• AmadeusD
    1.9k
    I suppose i'm trying to understand where in a situation it''s apt to use something like "because of" or "with" or "through" without that affecting the 'direct' attribution to whatever is being perceived. I don't posit anything here, I'm just struggling to see how that's not a mediation of some kind.

    For touch, the middle man (by analogy, rather than "this is my position") is the nervous system, surely?
  • Banno
    23.5k
    For touch, the middle man (by analogy, rather than "this is my position") is the nervous system, surely?AmadeusD

    Can this be filled out? Would you say that you don't touch the wall, you touch your nervous system? That doesn't seem right.

    I touch the wall indirectly if I wear a glove, perhaps? Directly, if I do not wear a glove.
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    Before I attempt to (because it'll be embarrassing for me lol), could this be (as noted earlier, but a little more specific) that when you say 'direct' you are only referring the physical act of touch, and not the experience of the act? That's certainly something I could be being very imprecise and consequently inaccurate about.

    On your framing above, I see that you 'directly' touch the wall in some sense(lol) at least. But, I can't get past the experience of that touch being mediated by, say, electric impulse/CNS activity which is not the thing, ferrying a 'message' of that direct physical touch, to the mind for examination in 'feeling'. It may be that, inadequately examined, I use 'touch' to refer only to the experience because I can't get to anything more, on my account.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    I can't get past the experience of that touch being mediated by, say, electric impulse/CNS activity which is not the thing, ferrying a 'message' of that direct physical touch, to the mind for examination in 'feeling'.AmadeusD

    Isn't this a homunculus argument? As if you were sitting inside your head, "feeling" nerve impulses?

    Is that "electric impulse/CNS activity" something you experience? If it were, why did it take the development of modern physiology for us to understand this?

    I do't think that description works. I think you feel the wall, not the nerve impulses.

    @Isaac was particularly adept at setting out this issue, layers of Markov blankets and so on.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    Saying that John smells smoke doesn't explain what it means for John to smell smoke.

    John will perform the act of smelling and report that he does indeed smell it. We can watch smoke go into John’s nose. What more do we need?

    And yet I see and talk about Joe Biden without ever being anywhere near him. The point I am making is that this supposed connection between what I see (and talk about) and the (meta)physics/epistemology of perception is a false one. You're getting stuck on an irrelevancy.

    You see a television and the lights through which the imagery is displayed. You are near the television. In fact you must be near enough in order to see it. So really, all we need is a more accurate description.

    Pain is very real. I don't know what else to say. You're lucky if you've never felt it.

    I’ve had enough injuries to know what you’re talking about, and have no problem with people using that language to articulate what they feel. But if we are to describe what is there, metaphysically-speaking, something called “pain” just isn’t. For one, it isn’t a person, place, or thing, and so isn’t necessarily worthy of a noun-phrase. Two, what it is you are feeling (perhaps a broken bone) might be better described in terms of the actual things involved.
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    Isn't this a homunculus argument?Banno

    It could be..It would be accidental...I'm not trying to making an argument, just trying to find solutions to the problems I see. What argument is required, i assume, would come up as a result of the discussion. But, I also don't see much of an issue with the basic homunculus argument... something is having the experience which isn't touching the wall. So, idk. I probably just haven't adequately engaged with problems it presents.

    No one seems to disagree that there's Object -> Sense organ Engagement -> a physical process of electrical impulse through the CNS, which are essentially decoded by the brain and presented to the mind as an experience. No one has presented me any reason to think otherwise and I cannot get on with calling that 'direct'. That's why I wondered if its the Engagement stage you're calling direct. Which i'd agree with.

    Perhaps you could attempt to provide what I'm missing - no one seems to want to engage directly with the problem (i.e where is the 'direct' connection between the object at the experience?), rather than assert, cite or dismiss...Which is not to denigrate - I'm probably missing it and need help lol. Tell me where it is!

    experience?Banno

    I don't know. That's something that I hope I can have ideas about borne of a good understanding of the questions I've posed. If 'experience' does in fact, consist in brain activity, then yep. But i don't lean that way, so it feels uncomfortable to pretend I 'get it'.

    On my extremely pale and inadequate understanding of the Markov blanket concept, I can't really understand it's relevance - but, on the meek connection I can make from that understanding, I think this is getting to concrescence territory and I'm lost in that currently, so no help in either direction
  • Quk
    24
    A common response that is wrong. No one sees photons. Folk might well see using or because of photons. But photons are not visible.

    It's very important to get the language right here. Sure, you see your hand because it reflects photons, but you do not see the photons.
    Banno

    OK, let me state my comment more precisely: We can't see a single photon because it's too small. Similarly we can't see the star Alpha Centauri because its projected diameter on our retina is too small. But we see the photons coming from that star when trillions of photons arrive in our retina at nearly the same time. Our retina cannot detect a single photon but it can detect large clusters of photons.

    The verb "to see" may be incorrect in the way I'm using it. But that's not my point. I just want to suggest (like AmadeusD just did) that the "direct line", as you call it, from an external object to the retina, is not an abstract "nothing" but it consists of things that travel at the speed of light from the object to the retina. If you call this process a "direct line" then you ignore that whole process. You may call these travelling things "light" or "signals" or whatever; in any case they're not the external object per se. They are between object and retina and are subject to additional effects like interference, attenuation etc. Hence I call this whole information transfer from object to retina an "indirect" transfer.
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    Hence I call this whole information transfer from object to retina an "indirect" transfer.Quk

    I'm thinking you and I are misusing these terms, as circumstance within Philosophy proper, would dictate. That's why i was a little clearer in the problem I was asking about, to try to avoid those assumptions (of which I would definitely be on the shakier and less helpful side).
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Perhaps you could attempt to provide what I'm missing - no one seems to want to engage directly with the problem (i.e where is the 'direct' connection between the object at the experience?)...AmadeusD
    It might be better if I were to let you two discuss the topic for a bit.

    But I will repeat a point that may have gone unnoticed. The argument, in the title and in the OP, is framed as if there were two sides, the one being indirect realists who point out various anomalies they think show that we never perceive things directly; and a presumed opposition who think that somehow we do perceive things directly...

    But why not reject the very framing of the argument in those terms:
    There is an alternative, which is to reject the juxtaposition of direct and indirect experiences entirely, and admit that we do sometimes see (hear, touch, smell...) things as they are; and that indeed this is essential in order for us to be able to recognise those occasions in which we see (hear, touch, smell...) things in the world erroneously.Banno
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    It might be better if I were to let you two discuss the topic for a bit.Banno

    It wouldn't. But I cannot force your hand.

    may have gone unnoticedBanno

    It had.

    ut why not reject the very framing of the argument in those termsBanno

    I essentially had from the outset - but apparently, no one like theories that delineate the senses into different systems that operate differently. But the reason "why not?" is because it flies in the face of physical facts, best I can tell and does not address the issue, because it retains a 'direct realist' notion at some points of experience. No reason to take seriously something that, on the empirical facts, can't be the case. *shrug*.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    it flies in the face of physical facts,AmadeusD

    What does, and how so?
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    No one seems to disagree that there's Object -> Sense organ Engagement -> a physical process of electrical impulse through the CNS, which are essentially decoded by the brain and presented to the mind as an experience. No one has presented me any reason to think otherwise and I cannot get on with calling that 'direct'.AmadeusD

    Per above, on my account, there is still going to be this obstacle to establishing a direct link between the experience and the object, in any given case denoted to be 'direct' in a half/half system. So, my issue isn't so much 'what hypothesis is the most workable' and which one gets off the ground.

    I think that (your) consideration is a much, much more fruitful one than just knocking heads over and over, so take your frustration with that seriously these days. In lieu of a full-blown critique of both Austin and Kastrup, i'm left with no answer to what/where that 'direct' connection would be. Your medial version reduced hte problematic instances from 'all' to 'some.
  • Richard B
    370
    For touch, the middle man (by analogy, rather than "this is my position") is the nervous system, surely?
    — AmadeusD

    Can this be filled out? Would you say that you don't touch the wall, you touch your nervous system? That doesn't seem right.
    Banno

    To keep on adding to this point:

    Let us imagine a case where a scientist would like to understand how the nervous system works when a subject interacts with an everyday common object. The scientist proceeds to "hook up" a subject to a machine, gives the subject a ball, and records the activity of the nerves to the brain. The scientist solicits a reply from the subject that he is in contact with a ball. Next, the scientist uses the information from the prior experiment to stimulates the nervous systems of a blind-folded subject that results in the subject saying, "I am in contact with that ball again."

    In both cases, the scientist basically replicates what they observed in the nervous system in the first experiment. The subjects nervous systems(their brain) is stimulating them to saying "I am in contact with a ball." Thus, whether one is in contact with a ball or not does not depend on one's state of their nervous system, but if and only if one is contact with a ball or not.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    The scientist proceeds to "hook up" a subject to a machine, gives the subject a ball, and records the activity of the nerves to the brain. The scientist solicits a reply from the subject that he is in contact with a ball.Richard B

    Ok, well and good. There are a few problems here, but let's set them aside and look at the conclusion.

    If we follow the theme of the OP, an indirect realist would need to conclude that one never touches the ball directly. But that does not follow from the experiment. The subject touches the ball directly in the first case, and has the sensation of touching the ball without actually touching it, in the second.

    It does not follow that we only touch the ball "indirectly".

    So what more can be added to this experiment so that it supports indirect realism?
  • flannel jesus
    1.5k
    This seems like just a massive misunderstanding of what indirect realism claims.

    Indirect realism is about conscious experience and perception. What do you mean when you say 'touch the ball directly'? If you don't mean 'your mind touches the ball directly', then you're misunderstanding the point of indirect realism, because indirect realism is a statement about minds and perception, not a statement about whether or not our physical bodies really physically touch other physical bodies.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    But what if the statement about minds and perception are the same as whether or not our physical bodies really physically touch other physical bodies?

    I don't think @Banno misunderstands indirect realism, only disagrees with it. As do I.

    (remove the serran wrap from you face! you have nothing to lose but your false ideas! ;) )
  • hypericin
    1.5k
    But what if the statement about minds and perception are the same as whether or not our physical bodies really physically touch other physical bodies?Moliere

    What? Explain.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    i'm sitting in a chair at the moment. I'm typing on a keyboard. I perceive these both as I do them. That's basically what I'm thinking.
  • flannel jesus
    1.5k
    But what if the statement about minds and perception are the same as whether or not our physical bodies really physically touch other physical bodies?Moliere

    That's not the claim indirect realists are making. If that's what you're arguing against, you aren't arguing against indirect realism.

    To be more explicit: Indirect realists do not say "our physical bodies do not really touch other physical bodies". If that's what you're arguing against, you're arguing against something that is not indrect realism.

    I mean, I'm sure it's possible that SOME indirect realists say things like that, but that's not the central claim of indrect realism and you need not believe that to be an indirect realist.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    What do they say, according to you?
  • flannel jesus
    1.5k
    I don't think I have any kinda unique view of what they say. I read what google has to say about it, I read what wikipedia has to say about it, what google and wikipedia say they say, I assume they say.

    "Indirect realism is broadly equivalent to the scientific view of perception that subjects do not experience the external world as it really is, but perceive it through the lens of a conceptual framework."

    That's what google says. That doesn't make a claim about whether or not our physical bodies touch other physical bodies.

    I interpret it as a statement about how we process sensory information - specifically, that our minds DO process sensory information, rather than our perceptions being just reality-as-it-is. Our perceptions go through a whole lot of processing in our minds to create this immersive experience full of sound and color and dark and light, smell, taste, pain, cold, hot - our experience is a product of our mind, that's what indirect realism is stating.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Makes sense.

    I'll say I started out as an indirect realist.

    But I'm not googling, only reflecting and conversing. As far as i'm concerned you can define it how you like, if you believe it.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    feedbackAshriel

    Some Direct Realists are Phenomenological Direct Realists believing in causal directness, and other Direct Realists are Semantic Direct Realists believing in cognitive directness.

    However, it seems that the vast majority of Direct Realists are Semantic Direct Realists.

    But there does not seem to be much difference between Semantic Direct Realism and Indirect Realism, meaning that it is only the labels "direct" and "indirect" that people are disagreeing with, not their underlying beliefs, which are probably the same.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    For myself I think I'm cautioning against a tempting philosophical sleight-of-hand.

    I'm committed to saying I'm a realist, of some sort, but the indirect/direct realist distinction is foolish, I think.

    What are the underlying beliefs you think are the same?
  • flannel jesus
    1.5k
    but the indirect/direct realist distinction is foolishMoliere

    You've said you disagree with indirect realism in this thread. It would seem to me that, in order to say that, you'd have to make a distinction, no?
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Sure, I'm open to that.

    Not the same as saying the distinction is foolish, tho.
  • flannel jesus
    1.5k
    I don't understand what you're trying to say here

    If making a distinction is foolish, and you're making a distinction, then are you doing something foolish?
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    I'm granting the distinction to you to go ahead and make a point, while acknowledging that I'm not on board with it entirely.
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