Seeing is believing! “This adage says a lot about ourselves. It makes it easier for us to understand something we can see, touch, hear, etc. “Seeing is believing”. Why doesn’t everyone believe in ghosts or UFOs? Precisely because most people have not experienced these phenomena through their own senses.
How can we be sure that something is part of our world, that it is real? There is a branch of philosophy that is interested in this question: “ontology”. Psychologists have also tried to provide an answer by following their own philosophy, according to which everything in the world is made of matter. This is called “materialism”.
Before I go too far into philosophy, let me explain why philosophy has its place in a book on psychology. As you can see from the summary of this book, psychology encompasses different fields of study, all of which are aimed at explaining why we do what we do and how we do it. This chapter is devoted to the why and how of something we all do: to apprehend the world around us through our senses. We are generally unaware of the importance of our senses. And yet, all day long we see, hear, touch, smell, etc., we are aware of the importance of our senses.
Psychology, as a study of behavior and mental processes, is necessarily interested in the functioning of the senses. We are not just brains floating inside bodies that have no contact with the outside world. On the contrary, we are constantly in contact with our environment. We absorb the information it provides, process it, and use it to navigate a vast ocean of possibilities.
How do we access this information? Through the material it is made of – hence the importance of understanding the philosophy of materialism. Sensation” is the process of receiving raw energy, information from the environment. Perception” is the process of organizing this raw energy in order to give it meaning. In the following sections, we will look at the different ways in which we apprehend and perceive the world.