Realism and Appearances: An Essay in Ontology

By John W. Yolton | Go to book overview

Conclusion
The realism of appearances

Astronomers are more apt to look at their telescope's monitors than to consider the stars with their naked eyes. But we continue to use our senses to interpret the work of the computers, to see the monitors, to judge and analyze, and to design ever newer dreams of artificial intelligence. Never will we leave the palace of our perceptions.

Diane Ackerman, Natural History of the Senses (1990), p. 301

Suppose then a hollow Globe with Perception, and painted on the Inside with Birds, Beasts and Fishes, and to have the knowledge of all that is delineated within it; the whole Delineation being within the Globe, and the Perception the Globe hath of it but one Act, is it not certain that the Appearance which this Representation would most naturally make to the Globe must be of something comprehended within it self? And the same it would probably be with the Mind, if there were not some external world, to signify and represent which our Ideas, by the Rules of divine Perspective, appear External.

Henry Grove, An Essay Towards a Demonstration of the Soul's Immateriality
(1718), pp. 16–17

Surely, any modern direct-realist theory of perception will allow causal intermediaries between object and percipient: no one would dream of denying the title of direct realism to a theory of perception merely because it tolerates causal intermediaries.

Robert Pasnau, Theories of Cognition in the Later Middle Ages (1997), p. 300

Each of these quotations relates to a key topic or issue embedded in those categories or contrasts listed in the Introduction. Diane Ackerman reminds us of an obvious fact, that our access to the world (to the physical world at least) is through perception. Churchland seems to overlook this fact in his claim that a neuroscientist, lacking the ability to see color, could know what it is like to see red just by consulting the dials of a machine. Churchland ignored the fact that Mary was using sense qualia

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