from The Delusional Skeptic

Give it a whirl. It’s an excerpt from my treatise on delusion, which I am currently working on.

Five

It’s easy with an imaginative perception, to enter an entire imaginary world. Sometimes this imaginary world can be good, but other times, it can be misleading. Sometimes it can be a comfort, but sometimes it can be mere delusional thinking.

Imagination certainly has its place, as do delusions. False perceptions are equivalent to wild imaginations, which in turn is equivalent to delusional thinking. Perceptions of others are nothing but mere delusion.

Of course, this is a bold claim, and to be frank, there is not a lot of evidence supporting this claim, if any at all. Nonetheless, I want to maintain that people have false perceptions of reality all the time, and that they are not even aware of it.

Indeed, what pervades the world is false perception. I don’t believe that we can grasp reality as it actually is, because I think that what we perceive is often times incorrect. Of course, there are many counterarguments to my claim, one of which is the commonsense view, that we see enough to get by, that we understand enough to get by. But to make this counterargument would be to miss my point. My point is to show that reality is bigger than we could ever perceive and ever quantify. I am not necessarily saying that we don’t grasp anything that is true, I just want to say that perception is tricky, and it can oftentimes mislead us, to the point where what we think is obvious is not so obvious.

To a degree, this is an anti-realist claim. Anti-realism is difficult to understand, because it flies in the face of the more common view of realism, that things are actually the way that they seem. But that said, I have found a lot of value in anti-realism, and in the viewpoint of anti-realism. This is because anti-realism is a form of intellectual humility. If we assume that our perceptions, then, are good enough to get us by, then we must also acknowledge that perceptions in and of themselves may not necessarily be true. And I think this is the crucial point: our perceptions are mere guides, they aren’t necessarily a mirror into the world.

False perception is difficult to understand, because naturally we want to assume that our perceptions are true and right and justified. But I feel like this is an ineffective way to go about things, simply because I think the world is much more complicated than we can ever understand, much more complicated than our apparatus for understanding things. I understand that anti-realism and the idea of false perceptions can seem problematic in our age of science and reason, but really the point of having this anti-realist mindset is to show the complexity of the universe, of our reality, and of what exists.

So, what do we do with false perceptions? Well, we let them inform our worldview. Why would we do this, when false perceptions are inaccurate? This is a valid question, and I will admit, I cannot answer it easily. The best way that I can answer it is by describing perceptions as being very nuanced and enriched perspectives, that we must appreciate. We should appreciate them, because false perceptions didn’t come out of nowhere. They serve a function, even if we are not sure what that function actually is. As I said before, too much distinction is put into what is true or false, when a perception of delusion can be a powerful perspective to get us to really question our world and what underlies it.

If you aren’t convinced, such a viewpoint would no doubt be appreciated. We need critics, for truth to come to light. But even so, I would say that a false perception is a window into another side of our existence, to the point to where it may not even be false. To be clear, what I mean by false perception, is a perception that can’t be proven. But again, this flies in the face of empiricism, as it must. And, it supports my main point, that most perceptions, if not all perceptions, are inherently false. This is because we can’t prove them to be true. People have beliefs all the time that we can’t prove, but that doesn’t make the viewpoints meaningless. It makes them imaginative. Of course, I am not suggesting that we don’t think critically about such perspectives that are supposedly false, and this is because logic, reason, and the acquisition of knowledge are important to the process. But the point that I want to hit home, is that false perceptions are everywhere, that we all have them, and we have to account for this phenomena, and understand it.

The point of my arguments is not to be countercultural but to be challenges to the status quo. I get frustrated when false perceptions are ignored and marginalized and sidelined. Such perspectives are not allowed to be part of the discourse. But they should be, simply because all perceptions abound everywhere, and they must be serving some kind of function. Perhaps it is a function that we cannot understand, but is a function nonetheless. We live in delusion, we live with false ideas, and I am trying to uncover why this is the case, and what to do with such arguments.

I understand this perspective will not be popular, and that it isn’t easy to adopt. I understand these complaints. Nonetheless, I want to value the perspectives that we cannot necessarily understand, perspectives that may not serve some obvious utility. They might even be perspectives that we despise. But nonetheless, I argue that they serve a function.

The most obvious purpose, is that of creativity. False perceptions are entrenched in imagination, and I think this is important. But there are other reasons for appreciating false perceptions. One reason is because false perceptions tell us things about the world. For instance, the purpose of the theological argument via negativa, is to prove the character of God by showing what God is not. False perceptions serve a similar function, in that they show what reality is by showing what reality is not. And in this strange roundabout way, false perceptions show what reality is; they show what is true and what is valid to believe.

I know that these views cut against the grain, and that is because of our emphasis on the truth content of statements and worldviews. But I think, as I have tried to make clear, that this viewpoint does a disservice to the search for truth, and understanding what is important in this life. False perceptions may not even be legitimately false, we just perceive them as being so because again, we cannot prove them to be factual and real.

When I talk about false perceptions, I am not talking about beliefs, per se. I am, rather, talking about the way in which people look at the world. A false perception is simply a way of understanding reality. This is important: I do not want to put emphasis on beliefs, because beliefs are inherently subjective, but rather, I want to put the emphasis on the way that a person sees things. There is value in this, if we can simply understand it and appreciate it.

Why does a false perception not encompass beliefs? This is because I think beliefs are a distraction. Beliefs many times do not rely on data, or evidence, to be supported. Often times, beliefs are held without question. But a worldview, rather, seems to express a fundamental reality, or rather, it seems to express the way things are or could be. It is important to remember that a person arrived at their worldview by way of experience and interpretation, and we cannot disregard this. It is important.

Indeed, it seems that perspectives are not appreciated as much as they should be. It seems that we underestimate a perspective, because we don’t see it as having an immediate utility. But from my limited perspective, it makes sense to appreciate perspective as showing the possibilities. Indeed, this would be one of my strongest arguments for appreciating false perceptions: false perceptions show what the possibilities are, and I think this is incredibly important to keep in mind. A world of more possibilities provide more hope, and the purpose of false perception is to resist the status quo perception, and resist what is immediately apparent. I understand these arguments seem very counterintuitive, but I would argue that that is the point. Perception is difficult to understand, and from my experience, my perception is very difficult to understand. But I nonetheless find value in it, because I want to understand my perspective, and I want to understand why I think the way that I do. I don’t pretend that thinking this way is easy, but I do think that it can be meaningful, if it is given a chance. As philosophers, we must be able to perceive other possibilities and look at life through other perspectives and lenses. This is my point with establishing false perceptions as being meaningful, purposeful, and true. I know that in the end these perceptions may be false, but I nonetheless think they are important, and we can’t take them for granted.

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