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Can someone please explain the meaning of the quotation

"We don't see things as they are – we see them as we are."?

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Welcome to EL&U. –  Eli Feb 18 '14 at 22:10
    
It's grammatically garbage, phrased that way purely for the snappy wordplay (which wouldn't be "snappy" if it was more properly expressed as something like "we see them according to what we are"). –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 '14 at 0:35

2 Answers 2

I believe this is related to the idea that each person who sees a thing will see it filtered through their own perceptions. So none of us really see it objectively. Each person sees it with their own beliefs, preconceptions, interpretation, and attitude.

For example, the Rorschach test is (or used to be, don't know if it still is) used to analyse a person's personality, psychological and emotional characteristics. What a person sees in the ink blots isn't about the ink blots, it's about their perception of the ink blots, and hence about them.

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Hence all answers to 'What does X mean?' stand to be subjective. As a friend says, "All words are infinitely polysemous." –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 18 '14 at 22:46
    
@Edwin especially "polysemous". –  andy256 Feb 18 '14 at 23:21
    
Yes, because of the way our brains actually work. Each of us integrates our present perceptions with our past experiences and future expectations using a uniquely individualized interpretive glue. The Rorschach test was considered a good measure of the integrated thought process because the inkblots had no intrinsic meaning per se. –  ScotM Jun 20 at 0:45

It means that the way we see things reflects who we are. One example is how we see a problem. If we see the problem as a burden, our perception tells us that we are a negative person. If we see the problem as a way to improve ourselves, that perception tells us that we are a positive person.

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