The Problem of Perception
First published Tue Mar 8, 2005; substantive revision Fri Feb 4, 2011 Sense-perception—the awareness or apprehension of things by sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste—has long been a preoccupation of philosophers. One pervasive and traditional problem, sometimes called “the problem of perception”, is created by the phenomena of perceptual illusion and hallucination: if these kinds of error are possible, how can perception be what it intuitively seems to be, a direct and immediate access to reality? 1. 1.1 Introduction This entry will focus on a single, central problem of perception: how to reconcile some apparently obvious truths about our experience of the world with the possibility of certain kinds of perceptual error. This problem is not the same as the epistemological problem of how perception can give us knowledge of the external world (see the entry on epistemological problems of perception). 1.2 The Argument from Illusion An illusion here may be defined, with A.D. 2.