Naturally, we tend to have the deep conviction that our perception of what is happening is an objective representation of reality. Now, by definition, perception is subjective and it varies from person to person, therefore it is completely unique and personal. And although our way of perceiving a certain event may be common or very similar to many people, it must be recognized that ultimately it is always an individual experience.
Lets define these 2 basic terms.
What is objectivity:
means a lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice. / Judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices | Source
What is subjectivity:
refers to how someone’s judgment is shaped by personal opinions and feelings instead of outside influences. / Judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts. | Source
Perception can generally be assimilated thanks to our emotions, such as fear, joy, anger, or sadness; and applying our subjective evaluation based on them, which results in our feelings, such as happiness or melancholy. The important thing is to note that although the majority of the people will have a very similar reaction towards the same event, it is also true that many times that reaction will end up being completely different. That is, there is no mathematical gold rule that we can apply to know what effect an event can have on the human being.
What is perception.
Perception can be defined as our recognition and interpretation of sensory information. Perception also includes how we respond to the information. We can think of perception as a process where we take in sensory information from our environment and use that information in order to interact with our environment. Perception allows us to take the sensory information in and make it into something meaningful. | Source
On the other hand, our beliefs, opinions, points of view and every other knowledge developed throughout our lives determine how we face reality, that is, how we perceive the things that happen around us. In other words, our identity and all the knowledge that is stored in our memory directly affects the way we feel and the way we relate with the world.
Thus, our beliefs and perceptions have a direct impact on how we deal with the totality of our experiences, from our relationship with our family or friends to the impact that television news has on us. The important thing is to understand that according to our particular way of thinking, we will perceive things in a certain and unique way. And this perception, at the same time, will condition our way of thinking, and therefore, our actions. Because of this, a kind of loop is established between our beliefs and our perceptions, reinforcing each other, and sometimes it is taken to the extreme, hence the importance of always having a little bit of objectivity in us.
The construction of our identity is a highly complex process unconsciously elaborated during our human development, from practically our birth, and in which multiple factors end up shaping us, going from our innate biological characteristics and temperament (inherited by our parents), to the endless experiences that we have the opportunity to live during the course of our existence.
In any case, it is interesting to discuss the mental (and natural) conditioning that almost all of us carry by default and that, although it can be very useful in many occasions, in many others, it can be an impediment or an obstacle.
So, we have an opportunity to rethink things when we understand that we always exercise a subjective filter that conditions, for better or for worse, our way of understanding the reality that surrounds us. And by reaching that understanding, in addition, we give ourselves the opportunity to change it if we see that it is not benefiting us.
By accepting our points of view as something relative to our circumstances and unique interpretation, and by taking into account the importance we give to our impressions and perceptions (knowing that they are based on a concept of identity derived from our past experiences), I believe that this can help us reach a more mature state, and also on a more important level, to understand and relate to other people much more easily.
Accepting the fact we perceive our reality not necessarily in an objective way, can fuel a lot of philosophical questions and discussions. with the most important example coming from Plato's Allegory of the Cave which is explained below:
In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.
Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows. | Source
The most popular example in today's culture is from the famous dialogue between Neo and Morpheus in Matrix when asking about which pills to choose. This question was nothing more than asking what was more important? reality (the almost destroyed world governed by machines) of perception (the virtual world where everything was normal)?
This questions can be approached using many angles, but I would like to first leave it to you.
Which one do you think is more important and why, our perception of the world, or how reality really is?