Chapter

Seeing the Light

Brian O'Shaughnessy

in Consciousness and the World

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256723
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598135 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199256721.003.0017
Seeing the Light

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In visual perception, the Attention reaches its final object‐goal through the mediation of more proximate visibilia. How to discover their existence? The answer is by philosophical argument. The present claim is that we see the environment through seeing the light reflected by it. This discussion has a close bearing upon the sense–datum theory, since much of the counter‐intuitiveness of the one theory is shared by the other. Arguments are presented for the claim, one of which is that if sound is heard why is light not seen? It shares all the relevant properties. A light‐representationalist theory of the perception of material object is advanced, such that light at the retina is merely directionally seen and is one and the same thing as the directional seeing of objects at a distance in space. This is made possible by the ‘Transitivity of the Attention’, whereby non‐deviant causal relations ensure the multiplication of objects given to the Attention in the one visual experience. This theory is proposed as a model via which one may suitably amend G.E. Moore's instructions for singling out sense‐data. If the theory is correct, it undercuts the usual objections to the sense‐datum theory completely, and disproves Direct Realism along with it.

Keywords: Attention; G.E. Moore; hearing; light; representational; seeing; seeing as; sensation; sense‐datum; sound; Transitivity

Chapter.  14479 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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