Philosophers have long thought over the argument of whether or not we human
beings can perceive our own minds. In the past, English empiricists such as Locke,
Berkeley, and Hume took the leadership in this argument. Empiricism states that we can
only perceive all of things through sensory experience. Berkeley thought that objects
could only be in the state of existence when one perceives it through sensory experience,
for example by touching it, and questioned the previous arguments of objects become a
complete, objective existence. As so, he criticized the materialists and concluded that
within the universe, or at least the one we perceive, only sensory conceptions (or as he
said, the conscious experience) can be justified.
Conceptions are composed of three elements: “I”, “(its) mind”, and the
“concept or notion” that is formed from that “I” and “(its) mind”, which in this case is
the sensory perception. With this said, things in this world can be divided into two
groups: objects and minds. Objects are to be perceived by our senses, and therefore are
passive things. Minds on the other hand, are the vehicles by which we perceive those
objects, so therefore they are active. However, here arises the question that since minds
are only somewhat like “tools” to perceive the yet unperceived, and those itself can’t be
perceived, these might not exist in reality.
To answer this question, we must understand once again, the premise of
something to be in an existent state could only be achieved under limited conditions,
and that is to say, now existing things are only existent because they are being sensed by
us. If in any case, should our minds be sensed, then from the above premise, those
minds would be materialized or objectified, and would become objects, or object-like
things. The minds thus had lost their activeness. The rare example when we can see this
happen, is when we look back on our pasts. Although we can refer to our past by
utilizing this object-like mind, it is impossible for us to refer to the moment of “now.”
Therefore we cannot perceive ourselves no matter how hard we try, because we can
only perceive and think about things that were objectified via our minds.
In conclusion, we humans cannot have self-perceive, because our minds are
un-self-perceivable. Objectivity can though be realized in nature most of the time, this
too has some limitations. Perceiving minds can also be one of these ambiguities in
nature that is vulnerable in presence.