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Relationship between Object and Percept in perceptions

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perception.png

 

Okay, here we go. Closely compare the following words to the illustration above, or print out the illustration, or download it and put it on your 2nd screen (if you have one) to avoid scrolling up and down all the time:

Let's start with the tree and the feather. We are aware of something which we call a "tree". And of something else which we call "a feather" (see the two upper white boxes on the right). No knowledge of anything else is required to know that the perceptual "tree" and the perceptual "feather" exist. No knowledge of any senses, no knowledge of objects acting on any such senses. The tree and the feather are a facts "out there", in the sense that they exist independent of our consciousness. Whether or not they exist independent of our senses or of other things is a completely different question of its own.
Things like the tree or the feather are part of the world our consciousness observes (hence the light yellow background). Things that our consciousness is in contact with in the most direct sense possible and that we do not have any need or freedom to deduce from anything else.

It is only further reflection that allows us to know that there must be something more out there than just the things like the "tree" or the "feather". What sort of reflection?
Well, the very fact that we are conscious of anything at all tells us that we have consciousness. The fact that we have consciousness tells us that we have it, that it exists. The fact that it exists tells us that it is something, that it has identity. The fact that it has identity tells us that it can't just be "everywhere", floating around, docking to arbitrary objects in an infinite universe, instantly, simultaneously and at its own whim, but that it can be consciousness only of something that happens at a fixed and condensed medium that it is permanently attached to: That there must be a certain means to consciousness (see right blue box). And that some external objects (see all the left blue boxes) must act on that means, interact with it, so that this interaction (see left red box) can produce (see red continuous arrows) certain results (see all the white boxes) for us to be aware of. Only thereby is consciousness even possible. But if we are aware only of the results, then we are aware only of the results. So all that consciousness really is, is the awareness of interaction results. Not of the external objects per se, not of our means to consciousness per se, but only of the results of their interaction.

This does not mean that those results are subjective (they are the most objective thing on earth). It does not mean they are some sort of narrative, or invented, or constructed, or anything else of that kind. They still just are what they are: Results. And objective facts. Directly observed by our consciousness.

It does mean, however, that they exist only as long as the external objects are interacting with our means to consciousness. Because for the time that nothing is interacting with our means to consciousness, there is really just the external objects and our means of consciousness, both in no contact with each other, hence no result produced, hence nothing to be conscious of. Only the external objects are really always "out there" in the truest sense of the word.

It is, however, thinkable, that the results could exist even in moments when we are not conscious of them. I see no contradiction in the idea that the external objects interact with our means to consciousness, producing the usual results, but these results for some reason don't reach our consciousness.

If this is how consciousness must work, then this is how consciousness must work. It means that all things that we are directly aware of are results. Only results, and nothing but results. Results of an interaction between some kind of external objects and some means to consciousness that our consciousness must be clinging to. Whatever those external objects may be, and whatever that means to consciousness may be. We know that the latter two things must exist, and we know this necessity from the very fact of our own consciousness only (We do not know this necessity from the fact that we have sense organs.) We don't have any direct awareness of these two things, they are logically deduced abstractions, so they are part of a world our consciousness doesn't observe (hence the light grey background).

 

We have established that the world our consciousness observe is a world of results only. Since this is universally true, it also holds for the things we call our sense organs (see lower white box). After all, we are aware of them directly, they land in our consciousness without any invention or construction or any other manipulation on our part. And since our consciousness still works the way I described, the senses must be results, too, just like anything else, and for the very same reason: The very fact that we are directly aware of the senses means that we must have gained consciousness of them through some means, by some external objects acting on that means. Just like we gain consciousness of anything else.

 

So how do we deal with the idea of "our sense organs being our means of perception"?

Well, it is legitimate to say that there is a real unidirectional correlation between these sense organs' interaction with, for example, the feather (see right red box) and the feather itself. We (i.e. our consciousness) can observe the feather, yes (see green arrow B ). But we can observe the feather only in cases where it is also at the same time possible for us (or at least someone) to observe its interaction with our sense organs (see green arrow C). We can establish what the relationships are: Interaction means feather observed. No interaction means no feather observed.

All these observations are direct observations within the world our consciousness observes. Normally, we would be inclined to say that "the senses are our means to perception, to consciousness". But then, if they are our means to consciousness, how come we (our consciousness) can observe them directly? Why are they not in the right blue box? Shouldn't it be impossible for our consciousness to observe its own means to it? After all, if the senses really are our means to consciousness, they shouldn't be its direct content (the result) at the same time. But they are its content, since we are directly aware of them. So they cannot be our means to consciousness.

So what there is, is: Some external objects that act on our actual means to consciousness, producing the resulting "sense organs" of which we become conscious (see green arrow D). And the sense organs' interaction with e.g. the feather (see right red box) just happens to correlate (see dashed red arrow) with our consciousness of the very feather. That's all there is to say about "the sense organs".

 

 

But the main question I have still stands: How does the tree that our consciousness observes correspond to really just one bounded particular, i.e. one external object, of the world our consciousness doesn't observe? How do we know its not, for example, the three external objects marked with "A" in the drawing corresponding to the tree which we then become aware of in observation A? Or more generally, how do we know there is really a one-to-one correspondence. Not many-to-one?

Edited by dream_weaver
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"The very fact that we are directly aware of the senses means that we must have gained consciousness of them through some means, by some external objects acting on that means. Just like we gain consciousness of anything else."

 

"Some means" are sense organs, not sure what sense organs are if not. It seems that the whole weird part going on is that you're claiming there is a means of awareness that doesn't involve sense organs. You don't even sense that your sense organs are sensing. It's not as though you'd say "yeah, I feel my eye sensing and producing sensations!" Your form of awareness is what the sense organs produce, i.e. percepts.

 

Your picture leaves unanswered what does the producing. The means of consciousness are sense organs, and it's possible to know at least that much with simple things like closing your eyes entirely alters what you see. I address this part specifically because I think if you replace "means of consciousness" with "sense organs", and delete "sense organs" in the yellow box, you'd be basically holding an Objectivist / presentationalist view. I don't see a good justification for putting "sense organs" on the right side.

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Discovery-Joy - I'll read the rest of your posts and think them through.  But in post #51, in the 2nd paragraph, you drew a distinction between the independent reality, the living senses that perceive it, and the consciousness that thinks of it, when you said "independent of consciousness" but questioned whether it was independent of senses, I stopped.  I suspect you are trying to make a complex point I would agree with, but the distinction of the primary existence of reality being independent on consciousness, but somehow different than its reality in sense perception, I reined in.  Maybe nothing, I'll read on.

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"Some means" are sense organs, not sure what sense organs are if not.

 

I have said what they are if not: Just another set of objects in "the world our consciousness observes". One that is subject to certain correlations with other objects from the world our consciousness observes, too. As I explained here:

 

So how do we deal with the idea of "our sense organs being our means of perception"?

Well, it is legitimate to say that there is a real unidirectional correlation between these sense organs' interaction with, for example, the feather (see right red box) and the feather itself. We (i.e. our consciousness) can observe the feather, yes (see green arrow B ). But we can observe the feather only in cases where it is also at the same time possible for us (or at least someone) to observe its interaction with our sense organs (see green arrow C). We can establish what the relationships are: Interaction means feather observed. No interaction means no feather observed.

All these observations are direct observations within the world our consciousness observes.

...

So what there is, is: Some external objects that act on our actual means to consciousness, producing the resulting "sense organs" of which we become conscious (see green arrow D). And the sense organs' interaction with e.g. the feather (see right red box) just happens to correlate (see dashed red arrow) with our consciousness of the very feather. That's all there is to say about "the sense organs".

 

 

 

 

It seems that the whole weird part going on is that you're claiming there is a means of awareness that doesn't involve sense organs.

 

Well, there has to be a means of consciousness one way or the other, whether sensual or not, and I have explained why here in detail: I have explained it as a derivative of only the axioms of consciousness and identity:

 

It is only further reflection that allows us to know that there must be something more out there than just the things like the "tree" or the "feather". What sort of reflection?

Well, the very fact that we are conscious of anything at all tells us that we have consciousness. The fact that we have consciousness tells us that we have it, that it exists. The fact that it exists tells us that it is something, that it has identity. The fact that it has identity tells us that it can't just be "everywhere", floating around, docking to arbitrary objects in an infinite universe, instantly, simultaneously and at its own whim, but that it can be consciousness only of something that happens at a fixed and condensed medium that it is permanently attached to: That there must be a certain means to consciousness (see right blue box). And that some external objects (see all the left blue boxes) must act on that means, interact with it, so that this interaction (see left red box) can produce (see red continuous arrows) certain results (see all the white boxes) for us to be aware of. Only thereby is consciousness even possible.

 

 

 

 

You don't even sense that your sense organs are sensing. It's not as though you'd say "yeah, I feel my eye sensing and producing sensations!"

 

Well, first of all, we are neither babies nor low-level insects, so pure sensations isn't something we perceive anymore.

But anyway: Yes, as I said, we can observe the interaction between the senses and other objects within the world our consciousness observes. In other words, we can "sense the sensing". But that sensing merely correlates with the "feather" and the "tree". We only know: The latter two objects are in our consciousness only when that sensing happens. We don't know why.

 

Your picture leaves unanswered what does the producing.

 

You're missing part of the point. Part of the whole point is that it seems to be unanswerable to me what really does the producing, except in abstract terms (some external objects and some means to consciousness interacting). If we could observe what does the producing, it would immediately raise the question of "by what means did we observe that thing"? We would have to deduce yet another means to observe "the thing that does the producing". Another means unequals "the thing that does the producing", because otherwise, it wouldn't really be the means. So in any case, there is no ultimate answer to what really does the producing. Except in abstract terms.

 

If - in equally abstract terms - it is possible to answer my question regarding one-to-one correspondence, that would be fine.

 

 

 

 

The means of consciousness are sense organs, and it's possible to know at least that much with simple things like closing your eyes entirely alters what you see.

 

Well, if the means of consciousness are sense organs, how come we can perceive them, instead of just using them? By what means did we perceive our sense organs? By using our sense organs? What sense organs? The ones we perceived? Perceived by what means? ....

I don't see how you can live with this dilemma. I don't see how you cannot see the infinite regress this entails. The contradictions. The non-identity of the senses.

This is what I have explained here to integrate the senses into the big picture without such contradictions/regress/dilemma:

 

If this is how consciousness must work, then this is how consciousness must work. It means that all things that we are directly aware of are results. Only results, and nothing but results. Results of an interaction between some kind of external objects and some means to consciousness that our consciousness must be clinging to. Whatever those external objects may be, and whatever that means to consciousness may be.

 

...

 

We have established that the world our consciousness observe is a world of results only. Since this is universally true, it also holds for the things we call our sense organs (see lower white box). After all, we are aware of them directly, they land in our consciousness without any invention or construction or any other manipulation on our part. And since our consciousness still works the way I described, the senses must be results, too, just like anything else, and for the very same reason: The very fact that we are directly aware of the senses means that we must have gained consciousness of them through some means, by some external objects acting on that means. Just like we gain consciousness of anything else.

 

...

 

Normally, we would be inclined to say that "the senses are our means to perception, to consciousness". But then, if they are our means to consciousness, how come we (our consciousness) can observe them directly? Why are they not in the right blue box? Shouldn't it be impossible for our consciousness to observe its own means to it? After all, if the senses really are our means to consciousness, they shouldn't be its direct content (the result) at the same time. But they are its content, since we are directly aware of them. So they cannot be our means to consciousness.

So what there is, is: Some external objects that act on our actual means to consciousness, producing the resulting "sense organs" of which we become conscious (see green arrow D). And the sense organs' interaction with e.g. the feather (see right red box) just happens to correlate (see dashed red arrow) with our consciousness of the very feather. That's all there is to say about "the sense organs".

 

 

 

 

 

I address this part specifically because I think if you replace "means of consciousness" with "sense organs", and delete "sense organs" in the yellow box...

 

...then our sense organs would move into the grey box, into "the world our consciousness doesn't observe", which totally contradicts the facts. Obviously, our consciousness does observe our sense organs.

 

I don't see a good justification for putting "sense organs" on the right side.

 

I do, for the reason stated above: Our consciousness observes them.

 

Perhaps your next addition - on top of the ones you already mentioned - would be to just extend the yellow box so that it swallows the right blue box? Well, that would totally leave unanswered how the senses (then in the blue box) get into our consciousness. Even an abstract explanation would be missing in the drawing.

 

...you'd be basically holding an Objectivist / presentationalist view.

 

Well, which one is it that you mean? Objectivist (Rand) or Presentationalist (= Kant)? Or is it, as I gather from your previous arguments with Plasmatic, that you don't think they are complete opposites?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Sorry, but I really have a hard time understanding what you mean by "observing our sense organs". Sensing and perceiving is what one does, it isn't that there's something perceiving the perceiving. Recognizing that one perceives doesn't mean observing the results, not in the sense of someone on the outside looking in. I know I skipped a lot of what you said, but it looks like you are trying to say that sense organs are a thing you look AT, rather than look WITH. If I see a tree, that doesn't mean I'm seeing sight. I see with sight. Looking AT sense organs is medicine or neuroscience.

 

By the way, I meant Presentationalist as in it's the type of view Objectivism has on perception in many ways. Kant is more or less a Representationalist (same as Descartes). Empiricists like Locke are a little different than both.

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Sorry, but I really have a hard time understanding what you mean by "observing our sense organs". Sensing and perceiving is what one does, it isn't that there's something perceiving the perceiving. Recognizing that one perceives doesn't mean observing the results, not in the sense of someone on the outside looking in. I know I skipped a lot of what you said, but it looks like you are trying to say that sense organs are a thing you look AT, rather than look WITH. If I see a tree, that doesn't mean I'm seeing sight. I see with sight. Looking AT sense organs is medicine or neuroscience.

 

Well, I would have to ask then: How do you know there even is such a thing as eyes and touch organs? If you say, you cannot perceive them by at least some means, how do you even know they exist at all?

 

And why do - all of a sudden - medics and neuro-scientists do have the ability to look AT sense organs?

 

 

By the way, I meant Presentationalist as in it's the type of view Objectivism has on perception in many ways. Kant is more or less a Representationalist (same as Descartes). Empiricists like Locke are a little different than both.

 

The funny thing is though, that Objectivists would probably stone you for that :-D They would probably say that there is no "representation" of anything, because they somehow merge the whole thing - the external objects and the form of perception into one. Which is legitimate, since there is no such thing as only the form or only the external objects during perception. Seems to me that this allows them to say "we are perceiving external objects directly", since they always hold the necessity of form in their sub-conscience. They identify the fact that they implicitly perceive external objects by perceiving forms. I see the justification for this, but still don't see how it solves the problem of correspondence. Looks more like just a linguistic rearrangement to me, one that allows for a higher epistemic self-satisfaction.

 

Because I think that most people attach to the term "perception" the mere semantics of becoming aware of the content (the form), irrespective of how it came into being, not even recognizing that it actually is a form. They just want to know "there is this thing" or "that thing" and want to know the metaphysical status of the form by asking:

Does this thing (by this they only mean the form) exist so, independent of our senses? If yes, then "yes, we are directly perceiving reality the way it exists external to us" (which naive realitsts hold). If no, then "no, we do not perceive reality as it is, but only a representation". Extremists like Kant would go even further and pretend like we created the forms - not with our own senses - but somehow with our own mind.

I don't see the problem with focusing on the form separately and asking about its metaphysical status. One can do that and at the same time formulate true statements.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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I'm enjoying and learning from this thread.  But, I'm beginning to smell something I recall from studying philosophy - I may be off base, but you should all look, think, and comment.  

 

We can move this to a new thread if it becomes too much of an offshoot and posters say so.  It's the trend in philosophy for an idea based on bad premises to be disputed by another thinker, but the disputation accepts the bad premises and goes on to apply them in a better way.  It's really a function of not getting to the basic issues in meta/ep (metaphysics/epistemology). 

 

You want to argue the point advanced - but I've learned from Ms. Rand and Mr. Peikoff, that you need to quell that desire - you must move your friend to the basics that really separate you.  I suspect many posters, like me in college and grad school, are studying a science with limited access to philosophical thought.  (I became competent? in philosophy, only in my 50's after a great and expensive science education).  Here's a basis for the idea I'm trying to express:

 

Look at the history of western philosophy.  You could pick different points, I'll choose Descartes because most see him as the beginning of real thought (in the trend of Plato and Aristotle) after the silly influence of Plotinus and Augustine (yes you could argue about the interpretation I used here as an introduction, but as you'll see, it's not my point).

 

Descartes rationalist-style answer to Hobbs' empiricist-style thoughts began a trend in philosophy that some in this thread seem to be imitating - it's a trend outside the content of argument and is really about method based on ignorance of the basics. (Refer to the above idea about arguing the original premise introducted rather than the fundamentals upon which the argument is based.)

 

Confused?  Descartes looked at the Scholastics, the science being discovered around him, and the Sensualism of Hobbs and wanted to find a better way.  After all, Hobbs' meta/ep leads to an ethics of duty pledged to an absolute ruler.  Descartes' (hell, even Hobbs') preliminary arguments were enticing, but the logical consequence of his conclusions reveals the same errors as Hobbs - no link between consciousness (senses or reason) and an observed, external reality.  Their error - consciousness is a primary (sense or reason), existence/identity (one does not exist without the other) has no observable reality.  AND THEN???

 

AND THEN - the entire modern history of philosophy becomes a series of failed attempts to use cognitive tools like math, language, or logic (as if they were irreducible primaries rather than products of reason) to support the incorrect idea that consciousness is primary to general reality by mysticism or by some unproven idea of innate cognitive content.  (If you think this only applies to old timers like Russell or Ayers, read some Chomsky).

 

What's my point?  If you want to "Objectively," debate "Object vs. Percept,"  you better first establish a foundation in the relationship of existence in general to consciousness in general.  If you reject mysticism, you must be able to consider the existence/consciousness relationship as it exists in humans and earlier evolved animals because, although reason is recent; senses and hormones are ancient.

 

UNRELATED COMMENT - Going to university today?  If you want to study anything, you should study philosophy.  If you want to major in philosophy, you should also study human history and human biology.  Otherwise, your picture is incomplete.

 

MODERATOR - Feel free to move this if it went too far in a fundamental direction unrelated to the OP.

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Well, I would have to ask then: How do you know there even is such a thing as eyes and touch organs? If you say, you cannot perceive them by at least some means, how do you even know they exist at all?

You seem to be conflating mode of perception from what provides the capacity to perceive. I know about my visual system by means of my visual system, yes, but that's different than knowing that I'm perceiving. Consider how long ago people knew thought was possible, or that seeing was possible, but not really how. Even Aristotle thought the brain was just to cool blood - he didn't know of a thing we call the visual system includes eyes and the brain. To talk about sense organs at all refers to the means of perception, and you might be talking about the PROCESS (which no one is aware of as it happens) or the PHYSICAL parts (which is easy to be aware of with mirrors, looking at other people, etc). You want to talk about the process part, and it doesn't take going outside of perception in the way some may want to prove existence by means of being outside existence. I haven't suggested going outside of perception to prove perception.

Yes, Objectivism is NOT Representationalism. It IS a form of Presentationalism (broadly speaking). But no, there isn't just a "merging" of external object and form of perception. The point is usually that we observe external objects, and that is presented in a form of perception. There is not a "re"presentation to correlate with the world, as there is no intervening step that interferes or does extra. Whatever exactly the process is doesn't matter, since by having an identity at all makes it obey causality like anything else. Of course, it's interesting to talk about how it is a form of perception manages to arise at all, but that still doesn't require a third person perspective.

A lot of the disagreement here stems from attempting to distinguish form from process, while also other times treating form and process as the same. It's fine to talk about the metaphysical status of percepts, it's not fine to divorce their existence from the process.

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A POST SCRIPT TO POST #57, AFTER READING POST #58.

 

Answering a philosophical challenge or posing a philosophical idea, only has to be as confusing and convoluted as your responses if you accept the argued premise and then try to dispute the argument.  The Objectivist answer is to examine the premises the conclusions in dispute are based on and challenge the premises - often you have to say, "I cannot dispute your argument until you show that you understand the idea of "X""  "X" represents the basis in meta/ep that the debate is based upon.  The basis of the debate can vary, but it is most often based on an error over the question of the primacy of existence vs. consciousness.  This is because this is the most basic debate based on the axioms of Aristotle as better expressed by Ms. Rand - Existence exists, consciousness exists, identity is existence.

 

Almost all philosophical debate is the attempt to justify a position or its counter without reference to these axioms.  You may enjoy the process of the debate, most living professional philosophers do, but any debate is a waste of time without reference to these axioms and their implications in the debate about the primacy of existence vs. consciousness. 

 

So you think Ayn Rand is only about selfishness and capitalism?

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I know about my visual system by means of my visual system, yes.

 

Don't you think this is self-contradicting?

 

A lot of the disagreement here stems from attempting to distinguish form from process, while also other times treating form and process as the same. It's fine to talk about the metaphysical status of percepts, it's not fine to divorce their existence from the process.

 

Where is the problem with divorcing percepts from the process? In other words, where is the problem with divorcing result data that our consciousness absorbs from the process that produced that result data?

 

Consciousness is a process, right. A process of objectively becoming aware of that which has been produced. So another process precedes it. The process of producing that which one may then become aware of. So there are two processes: The one of producing data and the one of becoming aware of it. Inbetween these two processes there is the data. That data is the output of the former, and the input to the latter process.

 

So there are really three things. It's only that something must do the producing for you to do the consuming. It's only in that sense, that the form (the data) doesn't exist on its own.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Don't you think this is self-contradicting?

No, because it depends on what you mean by "know about". There's knowing that I'm perceiving, then there's knowing the mechanisms of perception. I know about the first directly from a first-person view of awareness. I only know the second indirectly by abstraction, as directly as I know how I'm capable of computing answers to calculus problems (as in, I can't -perceive- computations).

-Divorcing- percepts from the process would either end up with equivocating percept from process, or completely ignoring the role a process has for the nature of percepts. I didn't mean "analyzed as distinct". Part of my point is that there is a distinction, and for detailed questions about perception, it's important to specify what SORT of mechanisms would enable perception. The Objectivist idea is that whatever the mechanism is, or how it works (which is a topic that is worth deeper philosophical thought), it isn't controlled or manipulated with any conscious interaction. Even more, in cases of illusions, that's "just" how the entity looks in the context.

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No, because it depends on what you mean by "know about". There's knowing that I'm perceiving, then there's knowing the mechanisms of perception. I know about the first directly from a first-person view of awareness. I only know the second indirectly by abstraction, as directly as I know how I'm capable of computing answers to calculus problems (as in, I can't -perceive- computations).

 

Not really asking about the mechanism of perception here. Just asking "how do you know you have the things you call eyes, ears, etc.", irrespective of what purpose these things serve. Just the senses as things. I'd say you know them not by abstraction. You don't deduce that there are certain round balls in your face, but you know it directly when you just touch your face with your hand. You don't deduce "yes, there must be some soft ball in my face, I know this from abstract theory". You know it from directly perceiving it. Which means, there is nothing wrong with saying that your eyes are percepts.

 

But how would the senses even be allowed to perceive themselves? Maybe one can solve this dilemma by recognizing that there are several senses, and to perceive one, you must use another. Perceiving the eye (irrespective of its visual functionality) by means of touch, perceiving one of your touch organs (irrespective of their tactile functionality) by means of another one of your touch organs and your eyes, etc. Each sense organ (or parts of it) can take changing roles (a percept or a means to perception), depending on what is being perceived at the given moment. But you can never perceive one of the sense organ objects directly by means of the very sense organ object you want to perceive. You must always resort to your other sense organs for that.

I think this way, it might all still be logical and non-contradictory as a whole.

 

-Divorcing- percepts from the process would either end up with equivocating percept from process, or completely ignoring the role a process has for the nature of percepts. I didn't mean "analyzed as distinct". Part of my point is that there is a distinction, and for detailed questions about perception, it's important to specify what SORT of mechanisms would enable perception.

 

Not sure about the difference between "analysed as distinct" and "divorcing" here. What I mean is regarding the percept and the process as metaphysically separate things. How would it stop me from also recognizing the role the process has for producing the percept, as long as you can establish a causal relationship between the two?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Not really asking about the mechanism of perception here. Just asking "how do you know you have the things you call eyes, ears, etc.", irrespective of what purpose these things serve. ...

But how would the senses even be allowed to perceive themselves?

Right, your eyes don't see your eyes... I really don't know what your point is. Are you asking how you know you have eyes? Or are you asking how you know you see with your eyes? Your whole usage before reflected knowing that your eyes sense anything, not knowing that you have eyes. When people talk about the function of sense organs, it's not the same as talking about eyeballs, eardrums, or tongues. It refers to whatever processes are which allow for perception. If you mean to only ask how it's just your eyes that allow you to perceive, of course it's not only your eyes - there's a lot more. The more part is however a percept is formed, which isn't a percept nor did anyone say so. Percepts don't magically appear.

 

"Divorcing" usually means ignoring how a distinction exists. It doesn't mean "considering two or more things to be distinct".

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DJ

I have to admit that I haven't read every post, and I don't know what your background/education is, but here are some ideas that might answer some questions you are dealing with.

 

Have you ever heard of Analog Signals and/or Transducers ?

 

When sound waves interact with a microphone (a transducer) the microphone transduces the mechanical energy of the sound waves into electromagnetic energy that is stored on some medium (say, a magnetic tape).  At a later date, these electromagnetic signals are transduced back into mechanical energy (soundwaves) by means of a speaker (a transducer) and are, in turn, heard by your ears where they are further transduced into bioelectric energy.

 

This is not just an explanation of how hearing works.  It's an explanation of how all senses work.

 

With out transduction of energy from one form to another, by the senses organs, no awareness of "out there" is possible.

 

 

Add Edit.  This may help explain your red and grey bars in post #51.

 

Add Edit # 2:  Regarding "percepts" , you might find this interesting.  TED Lecture

Edited by New Buddha
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Good stuff in this thread and I think I can offer a few Objectivist ideas.  You could argue that the process of sensation DEPENDS on both the object and the sense organ or neither the object or the sense organ.

 

This is because this fact in reality (sensation) takes place at the level of the Law of Causality that applies, thru the identity of the object and the sense organ, as a causal relationship.  Not in the sense that empiricists argue the causal or representational method of perception, but simply as a mechanistic relationship between the object and the organ prior to perception.  Continental rationalists and British empiricists, along with many post-modern philosophers, fail to see the distinction between direct sensation, a relationship between object and sense organ, and sense perception, which is a faculty of consciousness.

 

At the earliest and direct stage of sensation, consciousness is not yet involved, the cause and effect relationship is purely materialistic.  Recognizing this fact is further proof of the fact that existence is primary to consciousness, although I wouldn't use this fact as a basis for any argument in metaphysics.  Sense experience is based in the sensing of something outside consciousness and is removed by one step from consciousness.

 

Sense perception is the faculty of consciousness, possessed by many vertebrate animals, that coordinates the mechanistic data provided by the sense organs, with memory and data from other sense organs, to arrive at the most basic conclusions about entities - shape, size, sound, color, taste, etc. based on the nature of the sense organs possessed by the organism.

 

The color blind man doesn't get wrong information, he gets information similar to anyone else looking in the lowest light conditions, limited, but not incorrect.  This is because color is another cause and effect relationship between the nature of light and the nature of the chemical composition of the colored object.  The color red is a consequence of the relationship between the chemistry of the object, the nature of light, and the nature of the observing sense organ.

 

Now you might become a skeptic because perceived red is founded in a more fundamental cause; i.e. the chemical composition of the underlying material, which is founded in atomic theory, which may be founded in quantum mechanics, etc., etc., etc.. Almost everything you know is founded in a, yet to be known, fundamental cause.  So do you throw out metaphysics, or epistemology - or, do you study epistemology in the context of the identity of human reason and sense perception. 

 

Cognitively that is, do you expect omniscience as a pre-requisite to human knowledge, or do you look at the facts of reality, the reality of existence, consciousness, and sense organs, and recognize - - - existence exists, consciousness exists, identity and causality exist as an inseparable part of the two former premises ------ and, knowledge is a process that has a hierarchy. 

 

If an early, Greek, Atomist, had limited his conclusions to, "I think matter must be composed of very small, common particles, limited in type, and arranged in various ways,"  he would have been correct but limited.  The same analogy could be used with Gallileo vs. Keplar, Newton vs. Einstein, or Aristotle vs. Rand. 

 

The trick, after understanding the fact in cognition and human history described in the above paragraph, the fact that the reality is -  that knowledge of the external world is not automatic, infallible, nor omniscient - that science is not a parallel substitute for mysticism -  is for scientists to avoid speculation beyond sense data and reason except as entertainment, and for philosophers to stop using lack of knowledge as a reason to frame epistemology in a way that can only lead to skepticism.

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Right, your eyes don't see your eyes... I really don't know what your point is. Are you asking how you know you have eyes? Or are you asking how you know you see with your eyes? Your whole usage before reflected knowing that your eyes sense anything, not knowing that you have eyes. When people talk about the function of sense organs, it's not the same as talking about eyeballs, eardrums, or tongues. It refers to whatever processes are which allow for perception. If you mean to only ask how it's just your eyes that allow you to perceive, of course it's not only your eyes - there's a lot more. The more part is however a percept is formed, which isn't a percept nor did anyone say so. Percepts don't magically appear.

 

"Divorcing" usually means ignoring how a distinction exists. It doesn't mean "considering two or more things to be distinct".

 

Some of your comments have led me to ask the question: How do we know we have certain things we call "eyes" etc. That is, completely irrespective of their function. If you say that functionality is already implied in the concepts or definitions of eyes, noses etc., then fine, let me better ask: How do we know we have eyeballs etc.? I feel compelled to ask this question because from your comments I was under the impression that you don't think eyeballs etc. are percepts. That claim is a contradiction to me, a contradiction to the fact that we do not need to form any abstraction to know we have eyeballs etc.

 

Do you agree then, that just eyeballs - not eyes - etc. are percepts?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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When you peer into a mirror and shift your focus about, you can notice stuff, like the plane of the glass hoovering about 1/8" from the silver backing. Shifting your gaze, you can see your head, or you can look at your nose. If you stick out your tongue, it will appear in the mirror. You can notice your ears on the sides of your head.

 

What you see with your eyes are percepts. Touch the glass. A sensation occurs in your fingertip. Tap on the glass. You should hear the tapping. These are percepts.

 

Study your eyes in the mirror. Note the curvature of the eye, note the shape of where the eyelids rest on that curvature. Look at the dark circle in the middle, the color and intricacy of the 'linework' in the cornea. Again, setting aside that all of these particulars have been given their own concepts, you can gaze at them in the mirror, and probably isolate the particulars being mentioned.

 

Short of plucking an eyeball out of your head to hold it in your hand and look at it with your remaining eye, this is about as direct a viewing of your eyes (eyeballs) as you can get. If you want to imagine what it might be to do that, close one eye and view the open eye in the mirror. Note how your perspective changed. It alters the form (you lose much of the depth perception) of your percept.

 

The visual, tactile, audible portions of these percepts are available to any infant or toddler that can look in a mirror, touch it, tap it, etc. Knowing that it is an eyeball (or an eye) comes later. Understanding the role it plays can come as soon as when you blink, you note that the percept went away and came back. You might discover that putting your hands over your eyes can produce the same effect. In this sense you can learn that you have eyes, and that they play some role in your ability to see.

 

Take away the mirror, the percept of your eyes (eyeballs) are no longer available in your perceptual field.

 

Most times it is a parent that plays an active role in providing the auditory portion of the symbol (the pronunciation of the word "eye", while pointing to, and encouraging the toddler to point to, and say "eye") that becomes part of the conceptual knowledge, linking it to the perceptual awareness. In this sense, the metaphysical eyeball is not the percept, it is the "seeing" portion that constitutes the percept, albeit, the metaphysical part must be there (think of the object observed in the mirror) in order for your eyes to generate the percept.

 

 

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Do you agree then, that just eyeballs - not eyes - etc. are percepts?

Eyes, eyeballs, they're the same. Perceiving an eyeball, like anything else, is in the form of a percept. If I'm not looking at an eyeball, like anything else, then there is no percept. Eyes are concrete objects, so like anything else, it's imprecise to say "eyes are percepts". The form in which you see is a percept, not the eye itself. The only thing weird about eyes is that you're not going to see your own eyes.

 

I'm still confused, though. The whole idea is that the function of sense organs answers how you know anything about the world. That is, FUNCTION is a process, not an object. Eyes are clearly not processes, they're objects. When I talk about what eyes do, that's different. Yes, that's part of the concept "eye", it's just not part of knowing "there's stuff in my skull near my nose". It's no different than your original question of knowing how percept corresponds to object. But if you want to know why those are what people call eyes rather than nostrils, function matters. Knowing how a concept corresponds to percept takes abstract thought, though.

Edited by Eiuol
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I know this is slightly off topic, but I thought that Objectivism held the view point of direct realism and not presentationalism.  However, I have never heard of presentationalism and cannot seem to find any direct references to it and may therefore be mistaken.

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Most times it is a parent that plays an active role in providing the auditory portion of the symbol (the pronunciation of the word "eye", while pointing to, and encouraging the toddler to point to, and say "eye") that becomes part of the conceptual knowledge, linking it to the perceptual awareness.

This is a good point and should be stressed more often, imho, in discussing epistemology.  Much of what we learn is first introduced to us by instruction from parents, teachers, etc.  We don't have to reinvent the wheel via concept formation from concretes to "know" that the furry thing in our arms is a puppy and not a cat.  Our parents tell us that it is a puppy.  Much of our knowledge (in fact I would say the most) is introduced to us this way.   This is one of the most wonderful things about being Human, the ability to pass on knowledge to future generations.

Edited by New Buddha
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This is a good point and should be stressed more often, imho, in discussing epistemology.  Much of what we learn is first introduced to us by instruction from parents, teachers, etc.  We don't have to reinvent the wheel via concept formation from concretes to "know" that the furry thing in our arms is a puppy and not a cat.  Our parents tell us that it is a puppy.  Much of our knowledge (in fact I would say the most) is introduced to us this way.   This is one of the most wonderful things about being Human, the ability to pass on knowledge to future generations.

I would indicate that the concretes here (for the bold portion), the percepts used to form the concept, are the visual percepts integrated with the tactile, aromatic, audible (both the puppy and our parents making the sound "dog"), in some cases probably taste (licking the fur, etc - not eating Fluffy) percepts are all part of forming the concept of "puppy". For first-level concepts, until we learn to read, have to be formed this way.

 

The first eight paragraphs of Abstractions from Abstractions in ITOE supports this, and extends to the rest of your post. Paragraph six identifies where the divide begins as the conceptual level moves away from the perceptual level into the more complex abstractions which are based in part on previous abstractions. Along with paragraphs seven and eight, these three challenge that while of much of our knowledge is introduced by our elders, how, or by what method the learner integrates what he is being presented with into the rest of his framework of reference makes a difference.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Eyes, eyeballs, they're the same. Perceiving an eyeball, like anything else, is in the form of a percept. If I'm not looking at an eyeball, like anything else, then there is no percept.

 

Well, yes there is: Even if you're blind, you can know you have eyeballs by touching it, feeling it with your hand. If you do that, the percept of some rubber-like ball pops up in your head.

 

Eyes are concrete objects, so like anything else, it's imprecise to say "eyes are percepts". The form in which you see is a percept, not the eye itself. The only thing weird about eyes is that you're not going to see your own eyes.

 

Do you really think that this is what most people would subconsciously hold when their consciousness gets in contact with the forms? I think we rather define our world in terms of the percepts alone. And what we subconsciously really mean by "this thing here" and "that thing there" is just the percept. Without any reference to the whole process necessary to produce that percept, without any reference to the fact that they actually are percepts.

 

I'm still confused, though. The whole idea is that the function of sense organs answers how you know anything about the world. That is, FUNCTION is a process, not an object. Eyes are clearly not processes, they're objects. When I talk about what eyes do, that's different. Yes, that's part of the concept "eye", it's just not part of knowing "there's stuff in my skull near my nose". It's no different than your original question of knowing how percept corresponds to object. But if you want to know why those are what people call eyes rather than nostrils, function matters. Knowing how a concept corresponds to percept takes abstract thought, though.

 

By asking "how do you know" I meant not "what are all the physical processes involving sense organs that enable us to know" but just "tell me, what you have to do to know that the eyeball exists"

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Well, yes there is: Even if you're blind, you can know you have eyeballs by touching it, feeling it with your hand. If you do that, the percept of some rubber-like ball pops up in your head.

 

 

By asking "how do you know" I meant not "what are all the physical processes involving sense organs that enable us to know" but just "tell me, what you have to do to know that the eyeball exists"

I see now that you are differentiating between "eyes" (perhaps the term vision might be better?) and "eyeballs" as physical organs.

 

But aren't you answering your own question in the underlined parts above?

 

Edit:  I don't know if this adds anything, but animals, such as dogs, know that you can see them when your eyes are turned towards them and when your eyes  are covered.  They also know when prey is looking in their direction or not.

Edited by New Buddha
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Even if you're blind, you can know you have eyeballs by touching it, feeling it with your hand.

Sorry, I meant to say "perceive" not "see", I thought you'd know what I meant given the context.

 

"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? 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).

 

"tell me, what you have to do to know that the eyeball exists"

The same as literally any object - perceiving one. Dream_weaver answered this well.

Edited by Eiuol
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