Chapter

The Sense of Touch

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/10.1093/0199256721.003.0025
The Sense of Touch

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In a way this is the most fundamental of the senses, being as necessary to animality as the capacity for bodily action. It is of central import for this sense that bodily sensations do not represent bodily or tactile space. The varieties of touch, which range from point‐contact to exploration across space and time of the shape of objects, are characterized. Since we perceive simple object shapes through awareness of the shape of bodily movements, space‐representationalism must be true in simple cases, and while more complex cases differ they are yet constituted out of such representational relations. Then both the shape one seems to perceive, and what one actually perceives and discovers, depend on what one knows and assumes concerning the shape and stability of one's body and the object. This dependence of perceptual inquiry and discovery upon a fund of knowledge is found throughout the senses. It points to the existence of a measure of innate knowledge concerning the environment. The mutual dependence of proprioception and the sense of touch is demonstrated, and disposes of the theory that body‐awareness precedes all other awareness.

Keywords: awareness; innate; proprioception; representationalism; sense; spatial; touch

Chapter.  13620 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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