When people say "there are no facts, its our perception", isn't this a logical fallacy in itself? Isn't this the indirect denial of fact due to one's own beliefs?

For example: My skin color is a known fact. Regardless of what word we use to define that color, it will always remain THAT specific color. On top of that, Science can PROVE what color it is exactly.

Isn't it then safe to conclude that "our perception" can only go so far, especially when dealing with proven facts?

  • 1
    You may take some time to see that perception IS fact. And they are one. Problem comes when you start to talk about things you DO NOT perceive. Or things you can not define. Perception is base to everything there is.
    – Asphir Dom
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 23:48
  • Very well said ...
    – fantom
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 5:04
  • Perceptual Intentionality and the bad argument...
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:03
  • a refutation of relativism
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:09

5 Answers 5


"there are no facts, its our perception" is a very strange claim. For a start, is this claim a fact? If it is a fact, i.e. if it is true, then there are no facts. But if it is a fact, then there is at least one fact, namely this one, so it is not true to say 'there are no facts'. So it is not a fact.

Generally, it's a logical fallacy to argue from

(1) S perceives (or thinks, or believes) that p


(2) It is the case that p

The truth or falsity of a belief report is nearly always logically independent of the truth or falsity of the reported belief. Note, however, that if we say 'S knows that p' then it does logically follow that p. However, this is in virtue of the meaning of the word 'know'.

  • +1. There are at the far reaches of memory, some in contemporary epistemology who will disagree with the last paragraph in terms of "know" but I can't for the life of me fathom how their position regarding "know" works.
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 8:21

This is a saying based on the works of René Descartes. He introduces a way of proving things based on the idea that everything that can be doubted is wrong.

According to this method your perception could be false, so what you see might not be what is out there. If you are dreaming for example, you see things as well, even your skin color might be different, but those are not facts, even though you see them. But how do you know that when awake you are not just dreaming in a different state (aka "The Matrix" question)?

Descartes boils it down to the famous saying: Since I can doubt (think), I therefore must exist. And then he rebuilds everything from that "fact". However one can still doubt that logic exists, and therefore even this "fact" might be just the imagination of a crazed mind in a very crazy universe. This is about the point where believe takes over.

(Experimental) science does prove nothing. They examine the world through perception and take note of repeating behavior. If a scientists uses the word "fact" he actually means "we perceived it so many times, that we consider it to be a fact", yet all scientists could have been mistaken. This happened for example about the time where Einstein created his theory and destroyed so many "facts" with it, that it took years for scientists to accept that new theory.

The problem with Descartes method of doubt is that eventually you can doubt everything. So at some point you just have to take certain things as "facts" even if you cannot prove them just to be able to prove other things. So a certain amount of believe is necessary to be able to create facts. Mathematics for example is based on Axioms as well, so basically all mathematics are build on believes and not on facts, yet we came pretty far with it.

  • Einstein did not destroy any experimental observation "facts", he merely created a theory that explained them in a different way which also explained other observations that the previous theory couldn't. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 9:13
  • Correct. But he did destroy many things, scientists at that time believed to be facts.
    – TwoThe
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 11:06
  • But again, we are getting into that "scientists BELIEVED" or "scientists THOUGHT" when I was specifically asking for TESTED and CONFIRMED facts. FACT, by definition, means something that cannot be wrong.
    – fantom
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 5:06
  • 1
    If even Mathematics are based on "believes" I think it is safe to assume, that there is nothing that can be proven so well that it cannot be wrong. See my part about Descartes.
    – TwoThe
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 11:00
  • 1
    "Cogito ergo sum" non "dubito ergo sum"
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:05

What I like to think is perception is created and not think perception creates. Perception can not create facts. We can not understand things out side of perception but we can recognize the fact that some things are outside our capacity of perception exists. If we recognize everything independent from human perception then inconsistency would be our fundamental fact. Nothing, everything, and every variation happens all at once and when we perceive something we are merely "seeing" a possibly state of being.


Sensory is how you absorb data, perception is how data is processed and presented. Both sensory and perception are believed to be extremely limited. this suggests that everything we do understand is in a very limited context, thus out of context. If you take something out of context your misrepresenting it, because you cant truly understand something if its out of its context. It seems as though you cant know anything unless you know everything. This creates a paradox because it basically means if you don't know everything you know nothing. However we know something because we are self aware, so we must know everything. Could a conclusion be drawn that everything and nothing are one and the same? Or maybe more simply we can only perceive fractions of data because we are only fractions of consciousness. That's what i get when i internalize the question. I don't think mankind has reached a point as a whole where we can truly understand facts, however in an extremely limited way we seem to be able to identify some of them. I think people have a hard time with blank spaces. We like to fill them in. I think this problem plagues scientific communities and their theories more then they like to admit. We are in the realm of philosophy so even resources are simply the opinions and perceptions of others. How many Licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? Perhaps the world will never know.


I'm not sure what you mean by "can only go so far," but I'm happy to show how far one can infer from perceptions.

A perception is what you think you see, but what you really see are just sensations. If the physical cause of your perception is the thing you think you see, then there is a fact that corresponds to your perception; otherwise there isn't.

A perception itself involves inferences and is therefore not the ultimate origin of our inference. When you think you see a hard-cover book in front of you, you spontaneously assume there are many other qualities, such as hardness, persistence, crispness, impenetrability that are not in your immediate sensations. If you reach out your hand and feel nothing where the book is supposed to be, you will experience a shock (or will be surprised); this example shows that what you think you see is more than what you really see. What you really see is just a patch of colour; what you think you see is spontaneously inferred.

The ultimate origin of our inference is our sensation; most people, except perhaps painters, are not aware of the difference between what they think they see and what they really see. Sensations, except for very faint ones, are most indubitable, even when one is hallucinating; it is the inferences that are open to doubt. An untrained Child will pain a leaf solid green because he thinks he sees a leaf that is solid green; a painter will use white paint to show reflections although he knows the leaf is solid green.

“Science as the pursuit of truth is the equal, but not the superior, of art.” --Bertrand Russell. The Scientific Outlook.

It is no coincidence that this modern scientific age is heralded by the Renaissance, and the Renaissance began with the art. It is no coincidence that all great civilizations were preceded by great poets.

Another curious fact about perception is that everything you see over there in your perception is physically here because perceptual space is inferred from sensations, and sensations are limited to here and now (in the mind) - remember that the actual thing you see is a patch of colour in your own head.

In conclusion, it should be observed that the twofold space in which percepts are located is closely analogous to the two fold time of memories. In subjective time, memories are in the past; in objective time, they are now. Similarly, in subjective space my percept of a table is over there, but in physical space it is here.

Russell, Bertrand. "Space in Psychology." Human Knowledge Its Scope and Limits. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1948. 223. Print.

So can we infer from our perception to the thing that we think we perceive? If you sit in a security room, and the monitor shows a gunman walks into the building, can you infer that there really is a gunman at the door, or some prankster is playing an old movie on your monitor? Both are possible; both are open to doubt because there involves a leap of inference from what's on the screen to what really happens outside. We are not certain there really is a gunman, neither can we assert that there isn't such a gunman in virtual of that images on the monitor screen is not a real person.

Philosophical scrutiny only increases doubt. Yes or no, we are not certain either way. Down to the last analysis, we are still making do.

  • Sorry, no. Perception is the result of cause. When you see a book in front of you, you see a book in front of you. klemens.sav.sk/fiusav/doc/organon/prilohy/2012/2/9-22.pdf
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 3:26
  • Another example is a blob of ink. If a person knows the language, he instantly think it is a word; for others, it is just blob of ink. Perceptions involve habits and inferences; sensations don't. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 3:31
  • A painter paints what he really see and uses white paints on a green leave that reflects light. An untrained person would most likely paint a solid green leave because he thinks he sees a solid green leave. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 3:35
  • Sensations are the ultimate origin of our knowledge; that is why Russell said science, as a pursuit of truth, is the equal, not the superior of art. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 3:44
  • @Mr.Kennedy: Perception sits somewhere in the middle between sensation and the thing that causes the sensation. It is possible that the perceiver is dreaming, and there is no such a thing in front of him. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 3:47

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