Article

Perception in Ancient Greek Philosophy

Victor Caston

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception

Published in print July 2015 | ISBN: 9780199600472
Published online March 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199600472.013.036

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Perception in Ancient Greek Philosophy

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Interest in perception specifically, as distinct from other forms of cognition, develops relatively early in Greek philosophy. The Presocratics draw a broad contrast between the deliverances of the senses and what we make of them through reflection and argument. By the mid-5th century BCE, there is increasing attention to the causal mechanisms underlying the different sense modalities and to the features of objects responsible for stimulating our sense organs. Although these epistemological concerns are still evident in Plato, in both his works and Aristotle’s, perception comes to be a locus of philosophical interest in its own right, concerning perception’s precise relation to the body; the character of perceptual awareness, including the awareness of perceiving itself; and the nature of perceptible qualities.

Keywords: Greek theories of perception; Presocratics; Plato; Aristotle; mind-body relation; perceptible content; perceptual awareness; perceptible qualities

Article.  13614 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; History of Western Philosophy

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