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Is direct realism tenable? Has it been successfully defended?

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A lot of smart people feel that representational realism (indirect realism) is the correct view. I disagree, and would like to present my own argument in support of direct realism. I would also like to see any successful defenses of it.

 

Here is my take:

I believe the position that only indirect realism can be correct is based on soul theories, even if subconsciously. I'll try to demonstrate this simply, without being verbose. Take a small plant. It senses light, and this light, having been sensed by external cells, then has effects inside the plant. We don't bother discussing how the plant experiences the world because we don't see them as that type of entity. Now, imagine we believe that plants have souls, and do experience the world. Imagine we think there's a little consciousness inside the plant, looking out. Now we have to discuss whether the conscious soul inside actually experiences the light or not. Does the soul actually see, if it only gets information sent to it from cells on the outside, while it is inside?

The same is true with humans. If we see the process of perceiving light as a process no different, though albeit more complex, but nonetheless ultimately the same, than a plant sensing light, there is no issue. But if we imagine that there is a soul piloting the human, now we have to consider if the soul inside really experiences the outside world or not. Hence, if we don't believe there is a ghost in the machine of the human body, there is no one to have a representation of the outside world, there are just light and other phenomena sensors that trigger certain things inside the body, and so on.

In other words, if a suit of armor has a camera hooked up to it, we don't discuss whether or not it directly perceives the world. We take for granted that the camera has sensors that are picking up light and other information from the world. Put a person in the suit, now we have something to discuss. Likewise, if the human body is just a suit of meat armor with a camera, no need to discuss this, but if there's a soul inside, we have to discuss it.

A special entity that is imaginary, and has no support in science, is required to have representational realism: a ghost. There must be a ghost to be seeing this "representation" of reality. If there is no ghost inside, who is watching? If there's no ghosts, then perception is just a process of sensors triggering chemical responses and synapses firing. There is no little man inside the skull watching a screen that represents the "outside world." Without ghosts the very idea of indirect or representational realism is superfluous at best, and completely irrational at worst.

Edited by Frank
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1 hour ago, 2046 said:

*Laughs in de Anima*

 

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Religions are associated with the spiritual due to the widespread (and false) dichotomy between mind and body. If one believes that the human soul or spirit exists apart from the material and natural body, then one might well believe, too, that the "spiritual" realm refers to a supernatural dimension, such as a heaven, or to some supernatural experience, such as an encounter with God or God's messengers.

But the mind-body dichotomy is false. Human beings are unified organisms whose minds depend radically on their material bodies to exist, and whose bodies require a healthy mind to continue to live. The words "spirit" and "spiritual" refer to real aspects of human experience, namely the mental aspects of human life.

-Atlas Society, Spiritual Values

 

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16 hours ago, Frank said:

if we don't believe there is a ghost in the machine of the human body, there is no one to have a representation of the outside world, there are just light and other phenomena sensors that trigger certain things inside the body, and so on.

 

16 hours ago, Frank said:

Likewise, if the human body is just a suit of meat armor with a camera, no need to discuss this, but if there's a soul inside, we have to discuss it.

 

16 hours ago, Frank said:

A special entity that is imaginary, and has no support in science, is required to have representational realism: a ghost. There must be a ghost to be seeing this "representation" of reality. If there is no ghost inside, who is watching? If there's no ghosts, then perception is just a process of sensors triggering chemical responses and synapses firing. There is no little man inside the skull watching a screen that represents the "outside world." Without ghosts the very idea of indirect or representational realism is superfluous at best, and completely irrational at worst.

 

Sounds like you're attacking the concept of consciousness.  Can you clarify?

 

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8 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

 

 

 

Sounds like you're attacking the concept of consciousness.  Can you clarify?

 

Not at all. We are conscious, as in an electrical process. There is no ghost sitting inside watching a screen of the outside, though. Since we are simply conscious, but there is no ghost, there is no reason to delineate about direct or indirect realism. Light bounces off of objects, hits our eyes, triggers things in our brains and we become conscious of them, in the same way an electronic camera picks up images and so on. We don't debate whether an electronic camera really experiences the outside world, because we don't think cameras have ghosts inside them. Cameras are accepted as having light sensors and so on which are triggered by the world and which directly take in the light from the outside world and make an image. We don't make up a story and say that the camera must be watching the images inside of itself and never actually experiences the objects themselves, that would be nonsense. Likewise, If we are conscious, but there's no delineation between a ghost mind and the physical body, then there is no ghost mind to watch the representational reality. There's just a consciousness directly perceiving the world. 

Thus, I believe that if religion, and other hocus pocus ideas about ghosts and souls and such, had never been developed, there would never have been this debate about whether or not we perceive things directly, since the presumed "we" in this sentence is a ghost, spirit, magical entity that doesn't exist. Without this false dichotomy, it doesn't even make any sense to say "we never experience the outside world". Who doesn't experience it? The material body and its dependent consciousness certainly experience it. If they didn't, then there is no separate entity to have that represented version of reality. There's just the material body and mind, that's it.

 

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Religions are associated with the spiritual due to the widespread (and false) dichotomy between mind and body. If one believes that the human soul or spirit exists apart from the material and natural body, then one might well believe, too, that the "spiritual" realm refers to a supernatural dimension, such as a heaven, or to some supernatural experience, such as an encounter with God or God's messengers.

But the mind-body dichotomy is false. Human beings are unified organisms whose minds depend radically on their material bodies to exist, and whose bodies require a healthy mind to continue to live. The words "spirit" and "spiritual" refer to real aspects of human experience, namely the mental aspects of human life.

-Atlas Society, Spiritual Values

 

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8 hours ago, Frank said:

We don't debate whether an electronic camera really experiences the outside world, because we don't think cameras have ghosts inside them.

We don't debate whether an electronic camera really experiences the outside world, because we know cameras are not conscious and therefore do not experience anything.

 

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Frank:  Perhaps, all crows are black

2046:   Everyone knows coal is black.  Idiot.

If you're going to recap at least be accurate. I mean he said "soul theories" are responsible for indirect realism. 

Also he started off saying "a lot of smart people" think indirect realism is true. So what is a lot? How many? And how does he know this? What is their main representative? What is their argument for it? We don't come away from his post knowing any of that.

First it appeared indirect realism was his target, then it appeared Gilbert Ryle's "ghost in the machine" was his target, then it appeared the homunculus model was his target. Along with "soul theories," these are all different things. And they're not arguments. An argument has a minimum of 3 terms: 2 premises and a conclusion. Just staying something like "there is no little man watching a screen, no ghost in the machine!" peppered with random stuff isn't an argument, it's assuming and re-asserting the conclusion you were supposed to prove. That is bad philosophy.

Next, in between all the "suit if armor with a camera" statements, it then seems like the person is trying to advance materialism or physicalism. It isn't clear why that would be the correct way to view things either, or how that connects to direct realism, or whether those two positions are disjunctive or not.

Hypothesis: he watched a bunch of Daniel Dennett videos and thought he could solve everything by aping Dennett's style and throwing in copypasta from the Atlas Society. 

Positive alternative: for an example of good philosophy writing, see Pierre Le Morvan's paper "Arguments against Direct Realism and How to Counter Them," American Philosophical Quarterly 41 (3):221 - 234 (2004) which you can get for free online:

https://owd.tcnj.edu/~lemorvan/DR_web.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjgoK6n_Pf1AhV6KEQIHSFWDycQFnoECAQQAQ&usg=AOvVaw2KdrBs5qoKySFeGsL__vI2

 

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From the publisher of a milestone defense of direct realism The Problem of Perception (2002):

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The Problem of Perception offers two arguments against direct realism--one concerning illusion, and one concerning hallucination--that no current theory of perception can adequately rebut. Smith then develops a theory of perception that does succeed in answering these arguments; and because these arguments are the only two that present direct realism with serious problems arising from the nature of perception, direct realism emerges here for the first time as an ultimately tenable position within the philosophy of perception.

At the heart of Smith's theory is a new way of drawing the distinction between perception and sensation, along with an unusual treatment of the nature of objects of hallucination.

 

A. D. Smith has argued, that it is by discerning the phenomenology of the intentionality in perception that we can uncover what features are self-same in the object and as in the experience of that feature in perception of the object.

In perceptions, he observes, we are offered further perspectives of the same object. The sensory qualities within our perception do not offer further perspectives. They are as with mere sensations. Sensations “have no further aspects that transcend our awareness of them. We can attend more fully to a sensation, but we cannot turn it over . . . .” Why is that? “A sensation has no hidden sides because we are not aware of it through the exercise of a sense organ spatially distinct from it” (135). That spatial distinction is part of what is in the perception.

Shadows and sounds have no hidden sides, but they do afford different perspectives on themselves. The element of spatiality—spatial distinctness from the sense organ—is a sufficient criterion to distinguish a perception from a sensation.

Smell, taste, thermal conductance, and radiant heat are experienced as at the sense organ. So although spatiality is a sufficient criterion for counting a sensory experience a perception, it seems it may not be a necessary one. There may be some other factor(s) of perception that support the intentionality of a perception.

To report “I have a bad taste in my mouth” is to report only a sensation; it has no object other than itself. “I’m tasting the mint in my mouth” is report of a perception, but only because one feels (or has lately felt) the minted object in one’s mouth. So it goes, too, for sensations of thermal conductance. The factor of spatiality is in play here, and that is sufficient.

Smith continues. A smell at the nose or radiant heat on the face is a perception, yet we are not aware of such perceptual objects by organs spatially distinct from them.

Let us “pay attention to the way in which perception is integrated with movement—specifically, movement on the part of the perceiving subject. . . . Our discussion of spatiality has already provided a clue as to the kind of movement that is relevant here. For what we have so far seen to be of perceptual significance is the apparent three-dimensional locatedness of objects of perception in relation to a sense-organ. Hence, the kind of movement that is of perceptual significance is the movement of sense organs in relation to perceived objects. Not all such movements are relevant, however. For given that we are at present interested in how perceptual experience is to be distinguished from mere sensation qua experience, the movements in question must be ones of which the subject is aware” (141).

“The appreciation of a mobile sense-organ is (at least) ‘implicit’ in perceptual consciousness. / Such movement of a sense-organ in relation to an object of awareness is wholly absent from the level of mere sensation, for such movement again introduces perspectives” (142). Smells and radiant heat can be objects of perception because we can move in relation to them and be aware of that relative movement.

Visual, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory sensations have no necessary intentionality. Without intentionality they are mere sensations; with intentionality they belong to perceptions. Without the spatiality structure or the relative-motion structure, sensation is not intentional, not component of a perception.

But wait. Is there not a third factor that sometimes yields the intentionality of perception? Do not sensations of touching a solid object “necessarily embody an awareness of solidity?” (151; cf. AS 1016). With spatiality or relative motion in play with the sensation of touch, the sensation can be intentional, can be a sensory perception. But those two factors are not the only ones that can make a sense of touch a perception. In touch there can be a check or impediment, a registration of the not-self. It is that registration “that introduces three-dimensional spatiality at all into haptic perception. It is only the experience of a collision, or at least a resistance, as the result of active bodily striving that opens up genuine spatiality for touch” (155).

We have then “three equiprimordial sources of perceptual consciousness” (158). These are the fundamental forms that perceptual consciousness can take, and each of them is a non-sensuous and yet non-conceptual dimension to perceptual consciousness. The three-dimensionality of the typical visual field “is a simple function of the senses, and is experientially manifest to us; and yet it is not ‘sensuous’, not a matter of the ‘quality’ of visual sensation. Something similar is found in the kinetic structuring of sensation that we find in our second basic perceptual phenomenon. A non-sensuous dimension is even more obvious, however, with the [checking by not-self], for here an object is presented to consciousness otherwise than by sensation . . . . Not only can such a check not be reduced to sensation—something that is equally true of the other two basic perceptual phenomena—sensation is, or may be, entirely absent in its customary role of being a subjective registration of the presence of an object to our senses. . . . . Pressure sensations are not . . . necessary for the experience of the [check by not-self]. We can feel such a check to our agency even if the relevant body part is anesthetized, or if we use some implement to feel the object's renitent bulk. In both these cases, certain sensations will indeed be present. . . . Such sensations, however, do not occur where we feel the obstacle of our action” (159).

Smith stresses that although “it is necessary, in order for a sensory modality to be perceptual, that it feature such a non-sensuous dimension,” it is further necessary that the sensory modality possess the dimension “in such a way that we have a sense of encountering something independent of us” (164).

I grasp a baseball firmly. I force the ball, and the ball forces my hand. I am directly aware of the force the ball exerts against my grasping hand. There is a perceived command to the muscles, a sense of effort, estimating the stiffness of the ball. However variable (by fatigue or illness) my estimation of it, I am directly aware of the force of the ball itself opposing me, directly aware of the check by not-self.

Smith’s two other basic perceptual phenomena also cannot be reduced to sensation, but the way in which they give us a sense of something independent of us (which mere sensations cannot do) is by certain of the perceptual constancies (169–76). These constancies are ways of intentionality in perception, and they inform us that location, shape, size, and motion are in the world—as in perception and as in a world without perception (Galileo). In addition, by the check of exertion, we are informed that solidity/softness is in the world as within our perception.

This then would be a contemporary meaning of primary “qualities” in perception: the features delivered in the intentionality-dimensions of perception. Smell, taste, thermal conductance, and radiant heat are sensations rendered intentional in perception only through support by modes of perception having intentionality-dimensions (174). The intentionality of the former modes of perception is derivative (is secondary to) the intentionality of the latter modes. Comparison with the conception of primary/secondary qualities in David Kelley’s direct realism could be very interesting.

If I’m not mistaken, Smith’s checking by not-self in perception is Rand’s consciousness-independent concrete existent.

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Dennett attempts to reduce the sensory qualities in perception to the intentions of perceptual concepts and judgments. Rand certainly held that percepts are intentional. She maintained that they are always of existents and that they have content. And she recognized that for humans all perception is subject to our critical, conceptual faculty (FNI 17). But she did not suppose that perceptual intentionality was simply conceptual intentionality. Perceiving that it is raining on oneself is not only a disposition to make the judgment that it is raining on oneself.

Rand did not identify perceptual intentionality with conceptual intentionality. Nor did she take the sensory qualities in perception to be reducible to either sort of intentionality.

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In his book Perception (2003), Barry Maund writes:

The right way to present the representationalist thesis is to say that the perceiver does not perceive physical objects except by being aware of intermediaries. One does not perceive the intermediary at all. This point is not a trivial one. Perceiving a physical object is being caused by that object to have a sensory representation. Being aware of the sensory representation is not like that. Accordingly, . . . it is possible to develop a representative theory of perception that is direct realist, in one sense, and indirect, in another. (p.68, emphasis added)

Maund’s is a contemporary direct-indirect hybrid theory of perception. His is a representational realist theory of perception that does not take perception to involve any inferences (e.g., from sensory particulars to the particulars that caused them). Rather, on this representational theory, perceiving “involves a form of double awareness: the perceiver is aware of both the sensory item and the physical object, and aware of the latter through being aware of the former” (70).

The theory that Maund defends “holds that, in conscious attentive perception, one perceives physical objects and their qualities by becoming aware of sensory representations, that is, of a set of quality-instances (tropes) that are natural signs for the objects in question” (71).

I wonder if Maund’s variety of representational realist theory of perception fits less well with Rand’s express views on perception than contemporary direct realist theories of perception fit with Rand’s view. Rand’s view of perception is definitely a realist view. She writes that a human being is able “to perceive a reality undistorted by his senses. . . . ‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” (AS 1036). She maintains, furthermore, that the mind’s only access to reality is by means of its percepts (1970). “It is in the form of percepts that man grasps the evidence of his senses and apprehends reality. When we speak of ‘direct perception’ or ‘direct awareness’, we mean the perceptual level. Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident” ITOE 5.

Does Rand’s view, I wonder, entail pure direct realism (such as we see defended by A. D. Smith or David Kelley), or is Rand’s view sufficiently coarse-grained that it is compatible with pure direct realism and equally compatible with Maund’s hybrid of direct and indirect realism? More importantly, I wonder if Maund’s representational realist theory of perception is a better or worse background for interpreting and guiding research on perception than direct realism is as that background.

I should also draw attention to the contemporary representationalist thesis, known also as the intentionalist thesis, which is “that we are, in normal perception, not aware of the intrinsic qualities of experiences; we are instead aware of those objects and their qualities that are specified in the content of our experiences.” The representationalists deny that the phenomenal character of subjective experiences “consists of intrinsic qualities of subjective experiences, that is, of what are sometimes called qualia.” They propose an alternative way to construe the phenomenal character of experience. These contemporary representationalists propose to analyze the phenomenal character of perceptual experience “in terms of the representational character, that is, the representational content, of the experiences” (Maund 2003, 165).

In addition to Barry Maund, the following distinguished philosophers uphold some version or other of the representational theory of the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences: Fred Dretske; Michael Tye; Gareth Evans; Ruth Millikan; Gilbert Harmon; and Austen Clark.

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What has contemporary philosophy done for us lately concerning the nature of perception?

Well, this month Tyler Burge gives us his Perception: First Form of Mind.

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In Perception: First Form of Mind, Tyler Burge develops an understanding of the most primitive type of representational mind: perception. Focusing on its form, function, and underlying capacities, as indicated in the sciences of perception, Burge provides an account of the representational content and formal representational structure of perceptual states, and develops a formal semantics for them. The account is elaborated by an explanation of how the representational form is embedded in an iconic format. These structures are then situated in current theoretical accounts of the processing of perceptual representations, with an emphasis on the formation of perceptual categorizations. An exploration of the relationship between perception and other primitive capacities-conation, attention, memory, anticipation, affect, learning, and imagining-clarifies the distinction between perceiving, with its associated capacities, and thinking, with its associated capacities. Drawing on a broad range of historical and contemporary research, rather than relying on introspection or ordinary talk about perception, Perception: First Form of Mind is a scientifically rigorous and agenda-setting work in the philosophy of perception and the philosophy of science.

I'll have to see what is the sense in which "representational" is employed in this much-anticipated work.

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On 2/11/2022 at 12:12 AM, Frank said:

Not at all. We are conscious, as in an electrical process.

That's basically just reductionism.

But in any case, your reasoning doesn't really get at defeating indirect realism. If the mystical version of the soul did exist, that doesn't necessarily exclude realism, and even if were just bags of meat (which sounds like your position) that doesn't necessarily exclude indirect realism.

On 2/11/2022 at 12:12 AM, Frank said:

Cameras are accepted as having light sensors and so on which are triggered by the world and which directly take in the light from the outside world and make an image.

This would be something like indirect realism in terms of an analogy. If this image were presented to consciousness (to make the analogy work for conscious entities), that would mean that there is another layer of perception or interpretation between reality and consciousness. Direct realism would be like saying that there is no image in between, just going straight from reality to consciousness. There would be no need to create the photograph of reality. 

Yes, there is a biological process of perception that results in awareness of reality in a specific form. But if an image or form is constructed, then interpreted, then brought to awareness, you would have indirect realism. 

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On 2/11/2022 at 12:55 PM, Boydstun said:

What has contemporary philosophy done for us lately concerning the nature of perception?

Well, this month Tyler Burge gives us his Perception: First Form of Mind.

I'll have to see what is the sense in which "representational" is employed in this much-anticipated work.

Thank you so much for all the info! A work I'm considering buying that defends direct realism: Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, by Michael Huemer.

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On 2/13/2022 at 7:12 PM, Eiuol said:

That's basically just reductionism.

But in any case, your reasoning doesn't really get at defeating indirect realism. If the mystical version of the soul did exist, that doesn't necessarily exclude realism, and even if were just bags of meat (which sounds like your position) that doesn't necessarily exclude indirect realism.

This would be something like indirect realism in terms of an analogy. If this image were presented to consciousness (to make the analogy work for conscious entities), that would mean that there is another layer of perception or interpretation between reality and consciousness. Direct realism would be like saying that there is no image in between, just going straight from reality to consciousness. There would be no need to create the photograph of reality. 

Yes, there is a biological process of perception that results in awareness of reality in a specific form. But if an image or form is constructed, then interpreted, then brought to awareness, you would have indirect realism. 

I Studied Buddhism for 20 years lol! That's probably why I sound the way I do. Traditional Theravada Buddhism (what I preferred, Mahayana, which I studied but then rejected entirely, is almost entirely subjective idealism, extreme nihilism, or relativism, or all three mixed up) teaches that we are utterly devoid of anything even resembling a soul, even going so far as to say humans are no different than marionettes, and that there is no doer (see Visuddhimagga, VIII.31, XIX.20). It is vehemently atheistic, and opposed to all possible versions of anything even resembling a soul. It even rejects the use of the phrase "I am" as a conceit to be eliminated (Visuddhimagga III.122). In such a world, the very idea of indirect realism is nonsense, as every formulation involves someone seeing a representation of reality, but from this perspective, there is no one to see this representation, but rather there are just inanimate objects interacting with each other. Hence, you wouldn't say a rock that rolls down a hill didn't really experience the hill directly, because what in the world would that even mean? Likewise, if we are merely meat animated by electricity, it is nonsense to say we experience things indirectly. There are meaty blobs of matter animated by electricity who have sensors that are affected by other matter. Ditto for cameras, and any and everything else. From this perspective, talking about indirect realism is completely irrational, as we would be ultimately inanimate objects.

 

That said, I am realizing this is not the Objectivist way, and that this philosophy involves a very different understanding of consciousness. My mistake! I guess I need to read more about it! I really wasn't trying to say that my understanding was right. I was actually hoping for exactly what Boydstun provided: lots of quotes and references defending direct realism! I only submitted my own ideas as a side note, and merely as musings, in order to contribute, even in a small way, to the defense of direct realism generally. I seem to have failed, and have zero problem with this. I don't see myself as an expert on these matters. I'm responding to you because your critique was respectful, mature, and politely written, and I sincerely thank you for that.

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I would recommend the Huemer book too, just for its own sake. It's a good book in the way it provides a taxonomy and introduction for many of the different ways of viewing perception and the foundation of knowledge, and provides many good arguments against indirect realism and Cartesian-style skepticism. It's also clearly and concisely written, and provides ab example of good philosophy writing. 

There are also some ways in which Huemer's account differs from, or would appear to differ from what might be Rand's account (taken that Rand didn't really have a developed account.) The major thing is that Huemer takes perceptual experience to be propositional and can contain representational (but non-conceptual) content that can either be true or false. It is this way that perception can serve as a foundation for knowledge via the principal of "phenomenal conservatism," that we are prima facie justified in taking what seems to be the case to be true, unless we have some reason to doubt it. In this way, Huemer is closer to Moore than a Rand or Aristotle.

I think the difference in Rand would be that she takes perceptual states to be non-propositional and non-representational, and is thus infallible or inerrant, and can neither be true nor false. Huemer sees that, if it is non-propositional, there is a wonder at how it can then justify beliefs. Certainly more would need to be said about abstraction and concept formation than has been said.

 

 

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On 2/11/2022 at 7:48 AM, Doug Morris said:

We don't debate whether an electronic camera really experiences the outside world, because we know cameras are not conscious and therefore do not experience anything.

 

Yeah, after reading some more replies, I realized my position is too influenced by Theravada Buddhism, which, opposite of Mahayana, is strictly realist, and denies any and all agent in being. There is no experiencer in this understanding, hence, indirect realism is impossible. I understand, now, that this view is incompatible with Objectivism, which seems to hold consciousness a lot higher than Theravada Buddhism (not saying much, since Theravada breaks it down entirely to entirely empty phenomena with no doer even involved [Visuddhimagga XIX.20]), but a lot less than your average eternal soul believing religion. I need to read more about Objectivism. I realize now, that I was unconsciously, and wrongly, equating atheism with reductionism/mechanism thusly: If there is no soul, then there is no such thing as an experiencer. 

Thank you for your mature, well written, and polite critique.

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6 hours ago, Frank said:

Likewise, if we are merely meat animated by electricity, it is nonsense to say we experience things indirectly. There are meaty blobs of matter animated by electricity who have sensors that are affected by other matter. Ditto for cameras, and any and everything else. From this perspective, talking about indirect realism is completely irrational, as we would be ultimately inanimate objects.

I would say that if we are just blobs of matter, epiphenomenalism would be possible, which leaves room for indirect realism. When you throw in the Theravada idea that there is no do-er or experience-er, not even epiphenomenalism is possible, so neither direct realism nor realism would be possible. That is, since either view is about perceptual content in some way or another, the absence of any kind of perceptual content precludes either view. 

So if you want better arguments for direct realism, you need some sort of do-er, and perceptual experience or content needs to make a meaningful causal difference for action. That's on top of the rest about making sure you are directly connected to reality.

6 hours ago, Frank said:

That said, I am realizing this is not the Objectivist way, and that this philosophy involves a very different understanding of consciousness. My mistake!

I would say that is because it goes back to a more ancient Greek and Roman way of doing philosophy, mixed in with observations from some very modern developments in biology, psychology, and technology. Aristotle is especially helpful regarding perception, because he never was working with all the philosophers alive since Galileo. Yes, Galileo was an astronomer/physicist, but that's when people started to think of the human mind like a machine, and indirect realism is a way to describe how a machine comes up with experiences. Not that people thought the mind was literally machine, but it helped bring about ways of thinking that lends itself more to indirect realism. Of course, there is something more than mere machinery or electrical impulses going on. I can expand a lot more on that if you want. What is more than mere machinery could be described as the soul, in the Aristotelian sense, which can be described as (very roughly and coarsely) a power of life or life force. 

Evidence of the Senses by David Kelley is a book worth reading as well, which is specifically about the Oist position on perception, and consciousness as well by implication.

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  • 1 month later...

Dr. David Kelley's thesis was a defense of his theory of perception which he described as direct realism.  That any version of representationalism requires an homonculus inside to do the real perceiving is a critique that he made there.  His book "The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception" is an overview of the topic of perception in philosophy and a presentation of his defense of direct realism.  

Dr. Kelley was tutored in Objectivism at the feet of Rand herself (figuratively speaking, mostly) and is most definitely to be counted among "Objectivist philosophers".  He completed this work while he was in her social circle. Rand had no interest in doing the kind of dry scholarly writing that Kelley did here, so this treatment of the subject is as good as it may ever get as far as an Objectivist theory of perception.

I'm fairly disappointed no one else here remembered Kelley.

The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception  at Amazon.com.

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