• Ashriel
    15
    Hey, all! For context, I'm planning to write an article on indirect realism for my blog and would like to hear some good arguments for direct realism and some good arguments against my arguments for indirect realism. I've had some interesting responses from discord, so I thought that I would come here!

    Here we go.

    So, Indirect Realism is the thesis that we only have direct access to our perceptions. That is to say, we don't ever directly experience the external world, but our perception of it. That isn't to say that the external world is not real, as some may think, just that we experience it with a "middle man", of sorts - our perception.

    Ok, with this aside, let us define Direct Realism, the thesis that do indeed have direct access to the external world.

    Now let me propose a few arguments for Indirect Realism that I run. Note that all the names I'm giving these are non-standard.

    First, the argument from the indiscernability of veridical and hallucinatory experiences.

    Non-veridical experiences like hallucinations are not subjectively distinct from veridical experiences, that seem to represent what they actually represent. A dream is as subjectively real as your current experiences. These two are exactly the same to us. However, what we experience in the dream cannot be real. So, what we are directly acquainted with cannot be the real thing, but our perception of the real thing.

    In a more formal articulation, the argument would go as such:
    P1 if we were directly acquainted with external objects, then hallucinatory and veridical experiences would be subjectively distinct
    P2 hallucinatory and veridical experiences are not subjectively distinct(i.e., subjectively identical)
    P3 therefore, we are not directly acquainted with external objects
    P4 if we are not directly acquainted with external objects, then we are directly acquainted with our perceptions of external objects
    P5 therefore, we are directly acquainted with out perceptions of external objects
    P6 therefore, Indirect Realism is true

    Second, the argument from process.

    Science has told us that there is a long chain of causal processes that has to occur before you perceive an object. Take your sight. To see the words on this post, light must first bounce off the screen and travel into your eyes. Then, your eyes must send an electrical signal into you brain. Then, you brain must process this electrical signal. Finally, you perceive the words on this screen. This is a simplified version of the process, not mentioning each individual instance where the light or electrical signal is travelling. With all this in mind, how could your perception of the words on this screen be direct?

    In a more formal articulation, this argument would go like this:
    P1 if there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object, then we do not know the object directly
    P2 there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object
    P3 therefore, we do not know the object directly
    P4 either we know the object directly or we know the object indirectly
    P5 therefore, we know the object indirectly
    P6 therefore, Indirect Realism is true

    Third, the argument from delay.

    This is an extension of the argument from process. It takes special note of the fact that the causal process that forms your perception of an object takes time to occur. Let us consider the fact that light takes time to travel. This may have no real effect on your perception of things in everyday life. However, if we consider things like the sun, that are very far away, its effects start to be more obvious. It takes the light from the sun 8 minutes to reach your eyes. This means that the sun that you see now does not even exist! With this in mind, how could it be that you know this sun directly?

    To put it more formally:
    P1 if the things we perceive do not exist, then we do not know the things we perceive directly
    P2 if the causal process that allows us to perceive things takes time, then the things that we perceive do not exist
    P3 the causal process that allows us to perceive things takes time
    P4 therefore, the things that we perceive do not exist
    P5 therefore, we do not know the things we perceive directly
    P6 therefore, Indirect Realism is true

    Lastly, the argument from skepticism.

    This argument argues from the fact that Indirect Realism has more explanatory power over other hypotheses when it comes to the existence of skepticism, specifically over Direct Realism.

    Skepticism comes from the realisation that it is logically possible for your experiences and reality not to properly correspond. For example, during hallucinations, your experiences(the hallucination) and reality do not correspond.

    On Indirect Realism, where what you are directly acquainted with is your perceptions and experiences, this is hardly surprising and even possibly expected. What you perceive is separate from what is real. So, what you perceive may not be real. Thus, Indirect Realism can account for and even possibly explain the existence of skepticism.

    However, on Direct Realism, it is far more surprising that skepticism is a possibility. If what we directly know is the external world, then how could it be that it is possible that what we know and the external world do not correspond, if they are indeed identical? Thus, Direct Realism has difficulties accounting for the existence of skepticism, much less to predict it.

    If you would like the argument more formally:
    P1 if H1 can better account for P than H2, then we should accept H1 over H2
    P2 Indirect Realism can better account for skepticism than Direct Realism
    P3 therefore, we should accept Indirect Realism over Direct Realism

    Please give constructive feedback and arguments for direct realism.
  • Quk
    24
    Hello.

    ... what we experience in the dream cannot be real. So, what we are directly acquainted with cannot be the real thing, but our perception of the real thing.Ashriel

    Why do you think a "dream" cannot be a perception of the real thing?
    I think both a dream and a non-dream can be a perception of the real thing.
    With this premise I can't even pass your first conclusion:

    P1 if we were directly acquainted with external objects, then hallucinatory and veridical experiences would be subjectively distinctAshriel

    Can you describe the properties of such a distinction? Are there different colors, smells, sounds? If so, which ones belong to the real thing?
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    feedbackAshriel

    May be useful to consider the Pierre Le Morvan article Arguments Against Direct Realism and How to Counter Them

    Also Phenomenological Direct Realism (aka causal directness) may be described as a direct perception and direct cognition of the object "tree" as it really is in a mind-independent world. Semantic Direct Realism (aka cognitive directness) may be described as an indirect perception but direct cognition of the object "tree" as it really is in a mind-independent world.
  • Moliere
    4.2k
    P1 if we were directly acquainted with external objects, then hallucinatory and veridical experiences would be subjectively distinct
    P2 hallucinatory and veridical experiences are not subjectively distinct(i.e., subjectively identical)
    P3 therefore, we are not directly acquainted with external objects
    Ashriel

    I'm not sure about P1, but P2 seems to have bigger troubles. How do you ascertain that these kinds of experiences are not subjectively distinct? Surely, in the case of hallucinations, they are intersubjectively distinct -- when someone is interacting with the world in a way we do not perceive then we reach for the explanation of "hallucination".

    Being able to discriminate between reality and the imagination is a commonplace. That we can make mistakes doesn't mean that we cannot tell the experiences apart at all. If the experiences are not subjectively distinct, they certainly are intersubjectively distinct.

    P1 if there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object, then we do not know the object directly
    P2 there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object
    P3 therefore, we do not know the object directly
    Ashriel

    P1 has to be false, I think. If there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object then we are talking in a world populated by: perception, object, causes, and process. If we can talk about each of these truthfully then the only thing "indirect" here is between subject and object -- but in a way that construes reality as interacting and connected, so it's not indirect in the sense of unable to ascertain what's real.

    Just because something is in aggregate -- like perception is an aggregate from the perceiver in an environment of at least a world -- doesn't mean our experience cuts us off from reality. It just means it's more complicated than two things, which given the complexity of the world shouldn't be surprising.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    This thread is just a dream. Do not trouble to respond, folks.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    However, on Direct Realism, it is far more surprising that skepticism is a possibility. If what we directly know is the external world, then how could it be that it is possible that what we know and the external world do not correspond, if they are indeed identical?

    Direct realism is formulated in many ways, but in general it takes account of the fact that we can be fooled by our senses. It would be odd if it didn't. I would caution against the tendency of authors who write on this topic to bolster your position by showing how "naive realism," the belief that we experience things "just as they are," is wrong. It's very easy to slip into using naive realism as a strawman in these discussions. Most forms of direct realism aren't going to say we experience the world "exactly like it is," that we experience "all" of the properties of objects, etc. The claim is rather that there is a direct relationship between what we experience and the world.

    I would also anticipate the common critique of indirect realism, that it falls into the trap of positing a Cartesian theater or humonculus inside the mind, or falls into Ryle's Regress. The positing of "mental representations," as discrete ontological objects that are then "experienced by an internal experiencer," is generally what intentionalists target in indirect realism.

    I just wrote a long post on this topic so I will paste it below. I will just note that I think indirect realism is going to have a particularly hard time in a process metaphysics framework. If we think of the world as a universal process, rather than as a collection of discreet objects in a space-time "container," it tends to dissolve a lot of boundary lines. Personally, I think there are quite good reasons for viewing the world this way. But under this view, the mind in the result of a process that is completely (causally) continuous with the surrounding environment. In such a framework, it seems to be harder to pin down where the mental should start, and to argue that parts of the process external to the body (the objects perceived) fail to have a "direct" relationship to the parts of the universal process inside the body that gives rise to subjective experience.

    The first part of concepts might be less relevant to you argument BTW.


    Concepts - The notion of a "concept" is notoriously muddy. It not obvious that my conceptual understanding of a concept like "Hegelian dialectical," or "Marxism," is the same sort of thing as the way in which my visual cortex organizes sensory input into the experience of "seeing a flower." The first exists (only?) in recursive self-awareness and can be articulated to other people via words. The second seems impossible to even get into recursive self-awareness, let alone communicate. Neuroscience cannot proceed by my describing how it is I use these unconscious processes to turn visual input into the image of a flower, nor can I communicate how I achieve it. I am unaware of these "concepts." Further, the second sort of concept seems "necessary," for the cognitive acts that give rise to the first. I cannot come up with an articulation of what flowers are if my sensory system cannot distinguish them. Lower animals certainly have the second type of concept, but it seems doubtful they have the first.

    Indeed, I am only really aware that I am using the second type of concepts when I begin to suffer from agnosia or have a stroke, etc. And even then, the experiences that people who suffer from these ailments describe is one of absence, they are not able to diagnose themselves. Whereas if I forget what "Hegelian dialectical," is, I am aware of this inability to recall or the fuzzyness of the concept. Nor does it seem like I have a "concept" of every particular shade of green, yellow, and brown I see when I look at my lawn in the same way that I have a concept of "the United States." So, to the extent that some forms of indirect realism make their claims about anthropology and perception by conflating these two notions of the word "concept," they seem to be open to attack. And note that the brain areas that appear to be involved in both notions of the term "concept," appear to be quite different as well.

    Phenomenological Inseparability - This leads into another problem, that of the defining feature of indirect realism, the claim that "we experience mental representations." The problem here is well summarized in the Routledge Contemporary Introduction to Phenomenology, which comes up with a comical list of excerpts of philosophers and scientists trying to describe phenomenal awareness without reference to the things being experienced. These invariably degenerate into just describing the things being experienced, "the taste of coffee," or "the red of a balloon floating in my room," or else become unintelligible nonsense like "I am perceiving hotly," and "I am smelling bitterly."

    The point intentionalists (and some direct realists) make here is that there seems to be absolutely no daylight between the perception and the objects perceived. We seem perfectly able to communicate our experiences to one another in some ways, but it becomes impossible to do so if we focus on the perception side of "perceiving representations," by themselves. It leads to incoherence. And, so they argue, this shows that there is no distinct ontological entity that might be called a "mental representation," that is experienced by a "perceiver who perceives them." Nor is there really good empirical reasons to divorce the two. Where does neuroscience say representation occurs versus the perception of representation? It doesn't say anything about this. It has yet to articulate how this works, but tends to conclude there is no Cartesian theater and that perception and representation are at least not distinct at the level of neuroanatomy (fine grained analysis is indeterminate on this issue).

    (This seems like a good argument in favor of intentionalists)

    Superveniance Relations - Finally, we can consider direct realists' objection, which I think might be the best one. This relies on notions in superveniance. Superveniance cannot just be defined as "no difference in A (mental phenomena) without a difference in B (physical phenomena)." This turns out to be a wholly inadequate way to frame superveniance.

    Such a definition allows, in global superveniance, that a world where Mars has one more molecule of dust can have completely different mental properties from the world without the extra molecule of dust. There is a physical difference between the worlds, so there can be as much mental difference as we like. The same is true for local superveniance. If Sally 2 has one more magnesium atom in her body than Sally 1, she can now have totally different mental properties (we can place the atom in the brain and the same problem remains)

    People have tried to fix this with the idea of P-regions and B-minimal properties. P-regions are just those regions of space time that are absolutely essential to the mental phenomena being considered. B-minimal properties are just those physical properties needed to ensure the mental phenomena in question.


    If might be thought that these concepts wouldn't cause problems for indirect realism. After all, for any freeze frame microsecond of perception, we can assume that the relevant P Region is entirely in the brain. Does this not support the assertion that perception must just be "of" things in the brain, representations?

    The problem comes when you want to analyze any perception that actually takes a meaningful amount of time. All of the sudden, things outside the body become part of the P Region. If we would not have seen the apple but for the apple being on the table, then the apple, or at least part of it or something with similar B-minimal properties, is required to explain the mental state.

    So now the direct realist (along with all the externalists) will say: "hey, the superveniance relationship for perception has to involve the object, it is a necessary physical constituent of perception." Which, while not proving their point, still seems to make it more plausible. If the B-minimal properties of the object perceived cannot be changed one iota without changing the mental experience, then it seems like there is a very "direct" connection between the object and the perception. There is, in this case, no change in the mental representation without a change in the B-minimal properties of the object, and it seems that the "directness" of this relationship is exactly the sort of thing the direct realist is talking about.

    Recall, Aristotle (and Aquinas) don't have us perceiving the entire form of an object. Nor do they have us perceiving the form "as it is in itself." This would require our heads turning into apples or something when we see an apple. Rather, a part of the substantial form is directly communicated to sensation. And here, the B-minimal properties of the object that precisely specify the part of subjective experience corresponding to that object, seems like a very good candidate for the parts of the object's "form/intelligibility" that are directly communicated. This relation is direct in that there can be no change in A without a change in B, and because B is B-minimal, no change in B without a change in A. This is a one to one relationship between part of sensation and an external object — what Aristotle wants to communicate even though he is certainly no naive realist.

    An indirect realist would have to explain how this 1:1 correspondence between external objects and experience fails to be "direct."
  • Banno
    23.6k
    The arguments you present were articulated by Ayer and demolished by Austin. See the thread Austin: Sense and Sensibilia.

    Overwhelmingly, philosophers accept non-sceptical realism and strongly lean towards representationalism.

    This argument is interminable because folk fail to think about how they are using direct and indirect.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    This argument is interminable because folk fail to think about how they are using direct and indirect.

    Well that is certainly true. That and we often fail to consider how other people are using the terms "direct" and "indirect."

    It has occured to me that neo-Aristotlean and neo-Thomistic theories could variously be described as being "direct" or "indirect." There is a lot of describing the same thing different ways. Do we perceive representations or do we use representations to perceive objects? This seems more like a question of paradigm and framing.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Or neither. Perhaps representing is perceiving.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    Excellent point. Its worth questioning if the changes in the brain associated with perception could rightly be called "representations," as is often done. It seems like a "representation" is something an agent creates, and neurons would be part of an agent, not an agent. There isn't the sort of external telos that Aristotle identifies in artifacts (like drawings and representations).

    Saint Bonneventure has a formulation to the effect of "all effects are signs of their causes," which seems to hold in a certain sense. But this wouldn't seem to make "all effects representations of their causes," unless we want to say that a dry river bed is a "representation of past water flowing," (certainly it is a sign of past water movement). It seems useful to distinguish between the basic correlative facet of physical information or semiotic sign, and representations, where the paradigmatic example is something like a painting or text description. The latter suggests something like a person experiencing by "viewing" mental images, the former is less loaded, just implying a causal chain between perceived and perceiver.
  • Janus
    15.8k
    Non-veridical experiences like hallucinations are not subjectively distinct from veridical experiences, that seem to represent what they actually represent. A dream is as subjectively real as your current experiences. These two are exactly the same to us.Ashriel

    That may be your experience, upon which you are apparently extrapolating and speaking for others. I can tell you that what is an hallucination and what is not has always been clear to me even when peaking on acid. Same with dreams—what I remember of them does not seem anything like waking experience.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Perhaps. Seems a long bow.

    I see my hand directly when I look down, indirectly when I see its reflection in a mirror. Here I have a clear enough understanding of what it means to see my hand directly and indirectly.

    But if someone says that when I look down at my hand I am seeing it indirectly, I do not have a way to make sense of what they say.

    If they say I am not seeing my hand, but a "mental image of my hand" or some such, my reply is that, the "mental image", so far as it makes any sense, is me seeing my hand.
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    “Directly acquainted with perceptions” seems a roundabout way of saying we perceive perceptions, which is to assume the initial point. We cannot perceive perceptions any more than we can see sight or observe observations.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    A dream is as subjectively real as your current experiences. These two are exactly the same to us.Ashriel

    Having a dream is indistinguishable from not having a dream? But I know what a dream is, and I'm not having one now. Dreaming is different to being awake - that's why we mark the distinction between dreaming and wakefulness by making use of those words. If one could not tell a dream from wakefulness, we would not be able to make that very distinction.

    Non-veridical experiences like hallucinations are not subjectively distinct from veridical experiencesAshriel
    Then why do folk bother taking LSD?

    Hence,
    P1 if we were directly acquainted with external objects, then hallucinatory and veridical experiences would be subjectively distinctAshriel
    We do make such distinctions.

    P2 hallucinatory and veridical experiences are not subjectively distinct(i.e., subjectively identical)Ashriel
    Hallucinations are very different to "veridical experiences", which is why some sometimes take drugs in order to experience them, and at other take drugs in order to avoid them.

    Therefore,
    P3 therefore, we are not directly acquainted with external objectsAshriel
    does not follow. We may on occasion be "directly acquainted with external objects".

    P4 if we are not directly acquainted with external objects, then we are directly acquainted with our perceptions of external objectsAshriel
    's response fits here, as does my
    representing is perceivingBanno
    . We do not experience our perceptions, nor are we aquatinted with them. Rather our perceptions are, more often than not, our seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the things in our world. And it is only in virtue of this being so that we can note the oddity of dreams and hallucinations and illusions and mirages and so on.

    P5 therefore, we are directly acquainted with out perceptions of external objects
    P6 therefore, Indirect Realism is true
    Ashriel
    These no longer follow. But we might take a few seconds to wonder, what could it possibly mean to be indirectly acquainted with our perceptions? And if that leaves you unsure, are you so sure you understand what it is to perceive directly?

    P1 if there is a long causal process between the object that we perceive and our perception of the object, then we do not know the object directlyAshriel
    This is a misarticulation of the issue. That casual process is not between the object and the perception, it is the perceiving of the object. Folk are misled by considering only vision here. Consider touch: the contact between say finger and texture is in part the touching; Or smell: the contact between nose and perfume is in part the smelling. The smelling and touching do not occur at the end of the casual chain, but are integral to it. The alternative leads to homunculi.

    P1 if the things we perceive do not exist, then we do not know the things we perceive directlyAshriel
    Why should one accept this? In an illusion, a pencil in water is made to appear bent. Perhaps one might be tempted to say that the bent pencil does not exist, but the pencil certainly exists. Otherwise there could be no pencil to appear bent. And what could it mean here to say that the pencil is not perceived directly? That it is not perceived directly, but only through the water? Why not then say that I perceive the pencil directly, through the water? This is just what a straight pencil in water looks like.

    P2 if the causal process that allows us to perceive things takes time, then the things that we perceive do not existAshriel
    Again, why should we accept this? If I hear a jet overhead, and o n looking, find it further over in the sky than the sound might indicate, I do not conclude that therefore the jet does not exit. Why should a delay in some perception convince us that the thing perceived does not exist?

    The remainder of the points, again, fall in a heap.

    Skepticism comes from the realisation that it is logically possible for your experiences and reality not to properly correspond. For example, during hallucinations, your experiences(the hallucination) and reality do not correspond.Ashriel

    IN order to be aware that you are hallucinating, you must be able to differentiate between what is an experience that is hallucinatory, and an experience that is (shall we say...) veritable.

    Skepticism is dependent on our being able to recognise the veritable.

    Therefore we sometimes experience the world as it is.

    I don't see any argument left for indirect realism.

    Do we conclude that therefore we only ever see things directly? That direct realism is true?

    Not at all.

    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.

    This is I believe the account offered by Austin, applied to the OP.
  • goremand
    68
    Ok, with this aside, let us define Direct Realism, the thesis that do indeed have direct access to the external world.

    Now let me propose a few arguments for Indirect Realism that I run. Note that all the names I'm giving these are non-standard.
    Ashriel

    Did you forget to write something in between these two paragraphs?

    Based on what you do write I'm not sure what position you're arguing against, surely no-one believes we can see anything without light, eyeballs and other "middle men"?
  • jkop
    712
    hallucinatory and veridical experiences would be subjectively distinctAshriel

    What makes them distinct is that in the hallucinatory experience nothing is experienced.

    In the premise that one can't see whether an experience is veridical or hallucinatory it is assumed that the veridical is indirect. Hence the doubt on whether it is what it seems to be, veridical or hallucinatory. From this we're supposed to "conclude" indirect realism. But the conclusion is hidden in what is assumed in the premise.

    Direct experiences, however, don't represent anything, and therefore they are not subject to doubt on whether they are what they seem to be.
  • Quk
    24
    I see my hand directly when I look down, indirectly when I see its reflection in a mirror. Here I have a clear enough understanding of what it means to see my hand directly and indirectly.Banno

    I think, when you look down, you don't see your hand directly; you see photons (or whatever moving signals) that moved from your hand to your eyes. So the process is already indirect even before you can make an intermediate mental picture of it. Nevertheless, I'd say that we see reality directly because those photons are real. -- What are photons? They have no substance. They are a piece of information. Now since everything in the world is real information, what's the difference between information in a dream and information in a non-dream? It's all real information. -- In short: I think we're talking about a pseudo problem.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    What makes them distinct is that in the hallucinatory experience nothing is experienced.jkop

    If nothing is experienced then what is the distinction between having an hallucinatory experience and not having an hallucinatory experience?

    It seems to me that you're just playing with words here. Under any normal use of language, things are experienced when we hallucinate (and when we dream); it's just that the experience isn't a consequence of external stimulation of the relevant kind.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    “Directly acquainted with perceptions” seems a roundabout way of saying we perceive perceptions, which is to assume the initial point. We cannot perceive perceptions any more than we can see sight or observe observations.NOS4A2

    Wording aside, the general idea is that when I put my hand in the fire the pain I feel isn't a property of some external world object but a mental phenomenon caused brain activity (and in turn caused by the nerves in my hand). The same principle holds with tastes and smells and sounds and visual imagery.

    Many read far too much into the particulars of English grammar. The fact that we say "I feel pain" and the fact that pain is a feeling and the fact that a simple substitution gives us the non-standard "I feel a feeling" has no philosophical relevance at all. The same for tasting and smelling and hearing and seeing.

    The ordinary way of speaking and the (meta)physics/epistemology of perception are two very different things.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    Well that is certainly true. That and we often fail to consider how other people are using the terms "direct" and "indirect."Count Timothy von Icarus

    I made much the same point here in another recent discussion.

    So to avoid using the terms "direct" and "indirect", my own take is that we have an experience that we describe as seeing an apple, but that the relationship between the experience and the apple isn't of a kind that resolves the epistemological problem of perception (or of a kind that satisfies naive colour realism, as an example).
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    Wording aside, the general idea is that when I put my hand in the fire the pain I feel isn't a property of some external world object but a mental phenomenon caused brain activity (and in turn caused by the nerves in my hand). The same principle holds with tastes and smells and sounds and visual imagery.

    Many read far too much into the particulars of English grammar. The fact that we say "I feel pain" and the fact that pain is a feeling and the fact that a simple substitution gives us the non-standard "I feel a feeling" has no philosophical relevance at all. The same for tasting and smelling and hearing and seeing.

    The ordinary way of speaking and the (meta)physics/epistemology of perception are two very different things.

    I agree with a lot of what you said there about the over-concern with the language. But what it is one is seeing, and what object in the world that noun ought to refer too, is important and relevant; and if the indirect realist is unable to state what that is, then the ideas are immediately lacking.

    A term like “pain” is a sort of folk biology. Maybe one feels a pinched nerve or some other malady that would reveal itself upon closer examination. If true, the latter ought to supersede the former as a more accurate accounting of reality.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    But what it is one is seeing...NOS4A2

    I think the question isn't clear. What does it mean to say that I smell some X?

    I agree with a lot of what you said there about the over-concern with the language. But what it is one is seeing, and what object in the world that noun ought to refer too, is important and relevant; and if the indirect realist is unable to state what that is, then the ideas are immediately lacking.

    When I see Joe Biden on TV I am seeing Joe Biden on TV, and the term "Joe Biden" refers to the man who is the President of the United States.

    I don't see how this addresses the (meta)physics or epistemology of perception. In fact I think it highlights precisely how the attention to how we ordinarily describe perception is misplaced.

    A term like “pain” is a sort of folk biology. Maybe one feels a pinched nerve or some other malady that would reveal itself upon closer examination. If true, the latter ought to supersede the former as a more accurate accounting of reality.NOS4A2

    We might disagree over whether or not pain is a physical or non-physical thing, but whatever it is it is real and we feel it, so I don't see how this amounts to folk psychology.

    Perhaps physicalism is correct and that pain is reducible to the firing of C-fibres. It still entails that pain isn't a property of the external world object (e.g. fire) that is causally responsible for the firing of those C-fibres. The indirect realist will say the same about tastes and smells and sounds and colours. They're reducible to some bodily function (whether it be in the brain or in the ears or in the eyes), not to some property of the external world objects that are causally responsible for these bodily functions.
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    I think the question isn't clear. What does it mean to say that I smell some X?

    A subject (you) smells some direct object (smoke, for instance).

    When I see Joe Biden on TV I am seeing Joe Biden on TV, and the term "Joe Biden" refers to the man who is the President of the United States.

    I don't see how this addresses the (meta)physics or epistemology of perception.

    The word refers to an external object. If you were to point at that object you would never point internally. The direction towards which your eyes face, in combination with measurable distance between you and that object, never reveal that any of it is internal, and in fact prove the opposite.

    We might disagree over whether or not pain is a physical or non-physical thing, but whatever it is it is real and we feel it, so I don't see how this amounts to folk psychology.

    Perhaps physicalism is correct and that pain is reducible to the firing of C-fibres. It still entails that pain isn't a property of the external world object (e.g. fire) that is causally responsible for the firing of those C-fibres. The indirect realist will say the same about tastes and smells and sounds and colours. They're reducible to some bodily function (whether it be in the brain or in the eyes), not to some property of external world objects.

    Pain is neither a thing nor a property. It is a noun, sure, but it is without a referent. It is folk biology because the exact situation and condition of the body right down to the cellular level isn’t immediately apparent.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    A subject (you) smells some direct object (smoke, for instance).NOS4A2

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

    The word refers to an external object. If you were to point at that object you would never point internally. The direction towards which your eyes face, in combination with measurable distance between you and that object, never reveal that any of it is internal, and in fact prove the opposite.NOS4A2

    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.

    Pain is neither a thing nor a property. It is a noun, sure, but it is without a referent.NOS4A2

    Pain is very real. I don't know what else to say. You're lucky if you've never felt it.
  • ENOAH
    652
    The difference between so-called hallucinatory (incl dreams) and so called real perception is that generally* in the former Mind constructs experience out of available images stored in memory, and in the latter Mind constructs experience out of available images stored in memory, triggered by sensation of something in the physical world. And, yes, "experiences" involving/derived from concepts (classical examples, "I" think, therefore "I" am, and most everything appearing in this Forum) fall under the first, hallucinatory. *there are complexities and qualifications
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    This thread is just a dream. Do not trouble to respond, folks.unenlightened

    More a disturbingly recurring nightmare, surely. Sorry for calling you "Shirley."
  • jkop
    712
    If nothing is experienced then what is the distinction between having an hallucinatory experience and not having an hallucinatory experience?Michael

    I can evoke the experience of seeing a sudden flash by poking my eye (not recommended), and I suppose that the experience could be subjectively identical to seeing a real flash. But when I poke my eye it is just the experience without its object, the flash.

    In the hallucinatory case nothing is experienced, because imaginary objects don't interact with sense organs. Hallucinations are not experiences in the same sense as veridical experiences. Hence the names hallucinatory and veridical.


    Under any normal use of language, things are experienced when we hallucinate (and when we dream); it's just that the experience isn't a consequence of external stimulation of the relevant kind.Michael

    Right, seeing something when there is nothing to see is normally called 'hallucination'. Such an experience is not about something, but the psychological ability running amok.

    Dreams are interesting. Unlike veridical experiences of a recalcitrant continuous reality dreams are gappy or collage-like, and cease to exist as soon as one wakes up. Granted that a dream of waking up could be subjectively identical to waking up. But not for long, because of the differences between dreams and veridical experiences.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    ...you see photonsQuk

    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.

    And one should take care not to preference one sense over others. How is touch indirect? Smell? Taste?
  • AmadeusD
    2k
    Folk might well see using or because of photons. But photons are not visible.Banno

    Doesn't this still place a middle man in your 'direct' position? Truly unsure how you'd see that - not arguing against your form of a direct realism per se.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    hallucination" is closer to "delusion" than to "illusion", in that something is conjured up in both an hallucination and a delusion, but not so much in an illusion.

    That we sometimes hallucinate does not imply that we never see things as they are. indeed, in order to identify an hallucination we must be able to differentiate between what is "conjured up" and what is veritable. Recognising that we sometimes hallucinate requires that we also recognise when we are not hallucinating.

    When it isn't a real duck but a hallucination, it may still be a real hallucination-as opposed, for instance, to a passing quirk of a vivid imagination. That is, we must have an answer to the question 'A real what?', if the question 'Real or not?' is to have a definite sense, to get any foothold. — Austin

    Curious that this thread emphasises hallucination rather than illusion.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Doesn't this still place a middle man in your 'direct' position?AmadeusD

    How?

    We see using light; we don't see light. What you see is your hand, not the light. So the argument presented does not work.

    Have you a different argument?

    And what is the middle man in touch?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment