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A percept is a philosophical term which roughly means an individual's observation/perception of something external to one's self; more specifically, the resultant of perceiving. It is the representation of an external event that affected the senses and which - by perceptual processing - caused the activation of a certain category in the mind, i.e., the percept. The term percept is typically used in contrast to the terms distal stimulus (the external object) and proximal stimulus (the physical stimulation pattern on the senses, e.g., the pattern of light wavelength projected on the retina off the distal stimulus).

This term is exceedingly important in the understanding and discussion of human perceptual processes and is functionally critical to the discussion of optical art and visual illusions. Particular examples of the criticality of the term include optical illusions dependent upon the process of 'ambiguity' wherein one image can create two entirely separate and distinct percepts. This is commented upon by Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations (1953), and Rudolph Arnheim in Art and Visual Perception (1954).

Marshall McLuhan declared that he was more interested in percepts than concepts.

Percept is also a term used by Bergson and Deleuze to define perception gone independent from their authors. According to Deleuze, science uses percepts, while art works with affects and philosophy creates concepts.


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