Although, chronologically, man’s consciousness develops in three stages: the
stage of sensations, the perceptual, the conceptual—epistemologically, the
base of all of man’s knowledge is the perceptual stage.
Sensations, as such, are not retained in man’s memory, nor is man able to
experience a pure isolated sensation. As far as can be ascertained, an infant’s
sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos. Discriminated awareness begins
on the level of percepts.
A percept is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the
brain of a living organism. It is in the form of percepts that man grasps the
evidence of his senses and apprehends reality. When we speak of “direct
perception” or “direct awareness,” we mean the perceptual level. Percepts, not
sensations, are the given, the self-evident. The knowledge of sensations as
components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a
scientific, conceptual discovery.