• Ciceronianus
    2k
    "Naivete" is lack of wisdom, judgment, sophistication, experience. "Naive realism" (a/k/a direct realism) is the view that those things we deal with every day, indeed every instant, taken for granted by all but philosophers and their students (so it may seem), are perceived by us immediately or directly. Naive realism is apparently referred to as "naive" disparagingly. It is, after all, the view typically taken by most of us, the untutored common folk, as a matter of common sense (I would maintain that it is for all practical purposes the view actually taken by those of us who consider themselves uncommon, as well). Being so very common, it perforce is invalid according to those sophisticated in theories of knowledge and perception.

    We began to insert (as it were) something between us and the "external world" some centuries ago, for reasons I find difficult to understand. It may all have begun with Descartes' insistence on the use of faux doubt to establish knowledge. It may have begun with Hume. It may have begun earlier, but I think not that much earlier at least as far as the modern forms of insertion as we know it are concerned. Since ancient times there has been a tendency among the wise to doubt the quality, worth and even in some cases the reality of the universe--especially those parts of it that are not human--and it's possible the more modern reliance on sense-data or qualia to separate ourselves from the non-human, and perhaps our fellow humans as well, is an outgrowth of this tendency. But if that is the case those who more recently doubt what the common folk believe are more specific in their doubt.

    For me, the old claims that we have reason to doubt the veracity of our senses because of hallucinations, sticks in water and such, are unimpressive. J.L. Austin pretty well laid waste to those claims, as far as I am concerned; but there is also the fact that our senses seem to serve us very well in most cases. But we disagree with each other! How could we disagree if we all can access the "external world"? Quite easily, I think, and for a number of reasons which don't require commitment to the absolutely unknowable nature of the world of which we're a part. Not being committed to a need for absolute certainty, I think our successful interaction with the rest of the world in most cases indicates our senses function quite well in perceiving the various "external objects" we cannot exist without. True, there are differences in perspective, the quality of our sense organs, etc., but disagreements resulting for such reasons are explained without recourse to our eternal ignorance.

    But I suppose it is the fact that we cannot exist without that portion of the rest of the universe with which we interact which makes me wonder why we're inclined to separate ourselves from the rest of the universe in this fashion and in other respects. We're living organisms and like other living organisms we've been formed by our interaction with each other and the rest of the world over time. As we are part of the world, the idea that we are incapable of knowing what other parts of it really are doesn't make much sense. If we didn't have that knowledge, we wouldn't exist.

    Perhaps those who disparage naive realism suffer from their own lack of knowledge and wisdom. They seem to believe that we are in some sense detached from the rest of the world, different from or superior to a living creature in the world. They fail to recognize our dependence on the world, being convinced that the world is dependent on us, an astonishingly unsophisticated, parochial view given the vastness of the universe.

    It isn't necessary to posit the existence of sense data or some kind of "representation" of what's out there to explain or justify perception or knowledge. It is necessary, however, to recognize what we are as creatures of the universe. We have our limitations, but such is to be expected; to expect otherwise is to claim and seek for a godlike ideal of perception or knowledge. We perceive and know just as human beings, formed over time through evolution, are equipped to see and know. The fact we don't perceive and know as other creatures do merely means we're human and they are not. It doesn't mean that there is something between us and the rest of the universe on which we're fated to rely.

    If there is such a thing as sense data (or whatever) which is what we experience directly, it would seem that is the case for other creatures as well. So presumably other creatures are similarly incapable of experiencing the world directly, perhaps even less capable than humans, being less sophisticated organisms. All living things incapable of immediate experience of the universe, yet living in it. It's a remarkable belief indeed, one that is premised on a belief that we can't "really" know anything. We somehow stumble through our lives ignorant of the inaccessible real, it seems.

    Of course, the claim is sometimes made that we can know enough about the rest of the world, or can rely on our perception, just enough to survive and function, but even so we cannot know fully what "external objects" are or what characteristics they really have (or if they are?), being limited to that something or other, the insertion, which is all we can experience. If so, what of it? It seems a very insignificant insight, if insight it is.

    We test the precision with which our senses function as we must test everything, by judging the results of our interaction with the rest of the world. There is no other justification for our knowledge and perception. But our interaction with the rest of the world establishes that our perception of it
    is valid enough for there to be no concern, except perhaps for those who are naive enough to think otherwise.
  • Mww
    2.8k
    But our interaction with the rest of the world establishes that our perception of it is valid enough for there to be no concern, except perhaps for those who are naive enough to think otherwise.Ciceronianus

    Would I be naive, in thinking there is no concern, at least generally speaking, because our perceptions are valid enough to establish our interactions with the rest of the world?
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    Would I be naive, in thinking there is no concern, at least generally speaking, because our perceptions are valid enough to establish our interactions with the rest of the world?Mww

    Naive in believing that our perception of the rest of the world is valid enough for their to be no concern, because our perceptions are valid enough to establish our interactions with the rest of the world? I don't think so, no. If our perceptions are valid enough, then I don't see how you could be naive in believing they'e valid enough for there to be no concern.
  • Mww
    2.8k


    Cool. Just making sure it is perception that establishes, not the world. The world establishing being how I read what I commented on initially.
  • baker
    3.3k
    But our interaction with the rest of the world establishes that our perception of it
    is valid enough for there to be no concern, except perhaps for those who are naive enough to think otherwise.
    Ciceronianus

    The problem with naive realism doesn't apply as long as we talk about tables and chairs (except for the rare cases of optical, auditory and other illusions).

    The problem is thst a naive realist takes for granted that the same that goes for observing tables and chairs also goes for humans, for moral/ethical issues. To a naive realist, a sentence like
    This chair has four legs
    is epistemically the same as
    Women are essentially inferior to men
    or
    Henry is an evil person.
    or
    Witches should be burnt at the stakes.

    A naive realist talks about moral issues with the same certainty as he talks about tables and chairs. Do you see any problem with that?
  • NOS4A2
    5.2k


    A great read. Thanks.

    It is largely a problem of identity and self-hood, I think. I say this because the belief that one is not his body, but only a limited and mostly arbitrary part of it, begets all notions of perception, representation, idealism, and so on.

    Whether it is a Cartesian or materialist dualism, or wherever one identifies with some amorphous locus within the body (consciousness, the brain, the mind), they are left with the implication that they are not in direct contact with the rest of the world, but are subject only to what the body allows them to see. If they were to extend the limits of their self to the boundaries of the body, the implication that there is a barrier or buffer or Cartesian theater between them and the rest of the world begins to dissolve.
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    The problem is thst a naive realist takes for granted that the same that goes for observing tables and chairs also goes for humans, for moral/ethical issues. To a naive realist, a sentence like
    This chair has four legs
    is epistemically the same as
    Women are essentially inferior to men
    or
    Henry is an evil person.
    or
    Witches should be burnt at the stakes.

    A naive realist talks about moral issues with the same certainty as he talks about tables and chairs. Do you see any problem with that?
    baker

    I don't see how someone who maintains that a chair has four legs, or that it is reasonable to believe what we see when we see a chair is, in fact, a chair is obliged, thereby, to make any particular moral judgments.
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    If they were to extend the limits of their self to the boundaries of the body, the implication that there is a barrier or buffer or Cartesian theater between them and the rest of the world begins to dissolve.NOS4A2

    It may be that what I call this "strange belief" is the result of mind-body dualism or some remnant of it, but I think it comes down to a kind of refusal to accept that we're active participants in the world (universe), like any other living organism.
  • baker
    3.3k
    obliged, thereby, to make any particular moral judgmenCiceronianus

    Not obliged. Where did you get that?

    Like I said,
    A naive realist talks about moral issues with the same certainty as he talks about tables and chairs.baker
  • Banno
    15.1k
    A naive realist talks about moral issues with the same certainty as he talks about tables and chairs.baker

    That's not the impression I've gleaned. Nor is there any obvious reason a realist would think along these lines.
  • unenlightened
    6.1k
    I hesitate to question your historical expertise, but it seems to me that the impulse against realism is a religious impulse in the first instance. The inversion that makes the idea more real than the mere corporeal is certainly a thread in Plato, and is absorbed into Christian doctrine in the guise of the eternal spiritual realm, opposed to this vale of tears.

    But as a naive realist I would admit that our senses and our understanding and our recollection are all imperfect, and this leaves plenty of room for disagreement - though in practice arguments about how many legs a particular chair has are pretty rare. and tend to turn on semantic niceties such as whether a leg that has fallen off the chair still counts as a leg of the chair which is a conflict of ideas, not of realities.

    What I wonder is how there can be evidence that the senses are false that does not rely on those very senses.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    Thank you, Tully. for providing something so agreeably sweet to accompany my morning coffee.
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    Like I said,
    A naive realist talks about moral issues with the same certainty as he talks about tables and chairs.
    baker

    Well, maybe I misunderstand you. Are you saying all moral realists do that? If so, why is that the case?
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    Thank you, Tully. for providing something so agreeably sweet to accompany my morning coffee.Banno

    You're quite welcome. It's just something that baffles me, and has for some time.
  • Joshs
    2.3k
    Naive realism simply isnt backed up by recent research in perceptual psychology or the more sophisticated thinking in A.I.
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    I hesitate to question your historical expertiseunenlightened

    Feel free to question it. I know some history fairly well, but only some.

    But as a naive realist I would admit that our senses and our understanding and our recollection are all imperfect, and this leaves plenty of room for disagreement - though in practice arguments about how many legs a particular chair has are pretty rare. and tend to turn on semantic niceties such as whether a leg that has fallen off the chair still counts as a leg of the chair which is a conflict of ideas, not of realities.

    What I wonder is how there can be evidence that the senses are false that does not rely on those very senses.
    unenlightened

    There has been and always will be disagreement. I don't maintain otherwise. But I don't think it exists because everyone sees something different when they look at something, or because we can't tell what we're really perceiving because we can't perceive the thing in itself, or because we can't know if there's really an external world. There are other, less odd and less absolute, explanations which can be provided, and which don't require us to believe we're hopelessly ignorant of the world in which we live.
  • Ciceronianus
    2k
    Naive realism simply isnt backed up by recent research in perceptual psychology or the more sophisticated thinking in A.I.Joshs

    So the chair I see (and sit on) isn't or may not be the chair I see (and sit on)?
  • Joshs
    2.3k
    So the chair I see (and sit on) isn't or may not be the chair I see (and sit on)?Ciceronianus

    You should ask @Isaac how the predictive processing model of perception treats naive realism.

    Here’s Lisa Barret , one of the proponents of predictive processing, on naive realism.

    “ Changes in air pressure and wavelengths of light exist in the world, but to us, they are sounds and colors. We perceive them by going beyond the in-formation given to us, making meaning from them using knowledge from past experience, that is, concepts. Every perception is constructed by a per-ceiver, usually with sensory inputs from the world as one ingredient. Only certain changes in air pressure are heard as trees falling. Only some of the wavelengths of light striking our retinas are transformed into the experi-ence of red or green. To believe otherwise is naive realism, as if perceptions were synonymous with reality.”

    “ The history of science, however, has been a slow but steady march in the direction of construction. Physics, chemistry, and biology began with in-tuitive, essentialist theories, rooted in naive realism and certainty. We pro-gressed beyond these ideas because we noticed that the old observations held true only under certain conditions.”
  • unenlightened
    6.1k
    Naive realism simply isnt backed up by recent research in perceptual psychology or the more sophisticated thinking in A.I.Joshs

    That may appear to be the case, but appearances in this if not in every case are deceptive. :death:
  • Banno
    15.1k
    Trite, I know, but there is this:

    External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?

    Accept or lean toward: non-skeptical realism 760 / 931 (81.6%)
    Other 86 / 931 (9.2%)
    Accept or lean toward: skepticism 45 / 931 (4.8%)
    Accept or lean toward: idealism 40 / 931 (4.3%)
    PhilPapers Survey
  • Banno
    15.1k
    You should ask Isaac how the predictive processing model of perception treats naive realism.Joshs

    So let's ask him - "Nothing about me without me" is not just a mantra for disability awareness but a common curtesy.

    @Isaac?
  • Ciceronianus
    2k


    If that's true, in what sense, and to what extent, should we be doubting ourselves and our ability to understand and interact with the world in which we live? How does it prevent us from doing what we do everyday, every moment? If it doesn't prevent us from eating, drinking, walking, sitting, driving, working, etc.--from doing what human beings do--why insist that we're in some sense necessarily ignorant in some sense of reality, of the world in which we live?
  • Joshs
    2.3k
    If that's true, in what sense, and to what extent, should we be doubting ourselves and our ability to understand and interact with the world in which we live? How does it prevent us from doing what we do everyday, every moment?Ciceronianus

    Relax. Giving up naive realism doesn’t mean simply doubting what you know and preventing you from doing what you previously thought you could do in the world. On the contrary, it puts you in more intimate contact with the world, and allows you to understand it in a more richly predictive manner , but in a different way than you’re used to.
  • Joshs
    2.3k
    I know that apokrisis has gone on record as being anti naive or direct realism
  • Ciceronianus
    2k


    OK. I can accept that there are factors arising from our being a part of the world which may affect the accuracy of our perception and judgment.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    ↪Banno I know that apokrisis has gone on record as being anti naive or direct realismJoshs

    Yep.
  • Manuel
    1.9k
    It depends on what naïve realism is taken to mean. The way discussed in the OP looks to me as a variety of realism. Naïve realism is the view is that that tree over there and that river exist exactly as I take them to be, even if all human beings are gone. But then we know objects themselves don't have colours nor sounds, etc.

    In this latter sense, as Bertrand Russell said:

    "The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself... Naïve realism leads to physics, and physics, if true, shows that naïve realism is false. Therefore naïve realism, if true, is false; therefore it is false.”

    So we have a tension here.

    So I think it boils down to how naivety is taken to be.
  • Tom Storm
    2.5k
    On the contrary, it puts you in more intimate contact with the world, and allows you to understand it in a more richly predictive mannerJoshs

    You're such a tease... :razz:
  • Joshs
    2.3k
    You're such a tease... :razz:Tom Storm

    I felt bad for threatening to take away his security blanket.
  • Paine
    35

    That is an excellent brief, counselor.

    Some of the problem involves how attempts to clarify relationships get taken for other things.
    Hume and Kant swatted the same flies (or at least very similar flies) but disagreed about how little could be known about why they hung around. Kant wanted to say we could talk more about that than Hume did. It is an ironic development that an attempt to say we can know more about what happens is a step away from the subject (or object). Descartes presents some of the same odd disproportion between intent and consequences. Reading the Discourse upon Method beyond the money shot reveals a thinker deeply involved with experience, thankful that he had some.
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