Relational vs Kantian Responses to Berkeley's Puzzle

John Campbell

in Perception, Causation, and Objectivity

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199692040
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729713 | DOI:

Series: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness Series

Relational vs Kantian Responses to Berkeley's Puzzle

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It has previously been argued that Berkeley's Puzzle requires that we take a Relational View of experience. Quassim Cassam says that Berkeley's Puzzle is better addressed by Kant's analysis of experience in terms of intuition and concept. This chapter's main point is that the issue has to do with the explanation and justification of our reasoning about the objects around us. Suppose you think that the world we're in is fundamentally quite unlike anything we encounter in experience. You might be encouraged in this view, on which the external world is alien, by your reading of physics, or by your reading of Kant. In that case, our possession and use of the concepts we ordinarily use on the basis of perception, concepts relating to the medium-sized world, can't be explained or justified by appeal to facts about our environment. We have to look rather at facts relating to the inner architecture of the mind, just as Kant supposes in setting out the doctrine of intuition and concept. On the other hand, suppose that the world we're in is fundamentally the way we think it is. Perhaps physics merely describes a fine level of grain, or operates at a level of description orthogonal to the medium-sized world that interests us. So suppose ordinary perceptual experience does indeed acquaint us with what the world is like. Then our possession and use of concepts of the medium-sized world can be explained and justified by appealing to perceptual acquaintance with our environment. Perceptual experience can be thought of as a relation to our surroundings that explains and justifies our patterns of reasoning about the medium-sized world, just as the Relational View supposes.

Keywords: Berkeley's Puzzle; Relational View; Quassim Cassam; Kant; perceptual experience

Chapter.  8819 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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