• RussellA
    1.6k
    I assume that cognition means conscious awareness of. In that case, my view would be very similar to semantic direct realism.Ashriel

    Both the Indirect and Direct Realist would agree that they have conscious awareness of perception of things in their five senses, such as the colour red, a bitter taste, an acrid smell, a painful sting or a grating noise

    As both believe in Realism rather than Idealism, both would agree that there is something in the world that has caused such perceptions in their five senses.

    We look into the night sky and see a dot that we know to be Mars.

    The Indirect Realist would say that they are directly looking at a dot. The Direct Realist would say that they are directly looking at Mars.

    The Indirect Realist could ask of the Direct Realist, in what sense of the word "direct" is the Direct Realist "directly" looking at a mass of when all they can see is a dot?
  • Ashriel
    15


    hmm to my understanding the Indirect Realist would say that they are looking at mars, but directly experiencing something that looks like mars, their perception of mars.

    But I get your point. I really still don't 100% understand what direct realists mean when they say that they directly experience mars.
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    The “directness” of perception refers to the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived. The contact between the perceiver and the perceived is direct, meaning, not indirect: the perceiver literally collides with the perceived, with no intermediary between them.

    When we look at the night sky we never just see a dot. So in a way isolating a single object in the way the question proposes is impossible. We perceive the entirety of our periphery, including the information provided by our other senses. And it is only through this direct contact with the perceived that we are able to see Mars, with the light bouncing off it to directly touch our eyes.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    hmm to my understanding the Indirect Realist would say that they are looking at mars, but directly experiencing something that looks like marsAshriel

    I would go as far as to say, things -as they are- don't "look like" anything. The idea that our visual experience of looking at something could be, somehow, experienceing the thing -as it is- seems absurd to me. The amount of things our brains do in constructing our entire visual experience that are completely arbitrary is honestly pretty huge. And the difference in perception between one person and another person, or one species and another species, makes it hard for me to understand how they can both be experiencing that thing -as it is- when they're having drastically different experiences from each other.

    Think about the experience you have when you go into a room full of shit - think about what that smells like to you. Now think about what that might smell like to a fly. If your smell is experiencing that shit -as it is-, how can you say that the fly is also experiencing the shit -as it is-?

    In reality, things don't "smell like" anything, or "look like" anything. Imo.
  • jkop
    711
    I really still don't 100% understand what direct realists mean when they say that they directly experience mars.Ashriel

    That mars is not experienced via something else, such as sense-data or a mental picture. Hence directly.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    the Indirect Realist would say that they are looking at marsAshriel

    The Indirect Realist would say that they are directly looking at a dot which they reason to be the planet Mars.

    I agree that in language, rather than say "I am directly looking at a dot which I reason to be the planet Mars" in practice this is shortened to the more convenient "I am looking at Mars"

    But the statement "I am looking at Mars" should be taken as a figure of speech, not literally.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    I don't think there's any problem with an indirect realist saying "I'm looking at mars". That's just shorthand loosely for "My physical eyes are pointing in the direction of mars, and there's enough light from Mars hitting my retina that it's affecting my visual experience in a recognizable way, that I recognize as Mars". If that's what "looking at" means, roughly, then... it can be literal, right?
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    The “directness” of perception refers to the relationship between the perceiver and the perceivedNOS4A2

    The Indirect Realist says that they directly perceive a dot in the sky. The Direct Realist says that what they directly perceive is the cause of the dot.

    But that is like saying that if I was stung, I would know just from the sting the cause of the sting, whether a thorn or a wasp.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    I don't think there's any problem with an indirect realist saying "I'm looking at mars".flannel jesus

    Yes, the Indirect Realist can say "I am looking at Mars" as they can say "responsibility is a heavy burden", "Sally is as bright as the sun", "the whole world is a stage" or "the wind whispered in my ears".
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    The Indirect Realist says that they directly perceive a dot in the sky. The Direct Realist says that what they directly perceive is the cause of the dot.

    I’ve always understood the indirect realist to say they directly perceive sense-data, representations, perceptions and the like.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    I don't see why it needs to be metaphorical. What else would "looking at" mean if not what I said? What I said was not metaphorical at all.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    I’ve always understood the indirect realist to say they directly perceive sense-data, representations, perceptions and the like.NOS4A2

    The indirect Realist directly perceives something in their field of vision, which they can reason to be the planet Mars. The word "sense data" should be taken as a figure of speech, not literally, in that no-one has ever found sense data in the brain. As the word "house" is a representation of an object in the world, the dot is a representation of the planet Mars.
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    The indirect Realist directly perceives something in their field of vision, which they can reason to be the planet Mars. The word "sense data" should be taken as a figure of speech, not literally, in that no-one has ever found sense data in the brain. As the word "house" is a representation of an object in the world, the dot is a representation of the planet Mars.

    I suppose my confusion lies in whether the “representation” is a product of the perceiver or the percieved. Are we viewing mars indirectly via the light or indirectly via some construction of our visual system?
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    I don't see why it needs to be metaphorical. What else would "looking at" mean if not what I said? What I said was not metaphorical at all.flannel jesus

    Suppose there is a stick in a glass of water. If I said "I'm looking at a bent stick", there are two possible meanings to this statement. It could mean "I am perceiving a bent stick although the stick is in fact straight", or it could mean "I am perceiving a bent stick and in fact the stick is bent".

    Similarly, if I said "I'm looking at Mars", to the Indirect Realist this means "I'm looking at a dot that I reason to be Mars" and to the Direct Realist this means "I'm looking at a dot that is Mars".

    The Indirect Realist could ask of the Direct Realist, how can a dot be the planet Mars?
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    I guess we just mean different things when we say 'looking at'. That's ok by me.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    I suppose my confusion lies in whether the “representation” is a product of the perceiver or the percieved.NOS4A2

    Someone sees a dot in the sky and doesn't know what it is.

    Later, from various observations over a period of time using the eye and scientific instruments the human reasons that the dot they see in the sky is in fact the Planet Mars.

    The next time they see the dot in the sky, they know that the dot has been caused by the planet Mars. The dot isn't the planet Mars, but the dot in their visual field has been caused by the planet Mars. In a sense, the dot represents the planet Mars.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    I guess we just mean different things when we say 'looking at'. That's ok by me.flannel jesus

    :grin:
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Indirect Realism is not any more skeptical realism than Direct Realism is. I address this in the OP itself.Ashriel
    Yep.

    And Indirect Realism is a form of Representationism.Ashriel
    Yep.

    I hold that what we see corresponds to the external world. Just that what we see is not the external world.Ashriel
    So we have two scenarios. In both there are things in the world. In both there are representations of those things. But in indirect realism one says that "what I see is the representation". Here the "I" doing the "seeing" is seperate to the representation, and the "I" never sees the thing.

    Now this leads to various difficulties. It means, for instance, that when you say that you see the cup has a handle, what you mean is that the representation of the cup has a handle. You are not saying anything about the cup. It leads to a whole network of philosophical garden paths in which, absurdly, the self is forever "cut off" from the world in which it lives.

    In the other account, one says something like that "I see things by representing them". Here, the "I" doing the seeing is doing the representing. When you say that the cup has a handle, you are saying that it is the cup that has the handle, not the representation.

    The physics and physiology is the same in both cases. The wording in the first account cuts one off from the world. The wording in the second account embeds one in the world. The framing, the grammar one chooses, has consequences well beyond mere perception.

    The first, above, is an example of Searle's Bad Argument.
  • Janus
    15.8k
    As the word "house" is a representation of an object in the world, the dot is a representation of the planet Mars.RussellA

    I think it is less confusing to say that the little light you are seeing is Mars presenting itself, appearing, to you. Language may be representative, but seeing is not, and the analogy you present above is inapt.

    Of course you can frame this differently, use the word 'representation' in a different sense and say that seeing is representative, but I think that would place you further from common usage, and so would be liable to create confusion.

    We are not going to be able to drill down to some "absolute" picture of what's going on—the best we can hope for is to speak plainly and sensibly and in a way less likely to breed confusion.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    It's not Mars presenting itself; it's Mars. The account given by does not correspond to how we use language. We say "you can see Mars, right next to Venus - Mars is the red one, Venus the bright one". It's worth the effort as they are presently in conjunction.

    We do not say "You can see a representation of Mars right next to a presentation of Venus".

    The dot is the plant Mars.
  • Janus
    15.8k
    I agree with you that @RusselA does not give an account which is in accordance with common usage and I said as much. I'm not sure if you misread me as saying that the little light we see is Mars representing itself rather than presenting itself.

    I was saying rather that we see Mars as it presents itself to the body via light. I agree it is more parsimonious to simply say we see Mars, but I don't see a problem with including a little detail of what we know about the process of seeing.

    Also I don't say we see a presentation, the seeing is the presentation.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    I was saying rather that we see Mars as it presents itself to the body via light.Janus

    I don't see any advantage in such obtuse phrasings. They seem to me to simply confuse the issue. I'll leave you to it. "The dot is the planet Mars"
  • Janus
    15.8k
    OK, so you don't think the world is presented to us via the senses?
  • Jamal
    9.2k
    I don't see any advantage in such obtuse phrasingsBanno

    I like it. It encapsulates direct realism in a way that acknowledges the points made by these naive indirect realists about the physicality of perception, while also in that context showing the right way to use the word “see”.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    ,
    Meh, it's not a choice of words I would use, but there are bigger fish to fry.
  • Jamal
    9.2k
    but there are bigger fish to fryBanno

    Like explaining for the thousandth time that we see cups, not light?
  • Banno
    23.5k
    :wink: Yep. If it were not for Newbies I would have to think up new arguments, new things to say.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    , , what it seems to me is missing is that perceiving is pictured as passive; the object is presented to you, you just sit there perceiving. But we manipulate the things around us, and we discuss them with other folk, and as you said in your new thread, Jamal, all of this is part of a social practice.
  • Jamal
    9.2k


    Almost a good point, but I think it can be used in a non-passive sense. The back of the house presents itself to you when you go round and look. Your activities and desires elicit diverse presentings on the part of the thing, so to speak.
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