• Michael
    14.2k
    Do you think that indirect realists can accept that distal objects are the proximate cause of experience? That is the sense I meant.fdrake

    Well, certainly not when it comes to sight where the proximal cause is light. In the case of touch and taste they'd agree.
  • fdrake
    5.9k
    Well, certainly not when it comes to sight where the proximal stimulus is the light. In the case of touch and taste they'd agree.Michael

    Thanks.

    Why do you think that the proximate cause for touch and taste is the distal object but not for sight? How about hearing? Kinaesthesis?
  • Michael
    14.2k
    Why do you think that the proximate cause for touch and taste is the distal object but not for sight? How about hearing?fdrake

    The proximal cause is the entity that stimulates the sense receptors. With sight it's light, with hearing it's sound, with smell it's odour molecules in the air, and with touch and taste it's the distal object itself.

    This is the terminology adopted from here:

    The process of perception begins with an object in the real world, known as the distal stimulus or distal object. By means of light, sound, or another physical process, the object stimulates the body's sensory organs. These sensory organs transform the input energy into neural activity—a process called transduction. This raw pattern of neural activity is called the proximal stimulus. These neural signals are then transmitted to the brain and processed. The resulting mental re-creation of the distal stimulus is the percept.

    To explain the process of perception, an example could be an ordinary shoe. The shoe itself is the distal stimulus. When light from the shoe enters a person's eye and stimulates the retina, that stimulation is the proximal stimulus. The image of the shoe reconstructed by the brain of the person is the percept. Another example could be a ringing telephone. The ringing of the phone is the distal stimulus. The sound stimulating a person's auditory receptors is the proximal stimulus. The brain's interpretation of this as the "ringing of a telephone" is the percept.

    The different kinds of sensation (such as warmth, sound, and taste) are called sensory modalities or stimulus modalities.
  • Pierre-Normand
    2.3k
    I don't understand the distinction. Interpretation is a mental phenomenon. Either way, like above, I don't see how it's relevant to the dispute between direct and indirect realism.Michael

    Yes, interpretation is a mental act. The things that you perceive can (and must) be interpreted in this or that way to be perceived as such. There is no uninterpreted percept. However, when you imagine or hallucinate a duck, there can be no question of reinterpreting what it is that you imagined or hallucinated, as a rabbit, for imagining it as a duck furnishes the mental phenomenon with its specific content. This is a categorical distinction between perceiving an object, or picture, and experiencing an hallucination or illusion. So, when you suggest than when a person looks at an actual duck, the distal object (the duck) causes a mental phenomenon in their brain and it is this proximal object that they directly see (and infer the existence of an "external" duck from), I am asking, is this proximal object that they see something that is already interpreted or is it rather something that is still ambiguous (like, say, a structured bundle of colors and shapes)?
  • Michael
    14.2k
    I am asking, is this proximal object that they see something that is already interpreted or still ambiguous (as, say, a bundle of colors and shapes)?Pierre-Normand

    It's interpreted. When there's something ambiguous like the duck-rabbit I can switch between seeing the duck and seeing the rabbit without any change in the shapes or colours.
  • Pierre-Normand
    2.3k
    It's interpreted. When there's something ambiguous like the duck-rabbit I can "switch" between seeing the duck and seeing the rabbit without any change in the shapes or colours.Michael

    Why is it, then, that you can't focus your attention on the proximal mental image and reinterpret it? Isn't it because this "mental image" already is an act of interpreting what is out there rather than it being an act of "seeing" what's in the brain?
  • Michael
    14.2k
    Why is it, then, that you can't focus your attention on the proximal mental image and reinterpret it? Isn't it because this "mental image" already is an act of interpreting what is out there rather than it being an act of "seeing" what's in the brain?Pierre-Normand

    I think you're reading something into the meaning of the word "seeing" that just isn't there.

    When we have a visual experience we describe it using the English phrase "I see X". You seem to want to separate this phrase into three distinct parts such that "I", "see", and "X" are distinct entities. I think that this is sometimes a mistake, much like doing the same to the phrase "I feel pain" would be a mistake.

    The indirect realist claims that we do not have direct knowledge of distal objects because distal objects are not constituents of experience. The constituents of experience – smells, tastes, colours – are (interpreted) mental phenomena, and I smell smells, taste tastes, and see colours. So the indirect realist, perhaps cumbersomely, says that we smell and taste and see mental phenomena.

    The direct (naive) realist claims that we do have direct knowledge of distal objects because distal objects are constituents of experience. The constituents of experience – smells, tastes, colours – are mind-independent properties of distal objects, and I smell smells, taste tastes, and see colours. So the direct realist says that we smell and taste and see mind-independent properties of distal objects.

    You (and others) seem to be getting unnecessarily lost in the grammar of "I see X", but this is a red herring. The relevant concern is the reasoning that precedes such a claim, i.e. are distal objects and their properties constituents of experience and so do we have direct knowledge of distal objects and their properties. If you accept that they're not and that we don't then you're an indirect realist, even if you don't like indirect realist grammar and would rather continue to say "I see distal objects".
  • Lionino
    1.4k
    So idealists believe our perceptions are the objects? What brand of idealists does that?Mww

    Well, in broad lines, Berkeley. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/berkeley/#2.1.1

    Perceptions are that which affords the immediate consciousness of the real, in a sensation.Mww

    Which doesn't protect you against the uncertainty of whether those perceptions are really of the outside world or generated by your own mind.
  • creativesoul
    11.5k
    The indirect realist claims that we do not have direct knowledge of distal objects because distal objects are not constituents of experience. The constituents of experience – smells, tastes, colours – are (interpreted) mental phenomena, and I smell smells, taste tastes, and see colours. So the indirect realist, perhaps cumbersomely, says that we smell and taste and see mental phenomena.Michael

    Veridical perception, hallucination, and illusions. You claim they share the same constituents, and the difference is in their causes.

    Can you set out the different causes?



    The direct (naive) realist claims that we do have direct knowledge of distal objects because distal objects are constituents of experience. The constituents of experience – smells, tastes, colours – are mind-independent properties of distal objects, and I smell smells, taste tastes, and see colours. So the direct realist says that we smell and taste and see mind-independent properties of distal objects.Michael

    There's the semantic hijacking. Odd coming from someone who has charged so many here, including myself, with strawmen. I consider myself a direct realist as I argue that distal objects are necessary for all three kinds of perception. They are what's being perceived in every veridical and illusory case, but they're absent during hallucination(which is the biological machinery behaving as it has in past despite no distal object). Since all three kinds are existentially dependent upon distal objects, but hallucinations do not include distal objects, there are differences in their constitution, although they are all three existentially dependent upon distal objects. Hallucinations arise from veridical experience. Whether or not I'm a 'naive' realist about perception/experience, I'll leave for others. I don't care about the label. I care about the accounting practices being used to characterize the evolutionary progression of biological machinery.

    Coffee does not have an inherent property of taste. Cake does not have an inherent property of smell. Cups do not have an inherent property of color. We taste coffee. We smell cake. We see red cups. Tasting coffee is an experience. Smelling cake is an experience. Seeing red cups is an experience. Without coffee there can be no experience of tasting coffee. Without experience of tasting coffee there can be no hallucination thereof. Without cake there can be no experience of smelling cake. Without experience of smelling cake, there can be no hallucination of smelling cake. Without cups with a specific reflective outer layer, there can be no seeing red cups. Without seeing red cups, there can be no hallucination thereof.





    You (and others) seem to be getting unnecessarily lost in the grammar of "I see X", but this is a red herring. The relevant concern is the reasoning that precedes such a claim, i.e. are distal objects and their properties constituents of experience and so do we have direct knowledge of distal objects and their properties. If you accept that they're not and that we don't then you're an indirect realist, even if you don't like indirect realist grammar and would rather continue to say "I see distal objects".Michael

    Semantic hijacking of "experience".

    Without cups...
  • Mww
    4.6k
    Perceptions are that which affords the immediate consciousness of the real, in a sensation.
    — Mww

    Which doesn't protect you against the uncertainty of whether those perceptions are really of the outside world or generated by your own mind.
    Lionino

    If it be granted the senses inform but do not judge, the notion here of protection from mental uncertainty regarding mere perception, is moot.

    The physiological certainty on the other hand, manifest as an affect on the sensory apparatuses by real things external to those apparatuses, which just is that affordance, and from which sensations necessarily follow, is given and is thereby incontestable, insofar as the negation or denial of a given, is self-contradictory.

    To even suppose the mind generates the very perceptions which occassion the pursuit of knowledge as a cognitive terminus, is to anesthetize the human intellectual system from its empirical predicates, which is tantamount to denying to Nature its proper authority as arbiter of human experience.
  • Lionino
    1.4k
    If it be granted the senses inform but do not judge, the notion here of protection from mental uncertainty regarding mere perception, is moot.Mww

    That is true — I just felt the need to point it out anyway.

    The physiological certainty on the other hand, manifest as an affect on the sensory apparatuses by real things external to those apparatuses, which just is that affordance, and from which sensations necessarily follow, is given and is thereby incontestable, insofar as the negation or denial of a given, is self-contradictory.Mww

    I don't fully understand this, maybe there are typos? Can you rephrase?

    To even suppose the mind generates the very perceptions which occassion the pursuit of knowledge as a cognitive terminus, is to anesthetize the human intellectual system from its empirical predicates, which is tantamount to denying to Nature its proper authority as arbiter of human experience.Mww

    That is true, but it is possible to deny nature of its authority by doubting our access to it, in an intellectual exercise of skepticism (brain-in-a-vat as an example).
  • Michael
    14.2k
    Veridical perception, hallucination, and illusions. You claim they share the same constituents, and the difference is in their causes.

    Can you set out the different causes?
    creativesoul

    Veridical experiences are caused by some appropriate proximal stimulus, e.g. seeing the colour red when light with a wavelength of 700nm interacts with the eyes, or feeling pain when putting one’s hand in a fire.

    Illusions are like veridical experiences but where the features of the experience provide a misleading representation of the proximal stimulus or distal object, e.g. if the shape in the percept is a bent line but the shape of the distal object is a straight line. This usually occurs when something manipulates the proximal stimulus (e.g. light) before it reaches the sense organ (e.g. eyes).

    Hallucinations occur without some appropriate proximal stimulus, e.g. seeing coloured shapes when one’s eyes are closed because one has eaten psychedelics.

    They are what's being perceived in every veridical and illusory casecreativesoul

    Which means what?

    I have been trying to explain that when naive realists claim that some distal object is (directly) perceived they mean that the object is a literal constituent of the experience and that when indirect realists claim that some distal object is not (directly) perceived they mean that the object is not a literal constituent of the experience.

    Since all three kinds are existentially dependent upon distal objects, but hallucinations do not include distal objects, there are differences in their constitutioncreativesoul

    That doesn’t follow. That X depends on Y is not that Y is a constituent of X. A painting depends on a painter but the painter is not a constituent of the painting. The constituents of the painting are just paint and a canvas.

    You seem to be confusing constituent with cause. See here for why that’s wrong. Internationalism is not naive realism.
  • Mww
    4.6k
    Can you rephrase?Lionino

    Hmmmm…ok, try this: guy stubs his toe on a tree root, cannot then legitimately deny he stubbed his toe on a tree root. He might claim he didn’t in order to save face after removing the leaves from his hair and whatnot, but reason won’t allow him to intelligently disregard the fact there was a time when he was no longer upright, however temporary that condition may have been.

    While this a trivial example, the principle which sustains it is nonetheless congruent with that for which experience, hence the perception which is its occassion, is merely possible. Although, there is precedent wherein denial of a sensation follows from the inability to comprehend its cause, but this is improper application of human cognitive methodology. Guy might say he didn’t see the thing because he couldn’t figure out what it was, but this is only half true, in that he is justified in not knowing a thing but that doesn’t relieve him of admitting its being met with his own sensibility.

    Dunno if that was any help or not. Might’a just made it worse, for which I offer apologies.
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