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Philosophers think of perception as a sensory experience (also called a sensation) that provides the perceiver with knowledge concerning the external world. This leads into an approach to perception that diverges importantly from those taken in science and in everyday thinking.

Three clarifications:

  • A sensory experience is one that has a characteristically visual, auditory, or other-sensory character. Such an experience need not originate from the sense organs.
  • “External” means external to the conscious mind. Accordingly, the perceiver's own body should be considered a part of the “external” world.
  • In philosophy, “knowledge” means something quite specific. In order for me to know something in the philosophical sense—for instance, for me to know that my friend is walking up the path to my front door—it should not only ...
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