apperception


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apperception

[‚ap·ər′sep·shən]
(psychology)
Perception as modified and enhanced by one's own emotions, memories, and biases.

apperception

(PHILOSOPHY) the mind's perception of itself. In various ways, apperception has been one important method in which philosophy has sought to ground knowledge.

Apperception

 

a fundamental property of human psychology, expressed in the conditionality of the perception of objects and phenomena of the outer world and the dependence of this perception on the general characteristics of one’s psychic life as a whole, one’s store of knowledge, and one’s concrete personality conditions.

The term “apperception” was introduced by G. Leibniz (New Essays on Human Understanding, Moscow-Leningrad, 1936, p. 20) to designate the process whereby an impression that has not yet reached consciousness is admitted into consciousness. This defined the first aspect of apperception: the transition of the sensed and unconscious (sensation or impression) to the rational and conscious (perception, conception, or thought).

I. Kant pointed out that the activity of reason synthesizes isolated elements of sensations, thereby always lending a certain wholeness to perceptions. To designate the connection and unity of perceptions in the consciousness, Kant introduced the concept of synthetic unity of apperception, that is, the unity of the process of perception. On the level of sensation this unity is ensured by reason, which is “the a priori ability to connect the [contents] of the varied data of the perception and to synthesize them in the unity of apperception” (Soch., vol. 3, Moscow, 1964, p. 193). Kant called the synthesis from already existing notions transcendental apperception.

In the 19th century J. F. Herbart used the concept of apperception to explain the fact that the content of a new notion is determined by the store of already existing notions. W. Wundt, who popularized the concept of apperception in psychology, used it to unite all three aspects: the admission into consciousness of perceptions, their integrity, and their dependence on previous experience. He explained the selective character of consciousness and behavior through apperception.

In modern psychology the concept of apperception expresses the well-established fact that different individuals (and even the same individual at different times) may perceive the same object differently and, conversely, different objects may be perceived as one. This is so because the perception of an object is not a simple mirror reflection but a construction of an image and is influenced by an individual’s sensorimotor and categorial schemes, his store of knowledge, and so on. This fact gives rise to the distinction between stable apperception (which depends on the individual’s world view and general personality structure) and temporary apperception (which depends on his mood, the situational attitude to what is perceived, and so on); these two types of perceptions are closely intermingled in any discrete act of perception. The concepts of gestalt and of set, which express different aspects of an individual’s activity, are variations of the idea of apperception.

REFERENCES

Ivanovskii, V. “K voprosu ob appertseptsii.” Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii, 1897, no. 1.
Rubinshtein, S. L. Osnovy obshchei psikhologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1946. Pages 50–58, 241.
Metzger, W. Psychologie. Darmstadt, 1954. Pages 100, 128.

V. A. KOSTELOVSKII

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