With the Enlightenment, philosophers in the West recognized that the immediate given of perception is a mental image or representation, not an extra-mental object. That insight raised a pressing, epistemological question: to what degree, if any, do those mental images represent an extra-mental state of affairs? To phrase the question in slightly different terms: in what manner (if any) and to what degree (if any) does perception convey information about reality? The purpose of this paper is to explore this question and clarify some of the epistemological issues associated with perception. This exploration will be aided by references to the epistemological views of a selective sampling of key Western and Asian philosophers: the Buddhist philosophers Dignāga (5th-6th centuries), Dharmakīrti (7th century), and Longchenpa (kLong-chen rab- ’byams-pa, 14th century) and the Western philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant (both 18th century).
Keywords: perception, information, epistemology, Dignāga, Dharmakīrti, kLong-chen rab- ’byams-pa, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, rDzogs-chen