Barry Maund
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 238
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The book includes chapters on forms of natural realism, theories of perceptual experience, representationalism, the argument from illusion, phenomenological senses, types of perceptual content, the representationalist/intentionalist thesis, and adverbialist accounts of perceptual experience. The ideas of Austin, Dretske, Heidegger, Millikan, Putnam, and Robinson are considered among others and the reader is given an invaluable philosophical framework within which to consider the issues.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8325-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 The philosophy of perception
    (pp. 1-24)

    The most natural view to take of perception is that it is a process by which we acquire knowledge of an objective world. We take this world to consist of physical objects and happenings, which exist independently of us and our acts of perceiving, and which are the things we commonly perceive. Problems arise, however, when we reflect on the nature of that process and on how the knowledge is supposed to be acquired. Many of the traditional puzzles of perception arose, for example, when people tried to make sense of the fact that in different circumstances the same things...

  5. 2 A theory of natural realism
    (pp. 25-50)

    In Chapter 1 I argued for the importance of giving an account of what might be called the “natural view” of perception, even if only as the initial step in leading to a theory that revises that view. This natural view is often explained in terms of a description of what it is to perceive, from the first person point of view, that is, from the view of the perceiver. I argued that while this point of view is of great importance, considerations of the natural view need to be set within a wider context, one that takes into account...

  6. 3 Theories of perceptual experiences
    (pp. 51-66)

    Two crucial elements emerge from my elaboration of the natural realist account of perception. The first is that perception is a process involving the acquisition of perceptual knowledge, both practical and reflective. The second is that an adequate description of the natural realist account requires the minimalist account to be extended so as to include an account of perceptual experiences and their role in the acquisition of this knowledge.

    In arguing about the role of perceptual experiences we need to be careful since, as was argued in Chapter 2, we can draw a contrast between a neutral sense of “perceptual...

  7. 4 Representationalism: representations as natural signs
    (pp. 67-88)

    We can, I have argued, identify primary cases of perception as ones that involve the acquiring of knowledge, both practical and theoretical. Both kinds of knowledge are what might be called “objectbased knowledge” and involve knowledge by acquaintance. The practical knowledge is manifested in a variety of ways: in locating the object in space, discriminating the object from its background and in targeting one’s action on the object, for example, in grasping, touching or pushing the object in question.

    The description of object-based knowledge in this context suggests that the right theory of perception is some version of direct realism,...

  8. 5 Natural realism: Putnam, Austin and Heidegger
    (pp. 89-110)

    According to the indirect form of representationalism, which I have defended, when one perceives a physical object, one is immediately aware not of physical objects and their qualities, but of some items other than these physical objects. These items or intermediaries are phenomenal in character, although their metaphysical status is open to debate.¹ They may be phenomenal objects, sensory states or experiences, instances of sensory qualities, or even, I shall argue, ways of appearing (i.e. adverbially modified sensings). The thesis that one is immediately aware of such items, or is directly sensing them, is not confined to the representative theory....

  9. 6 Perception: the argument from illusion
    (pp. 111-130)

    One of the dominant motifs concerning perception in the Western philosophical tradition is the argument from illusion, understood in a wide sense as incorporating a range of variants. The argument in its various forms is commonly taken to establish the following doctrine:

    we never see or otherwise perceive or anyhow neverdirectlyperceive or sense, material objects (or material things), but only sense-data (or own ideas, impressions, sensa, sense-perceptions, percepts, etc.).¹

    This at least is the version that Austin attacks. Following our discussion in Chapter 5, let us suppose that the doctrine should be formulated as:

    we never see or...

  10. 7 The phenomenal and phenomenological senses of “looks”
    (pp. 131-148)

    There is a common thread to the Austin-Putnam discussion of natural realism, and the more general discussion of the argument from illusion: that understanding what it is for something toappearto perceivers, of what it is to taste, feel, look, sound, smell and so on, a certain way, is of vital importance. Not only is such an account important in understanding the epistemological role of perception, but it is crucial for the assessment of the forms of realism - direct, indirect and natural - and especially of adverbialist theories of realism. Indeed, it is crucial to providing a satisfying...

  11. 8 Types of perceptual content
    (pp. 149-164)

    When we perceive a physical object we have a perceptual experience caused by that object. It is common to hold that such experiences have two aspects: a sensuous, sensory aspect and an intentional aspect. The experience is intentional in the sense that it carries intentional content: it represents (things in the world) as being a certain way. A perceptual experience is typically an experience that represents a cup before me, a tree through the window, a police siren heard in the distance, the burning toast in the kitchen and so on. It is commonly held that besides having intentional content,...

  12. 9 The representationalist-intentionalist thesis
    (pp. 165-192)

    On the face of it, we can distinguish between the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences, and their intentional (representational) content. There are, as we have seen, however, two very different ways we might construe the phenomenal character. On one theory, to acknowledge the phenomenal character of our experiences is to acknowledge the existence of intrinsic qualities of the experiences (or of phenomenal items contained in the experiences), qualities that are accessible to introspection, and to phenomenological descriptions. The phenomenal character, on this account, consists of intrinsic qualities of subjective experiences, that is, of what are sometimes called “qualia”. Or so...

  13. 10 Adverbialist accounts of perceptual experience
    (pp. 193-208)

    Perceptual experiences, we have agreed, have both phenomenal (sensuous) character and intentional content. In Chapter 9 I examined the theory that attempts to explain phenomenal character in terms of the intentional content or, more accurately, the nonconceptual, representational content of the experience. I argued that it was not successful. In particular it suffered in comparison with those theories that accounted for phenomenal character in terms of intrinsic phenomenal qualities of phenomenal items. Examples of such theories are the traditional sense-datum theories but another important example is the natural-sign theory that I have championed. On this theory, the naive perceiver takes...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 209-210)

    There are two major interrelated problems in the philosophy of perception: whether perception is direct or indirect; and what is the best account that we can give of perceptual experiences. I have aimed in this book to provide a framework, a “natural realist” view of perception, that would provide the means for making progress towards solving these problems, and for examining the major theories that have been provided. My aim has principally been to set out these issues, although I have not disguised the fact that I think that there are solid grounds that point the way to a particular...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 211-218)
  16. References
    (pp. 219-222)
  17. Index
    (pp. 223-227)