• leo
    601
    I see issues with the idea that we see external objects as they exist independently of us, that we see things as they are outside of us, yet it seems many people still assume it as if it was self-evident. To highlight the issues, how would you answer the following questions:

    1. If we see things as they are, why don't we see the perceptions and thoughts of others? Is it that they don't exist?

    2. If mind stems from the brain, why is our mind not a brain in a vat, and if we can't know that it isn't then why say we see things as they are?

    3. If our concepts stem from our mind, such as the very concept of things, why say we see things as they are outside mind?

    4. If we see things as they are, why do some people not see things as they are (hallucinations, delusions)? If that's because what they consider real is not what we consider real, then they could say they see things as they are and we don't, and then why say we see things as they are?
  • Amity
    803
    'Seeing Things As They Are' by John R. Searle, OUP, 2015.
    He has a theory of perception which might help answer some of your questions.
    Or not. I don't know.

    The central question concerns the relation between the subjective conscious perceptual field and the objective perceptual field. Everything in the objective field is either perceived or can be perceived. Nothing in the subjective field is perceived nor can be perceived precisely because the events in the subjective field consist of the perceivings , whether veridical or not, of the events in the objective field
  • Amity
    803

    As a matter of interest, what have you experienced or read on the subject that gives rise to your issues ?
    I haven't read much. However, you have piqued my curiosity.
    I am going to leave this link here, in case it promotes a better understanding of the concerns :

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/perception-problem/
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    Nothing in the subjective field is perceived nor can be perceived precisely because the events in the subjective field consist of the perceivings , whether veridical or not, of the events in the objective field

    Then how does Searle know that there is a subjective field if it's not perceived? It almost sounds like Searle is saying the objective field and the subjective field are the same thing, which is how it seems to me.

    Its why we can turn our knowledge and awareness back up on themselves of being aware of being aware and the knowing that I know.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    I see issues with the idea that we see external objects as they exist independently of us, that we see things as they are outside of us, yet it seems many people still assume it as if it was self-evident.leo
    The problem is that by asking what something looks like independent of looking at it is an incoherent question. Its like asking if you can get the same result (how something looks) with different causes (the object doesnt refect light that interacts with your visual system). How does the object look when the lights are out, or when it partially submerged in a clear glass of water?

    The correct way to phrase the question would be "what is the object like independent of looking at it?"

    Doesn't science explain what something is like independent of looking at it - as if from a view from no where?

    If we want know what it looks like, or what it is like when we do look at it, just look at. But remember that you're no longer taking about just the object. Youre talking about your perception of the object, which is the effect of several prior causes, and therefore different than talking about the object independent of perception.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    1. If we see things as they are, why don't we see the perceptions and thoughts of others? Is it that they don't exist?leo

    You're confusing different ideas, seemingly based on a weird "literal" reading of "seeing things as they are."

    No one is saying that we see "everything about everything," from every perspective. The very idea of that is incoherent. First off, any observation (in the scientific sense of that term, where it's simply referring to interactions of things) is going to be from a particular perspective or "reference point" and not from other perspectives (reference points). There are no perspective-free or reference-point-free perspectives/reference points.

    So, you see x as it is from reference point y, say. That doesn't include reference point z, unless you change the observational reference point to z, and then you see x as it is from z, and not y.

    X really is like a at y, and really like b at z.

    The perceptions and thoughts of others are like perceptions and thoughts from the reference point of being the particular brain in question. If you're not that brain, you're not going to observe it from that reference point.

    If mind stems from the brain, why is our mind not a brain in a vat,leo

    Say what? Why would it be?

    . If our concepts stem from our mind, such as the very concept of things, why say we see things as they are outside mind?leo

    You're not thinking that anyone is saying that we observe concepts, are you? Concepts are ways that we think about particulars. It's a way of forming abstractions about them in order to make the world easier to deal with for survival purposes, because we'd not be able to deal with seeing everything as a unique particular (while trying to figure out if it's safe to approach, safe to do, safe to eat, etc.)

    4. If we see things as they are, why do some people not see things as they are (hallucinations, delusions)?leo

    No one is claiming that there can't be perceptual problems, that we can't have hallucinations, etc. The entire way we arrive at the concept of a hallucination or perceptual problems in the first place is by being able to see things as they are and realizing that in some cases, something is going wrong, or proceeding unusually/differently. Otherwise it wouldn't even make any sense to talk about hallucinations.
  • Hanover
    5k
    The correct way to phrase the question would be "what is the object like independent of looking at it?"

    Doesn't science explain what something is like independent of looking at it - as if from a view from no where?
    Harry Hindu

    You can't explain what an object is like independent of looking at it because what it is like cannot be described in any terminology other than sensation based language. That is, it smells like A, tastes like B, sounds like C, feels like D, and looks like E. Even such things as length and width cannot be described except in terms of how long it looks or feels.

    As Locke attempted some time ago to draw a distinction between primary and secondary traits, with the former being of the object itself (like length and width) and the latter being those imposed by the person (like color or flavor), it became clear upon analysis that there really isn't any such distinction. All we know is what sense, and what we sense is subject to interpretation by our sense organs and brain. We have no reasonable basis to conclude that the apple we see in any way reflects some absolute reality.

    As Kant noted, all we can reference is the phenomena, that which we perceive. We cannot even coherently discuss the noumena or the things in themselves. It makes no sense to ask what something really looks like without referencing what I subjectively see it to look like.

    We should expect that our perceptions are geared toward our survival, but not in exposing us to absolute reality, whatever that even means. That is, the apple appears bright red and tastes sweet to us because that makes it noticeable and delicious to those who have eaten them and outsurvived those who did not.

    All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be. Name that tune.
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    We don't see things exactly as they are, or science wouldn't surprise us all the time. Clearly, our senses are limited. The big question is whether the way we perceive things is direct or has to be inferred. We might say we see a solid brown table as it is given our visual system. Then we can use tools like microscopes to see more of the table.

    It gets tricky when we wish to describe the table independent of our perception of it. Is the table properly described as brown, solid and smooth? Or do we need more rigorous concepts backed up by data from our tools?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    You can't explain what an object is like independent of looking at itHanover

    Sure you can, because it's not different independent of looking at it, at least from the point of reference in question, and there are always points of reference.

    You can't talk about the object sans particular points of reference, because the very idea of that is incoherent.

    All we know is what sense, and what we sense is subject to interpretation by our sense organs and brainHanover

    The only way you could know that what we sense is different than the object in itself is to know what the object is like in itself AND know what we sense, where you then note the differences. Otherwise, you'd have no basis at all to say that what we sense is any different than the object in itself.
  • Hanover
    5k
    Sure you can, because it's not different independent of looking at it, at least from the point of reference in question, and there are always points of reference.Terrapin Station

    All you can do is describe the sensations you have, and you can't even reliably say they are caused by the object. The incoherence is in speaking of the object in itself.
    The only way you could know that what we sense is different than the object in itself is to know what the object is like in itself AND know what we sense, where you then note the differences. Otherwise, you'd have no basis at all to say that what we sense is any different than the object in itself.Terrapin Station

    I've not said the perception is different from the object. I've said the object is entirely unknowable.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    I've not said the perception is different from the object. I've said the object is entirely unknowable.Hanover

    The object is entirely unknowable based on what? What is the support for that claim?
  • Mww
    1k


    Ruunnn......rabbit run!!
    Dig that hole, forget the sun....

    (Sigh)
  • Hanover
    5k
    The object is entirely unknowable based on what? What is the support for that claim?Terrapin Station

    All I perceive is a phenomenal state. How can I assert something about the noumena if all I'm aware of is my phenomenal state?

    What support do you have that the object is knowable?
  • DingoJones
    1.2k


    Try and walk through a wall. Try and lift a mountain.
    When you attempt those things and fail, you are able to draw reasonable conclusions about some traits about those objects. No?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    You can't explain what an object is like independent of looking at it because what it is like cannot be described in any terminology other than sensation based language. That is, it smells like A, tastes like B, sounds like C, feels like D, and looks like E. Even such things as length and width cannot be described except in terms of how long it looks or feels.Hanover
    Yes, but what does it mean for something to look and feel like anything? Isn't there an aboutness to how they look and how they feel? Are you not informed of something?

    Aboutness is the relationship between cause and effect. You are able to get at the object, among other things, by looking at something. We can talk about our perceptions and still be talking about the world. Our perceptions are just another thing we can talk about directly. I can talk about what it is like to feel something, and I can talk about things that make me feel something. It just depends on what the focus of the discussion is.

    As Locke attempted some time ago to draw a distinction between primary and secondary traits, with the former being of the object itself (like length and width) and the latter being those imposed by the person (like color or flavor), it became clear upon analysis that there really isn't any such distinction. All we know is what sense, and what we sense is subject to interpretation by our sense organs and brain. We have no reasonable basis to conclude that the apple we see in any way reflects some absolute reality.

    As Kant noted, all we can reference is the phenomena, that which we perceive. We cannot even coherently discuss the noumena or the things in themselves. It makes no sense to ask what something really looks like without referencing what I subjectively see it to look like.
    Hanover

    Now, if I can communicate with you, using language, about my own perceptions and feelings, using objects in the world as the medium (ink and paper, computer screens, the atmosphere when I speak, braille, my hands with sign language), then how is it that we can understand each other if we can't really get at the objects in the world and perceive them similarly enough to communicate? How does language use work if we aren't using "external" objects in the world to communicate "internal" perceptions and feelings?


    We should expect that our perceptions are geared toward our survival, but not in exposing us to absolute reality, whatever that even means. That is, the apple appears bright red and tastes sweet to us because that makes it noticeable and delicious to those who have eaten them and outsurvived those who did not.Hanover
    The bold part is you saying something about absolute reality. What is survival?

    Your/My mind is part of absolute reality. Isn't the existence of your own mind the one thing that you can be sure of? If you want to quibble with terms and ask, "How do you know it's a "mind"?", then let's just say that something is happening - even if it's an "illusion". There are differences and changes. There is something rather than nothing and that something is what I am referring to - my "mind" - and that is either all of absolute reality (solipsism), or part of absolute reality (realism).
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    All I perceive is a phenomenal state.Hanover

    That's the claim you're supposed to be supporting. It's not at all a given.

    To use the arboreal example that's so popular, let's say you see a tree. Possibilities include that you're perceiving a phenomenal state (which presumably you're saying amounts to "perceiving" mental content qua mental content), and that you're perceiving something external to you--namely, a tree.

    You're going with option #1. Why?
  • Possibility
    616
    If you’ve ever tried to draw from life with little to no drawing experience, you may notice the discrepancy between what our eyes see and what our mind ‘sees’. We will draw a line where we understand a boundary exists, even though our eyes see no such line. Many people who claim they cannot draw are simply unable to recognise or reproduce the difference between what their eyes see and what their mind tells them is there.
  • miguel d
    12
    The Visual Reality Problem
    by Gabriel Chiron

    You are a subject, a self, a seer-of-objects. Your body is the object that allows you to see objects through your bodily eyes and nerves and brain at the optical center at the back of your brain. This is why a blow to the back of the head can cause blindness. Did you know that? Visual perception is at the back of your head in the visual perception center. Therefore the whole sensory environment or world that you see is nowhere but the back of your brain! This is neurocognitive non-duality. Get clear about this!

    The next point is that your body is the first object you see at the back of your brain, so your entire body is actually nowhere but the back of its brain as it “sees” itself. Your body-object is simply neurocognitively interpreting itself as your body. You, the seer, cannot truly objectively see your body as it really is because you are using your body to “see” your body. Visual perception is not Absolute Reality, God or any other ultimate conceivable entity. How can an instrumental object see itself objectively? Try to be more conscious of this dilemma before you read further.

    Human beings are deluded bodily so-called “seers” who share common hallucinatory optical illusions that they call “The Real World”. Just a little thought about optical cognition will cause the so-called objective-reality-of-the-world to collapse. This explains why there is very little inquiry and thinking about the realism of visual perception. You, just like everybody else, are going about keeping busy in an imaginary world projected like a hologram from the back of your head. You do not understand consciousness. You really don’t. You are deluded.

    Everything you see is at the back of your head in your visual assemblage center in the rear brain. Yet, even that location is based on the holographic projection from that center. So it is itself a projection function from an unknown location. The brain is just its nearest imaginary topological orientation of object projecting false object. So where oh where is the actual assemblage center that puts together and projects the world we see?

    Certain people in Mexico with subtle perceptual ability (extrasensory perception) have been investigating the Visual Reality Problem for centuries. In the subtle world, they discovered a subtle radiant egg of luminosity associated with the physical body but yet transcending it. They then perceived a glowing ball of perceptual projection at the back of that luminous egg which seems to project alternatively either the so-called physical world or the so-called subtle world. So they believed they had located the real center of visual perception there in the subtle world. They called it, the Assemblage Point. But unfortunately this is just a subtler pseudo-objective projection caused by the subtle instrumental object of visual perception. So, there is the First Attention of visual perception seemingly at the back of the brain and the Second Attention of subtle visual perception at the back of the subtle “egg” that seems to surround the physical body.

    The Mexican Seers as well as certain Yogis in the East discovered a Third Attention where the Assemblage Point moves beyond the subtle into the time-space causal world as a “Bubble of Perception”, a “Cluster of Alternative Selfhoods”, and what some Siddhayogis call the Blue Pearl, sometimes believing it is the highest state and like Muktananda, deludedly trying to assert that his causal body of Third Attention is the more transcendental Fourth Attention. So, where is the center of visual perception in the causal bubble of perception? That seems to be like a bright white star at the back of the blue bubble. But that too is just an instrumental star-of-consciousness that can be detached from the entire bubble of perception, the blue pearl or causal body of Third Attention. This is where we leave those Mexican Seers behind and enter a Fourth Attention of advanced Yogis.

    Where, then is the center of visual perception within a detached White Star of Superconscious Fourth Attention? And, is it final or is there another state of Beyond-the-Fourth, Turiyateeta?

    Beyond-the-Fourth is like a Black Hole within the White Star of Fourth Attention. Because it is black and somewhat resembles a Shivalinga, advanced Yogis of the Lingayat Tradition in India called it Atmalinga, the Linga that is one’s own Supreme Self of Shivahood beyond the mere Atman or Self of the White Star Fourth Attention. But is this Black Hole Fifth Attention final? Oh no! It is rumored that there actually is a Sixth Attention and even a Seventh. Of course, all this becomes increasingly incomprehensible, inaccessible and nameless. Perhaps it is enough for you to know that you are presently living in a bullshit false reality, a world that has no real top or even a real bottom. So, like the poet Rimbaud, I have to say that I piss on your “Real World” from a great height! Even where you imagine you have great subtle perception like those Mexicans and others, it is still next-to-nothing. So, come off it and get more real about all this! We are just getting started, getting warmed up.
  • Hanover
    5k
    To use the arboreal example that's so popular, let's say you see a tree. Possibilities include that you're perceiving a phenomenal state (which presumably you're saying amounts to "perceiving" mental content qua mental content), and that you're perceiving something external to you--namely, a tree.Terrapin Station

    Assuming you're a realist, there is a tree "out there" that somehow is perceived by you. That leaves two things (1) the tree and (2) the perception of the tree. The tree is located in the woods and the perception is located in your head. Your knowledge of the tree is due to the light reflecting off the tree, the lens in your eye bending that light, that light affecting your neurons, and thorough some magic of consciousness, you perceive it. What else could you be perceiving other than some processed physical event in the world?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    Assuming you're a realist, there is a tree "out there" that somehow is perceived by you. That leaves two things (1) the tree and (2) the perception of the tree. The tree is located in the woods and the perception is located in your head. Your knowledge of the tree is due to the light reflecting off the tree, the lens in your eye bending that light, that light affecting your neurons, and thorough some magic of consciousness, you perceive it. What else could you be perceiving other than some processed physical event in the world?Hanover

    Without addressing potential problems in this depiction, let's say those things wind up being the case under an assumption of realism.

    That, however, is not your view. Your view is that you're "perceiving" mental content qua mental content. I'm asking you how you're arriving at that option. And the answer as to how you're arriving at it, why you're picking that option is?
  • Hanover
    5k
    That, however, is not your view. Your view is that you're "perceiving" mental content qua mental content. I'm asking you how you're arriving at that option. And the answer as to how you're arriving at it, why you're picking that option is?Terrapin Station

    My view is that I'm perceiving whatever has been transmitted from the tree to the eye to the brain to my consciousness. The light as it travels is not a perception the instant it hits my lens, and the tree itself never moves from the woods.

    What's your view of what's going on?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k

    Is consciousness divided into a perceiver and an object of perception, ie the Cartesian theatre, or is consciousness and perception one and the same? Isn't "awareness" a synonym for "consciousness"?

    Where is the "you" that perceives?
  • Hanover
    5k
    Is consciousness divided into a perceiver and an object of perception, ie the Cartesian theatre, or is consciousness and perception one and the same? Isn't "awareness" a synonym for "consciousness"?

    Where is the "you" that perceives?
    Harry Hindu

    Let's say not, but concede that the awareness is the consciousness. That still doesn't make the object and the perception the same thing, which appears to be TP's position (I think).
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    My view is that I'm perceiving whatever has been transmitted from the tree to the eye to the brain to my consciousness. The light as it travels is not a perception the instant it hits my lens, and the tree itself never moves from the woods.Hanover

    If you think that the tree itself is unknowable, then why would you believe that you're perceiving something that has been transmitted from a tree? What would be the basis of that?

    What I think is going on is that you perceive the tree. Obviously that doesn't mean that the tree is in your brain, which is an inane misunderstanding/straw man that some people think is worth arguing against, as if anyone is claiming that. Perceiving the tree is seeing the tree as it is, from a particular point of reference, via the mechanisms of perception--receiving sensory data via light or sound or touch, etc. where nerve signals are sent to your brain, etc.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k
    Is consciousness divided into a perceiver and an object of perception, ie the Cartesian theatre, or is consciousness and perception one and the same? Isn't "awareness" a synonym for "consciousness"?

    Where is the "you" that perceives?
    Harry Hindu

    Consciousness is a general term for mentality, including awareness. Perception is one set of mental "modes." So is the notion of a self or "you." The location of all of this is your brain.
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    As Kant noted, all we can reference is the phenomena, that which we perceive. We cannot even coherently discuss the noumena or the things in themselves. It makes no sense to ask what something really looks like without referencing what I subjectively see it to look like.Hanover

    But yet somehow we can come up with the wavefunction and talk about black holes and quarks.
  • Hanover
    5k
    What I think is going on is that you perceive the tree. Obviously that doesn't mean that the tree is in your brain, which is an inane misunderstanding/straw man that some people think is worth arguing against, as if anyone is claiming that. Perceiving the tree is seeing the tree as it is, from a particular point of reference, via the mechanisms of perception--receiving sensory data via light or sound or touch, etc. where nerve signals are sent to your brain, etc.Terrapin Station

    If I see a tree as a goat and you as a hat, which is correct? Are you committing to the idea that whatever I see is correct because it's just a particular point of reference? The guy whose lens makes midgets appear as giants is just as accurately seeing the person as the one sees midgets as midgets.

    Is it possible under your position to state that I have misperceived something?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k


    Again, this is why I don't like to do more than one thing at a time. What happened to the question I asked prior to what you're quoting?
  • Hanover
    5k
    Again, this is why I don't like to do more than one thing at a time. What happened to the question I asked prior to what you're quoting?Terrapin Station

    I did answer your question, which is to say that since you cannot determine if a tree is accurately perceived as a goat or a hat, then you can't say you know anything about the tree.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.4k


    What I'd count as an answer is something that begins like this, "I believe that I'm perceiving something that has been transmitted from a tree because _______"
  • Hanover
    5k
    This is a different question, now asking me why I think the tree is the tree, although I said I could know nothing of the noumenal tree. But to answer that question:

    I believe that I'm perceiving something that has been transmitted from a tree because I have faith that what I perceive accurately reflects the external object I believe I am seeing

    Since I lack that faith and lack a reasonable basis for for having such faith:

    I do not believe that I'm perceiving something that has been transmitted from a tree because since you cannot determine if a tree is accurately perceived as a goat or a hat, then you can't say you know anything about the tree.
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