People are easily seduced by their perspectives. What appears to me to be evident and obvious may make no sense to you. This can be very hard to imagine. We are all such different creatures. I am, to some extent, the sum of my memories. That is to say my personality, how I act, and how I perceive myself (which may be different from each other) are partly the result of things that have happened to me, shaped me, the choices I have made in the past, and their consequences. According to Immanuel Kant, “our perceptions are not the result of a physiological process by which our eyes somehow transmit an image of the world into our brains, but rather, they are the result of a psychological process that combines what our eyes see with what we already think, feel, know, want, and believe, and then uses this combination of sensory information and preexisting knowledge to construct our perception of reality.”[i] So what you end up seeing is framed and filtered through what you expect to see. So much so, that you may see what you expected to see when someone else next to you sees something very different. While you may be sure that what you saw did indeed happen, and remember it that way, this may be more a reflection of your own experience than what actually occurred.

My experiences provide me with a combination of opinions, values, views, and lessons learned that shape who I am and what I see, and therefore how I will react, which is not always how I think I will react, or thought I reacted at the time, nor is it always how others think I will react or thought I reacted at the time. So much so, that you and I may be looking at the same phenomenon, yet experiencing it very differently, and we would never know it. When I look at a dog, or when I feel his fur and when I see his color and shape; all of these sensations have a unique experience for me. So that when I have the same sensations again I use the same term for them. The same goes for you. So if you and I are both looking at ‘brown.’ We both call it brown, but I can never be sure if what you are looking at looks the same to you as what I am looking at looks to me. While we both use the same term for the same thing, there is no way to compare the subjective experiences of brown. We are both limited to look through our own perspectives. [ii]


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“You cannot see what I see, because you see what you see. You cannot know what I know, because you know what you know. What I see and what I know cannot be added to what you see and what you know, because they are not of the same kind. Neither can it replace what you see and what you know, because that would be to replace you, yourself. Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it. So, everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”                     – Douglas Adams


[i] Gilbert, Daniel. (2005). Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Vintage Books  (Random House Inc.). With reference to Kant, I. (1781). Trans. Smith, N. K. (1965). Critique of Pure Reason. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

[ii] Gilbert, Daniel. (2005). Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Vintage Books  (Random House Inc.).

Engel, G. L. (1987) Where you think you stand determines what you think you see. The Pharohs, 50 (Winter), 21–24.

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