other consciousness can be known to anyone but their own, there is no way to know what any other conscious experience is. This is true, but often forgotten when people begin to talk about the experiences of animals, or even other people, when it is impossible for them to know what those experiences are.
The criticism is based on the fact that since the nature of no else's conscious experience can be known, there is no way to know if anyone or anything else's conscious experience is the same or similar to their own. It really doesn't matter whether any two conscious experiences are the same or not. It only matters that any conscious experience reliably perceives physical existence as it is.
As for whether any consciousness is like any other, that, for example, your perception of red is the same as mine, there is no reason to suppose they are different, since consciousness is an attribute of the same kind of living organisms, how could it be different? Without evidence that they are different, there is no basis for the supposition they are.
Dreams, Hallucinations, and Imagination
All perception is perception of the physical. Perception is consciousness of everything the neurological system makes available to be perceived from every possible physical source, external, internal, and memory. Memory is an aspect of the physical brain. What is stored in memory is perceivable qualities that have already been directly perceived.
When using our imaginations we are exercising our ability to volitionally control what perceivable qualities we recall from memory to perceive. When we sleep or, because of trauma or some other abnormal event or state, are unable to volitionally control what is retrieved from memory, perceivable qualities will be recalled from memory in an uncontrolled manner to perception which is functioning at less than full consciousness, especially volitional control. The semi-conscious experiences of dreams and hallucinations are real percepts from a physical source (brain memory). They are not distortions of perception, however, they are exactly how uncontrolled disorganized perceptual qualities should be perceived. When full normal consciousness is restored, if dreams or hallucinations are remembered, it will be obvious that they are what they are, because of their confused character and lack of connection and continuity with normal waking consciousness.
World as Perceived the Real World
What we directly perceive is the real world, and that world is exactly as we perceive it. The world as we perceive it is the, ultimate reality.
What I mean by the, "ultimate reality" is that aspect of reality that is primary, the fundamental existence without which there is no other existence.
The ultimate reality is material existence, the physical characteristics of which we are directly conscious of, it is the world we perceive as we perceive it. Physical existence is all that consciousness can be directly conscious of, and it is that physical existence which is the ultimate reality or primary existence. Though our consciousness, and the life that makes it possible are not themselves physical attributes, without the physical there would be no life or consciousness.
Most people today doubt that the world they directly perceive and live in is the ultimate reality. They have been taught there is something more, "fundamental," like the fundamental particle's of physics, or some ultimate "force," which is the ultimate reality responsible for the world we perceive. Most people doubt the reliability of perception (which they mistakenly refer to as the senses), as well. They are certain perception is subject to distortions, illusions, and deceptions. Almost no one really believes reality is the world we directly perceive or that it is exactly as we perceive it.
Except for some pre-Socratic philosophers, the view that the perceived world is the real world has never been held explicitly and unambiguously by any philosopher since the sophists began to question it and Plato utterly repudiated it, obliterating it from all future philosophical consideration. There is probably not a serious philosopher today who does not consider this view na´ve.
In fact, it is na´ve. It is the view implicitly held by all unsophisticated people, when they are not thinking in terms of their religion. The reality they see and directly experience is reality, for most people, and if philosophers, scientists, and theologians did not come along and give them reasons to doubt it, there would be no reason at all to question that na´ve view.
Reality is the cold hard earth, and soft green grass, the trees, rocks, rivers, oceans, and mountains we see, feel, hear, smell and taste. It is the onions, peppers, and fish we smell frying; it is the heat of the stove we feel; the shiny silverware on the table we see and the clinking of the table being set; it is the softness and texture of skin and clothing we feel. These are reality and the way these things look, and feel, the sounds they make, how they smell and taste are what they really are.
It is that reality all intellectual inquiry is about. It is what the sciences study and philosophy attempts to explain. When science tells us those things are not real, that some discovered fundamental particles or forces are real and the world we experience is only an illusion caused by them, the scientist is admitting what he studies is unreal, and all his conclusions are based on an illusion. When the philosopher tells us the physical world is not real, but only an illusion caused by the function of our brains, the philosopher is admitting that he and his brain are not real and that all his conclusions are caused by that which does not really exist.
In our na´vetÚ, we know this world we perceive and directly experience, live in and die in and are part of, is the real world. What sort of "sophistication" ever makes us doubt it? Any science or philosophy that questions the reality of this world we perceive and live in is not sophistication at all, it is only sophistry or superstition.