Every system of Classical Indian Thought has expressed its opinion on the stages and nature of perception. Most systems accept 2 stages in the perceptual process. Others hold that it is just a one-step affair. The first stage is called indeterminate perception (nirvikalpaka pratyakSha) and the second stage is called determinate perception (savikalpaka pratyakSha).
Here is the line-up of the various systems on this particular issue:
All perception where any real knowledge is obtained is, by definition, determinate. Any pre-relational apprehension does not even qualify to be called perception. Hence, perception is always determinate (savikalpaka). There is no such thing as indeterminate perception.
Perception is, by definition, indeterminate. Perception is the pure sensation of an unique individual entity devoid of its generic correlation, name and qualities. Any association of the unique individual entity (vyakti) with a class-essence (jAti), name (nAma) etc. is a subsequent mental construct and is not an innate feature (svalakShaNa) of that entity. Hence the only true perception is indeterminate. The so-called determinate perception, since it is a subjective interpretation of the initial pure cognition (which alone reveals the thing-in-itself) is, in the final analysis, false.
THE "VEDIK"/Indian/Hindu SYSTEMS:
3. THE NYAAYA-VAISHESHHIKA:
Perception takes place in two stages. It proceeds from the simple to the complex. The initial stage, i.e. indeterminate perception, is the simple and bare apprehension of an entity without the knowledge of its class-essence (jAti) and attributes (guNa). The second stage, i.e. determinate perception, is the complex and concrete comprehension of that entity together with the substance-attribute relationship (guNa-guNI sambandha) and the universal-particular relationship (jAti-vyakti sambandha).
4. THE SAANKHYA-YOGA:
Perception takes place in two stages. It proceeds from the vague complex to the simple, and then to the concrete complex. The initial stage, i.e. indeterminate perception, is the vague apprehension of an amorphous mass wherein the distinguishing features of an entity are not yet comprehended. The second stage, i.e. determinate perception, is itself divided into two phases, i.e. the analytic and the synthetic. In the analytic phase, the substance-attribute and the universal-particular aspects of the entity are clearly distinguished and in the synthetic phase, the entity is cognized as an integrated whole with reference to the overall context and circumstances.
5. MIIMAAMSAA (smarta):
Perception takes place in two stages, i.e. the indeterminate and the determinate. Indeterminate perception is the immediate apprehension of an object together with its generic and specific features but not their distinction. It is also devoid of assimilation, discrimination, recollection and recognition. In the determinate stage of perception, the generic and specific features are clearly distinguished together with the other qualifying properties of the object.
6. SHANKARA (ADVAITA) VEDAANTA:
Perception takes place at two levels, i.e. the indeterminate and the determinate. Indeterminate perception is devoid of all qualifications. It apprehends neither an individual object nor its qualities. It is merely the apprehension of pure undifferentiated Being (sattAmAtra sannikarSham). This is absolute perception. Determinate perception is the perception of objects together with their attributes. This is relative perception which is ultimately false as it is superimposed (Aropita) on the one and true perception, i.e. indeterminate perception.
7. RAAMAANUJA (VISHISHHT.AADVAITA) VEDAANTA:
Perception takes place in two ways. When someone perceives an object for the very first time, this is called indeterminate perception. Here, the object is perceived with some of its qualities such as its generic character in the shape of a particular configuration of its parts (samsthAna vishiShTa guNAlambana) etc. But there is no recognition (pratyAbhijn~A) that this generic character is shared with other members of the class by the object in question. The determinate stage of perception is the apprehension of the object from the second time onwards. Here the generic characteristics of the said object are recognized as being shared in common with other members of that class.
8. MADHVA (DVAITA) VEDAANTA:
There is only one type of perception, i.e. determinate perception. These determinate forms are of 8 types where the apprehension of an object is either qualified by the substance, quality, action, name, generality, particularity, inherence or non-being. Indeterminate perception described by the other systems is just fictional as there are no such things as formless, unqualified or non-relational percepts.
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