Perception

Perception

Perception

Perception

Excerpt

This book is the successor of a dissertation submitted for the B.Sc. Degree in Oxford in 1922; but since then it has been entirely re-cast, so that little if anything of the original survives. I need hardly say that it does not profess to cover the whole of the subject suggested by the title. It is concerned in the main with only two points, the nature of perceptual consciousness and the relation of sense-data to the ordinary 'macroscopic objects' of daily life, such as tables and rocks. On both those ponts what may be called a causal theory has long been prevalent. It has been held that sense-data are related to material things merely by a relation of indirect causal dependence (sometimes resemblance has been added); and that perceptual consciousness either is, or at any rate ought to be, an argument from effects to causes. This theory has of course been attacked, almost from its beginning, by a long and illustrious series of philosophers, from Berkeley to Mr. Bertrand Russell (in his middle period); and its hold upon educated opinion has been further weakened of late years by the spread of the 'descriptive' view of Science. But it is still so widely held, both by philosophers and non-philosophers, and indeed has so many perfectly legitimate attractions, that one more attempt to replace it by something less violently opposed to Common Sense may not be a waste of time. At any rate, I am convinced that the theory is radically mistaken, and my main aim in this book, whether worth achieving or not, is to present a constructive and detailed alternative to it. If in so doing I seem to have inclined too much to the opposite or Phenomenalistic extreme, I can only plead that at least this is by far the lesser evil.

The main arrangement of the book is as follows. Chapter I is chiefly introductory, and seeks to establish the reality of sensing and of sense-data. In chapter II, after stating the main problem, which is arrived at by considering the various meanings of the word 'perceive', I proceed at once to expound . . .

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