The most pernicious perceptual illusion


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With this post I conclude my series of essays on ways in which our perceptions present us with an illusory interpretation of reality.  In brief, I have described how our perceptions 1) Give us only the information ‘we need to know’ to survive; 2) make people and things appear to be physical objects in a material world; 3) make each of us seem to be at the center of that world; 4) ‘thingify’ or separate what we perceive into ‘things’ we can name; 5) separate ‘self’ from ‘other,’ evoking an egoic territory of self-interest; 6) make each of us seem to be an individual; 7) make sense of our world by how it compares and relates to our ‘self;’ and 8) give us the appearance of constancy in an ever-changing universe. Here is the ninth and final aspect of perception that I discuss in the series.


The ninth and most pernicious way perception creates an illusion occurs when connected, living beings are perceived as separate and made into things – and ‘things’ are dead. As things, living beings become stripped of their beingness. Thus, people can think of them as having no inside, no consciousness, no feelings to take into account, not even any experience of pain, nothing at all to consider. Thus, living beings can be treated and used as commodities. Thus, we humans, we perceivers can create industrial agriculture, mistreat, slaughter and eat animals, extinguish entire species, make war on and kill one another, and even endanger the survival of our home, that thing called Earth.

The ninth evolutionary benefit – the illusion of the separation and subsequent thingification of living beings – is hard to see as an evolutionary benefit. It is the latest perceptual illusion to arise and is the correlate of the illusions of materialism and the separation of self and other. It arose simultaneously with the evolution of language and, of course, enabled the continuous evolution of it.

As words became symbols for things, the other parts of speech modified and rearranged these symbols, while at the same time conserving what they pointed to. In this way, separation and thingification are beneficial, at least from some aspects of the human perspective. In fact, they are part of the reason why humanity is taking over the earth. Because without them, you could not think about things – as things, and without that logic, science and technology would never have come into existence.

Finally, we come to the perceptual illusion itself, which also has problematic and beneficial aspects.  The problem is that in creating an illusory picture of reality, perception keeps you from seeing things as they really are.  The benefit – and it is a considerable one – is that this illusory picture of reality is user-friendly. It automatically organizes and interprets reality in the most efficient way for the perceiver.  Without the perceptual illusion we would be lost, floundering in a miasma of relativity.

All of the above are paradoxes.  They are examples of the drawbacks and benefits of the perceptual illusion, but there are even more aspects to it. These are the underlying dynamics of the way perception works which lead us to the unconscious and unwarranted assumption that these are also the ways that aperceptual reality works.

About Dr. Jeffrey Eisen, Ph.D.

The creation of PsychoNoetics is the life's work of Dr. Jeffrey S. Eisen, an academically trained psychologist and psychotherapist. Dr. Eisen's discoveries brought him to a breakthrough expansion of Freud's id, ego and super-ego structural model of the psyche called the Enoe, and a revolutionary vision of the Self-Illuminated Human. Dr. Eisen is a gifted speaker, facilitator and author of hundreds of unpublished essays, four books, and a forthcoming one titled The De-Programmed Human. Playing 20 Questions With God, An Introduction to the Clearing Path of PsychoNoetics is both an engaging overview of the development of PsychoNoetics, and a comprehensive guide to applying it to your life. Oneness Perceived, A Window Into Enlightenment is a monumental body of work that attempts a unified field theory from the viewpoint of nonduality with academic precision and rigor, and stands to become a key reference within the alternative scientific community. He has appeared in an EnlightenNext webinar with Ken Wilber, Deepak Chopra, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Brian Robertson, and Andrew Cohen, recorded online interviews with EnlightenNext Magazine, and collaborated with the first director of the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS) who inspired the name PsychoNoetics.
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