An Individuals Control Over Perceptions

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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Human beings have control over their perceptions because there are no “requirements” as to what we can think of something; the boundaries to life are created by ourselves. We can perceive something as positive, or as negative, but just the fact that we have the ability to create our own perceptions, and take away our own ideas from the world around us, gives us much control as to how we experience everything. One could argue that society, and societal norms could influence our perceptions, but this is not true, because as evident in "The Mind's Eye" by Oliver Sacks, everyone who might be going through the same problem, have different perceptions of it.

In "Elephant Crackup" by Charles Siebert, Siebert explains how one has control in their perceptions of other beings. In "Homo Religiosus”, Karen Armstrong explains how we can control our perceptions in regard to different societies around us. In "The Mind's Eye", Oliver Sacks explains how our perceptions affect ourselves. We define various aspects of our lives which allow us to be in control of everything we perceive. We have control over what we perceive because perceiving is the process through which we become more aware of our surroundings and as a result, use that knowledge to develop and create connections regarding our understanding of the world. Since we decide what to make of these different experiences, we are in control of what we perceive.

Everyday, we are faced with new experiences and have the ability to make whatever we wish to make from each of them. In that regards, we are the own authors of the story of our life. There are no boundaries apart from the ones we create for ourselves. We are in complete control, because we can decide what we take away from any experience. Therefore, we can control how we perceive various things. However, no matter how we choose to perceive something, it will always have an impact on those around us, and our perception of them.

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In “Elephant Crackup" by Charles Siebert, Siebert explains "elephant[s] and other wildlife stocks of Queen Elizabeth National Park are only just now beginning to recover from years of virtually unchecked poaching and habitat destruction" (Seibert 354). From this, people can create their own perceptions of the elephants. For example in the article, the driver who is driving the author, when confronted by an elephant in his path, instead of driving around he says, “...raising an index finger for emphasis. 'She'll charge. We should stay right here"" (Seibert 352).

Here, the driver says "she will move". He simply expects her to move, but does not offer to move instead. This is because he created a world in his head where his perception of the elephant is that she in inferior and will acquiesce to human needs. He does not think he needs to move and adamantly says "we should stay here.” This abhorrence shows how our perception affects our behaviors with other beings, and that we are in control with how we perceive things, because we are in control of how we act towards others.

In addition to being in control of our own perceptions of the world, we also take in different perceptions from the world around us. Because of this, we have the ability for other ideas to change us, and change our perception. But, in short, we are still in control because we have the ability to change or to not change. There is nothing forcing us to think a certain way. In "Homo Religiosus", Armstrong suggests that we should "open ourselves to [myth] wholeheartedly and allow it to change us” (Armstrong 6). If we were to do this, we would still be in complete control of our own perceptions, because our actions are what define our perceptions, and we are in control of our own actions.

For instance, in "Homo Religiosus”, Armstrong explains one type of ritual that was practiced by a group of people called the Shamans. According to her, "Hunters often abstain from sex before an expedition, hunt in a state of ritual purity and feel a deep empathy with their prey" (Armstrong 4). According to this, we still have an ability to open our minds to take in the world around us, and because of that we can control our own actions to acknowledge a new perceptions. The shamans do not have to take in the perspectives of the animals they kill, but they do and they consciously make the decision to give respect to these animals, and as a result, they are in control of their own perceptions.

Multiple people can experience the exact same event, but chances are, each individual has their own perceptions of what they experienced. Because of this, they can fully control their own perceptions because they do not have to see eye to eye with another individual. For example, the first person Sacks interviewed was a professor by the name of John Hull, who was not born blind but slowly became blind as he aged. According to Sacks, because of Hull's blindness he had a “new intensity of auditory experience (or attention)...[and] came to feel a sense of intimacy with nature" (Sacks 330). Here, Hull's perception of his blindness is one of positivity, where he is able to feel more connected to the world around him. He is in total control of his perception, because of this connection to nature, and rather is not allowing blindness to control his own perceptions.

Another example would be Jacques Lusseyran, who also was not born blind but became blind. His perception of blindness was that "after [he] went blind [he] forgot the faces of my mother and father and the faces of most people I loved...I stopped caring whether people were dark or fair..i felt that sighted people spent too much time observing these things" (Sacks 334). According to this, Lusseyran is able to be in control of the way he perceives the world despite being blind. He understands the differences that existed between people who were sighted and people who were not sighted, and he is able to take control of his perception by understanding that "sighted people spent too much time observing these things". His perspective allowed him to see beyond physical characteristics, which helped him develop his own unique to blindness, which was a conditioned shared by, for example Hull and Lusseyran.

In summary, the works "Elephant Crackup", "Homo Religiosus" and "The Mind's Eye" all show that human beings have control over their perceptions because they have free will to think as they please. There is not anything stopping them from thinking a certain way, and the only boundaries that exist are the ones we impose upon ourselves. In "Elephant Crackup", Charles Siebert shows how we have control over our perspective of others because we can control the way we treat them, and as a result that gives us the power and free will to act as we wish in our interactions with others. In "Homo Religiosus”, Karen Armstrong shows how we have control over our perspective in regards to society.

Many different cultures will have different perspective regarding things, such as the killing of an animal. But the tribes discussed in the article have chosen to incorporate the perspective of the animals into their own perspectives, allowing themselves to have an open mind. The fact that they can open their minds show how they have control over their own perspectives. In "The Mind's Eye", Oliver Sacks shows how we we are in control of our own perspectives through ourselves. This is because he details the same problem being faced by many different people, and describes each individual's experience of the problem. No two are the same.

Each individual has their own perspective of a problem that is shared among them. Because they are free to create their own perspectives, that gives them control over how they feel and perceive other things. Human beings are in control of their own actions because they have the free will to perceive things as they wish. One could argue that this defining quality creates human beings, the fact that we can author our own stories. Though it may seem like it, we are bound to nothing, and free to perceive the world in any way we want.

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An Individuals Control Over Perceptions. (2023, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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