Consciousness and the World

By Brian O'Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

10 Perception and Truth

The present chapter is concerned with the phenomenon of perception as understood in terms of the theory just sketched, and therefore ultimately in terms of consciousness. The aim at this point is to gain a more complete understanding of this phenomenon, to bring to light some of its more important properties. One way of going about this task is by adequately distinguishing perception from its closest mental neighbours. Now a perception or intuition is an episode of consciousness, it is an experience, and it is of cognitive significance. Accordingly, the task of differential delineation leads naturally to an examination—not (say) of affective experience (which lacks cognitive import)—but of two closely related experiences which share with the intuition the property of being of cognitive significance. The first is, what one might describe as the perceptual discovery-experience: by which I mean, the sort of phenomenon that occurs when one sees that the traffic lights are green. The second is the thought-experience: that is, the kind of phenomenon that one reports when one informs someone that 'the moment I saw the green light I had the thought “the lights must have changed some time ago!' ”. The discussion that follows addresses itself to distinguishing perception from these two varieties of experience. Now it seems to me of some interest that both of these cognitively significant experiences involve a close relation to propositions and to truth. For these reasons, and in any case because of the inherent importance of these relations, I propose to investigate perceptual experience with them in view. Above all, I aim to discover how perception stands in relation to truth.


1 Distinguishing Intuition and Perceiving-That (1): Theories of Perceiving-That

(a) A Statement of the Theories

Can perceptions occur that have propositional content? On the face of it, yes. Such phenomena seem to occur all the time. Do we not continually perceive that this or that is the case? We certainly say so, and therefore at least in some sense do so. But we must understand what it means to say such a thing. What, precisely, is the nature of the phenomenon that we call a 'perceiving-that'? Could it be that it is (α) an attentive

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Consciousness and the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Consciousness and the World iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Consciousness 35
  • 1: The Experience 37
  • 2: The Anatomy of Consciousness 68
  • 3: Self-Consciousness and Self-Knowledge 102
  • 4: 'Translucence' 164
  • 5: Consciousness and the Mental Will 200
  • 6: Interiority and Thinking 233
  • Part II the Attention and Perception 265
  • 7: The Attention 275
  • 8: The Attention and Perception (1) 291
  • 9: The Attention and Perception (2) 302
  • 10: Perception and Truth 318
  • 11: The Imagination (1) 339
  • 12: The Imagination (2) 362
  • 13: Imagination and Perception 371
  • 14: Active Attending or a Theory of Mental Action 379
  • Part III Seeing 407
  • 15: 'Blindsight' and the Essence of Seeing 415
  • 16: Seeing the Light 439
  • 17: Sense-Data (1) or the Ways of the Attention 465
  • 18: Sense-Data (2) 502
  • 19: Secondary Qualities 515
  • 20: The 'Perceptual Given' and 'Perceptual Mediators' or the Formation of the Visual Experience 538
  • 21: Appearances 570
  • 22: Perceptually Constituting the Material Object 592
  • Part IV Perception and the Body 621
  • 23: Proprioception and the Body Image 628
  • 24: The Sense of Touch 656
  • Conclusion 681
  • Index 697
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