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Borrowed from Latin perceptum, neuter of perceptus (perceived), past participle of percipiō (to perceive); see perceive.



percept (plural percepts)

  1. (philosophy, psychology, now rare) Something perceived; the object of perception. [from 19th c.]
    • 1860, William Hamilton, Lectures in Metaphysics, III.3:
      Whether it might not, in like manner, be proper to introduce the term percept for the object of perception, I shall not at present inquire.
  2. (philosophy, psychology, linguistics) A perceived object as it exists in the mind of someone perceiving it; the mental impression that is the result of perceiving something. [from 19th c.]
    • 1901, Charles Sanders Peirce, Grammar of Science:
      I see an inkstand on the table: that is a percept. Moving my head, I get a different percept of the inkstand.
    • 1905, William James, “How Two Minds Can Know One Thing”, in Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods:
      So far as in that world it is a stable feature, holds ink, marks paper and obeys the guidance of a hand, it is a physical pen. [...] So far as it is instable, on the contrary, coming and going with the movements of my eyes, altering with what I call my fancy, continuous with subsequent experiences of its ‘having been’ (in the past tense), it is the percept of a pen in my mind.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy:
      Socrates remarks that when he is well he finds wine sweet, but when ill, sour. Here it is a change in the percipient that causes the change in the percept.

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