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Reality And Perception: The Reality We Perceive Is The Reality We Want To Perceive - With A Free Essay Review

As Shakespeare said, ‘there’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’. To a certain extent, the way in which we perceive the world is entirely up to us. However, there are times when what we perceive is out of our control. Our perception of reality is dependent on how we choose, how we are influenced and how we are taught to perceive the things we are surrounded by. Most of the time, what we perceive as our reality is what we want to perceive however, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes our perception of our reality isn’t in our control but the control of our environment.

In an experiment by psychologist John B. Watson, an infant named Albert was conditioned to fear white rats. He was repeatedly exposed to white rats and was taught fear response to these furry animals which wouldn’t otherwise occur naturally. Although this wouldn’t have been what Albert wanted to perceive as part of his reality, he became extremely distressed whenever he saw a white rat and it was out of his control to ‘see’ these harmless animal any differently. Albert’s fear spread to anything white and fluffy and his world was completely affected by it as a child.

Perception and reality are two different things, reality is ‘the thing itself’ and perception is what we ‘see’ of this reality. If our reality was our perception, then our perception could not be wrong. However, we know that we do perceive things incorrectly when we have conflicting perceptions of the same thing with other people. This is also the case with optical illusions when we know what we perceive isn’t actually real causing a contrast between our perception and reality. Our perception of reality is affected by our paradigms, our memories and past experiences which unconsciously restrict our imagination and our thoughts.

More often than not, what we perceive of the world is what we want to perceive. Our perceptions of reality are based on the stimuli we choose to attend to and what we choose to ignore.

As we grow older, we become more informed and more knowledgeable. We increasingly learn to think independently and our perception of the world gradually changes. In Michael Frayn’s novel ‘Spies’, the protagonist Stephen realizes that ‘the very things that seemed so simple and straightforward then are not so simple and straightforward at all, but indefinitely complex and painful’. Stephens’ perception of reality has changed over time, the way he perceived his reality during his youth was in stark contrast to how he looks back at it fifty years later.


Essay Review

Although the Shakespeare quotation means more or less what you need it to mean, it is ambiguous out of context. A little contextual information would clarify that Hamlet is speaking about how we perceive the world (Denmark is a prison to him) and not, or not ostensibly (but in truth, his remark is ambiguous in context too), how we perceive human actions. Hamlet and you, in any case, are saying roughly the same thing about the world, but not exactly; Hamlet speaks of the influence of one's thinking on one's perception; you speak of the influence of one's choice or desire ("what we perceive ... is what we want to perceive").

Concerning the latter, your ultimate statement (your thesis?) is that "most of the time" we see what we choose to see, but sometimes we are under other influences. Most of your essay is devoted to demonstrating the second part of this claim, the claim about other influences. It's never made clear why you think the first claim (most of the time we see what we choose) is true.

To prove the second part of your thesis you cite the case of the delightful Dr. Watson and poor Albert. You should document your source for this story (and avoid using the language of your source[s] to tell the story); you should don’t document sources even when you have not been explicitly asked to do so by your teacher. You should also explicitly explain the significance of the story for your main argument. Conclude the paragraph with such an explanation instead of with a factual claim about Albert.

The same should be said about the final paragraph, which cites the case of the character Stephen. When you conclude with a claim about a novel that you choose to offer as an example, you leave it up to your reader to decide how that claim relates to the argument of the essay as a whole. You should not rely on your reader's willingness to participate in the completion of your argument, because readers tend to be lazy and uncooperative. Tell your reader what to think.

Following your poor Albert paragraph, you move on, without transition (transitions are a sign of caring about your reader), to discuss the distinction between reality and perception. You devote a couple of sentences to proving that the two are not the same, which is fine (in fact, it's probably the strongest and most compelling bit of the essay), but you don't then explain what the significance of this distinction is in terms of the argument of the essay (sorry to harp on about the same old problem, but it is the most important problem with the essay). Try writing a sentence that begins with the words "This distinction is important because ...," and complete it with an explanation of the importance of the distinction that relates to your claim about how our perception of reality is subject to influence. You do end the paragraph with an assertion that perception is subject to influence, but that is not the same thing as a logical conclusion, and the last sentence in fact, and as a consequence, seems out of place in the paragraph.

The penultimate paragraph is of course not really a paragraph at all and its appearance at this point in the essay appears arbitrary.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: hana

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