How People Perceive the World Based on Their Own Personal Experiences

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Every perception a person has is based upon their own personal experience. People perceive the world differently because no two people have the same experiences. Experience makes us who we are. It shapes our minds and opinions, our likes and dislikes. Therefore, it is difficult to have one ideal definition of certain concepts, such as justice, virtue, and an ideal society. Our experiences color our opinions of people different than ourselves and even our opinion of the dark. The only way to create one perception of reality would be to systematically force everyone to have the same experiences. This would diminish the richness and quality of life.

In discussing perception, the dark is a good place to begin. As a society, we think that dark things are evil and light things are good. This concept originated from the Bible. There are many references in Genesis that allude to darkness being bad and light being good. The first verse in Genesis contains the first seeds of this idea. It states, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters." In this excerpt "the deep" is formless and empty, while the surface has God. The deep of the ocean is a considerably darker place than the surface. The first thing God creates is the light. The passage states, "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness." It does not say that the darkness is good-it says that the light is good-and that God makes a concerted effort to separate the dark from the light (obviously to not have the dark corrupt the good light). God separates light and dark again when he creates night and day as he says, "Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night[...]and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light to the earth." If that example is not obvious enough the verse states, "God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night." It says that night is lesser than the day!

The Bible is a major reason why people fear the dark, but why do verses in the Bible convey a fear the dark? What is it about the dark that makes us fear? Today's world is a made up of many different cultures, most of which are not Judeo-Christian, and yet we still cannot shake this fear of the dark, even though evil can come at any time, any point, of the day. If people are raped and murdered every day in broad daylight. People lie, cheat, and steal from the helpless, from family members, at all times of the day, then why do we fear the dark? Fear is the unknown. Fear is knowing something unfortunate is going to befall you, but having no concept of when, or where, or how. It is the "not-knowing" of when that exact moment is going to occur. As human beings, we do not possess the ability to see in the dark. No matter how much our naked eye adjusts, the dark blinds us and we become unknowing. That is why we fear the dark. It has less to do with evil and more to do with perception. In the dark we are unknowing. We do not know because we cannot see, and that is what terrifies us. We have no depth perception. The dark is not evil because evil happenings occur in the dark, the dark is evil because we perceive the dark to be evil. As human beings we fear the unknown; to us the dark is unknown.

Many other concepts rely on perception. One such concept is virtue. In his book, Meno, Plato tries to give a definition to virtue. From the discussion that commences in the text, virtue is comprised of many different components. Virtue is a good quality-a good quality in the sense that everyone recognizes it as such. That means that the quality is an unmistakably "good" quality that one possesses that affects other living beings in an unmistakably good way. Again, perception plays into this. Based upon one's personal experiences and perceptions of the...
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