Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Thursday, May 01, 2003


I think that the process which you have been describing is called "apperception." I found this definition of apperception: perception as modified and enhanced by one's own emotions, memories, and biases.

Here's a rather long piece by Wiliam James on apperception:

I first came across the term in an old essay on Stoicism in "The Five Great Philosophies of Life (1911) by William De Witt Hyde (pg 43):

"The shortest way to understand the Stoic principle is through the psychological doctrine of apperception. According to this now universally accepted doctrine, the mind is not an empty cabinet into which ready-made impressions of external things are dumped. The mind is an active process; and the meaning and value of any sensation presented from without is determined by the reaction upon it of the ideas and aims that are dominant within."

It seems that apperception represents one of the fundamental insights of Stoicism, which is also, now, a bedrock idea of cognitive psychology, that our perceptions are conditioned by our prior beliefs.


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