Being and Being Known

Being and Being Known

Being and Being Known

Being and Being Known

Excerpt

The present volume contains a study of the relations of the mind to the things which it knows and to the body to which it belongs. In general the book seeks to support the thesis that being is independent of being known and to elucidate at least some of the consequences of this highly significant proposition; it is thus frankly in opposition to the positivistic and phenomenalistic tendencies of the times. In general I have taken the position that direct realism tends to regard perception as infallible and leads to pan-objectivism; the complexities of the situation demand some form of critical realism. Borrowing a phrase from the German phenomenological school I define "ideas" as "intentional objects" and I am thus able to reconcile the directness of knowledge with its problematicity. Direct realism is valid with regard to the what of the thing cognized, in the sense that the object of our thought and perception is, at each moment, precisely what it is; on the other hand, the existence of all objects, other than the present state of consciousness, is inferential and problematic. I find it necessary to combat the theory of non-existent sensa and to maintain that in positing the external physical thing we retrace the path of causal influence by which the thing affected us in the first place. Senseperception cannot be accepted in an uncritical way; not only are the secondary qualities "subjective" and "mental" but the same may be said of the sensible appearances of the primary qualities as well. The senses, while indicative of the existence of the real, are not revelatory of its nature and the "intentional object" which stands before us in sense-perception is, strictly speaking, largely illusory. But in our scientific knowledge of the world, the object of our thought coincides with the real, in so far as thought may be described as true; there is a directness of intention which is not inconsistent with the essentially problematic character of knowledge.

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