The Revolt against Dualism: An Inquiry concerning the Existence of Ideas

By Arthur O. Lovejoy | Go to book overview

IV THE OUTCOME OF THE SECOND PHASE

THAT there is much in common between objective relativism and dualism has doubtless become sufficiently clear in the course of the preceding lecture. The dualist, like the relativist recognizes three factors as essential in perception. There is, as ulterior relatum, all external causal object or event. There is, as a part of the proximate relatum, a physiological event in an organism possessing certain special organs, such as eyes, optic nerves, and cerebral cortex. And the character experienced is an existent conditioned upon an interaction between the external object and the organism. Both theories, in short (except in that form of objective relativism which denies that data are particulars), are at one in affirming at least the causal subjectivity of the character. And with respect, at all events, to the characters which he regards as epistemologically subjective, the dualist agrees that these are peculiar to individual standpoints and to the particular constitutions of perceivers, and are not disclosures of the attributes which things have apart from such standpoints.

In all these respects, then, relativism is identical with dualism; but beyond these lie certain points of apparent or possible, though not, as we shall see, in all cases of actual or necessary, divergence. These have to do with the following five issues: (1) The existential subjectivity of the characters which constitute our perceptual content. (2) Their physicality. (3) The legitimacy and significance of the notion of the attributive objectivity of characters, if their causal and existential subjectivity is admitted. (4) The presence in experience of data which are not (in the generalized sense of the term) perspective aspects, and are therefore epistemologically objective. (5) The pertinency to the problem of perception, and of knowledge in general, of the concept of respectivity.

(1)Historic dualism has always declared--rightly, I think-- that while the occurrence of certain physical processes is doubtless a necessary, it is probably not a sufficient, condition for the existence of the particulars which enter into experience; it has, in other words, denied that entities generated by "percipient events" exist

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