Sensation and Perception: A History of the Philosophy of Perception

Sensation and Perception: A History of the Philosophy of Perception

Sensation and Perception: A History of the Philosophy of Perception

Sensation and Perception: A History of the Philosophy of Perception

Excerpt

In general histories of philosophy trends or tendencies in the treatment of specific problems are liable to be obscured by the necessity of taking a broad view of the field. There may, therefore, be some merit in a history of treatments of a particular philosophical problem or group of problems. In some cases, of course, it is impossible to divorce a philosopher's thought on one subject from his general approach to philosophy. It is not therefore suggested that the treatments of a subject like perception can stand alone; and in some cases a more detailed attention to the background of thought is required than in others. But a history of the main attempts to deal with a single group of problems may have decided philosophical advantages which outweigh the historical disadvantages which accrue from a somewhat artificial restriction of the field. It may be possible as a result to see more clearly the main approaches to the problems and the types of solution suggested, together with the reasons for their adoption. This too may bring with it a dearer insight both into the nature of the problems and into the way to their proper solution.

It is in this spirit that the present work attempts to deal with the concepts of sensation and perception. What perception is and how it is related to its conditions have been problems to philosophers from the beginnings of philosophical inquiry. There have been natural tendencies to assimilate it on the one hand to sensation, to the having of experiences in the most elementary sense, and on the other hand to judgment, to an activity of the mind. The first line of treatment provides an easy way of dealing with the problem of the connection between perception and the physiology of the sense-organs; for if perception is a passive affair, it could well be merely the effect of a stimulation of our sense-organs. But in that case how are we to account for the evident fact that perception in some sense brings knowledge and beliefs about the world? The second line of treatment provides a possible answer to this last problem but further difficulties in . . .

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