The Traditional Issue

John Foster

in The Nature of Perception

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198237693
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597442 | DOI:
The Traditional Issue

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Let us provisionally assume a realist view of the physical world, which takes the world to be mind‐independent and metaphysically fundamental. Within the framework of this assumption, there are two general theories of the nature of perception. Let us say that a subject Φ‐terminally perceives a certain physical item if and only if he perceives that item, and there is no other physical item such that his perceiving of this second item mediates his perceiving of the first. Then one of the two theories endorses a realist view of the physical world, and claims that, when someone Φ‐terminally perceives a physical item, his perceptual contact with that item is something psychologically fundamental. I call this ‘strong direct realism’ (SDR). The other theory also endorses a realist view of the world. But its claim is that, whenever someone perceives a physical item (and even when the perceiving of this item is Φ‐terminal), his perceptual contact with it is psychologically mediated, i.e. it is constituted by the combination of his being in some more fundamental psychological state, which is not in itself physical‐item perceptive, and certain additional facts that do not involve anything further about his current psychological condition. I call this the ‘broad representative theory’ (BRT). The first issue we face, then, is: which of these two theories should we accept?

Keywords: direct realism; mediation; mind‐independent; perception; physical world; realism; representation

Chapter.  801 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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