Against The Direct Perception of Physical Objects | Frank DeVita
philosophical method, ethics, and perception.' As a general was entitled 'Visual Sense-data', and it is obvious that Moore was, at that stage,. ¹ A. R. White ( ) experience relate to the physical object perceived? Moore, like Moore provides in relation to the theory he develops. First, Moore. A common challenge to direct realism draws on cases of hallucination: when I am hallucinating, Sense data are mind-dependent objects that actually have the properties (e.g., color and On indirect realist views, sense data “stand in for” or represent physical objects. .. The Many-Relations Problem for Adverbialism. Ontological Relation between Sense Data and Material Objects So far as the ontological relation between sense data and material objects (or physical surfaces).
If we were to say that we directly perceive physical objects, this would suggest that the objects given to us in experience as they exist in the physical world. This is the position advanced by Zahavi and Gallagher, who claim that perception is most basic and primary to our knowledge and gives us the world most concretely PM On the grounds that we do not use the objects we perceive as representations, i.
They develop a holistic account of perception that is necessarily of objects-in-context, which ascribes meaning and significance to the direct perception of physical objects apparent in experience PM Zahavi and Gallagher offer through sound arguments based on the evidence found in experience that we directly perceive physical objects, but their phenomenological bracketing leaves the nature of physical objects that they claim are perceived directly largely unaddressed.
Bertrand Russell advanced that real objects are not as immediately known as we like to think and also undermines the unmediated nature of perception advanced by Zahavi and Gallagher. These sense-data are causedby and correspond to real physical objects, but are not necessarily things found in them and thus only tell us that physical objects do exist PP This leaves the actual nature of physical objects obscured and inaccessible because all we have available to us is sense-data and not physical objects themselves.
However, Russell advances that we perceive physical objects through sense data that come from a real object, while Berkeley suggests that we perceive physical objects as ideas that originate in the mind of God. He offers that we obtain our sense-data from the environment as a information that has already been modified prior to conscious perception.
For instance, light must reflect off of a physical object, travel through the air, through the eye and to the brain before we can consciously sense or perceive anything by sight PP In contrast to the phenomenological account, sense-data in our consciousness is caused by physical objects in in the external physical world and physical objects themselves are not given in our perception as they really exist in nature.
We do not perceive these objects directly because of the mechanism of our sensation, but we perceive stimuli e. From these sense-data, we can make an inference about their source objects in nature, but are ultimately unable to know anything concretely about them without scientific investigation, reduction and abstraction. For the former, truth and knowledge seems to be found in sense perception itself and we should agree that what is given in experience is a source from which truth about the external world can be derived.
However, nothing encountered immediately by the senses is unmodified and absolutely true. We are bound by the limits of our bodies and sense organs, and informed by our subjective consciousness.
It is absurd to think that we perceive the whole of nature as it really exists. For example, many organisms can sense UV light or other things unintelligible to us, which may present physical objects in a way much different than they appear in our consciousness. Our perception would then be just as different as that of a bat or honeybee from the real natural world.
Our perception is also infused with subjective meaning that cannot be avoided. Zahavi and Gallagher fail to address this problem as it relates to physical objects as well as the nature of physical objects themselves and how direct perception of them is even possible.
Instead, they choose to bracket our physical relationship to the world for a purely phenomenological and subjective description of physical objects as they show up in experience. Russell on the other hand, remains conscious of the truths established by our physical relationship with the world and shows that our phenomenological observations are caused by physical phenomena and sensory mechanisms that prevent us from directly perceiving and knowing the world as it actually is.PHILOSOPHY - Aristotle
This idea resonates with phenomenology in that it recalls the subjective nature of our experience, but accounts for it with physical causality to create a more robust theory. Russell can agree that investigations of experience are our ultimate source of truth, but also reminds us that experience is not an all-seeing phenomenon, but an inescapably humanized translation of fundamental reality. The idea that perception is a form of unmediated access to the world is fallacious, even if the argument is for unmediated intentionality alone and not the whole of perception.
Our perception of the world is always mediated by physical things, e. We can also have injuries or neurological deficits that alter the appearance of physical objects e. This would be impossible without a permanent physical object that was interpreted by the senses. If unmediated perception were a reality, we would also have no reason to entertain problems such as the inverted spectrum or the Ebbinghaus illusion PM Our perception is always mediated by variables largely out of our conscious control and gives us the physical world indirectly — fundamental reality is translated several times before we get to perceive it.
This is not to say that perception is representational. Moore's argument here is a sophisticated piece of informal modal logic; but whether it really gets to the heart of the motivation for Bradley's Absolute idealism can be doubted.
George Edward Moore (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
My own view is that Bradley's dialectic rests on a different thesis about the inadequacy of thought as a representation of reality, and thus that one has to dig rather deeper into Bradley's idealist metaphysics both to extract the grounds for his monism and to exhibit what is wrong with it. Moore had the text of these lectures typed up with a view to publishing them; but as his thoughts progressed he reworked his text and Principia Ethica is the result of this reworking the lectures have recently been published as The Elements of Ethics.
Most of the first three chapters come from the lectures; whereas the last three chapters are largely new material.
As against all such claims Moore insists that goodness is indefinable, or unanalysable, and thus that ethics is an autonomous science, irreducible to natural science or, indeed, to metaphysics. The merits of this argument are questionable; in many cases we can sensibly doubt the truth of a definition, especially where the definition makes use of discoveries that have not been part of our ordinary understanding, as is normally the case with definitions in the natural sciences.
But there is, I think, a way of modifying Moore's argument which takes it around this objection, namely by taking it to rest on the epistemological thesis that ethical questions cannot be answered without the explicit involvement of ethical beliefs.
George Edward Moore
The reason that this thesis is inimical to naturalistic definitions of ethical values is that an important role of definitions in the natural sciences and elsewhere is that they enable one to answer questions in new ways that would not otherwise be possible: This defence of Moore's argument does not address a different concern, namely that the argument applies only to versions of ethical naturalism which involve a definition of ethical value, and thus that naturalist positions which maintain that ethical value is an irreducible natural property are not touched by the argument.
Moore's argument against positions of this kind rests on the claim that the ethical value of a situation is not a feature of it which is independent of its other properties; on the contrary it depends on its other properties. Moore took it that supervenience was not an inherently reductive relationship, and thus that it was consistent for him to hold that goodness is not a natural property even though it supervenes upon natural properties; but, he assumed, if one takes the view that goodness is itself a natural property, the fact that it supervenes upon other natural properties makes it impossible to avoid a reductive thesis.
So the supervenience of intrinsic value removes the option of a non-reductive naturalism without contradicting his version of ethical non-naturalism. Subsequent discussion has shown that the relationship between supervenience and reduction is a complicated matter, and though I think that Moore's position is defensible this is not the place to take the issue further.
Instead I want to turn to the concept of intrinsic value which is central to Moore's theory. Despite this distinction it remains the case that intrinsic value is the fundamental type of ethical value, since instrumental value is definable in terms of the intrinsic value of a situation's consequences. This is not a conception which is familiar to us, but Moore illustrates the point by the following case: As before intrinsic value remains the fundamental conception of value, since a situation's value as a part is defined in terms of the overall intrinsic value of a complex situation to which it makes a contribution beyond its own intrinsic value.
Nonetheless this point implies that a thing's intrinsic value is not simply its value irrespective of its consequences; it is also its value irrespective of its context. There are two connected problems here: The problem here is not that Moore's principle is incorrect, but rather that it seems irrational since it puts a block on moral reasoning.
The second problem concerns the thesis that intrinsic value is the same in all contexts. For this just seems wrong, in that the value of, say, friendship differs from one context to another. Although, as Moore rightly says, friendship is normally one of the most valuable things there is, it has no value at all where claims of justice are at stake, as in a court of law.
Another area where Moore's ethical theory is problematic is his account of ethical knowledge. Because of his hostility to ethical naturalism Moore denies that ethical knowledge is a matter of empirical enquiry. But, as we have seen, he is equally hostile to Kant's rationalist thesis that fundamental ethical truths are truths of reason.
Instead he holds that ethical knowledge rests on a capacity for an intuitive grasp of fundamental ethical truths for which we can give no reason since there is no reason to be given. The trouble with this is that if we can say nothing to support a claim to such knowledge, those who disagree with it can only register their disagreement and pass on; hence ethical debate is liable to turn into the expression of conflicting judgements which admit of no resolution.
In the light of this, it is not surprising that Moore's ethical theory was regarded as undermining the cognitive status of morality, and thus that it led directly to the development of ethical non-cognitivism by those who were influenced by Moore, such as A. Yet there was another side to Moore's discussion of ethical issues, in which he found himself arguing against the hedonist thesis that pleasure is the only thing with positive intrinsic value, despite the fact that officially he held that no such arguments could be given.
Because this indirect method is not integrated into his official method of ethical inquiry, he says little about its presuppositions. This emphasis reflects the fact that this aspect of Moore's ethical theory has been most influential; but it is also worth mentioning briefly some points from his moral theory.
Moore presents a straightforward consequentialist account of the relationship between the right and the good: In practice, because it is so difficult for us to determine by ourselves what is the best outcome, he allows that we probably do best if we follow established rules; thus Moore ends up recommending a conservative form of rule consequentialism, for which he was criticised by Keynes and Russell.
Later critics such as W. Moore's choice of values is striking: The individualism of the resulting morality is enhanced by the fact that Moore maintains that these intrinsic values are incommensurable, and thus that the assessment of priorities among them is inescapably a matter of individual judgment.
Although Moore was neither a mathematician nor a logical theorist he was one of the first people to grasp that Russell's new logical theory was an essential tool for philosophy and offered important new insights. As we saw above, in his early work Moore had been emphatic that propositions are altogether independent of thought and had even proposed that facts are just true propositions. So he now rejected the view that facts are just true propositions. On his new view, facts are, as before, constituted by objects and their properties; but what about propositions?
According to Moore, philosophers talk legitimately of propositions in order to identify the aspects of thought and language which are crucial to questions of truth and inference, and in doing so it may appear that they regard propositions as genuine entities. But, Moore now holds, this implication is unwarranted: Moore does not allude here explicitly to Russell's theory of incomplete symbols and logical fictions, but it is clear that this is the kind of position he has in mind.
The new logic enables one to preserve realist appearances without accepting realist metaphysics. Yet Moore was not an uncritical follower of Russell. While recognising that entailment is closely connected to logical necessity he came to think that entailment is not just a matter of the necessity of the truth-functional conditional, thereby setting off a debate about this relationship which continues to this day. Again, Moore was critical of Russell's treatment of existence, in particular his denial that it makes sense to treat existence as a first-order predicate of particular objects for Russell, existence has to be expressed by the existential quantifier and is therefore a second-order predicate of predicates.
Moore's uses of Russell's logic take place in the broader context of his use of analysis as a method of philosophy. Although Moore always denied that philosophy is just analysis, there is no denying that it plays a central role in his philosophy and it is therefore important to determine what motivates this role. This question is especially pressing in Moore's case because he rejected the main analytical programmes of twentieth century philosophy — both Wittgenstein's logical atomism and the logical empiricism of the members of the Vienna circle and their followers such as A.
In the first case, Moore rejected Wittgenstein's thesis that whatever exists exists necessarily; as with the idealist thesis that all relations are internal, Moore held that our common sense conviction that some of the things which exist might not have done so creates a strong presumption against any philosopher who maintains the opposite, and that the logical atomist position does not provide convincing reasons why this presumption should be overturned.
In addition Moore held that it is just not true that all necessity is logical necessity, as Wittgenstein maintained; in his early writings, despite his hostility to Kant, he had explicitly defended the conception of necessary synthetic truths and he did not change his mind on this point. But Moore also recognised that his early criticisms of William James' pragmatism can be applied to the logical empiricist position.
In connection with James, Moore had observed that where a proposition concerns the past, it may well be that we are in a situation in which a proposition and its negation are both unverifiable because there is now no evidence either way on the matter. But, he argued, it does not follow that we cannot now affirm that either the proposition or its negation is true, thanks to the Law of Excluded Middle; in which case it cannot be that truth is verifiability — contrary both to James' pragmatism and to logical empiricism.
Yet why then did Moore think that the analysis of propositions was so important? In addition, when explaining the importance of philosophical analysis, he emphasized the importance of getting clear what is at issue in some debate; but an issue which he himself was not clear about was that of the implications of an analysis.
In his early writings he took the view that in so far as the analysis of a proposition clarifies it, it also clarifies its ontological implications; thus he then held it to be an objection to a phenomenalist analysis of propositions about material objects that the analysis calls into question the existence of such objects.
But he later took the opposite point of view, maintaining that a phenomenalist analysis just provides an account of what their existence amounts to.
This remark, I think, reflects the true importance of philosophical analysis for Moore: But now, what happened to each of us, when we saw that envelope? I will begin by describing part of what happened to me. I saw a patch of a particular whitish colour, having a certain shape …. Once the concept of a sense-datum has been introduced in this way, it is easy to see that false appearances can be handled by distinguishing between the properties of sense-data we apprehend and the properties of the physical objects which give rise to these sense-data.
But what is the relationship between sense-data and physical objects? Moore took it that there are three serious candidates to be considered: The indirect realist position is that to which he was initially drawn; but he could see that it leaves our beliefs about the physical world exposed to skeptical doubt, since it implies that the observations which constitute evidence for these beliefs concern only the properties of non-physical sense-data, and there is no obvious way for us to obtain further evidence to support a hypothesis about the properties of the physical world and its relationship to our sense-data.
This argument is reminiscent of Berkeley's critique of Locke, and Moore therefore considered carefully Berkeley's phenomenalist alternative. This may be felt to be too intuitive, like Dr. Johnson's famous objection to Berkeley; but Moore could also see that there were substantive objections to the phenomenalist position, such as the fact that our normal ways of identifying and anticipating significant uniformities among our sense-data draw on our beliefs about our location in physical space and the state of our physical sense-organs, neither of which are available to the consistent phenomenalist.
So far Moore's dialectic is familiar. What is unfamiliar is his direct realist position, according to which sense-data are physical. This position avoids the problems so far encountered, but in order to accommodate false appearances Moore has to allow that sense-data may lack the properties which we apprehend them as having.
It may be felt that in so far as sense-data are objects at all, this is inevitable; but Moore now needs to provide an account of the apparent properties of sense-data and it is not clear how he can do this without going back on the initial motivation for the sense-datum theory by construing these apparent properties as properties of our experiences. But what in fact turns Moore against this direct realist position is the difficulty he thinks it leads to concerning the treatment of hallucinations.
In such cases, Moore holds, any sense-data we apprehend are not parts of a physical object; so direct realism cannot apply to them, and yet there is no reason to hold that they are intrinsically different from the sense-data which we apprehend in normal experience. Moore wrote more extensively about perception than about any other topic. In these writings he moves between the three alternatives set out here without coming to any firm conclusion.