On Reality and Perception: An Invocation for a Shared Bridge

What we hear and perceive is defined by the largess of our cultural and past experiences. Reality is not only an empirical expression derived from outside stimuli, but in an essence stems in as much from our cognitive biases. o

Why does one person view a prom dress as black and blue, and another gold and white? Do you see your wife or your mother-in-law in an ambiguous painting? Why is the moon, apparently equidistant from earth larger at the horizon than the sky, and why is time itself in measured days, moving faster and slower- even fragmented as if some things all occured yesterday?

The answer to these questions, as well as to the seminal roots of perception of what exists relies on the unconscious mind. Reality is not based off of what is heuristically derived from one’s visual cortexes, but rather built upon the subjective contexts of syllogisms, congenialities, and habits, that predate logic. There is a veneer on reality, built upon the past data one is fed. 

To rationalize is to project one’s thoughts on the otherness, to empiricize, to dissect a world in in parts to find the pictorial whole. Like a deep neural network, humans function similarly in that we are fed and insurmountable data in whole parts, of data that contains emotional and subjective markers that empirically that cannot be derived or expressed in rules based analysis. 

This malleability of reality evinces the esprit de corp and nature of truth itself- of its uncertain nature spanned over an array of perceptions. While on one hand that promotes diversity in thought, it also allows for manipulation and misinterpretation of data itself as individuals compile facts to inspire not only support groups and community, but virality that curates false realities.

Our sense of identity and its desire to belong ascribes one to a group, defined by (1) trust, and (2) conformism. What defines an individual’s perception is trust upon their own faculties and conformism of the empirical norms of what can be derived externally. However, on a grander scale, there exists a causality dilemma as one ascribes their identity to a group, as their center of locus and identity is now ascribed to belonging to a greater whole. One’s center of locus now trusts the group’s perception, and conformism to what others state is true. 

The nature of a tribe and community targets people’s insecurities and core beliefs. Self uncertainty motivates people to seek out stronger group identification as well as leadership that encourages their own confirmation bias. For instance, if one is a minority, it is easy to bond with others that experience oppression and to find a leader that too, vocally speaks out about these pains to actualize our confirmation biases. Likewise, it is also easy for those of highly vituperative right-wing nature to bond of those of their ideologies to suppress voices. 

The psychological process that causes people to identify within groups is called social categorization, individuals how they should behave as group members validate who we are. The psychological process that causes people to identify within groups is called social categorization, individuals how they should behave as group members validate who we are. Exploring alternative views thus alienates oneself and also lessens the group’s power to ensure identity and individual validation, that most viewpoints of middle grounds are silenced. 

These aggressions and perception are not only a conflation of the individual perception with external realities, or amongst groups, but the internecine damage of miscommunication with each other. It is a lovely enterprise, as one perceives an action such as a lover leaving one alone to complete work as abandonment, while on their end it was also one of self-sacrifice and love for a greater good. It is a lovely enterprise, as Pope Francis, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar sit down for dinner at the Vatican to reconcile a civil war. It is a lovely enterprise, when two siblings sit down after ten years of attrition, to share a hearth and lore.

Perhaps, boundaries of perception are no longer a Manichean dialogue of one or the other where all is fair in love and war but an affirmation and odiation of both. Let us disagree in peace, and carve out a space of our own, as a simple shared note, meal, or story bridges disputes as our psycho-physiospaces, shared become one. 

Kiyoko Osone