“To be is to be perceived” – George Berkeley
The background assumption is that we know the world through the five senses, and that knowledge of anything without them is impossible. If we analyse…what an apple is, there is nothing to it except the image of it, the feel of it, its taste and smell, and the noise it makes when we tap it. There is no underlying apple-shaped “essence”… Therefore, the apple *is* the sensory experience of it. Hence “Esse ist percipi” – to be, or exist, is to be perceived. We can make no sense of existence apart from our sensory experience of it.
I guess this idea is behind the question, “If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Although apples and trees exist whether there is anyone around to “experience” them. I do have to admit, however, when I don’t feel “perceived” by people in my life, I begin to feel transparent-running around in this rat cage of a world feeling as if nothing I do affects anything. So on a “metaphysical” level, I can see Berkeley’s point.
How many times, however, is it better for all involved if one is NOT perceived? How many times, however, is it better to PERCEIVE but not be noticed while the perceiving is going on? Not as a creepy lurker or anything, but more from a standpoint of self-preservation. How many animals trust a human with food and end up getting killed because of it? How many dogs trust people who appear kind and end up being abused or forced into dogfights for their trouble? How many women have had to move to another part of the country so as to have a better chance of staying alive and out of reach of dangerous husbands? Or stalking strangers? How many men have had to do the same? How many of our brave military men and women or police officers have had to be absolutely invisible or risk certain death?
Random thought for the day.