Apperception is defined as "perception that reflects upon itself; consciousness"; it is closely linked to appercetive, a transitive verb meaning "to comprehend." – Noah Webster

Apperception is "introspective self-consciousness, mental perception, especially the process of understanding something perceived in terms of previous experience." In psychology, "apperceptive mass is the whole of a person's previous experience that is used in understanding a new percept or idea." Metaphysically, apperception is "the mind's perception of itself as a conscious agent; self-consciousness," or self-awareness.

“Apperception is the cosmic consciousness of the Oversoul I AM.”

Apperception is the cosmic consciousness of the Oversoul I AM, Christ consciousness. Apperception, when treated as "apperceptive mass," may be considered as "intuitive knowing," the ability to perceive and understand a thing as it happens without prior knowledge of it. In Immanuel Kant's philosophy, apperception is a priori knowledge, dependent on prior experience. We call this "soul knowing."

Our definition of apperception differs from that used in psychology; on the Via Christa, apperception is not of the self but is a soul faculty, a virtue, which is rooted in the principle of nonresistance. Apperception is synthesized of all indrawn or sublimated physical senses, mental faculties and soul faculties. Apperception is classed as also a law of being, and a law of doing.

Edna Lister on Apperception

Soul uses the faculty of apperception. Mind uses the pictures of imagination colored by emotion. The body uses the five senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. Seeing is seeing pictures in the mind's eye, which may be perfect or imperfect. Hearing and smelling also may be perfect or imperfect. As one wag said, "Things smell when your nose is in the other fellow's business." The things of Spirit have a fragrance, but things of earth have an odor.

Of the sense of taste people say, "It's sweet as honey in your mouth. It was a taste of luxury. It has a taste of the farm." When you taste of the kingdom of heaven, you eat the words of God, which are sweet to the mouth. Everyone speaks of "feeling," but generally only to describe the thrills or pain of earth. Few people mention feeling the ecstasy of heaven.

You must eventually synthesize all the lower senses into the one great faculty of apperception. Yet before you can do this, you reach a drab place in consciousness, which we call the desert, and we call the time you spend there "the burning sands of the desert". Most people look grim while they traverse the desert, but you can and must choose to smile. – Edna Lister, Paradise, January 11, 1935.

Spiritual seeing is superconscious apperception, a faculty above and beyond physical sight. Soul vision progresses from perception to intuition and apperception. – Edna Lister, The Single Vision, January 30, 1935.

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), five had their lamps trimmed and filled with the oil of spirit; the other five hadn't learned, so they inducted from the outer world. Apperception is using the optic thalamus as an invisible eye; you turn the whole process of induction inward and upward though mental and spiritual faculties instead of the physical senses. You no longer ooze energy after you stop inducting from the physical senses. Thus, you can have absolute physical strength without weakness. – Edna Lister, July 19, 1951.

Your five senses are your radar beams, rays of sensitivity that become a belt-like radar screen around the waist. The whole process of entering the silence to pray is to enter your "closet" and close the door — "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." – Matthew 6:6 — which means that you draw in the five ordinary senses, but not your five-pointed radar screen. Personality is what the world sees of the soul. The closer you get to God, the more radiant our personality, until it is a vivid glow.

For the Light to move through, you must first draw in your personal reaction or "sensitivity." You draw your attention in to impersonalize the "little self" in all its expressions, whether of admiration, praise, blame or condemnation. The Light intensifies all perception. You draw in these five senses and synthesize them into apperception, to become a balance of intuition and illumination.

As you raise your hands in prayer, you automatically open the crown lotus center, the brain's nerve ends that whirl like little lights above the head. The open thousand-petaled lotus is shown as the halo in religious paintings. Apperception comes through the top of the head. The world vibration or subconscious composite world mind whirls up from the feet. When you lift the function of your senses, they become the faculty of apperception. – Edna Lister, Your Eternal Body, June 18, 1954.

You act as a transformer for your lines of Light. If you turn your imagination up to the Source, free will moves as Light. Imagination turned downward creates bondage to self. You ride the outer rim of the Wheel of Fate, constantly being crushed, when you turn desire, will and imagination downward. When you turn them upward to the white Light of the Christ, you go through the Gates of Light easily. When you lift the five senses, they become the soul faculty of apperception. – Edna Lister, July 19, 1954.

Apperception is that perception in which the conscious mind is active during the process of perceiving. Apperception adds recognition and interpretation; we use all powers of the intellect in acquisition and elaboration of that which you perceive. – Edna Lister, Intuition or Hunch? September 18, 1955.

You achieve purity by accepting purity as a need to cleanse heart, mind and body, thinking, imagination and emotions. Then perception becomes apperception. To perceive is a mental act, but apperception is an act of the soul. Perception is mental "seeing," the mind's thinking ability. Apperception is soul "knowing," the mind's mystic eye of the soul. – Edna Lister, The Beatitudes Are Be-attitudes, February 12, 1956.

Eventually, you reach a grey place and cannot seem to enjoy life as you did. Pay no attention to this drab place. Suddenly you awaken from it, having reached a point of apperception. – Edna Lister, November 13, 1958.

Everyone must experience this initiation, this drabness, to reach the heights of glory. From the instant you decide to move up in consciousness, you begin to lift the five outer senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) up with you. Gradually, they begin to fuse and synthesize themselves into the one great sense of apperception, which is the tool, the high sense of the Oversoul I AM. – Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

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Gottfried Leibniz on Apperception

Thomas Reid, D.D. wrote of Leibniz, "By apperception he understands that degree of perception, which reflects, as it were, on itself; by which we are conscious of our own existence, and conscious of our own perceptions." We agree with Leibnitz's definition of apperception, which we include here:

One of the better-known terms of Leibniz's philosophy, and of his philosophy of mind, is apperception. A famous definition is presented in section 4 of the Principles of Nature and of Grace (1714), where Leibniz says "it is good to distinguish between perception, which is the internal state of the monad representing external things, and apperception, which is consciousness, or the reflective knowledge of this internal state, something not given to all souls, nor at all times to a given soul." ... Some creatures are capable of knowing the necessary and eternal truths of logic and mathematics and a priori truths (from cause to effect), and they "are properly called rational animals, and their souls are called minds." (G VI 601/AG 209) As Leibniz says, "These souls are capable of performing reflective acts, and capable of considering what is called 'I,' substance, soul, mind — in brief, immaterial things and immaterial truths. And that is what makes us capable of the sciences of demonstrative knowledge." (ibid.)

Thus, what makes human beings (and higher minds) special is the capacity, via apperception, to formulate a conception of the self. Indeed, as we see in this passage, Leibniz suggests that rationality itself follows from the capacity for reflection: we begin with a conception of the self; we move from this point to thinking of being, of substance, of God; and we become aware as well of eternal and necessary truths. Rationality, however, is really only the ability to form "indubitable connection[s] of ideas" and to follow them to their "infallible consequences." (ibid.) In other words, animals and most human beings most of the time are purely empiricists; a rational person, however, is one who can engage in genuine a priori reasoning, moving from knowledge of a true cause via deduction to necessary effects. – Kulstad and Carlin, Leibniz's Philosophy of Mind.

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New Testament on Apperception

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. – Romans 8:28-29.

God has not cast away His people which He foreknew. – Romans 11:2.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of apperception: French aperception, from apercevoir, from Latin ad- toward + perceivre to perceive.

Apperception is a law of being.

Apperception is a law of doing.

Apperception is a soul faculty.

Apperception is a soul virtue.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Kulstad, Mark and Laurence Carlin, "Leibniz's Philosophy of Mind," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2013, Edward N. Zalta, editor. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Freiherr von. "Principles of Nature and of Grace," The Philosophical Works of Leibnitz. George M. Duncan, editor. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1890, p. 209.

Merriam-Webster, “Apperception.” Dictionary. Accessed 12 Sep. 2022.

Reid, Thomas. An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense. Edinburgh: Bell & Bradfute, 1801.

Webster, Noah. "Apperception." Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: S. Converse, 1828. This work is in the public domain.

Related Topics

See The Burning Sands of the Desert

See Knowing

See Spiritual Seeing and Hearing

See The Spiritual Faculties: Edna Lister lecture outline; January 11, 1935, for use in Buffalo.

See The Single Vision: Edna Lister Bible study outline; January 30, 1935.

See Your Spiritual Identity: Edna Lister sermon outline; April 7, 1935.

See Acceptance, Perception and Apperception: Edna Lister sermon outline; September 27, 1946.

See Intuition or Hunch?: Edna Lister Bible study outline; September 18, 1955.

Additional reading on Apperception