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DiscoveryJoy

Relationship between Object and Percept in perceptions

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"And what we subconsciously really mean by "this thing here" and "that thing there" is just the percept."

I don't see why. Why do you say percept there, and not object? I think you've begged the question - how is it that you know your percepts are linked and correspond to objects?

 

Because we know external objects only through abstraction, through the conceptual level. Without thinking, i.e., with only the perceptual level, we can only know percepts. Their correspondence or a lack thereof to objects can only be known through the conceptual level and logical integration.

 

 

Sounds like you're presuming to start that perception only allows you to be aware of percepts and not objects (as opposed to saying a percept is directly corresponding with objects).

 

Exactly! Only of percepts. That was the whole point right at the beginning of the illustration. An object can never reach your conciousness directly, only a percept can. It is only conception based on perception that then allows us to be aware of objects. Be aware of them indirectly, not in the direct sense of our consciousness having direct contact with them. We know objects only through inference in an abstract sense, i.e. from the fact that we have percepts. As something we cannot directly consume but we know must exist somehow. That's why the whole issue of correspondence seems so difficult to answer.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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WHAT?  We only know entities thru abstraction?  Time to re-read the ideas of senses, perception, and conception.  Ms. Rand is, to my thinking, the discoverer of the truth of concept formation.  But don't allow the premises that support her formulation, to bleed over into the other faculties that are part of human consciousness. 

 

It may be that the confusion here is due to the use of the phrase "sense perception." This common phrase has always been a stone in my shoe because it seems to combine sense processes (well known mechanistic and material things in science) with the lesser understood process of perception that takes place in the brain - it is the coordination of sense data and memory to arrive at conclusions, but Fail to see how abstraction applies at this level of consciousness.

 

Abstraction is the ability of humans to consider the characteristics of entities/objects as if they existed independent of entities/objects.  They don't, but we can categorize/conceptualize based on this ability to abstract.

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Exactly! Only of percepts. That was the whole point right at the beginning of the illustration.

Right, I thought so. That's why I think you're begging the question. What makes you say that a percept can only be linked to awareness by abstraction? That's a pretty strong claim, as you explained away correspondence by posing a theory of correspondence. It looks like you took the idea "percepts correspond by correlation, so percepts might contain more (or less) content than is presented by your senses", then used that as your premise for concluding how percepts don't directly correspond.

 

There's a difference between being aware that the entity in front of you is called a book, versus being aware that there's a perceptual form in front of you. The first is done by a process of abstraction, the second is just perceptual content (which, if you're perceiving, you're by definition aware of it). You seem to be saying you can't be aware of ANYTHING until it is a concept. Even if it is a "weak" sense of the word concept (not as strictly defined as philosophers mean it), how would you be able to abstract before awareness?

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What makes you say that a percept can only be linked to awareness by abstraction?

 

"Linked to awareness by abstraction"? Why to awareness? I'd say to be aware of a percept is already to be aware, no need to link it to awareness otherwise. Just a need to link it to that which exists independent of our senses.

 

Right, I thought so. That's why I think you're begging the question.

 

That's a pretty strong claim, as you explained away correspondence by posing a theory of correspondence.

 

It looks like you took the idea "percepts correspond by correlation, so percepts might contain more (or less) content than is presented by your senses", then used that as your premise for concluding how percepts don't directly correspond.

 

Explained away correspondence? Why? I realized right from start (see my illustration) that there has to be some sort of correspondence. The question is what sort of? 1:1? n:1? 1:n? etc.

 

"percepts might contain more (or less) content than is presented by your senses"? I'd say that percepts are what is presented by our senses. And they correspond to something that exists independent of our senses. And that's where the question of "what sort of correspondence?" comes in.

 

You seem to be saying you can't be aware of ANYTHING until it is a concept.

 

Yes, you can. You can be aware of the percepts. That's what you start with. The choice to integrate them into or to use them to create concepts is yours. In other words, the recognition that they are percepts, that they come from your senses after some external objects have acted on them, so there must be some external objects.... - recognizing that there actually is such a thing as perception and that what you get to be aware of is only its product, is your choice.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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My bad, wrote it badly. I mean: "What makes you say that the content of a percept can only be linked to reality by abstraction?" You're right, a percept is necessarily linked to awareness already.

Part of my answer to your question of correspondence is that asking if a percept is 1:n is incoherent. Correspondence doesn't make sense that way, as it depends on how you individuate. That's a question about concept formation: how do I know "apple" refers to this red object with a green leaf as opposed to a collection of them, or two, or three, or only the stem, etc. This is different than asking if the percept which I label apple corresponds to reality in a definite manner. Is a percept "enriched"? Is a percept simplified? Or is the percept only and exactly what is part of external reality? If it's the last one, then we aren't aware of only percepts - the content corresponds to reality exactly means being aware of a percept is being aware of all its content, and lacks/exceeds nothing.
 

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Because we know external objects only through abstraction, through the conceptual level. Without thinking, i.e., with only the perceptual level, we can only know percepts. Their correspondence or a lack thereof to objects can only be known through the conceptual level and logical integration.

 

 

Exactly! Only of percepts. That was the whole point right at the beginning of the illustration. An object can never reach your conciousness directly, only a percept can. It is only conception based on perception that then allows us to be aware of objects. Be aware of them indirectly, not in the direct sense of our consciousness having direct contact with them. We know objects only through inference in an abstract sense, i.e. from the fact that we have percepts. As something we cannot directly consume but we know must exist somehow. That's why the whole issue of correspondence seems so difficult to answer.

If your aging Aunt starts to suffer from blind sight, do you send her to a philosopher who will instruct her on how concepts are formed from sensations/percepts via measurement omission and how to abstract from abstractions?  Or do you send her to a neurologist who will look for tumors or lesions in certain parts of her brain?

 

Discussions of epistemology, regarding abstraction formation from concretes, is well and good when arguing how Man is not reliant on a priori knowledge or some form of structuralism or Chomskyan innate grammar, but I think much of what you  are wresting with is well understood by science.  In particular, visual perception requires MORE feedback than actual feedforward information.

Edited by New Buddha

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Hey, I just read the topic title again and an interesting point occurred to me.  "The Relationship Between Object and Percept."  Recall that the "relationship" between object and conscious subject is part of Mr. Peikoff's argument for the validity of the senses.  He uses it as part of his explanation for the fact that slight differences in sense organ materialism (like being color blind) does not invalidate human knowledge, or in an explanation of the actual identity "green," for example. 

 

As you read - think,,,,,, the thing being observed is what it is and my consciousness is what it is.

 

"Green" is the product/result in consciousness that derives from the relationship between an object, the effect of light on the object, and the mechanics of the human eye.  Green is the conclusion - the end product of the identity (expressed in cause and effect) of eyeball, copper object, and moderate oxidation, for example. Green is not an object, it is a characteristic (identity) subject to cause and effect - oxidation, and then the level, frequency, and intensity of light.  (It's grey hue after the sun goes down does not change the truth of copper, oxidation, or eyeballs.)

 

Can you sense a difference in the above argument - a difference from almost all other philosophical debate?  It's an argument based on the primacy of existence, not the primacy of consciousness.  Objectivist arguments are always based on what we can know from sense experience and induce (and later confirm in deduction) from reason.

 

Objectivism uses math, language, and logic as cognitive tools to validate sense experience and the conclusions of reason - not as substitutes for connections of ideas to reality to be manipulated by the rules that apply to each of these disciplines as a means to discover knowledge beyond sense experience.

 

Mr. Peikoff never said it to my knowledge, but I will - the truth of sense perception is not an easy definition like "God said so, it must be true."  Instead, the reality is that the truth depends upon an understanding of the identity of the perceiver, the object, and any aspects of reality that can be shown to have an effect on the participant entities - because "green" is a product of these relationships.  "Green" does not exist independent of the entity, the perceiver, or the facts of realities causes and effects.

 

PS - The above is a great example of how Rand/Peikoff has taught me not to fall into the trap of so many philosophers in history - speculate in language and logic to fill in the gaps left by the sciences.  Instead, stick to what you can logically show, understanding that the nature of human knowledge is hierarchical, and that a philosopher's job is not to fill in the gaps in science, but to direct scientists (thru epistemology and metaphysics} to the areas that might be worth scientific study as a means to answer a science question.

Edited by jacassidy2

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Aside for DiscoveryJoy - the idea that you know entities only thru abstraction is a contradiction of Objectivism based in rationalism.  Objectivism would say you understand entities (concretes) thru sense data and concepts thru abstraction.  Rethink and explain (we all think too fast on forums and you may have the opportunity to answer a post of mine in this way some day) or prepare for debate.

 

NewBudda points out that some of this is already the subject of scientific inquiry.

Edited by jacassidy2

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My bad, wrote it badly. I mean: "What makes you say that the content of a percept can only be linked to reality by abstraction?"

 

 

What makes me say that is: If we only have direct contact to percepts, then we first have to form the concepts of "percept" and of "consciousness" from the many percepts we are aware of. After doing that, we can ask: How is it possible for us to be aware of the percepts? And what is their metaphysical status? We can then create a line of argument leading to the idea that there must be something like a means to consciousness that has provided us with the percepts (see my line of argument right after the illustration). Part of this idea is also that certain other things must have acted on that means to consciousness. A term for these other things is "entities", abstractly defined.

 

Part of my answer to your question of correspondence is that asking if a percept is 1:n is incoherent. Correspondence doesn't make sense that way, as it depends on how you individuate. That's a question about concept formation: how do I know "apple" refers to this red object with a green leaf as opposed to a collection of them, or two, or three, or only the stem, etc.

 

This is different than asking if the percept which I label apple corresponds to reality in a definite manner. Is a percept "enriched"? Is a percept simplified? Or is the percept only and exactly what is part of external reality? If it's the last one, then we aren't aware of only percepts - the content corresponds to reality exactly means being aware of a percept is being aware of all its content, and lacks/exceeds nothing.

 

 

About the first paragraph: Aren't you just saying "it depends on how you define the term 'apple' "?

 

About the second paragraph: Yes, IF it's the last one. Why is it?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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Aside for DiscoveryJoy - the idea that you know entities only thru abstraction is a contradiction of Objectivism based in rationalism.  Objectivism would say you understand entities (concretes) thru sense data and concepts thru abstraction.  Rethink and explain (we all think too fast on forums and you may have the opportunity to answer a post of mine in this way some day) or prepare for debate.

 

Hope you see my recent answer to Eiuol relates to this.

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If your aging Aunt starts to suffer from blind sight, do you send her to a philosopher who will instruct her on how concepts are formed from sensations/percepts via measurement omission and how to abstract from abstractions?  Or do you send her to a neurologist who will look for tumors or lesions in certain parts of her brain?

 

To the neurologist. Where's the contradiction? Let her first regain her ability to observe percepts. Note: Percepts, not just sensations. Let the neurologist repair whatever is damaged, so she can then rise up again from the automatic and baby-like sensational to the equally automatic perceptual level, and then form her concepts.

 

But I also hope you don't mean to equate the term "concept" with "entity". As you also seem to falsely equate "sensations" and "percepts", just like Hume does.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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What makes me say that is: If we only have direct contact to percepts, then we first have to form the concepts of "percept" and of "consciousness" from the many percepts we are aware of. After doing that, we can ask: How is it possible for us to be aware of the percepts?

I wanted to clarify this. Why do we have to form a concept of percept or consciousness? You didn't say why, or give a reason - what does it accomplish?

 

And no, I don't mean that it depends how you define apple. It depends on the way and if an apple is seen as an individual. It's what perception provides - individuated entities. No concepts or definitions required.

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I wanted to clarify this. Why do we have to form a concept of percept or consciousness? You didn't say why, or give a reason - what does it accomplish?

 

We first become aware and notice there is "this thing" and "that thing" etc. We don't start by knowing there are senses, or things that interact with them. We start by knowing only, there is "this thing" and "that thing" etc. If the term "entity" is really form-independent, then "entity" is not the right term that puts the "this thing" and "that thing" etc. under one concept. Its only "percepts" that does this. If its not "percepts", then I don't kow what other term would fit. "Mental objects"? "Objects in consciousness"? I thought "percepts" is the right term, so I'll continue to use it.

 

We must first have this concept of "percept". And of consciousness. Otherwise we couldn't formultate the question: "How did the percepts come into our consciousness?", or "Are the percepts the primary causes of existence?" I don't see how else we could reflect on such general questions without first having the concepts at hand that these questions depend on.

Then we can try to answer those questions. We can argue that in the big world out there, there seems to be so much stuff. How could all this stuff reach our consciousness directly just like that? Doesn't make sense, there must be a medium, a means to consciousness. And all this stuff out there in reality must have acted on that medium, so that the result is the percepts we get. So we must also conclude, that the percepts are actually not really primary causes, but come from stuff that must be out there and the medium that must be close to our consciousness. How do we call all this stuff that acted on the medium? Right, entities.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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Also, not sure what to make of this statement involving the term "faculty".

 

 

It seems that what is really meant by "the result of the interaction" is not really that what it sounds like. If I think of a "result", I think of a separable output of something, as from a machine. By it seems like in this answer, "result" doesn't really mean that. It means something he calls "a faculty". What exactly does it mean to be "a faculty of something"? If this faculty is a "property of the interaction", then what does that mean? Is it like "redness is a property of this apple, inseparable from it"? But if that's the case - if it is the case that our percepts, too, are such "properties of the interaction", then how could our consciousness observe them as "things", if they're not?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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Where did you excerpt that from? I have never heard that particular discussion. This discussion makes the distinction between reduction and eliminative reduction leap out!

Now, ask yourself why Dr, Peikoff is using the evidentiary category possible in such a way on this topic when it is completely opposite of the fallacy of the arbitrary view in Oism???? That will answer why he made the same hypothetical about "puffs of meta energy"!!!

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Discovery asked:

It seems that what is really meant by "the result of the interaction" is not really that what it sounds like. If I think of a "result", I think of a separable output of something, as from a machine. By it seems like in this answer, "result" doesn't really mean that. It means something he calls "a faculty". What exactly does it mean to be "a faculty of something"? If this faculty is a "property of the interaction", then what does that mean? Is it like "redness is a property of this apple, inseparable from it"? But if that's the case - if it is the case that our percepts, too, are such "properties of the interaction", then how could our consciousness observe them as "things", if they're not?

He means that you cannot separate the outcome from the material cause in such a way that make actions floating disconnected from entities. (Entity based causation)You are trying to ascertain what ontological status Oism gives to faculty. A proper definition will reflect that. A faculty is a type of property whereby certain actions are produced or made possible. Consciousness is a process. Processes are something substantial entities do.

You are asking a similar question many substance dualist ask. If concepts are not mental entities in the primary sense, then how can abstraction be a taking out? Where and what are you abstracting? This has been argued for a realist version of the misunderstood "problem of universals".

Edited by Plasmatic

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DJ, your recent posts seem to be a change in your ideas. I was responding to this idea before:

 

An object can never reach your conciousness directly, only a percept can. It is only conception based on perception that then allows us to be aware of objects... We know objects only through inference in an abstract sense, i.e. from the fact that we have percepts. As something we cannot directly consume but we know must exist somehow.

That's why I brought up the distinction of being aware of what the object is, and being aware of there being a "this thing". You seemed to be talking about correspondence between concept and object as though it's the same question as correspondence between percept and object.

But now you made this claim:
 

We first become aware and notice there is "this thing" and "that thing" etc. We don't start by knowing there are senses, or things that interact with them. We start by knowing only, there is "this thing" and "that thing" etc.

So it looks like you don't support your idea that I started arguing against. Still, it seems like you're still unsure how the form in which you are aware can directly tell you that there are in fact objects, except later by abstraction and forming concepts like "entity" first. But if a percept only has exactly the information external reality provides and not any less or more, then the contents of a percept are exactly and only a presentation of objects regardless of you knowing in the conceptual sense that they are objects.

Is that last sentence where you diverge? Sorry the last sentence is so long, I wanted to be precise as possible, especially since I said similar things earlier.

Edited by Eiuol

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Where did you excerpt that from? I have never heard that particular discussion. This discussion makes the distinction between reduction and eliminative reduction leap out!

 

Errr....Youtube? I hadn't either. Until that day.

Seems so, yeah. Showing that you can reduce something without eliminating the content. Evidently by recognizing it as a "faculty".

 

Now, ask yourself why Dr, Peikoff is using the evidentiary category possible in such a way on this topic when it is completely opposite of the fallacy of the arbitrary view in Oism???? That will answer why he made the same hypothetical about "puffs of meta energy"!!!

 

What is the "evidentiary category"?

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He means that you cannot separate the outcome from the material cause in such a way that make actions floating disconnected from entities. (Entity based causation)You are trying to ascertain what ontological status Oism gives to faculty. A proper definition will reflect that. A faculty is a type of property whereby certain actions are produced or made possible. Consciousness is a process. Processes are something substantial entities do.

 

Cannot do so in such a way that makes actions floating disconnected from entities, or make properties of the action disconnected from them?

 

faculty = a type of property whereby certain action are produced or made possible? Really? Sounds like completely the other way round in the excerpt and all the other sources I know:

faculty = a type of property produced or made possible by certain action.

 

 

You are asking a similar question many substance dualist ask. If concepts are not mental entities in the primary sense, then how can abstraction be a taking out? Where and what are you abstracting? This has been argued for a realist version of the misunderstood "problem of universals".

 

Really? Am I asking all that? Repeating my question you are referring to:

 

>> If this faculty is a "property of the interaction", then what does that mean? Is it like "redness is a property of this apple, inseparable from it"? But if that's the case - if it is the case that our percepts, too, are such "properties of the interaction", then how could our consciousness observe them as "things", if they're not?" <<

 

I thought what I'm asking is:

"If percepts are not things in the primary sense, but just "faculties", i.e. properties of some interaction, then how come we are aware of them as "things"?" (aware in the perceptual sense, not the conceptual sense)

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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DJ, your recent posts seem to be a change in your ideas.

 

That's why I brought up the distinction of being aware of what the object is, and being aware of there being a "this thing". You seemed to be talking about correspondence between concept and object as though it's the same question as correspondence between percept and object.

 

Don't get that. I consider the two posts you quote to be equivalent in meaning. The second quote just puts it into more colloquial terms. But both are intended to relate to the question of correspondence between percept and object.

 

Still, it seems like you're still unsure how the form in which you are aware can directly tell you that there are in fact objects, except later by abstraction and forming concepts like "entity" first. But if a percept only has exactly the information external reality provides and not any less or more, then the contents of a percept are exactly and only a presentation of objects regardless of you knowing in the conceptual sense that they are objects.

Is that last sentence where you diverge? Sorry the last sentence is so long, I wanted to be precise as possible, especially since I said similar things earlier.

 

Yes, that's where I diverge. Or at least need better proof. "Only has exactly the information external reality provides". Does it really? Or is it not just that it used to have it? But when colliding with our senses, maybe new information was generated by the collision? Just like some chemical reactions can turn molecules into atoms, or put atoms together into molecules?

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"If percepts are not things in the primary sense, but just "faculties", i.e. properties of some interaction, then how we be aware of them as "things"?"

Faculty according to any typical definition is just a power or capacity. In that video, consciousness is a faculty that is the consequence of some specific interaction (and of course, an interaction is a type of action). The faculty isn't just any property of an interaction. More importantly, for Objectivism, a faculty must also be some capacity of an entity. It's still a type of property. So, a percept is not a faculty. If that makes sense and you agree, then I see a way to show that a percept can directly correspond to objects.

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Faculty according to any typical definition is just a power or capacity. In that video, consciousness is a faculty that is the consequence of some specific interaction (and of course, an interaction is a type of action). The faculty isn't just any property of an interaction. More importantly, for Objectivism, a faculty must also be some capacity of an entity. It's still a type of property. So, a percept is not a faculty. If that makes sense and you agree, then I see a way to show that a percept can directly correspond to objects.

 

So a percept is not a faculty, because it is not a power or capacity, but rather something that is: An actuality?

 

But consciousness is, because it is only a capacity? Something volitional that need not be realized? Well, there's also involitional consciousness: The perceptual level of consciousness. But then consciousness can also be a non-faculty.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy

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A percept, to use a crude analogy, is like a picture. A photo is nothing at all like the way a camera produces the photo. A photo doesn't itself do anything. It isn't an ability to do something. The capacity to produce the photo is abstract, it's a totally different thing. It's a property of the camera that refers to its ability to produce photos.

Compared to consciousness, a percept is something you apprehend. Consciousness is an activity, a capacity of your mind to apprehend things such as percepts. As a capacity, it may fail to be used properly, or at least, there are conditions to be met to say it performed its function. In that way, perception is also a capacity. Whether or not we should split consciousness into nonvolitional and volitional is a separate question (though there are definitely nonvolitional aspects for sure).
 

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What if you split consciousness up into the nonvolitional aspects as separate and distinct from the volitional aspect? Might not you find that the ability to experience the percepts automatic, as distinct from volitionally apprehending and ultimately conceptually classifying them?

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Yes, I think you will find exactly that. That automatic-ness is partly why we can say there is no "extra" role for conception and concepts to play on percepts. The content of a percept is what we're talking about ultimately, and the faculty of perception is what we then need to analyze to say percepts correspond to anything. To be conscious of percepts is a given I'd say, but it's not going to determine the content of a percept. 

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