About this topic
Summary This area is structured by three central questions. A first question is: What does it mean to perceive something directly? There are two standard ways in which this question has been answered. On one conception, to perceive x directly is to perceive x, but not in virtue of perceiving anything else, while to perceive x indirectly is to perceive x in virtue of perceiving something else. On another conception, to perceive x directly is to be perceptually aware of x without one’s awareness of x being inferred from prior awareness of anything else, and to perceive x indirectly is for one’s perceptual awareness of x to be inferred from prior awareness of something else. A second question is: What do we perceive directly? Direct realists have it that we perceive physical objects directly. Indirect realists, such as sense datum theorists, have it that we perceive mental proxies for physical objects directly. A third question centers on the nature of properties perceived directly. Do we perceive the intrinsic properties of objects (such as size and shape) directly? If not, do we perceive intrinsic properties indirectly in virtue of perceiving mind-dependent appearance properties? Or do we perceive intrinsic properties indirectly, in virtue of perceiving mind-independent relational properties, such as situation-dependent properties?
Key works Versions of the first conception of direct perception are developed in Jackson 1977 and Foster 2000. A version of the second conception is explicated in Huemer 2001. Though interpretation is controversial, Reid 1813 is often listed as a historical proponent of direct realism. Modern proponents of the view include Brewer 2011 and Martin 2002. Indirect realism is often associated with Locke 1690. More recently the view has been advocated by Jackson 1977 and Robinson 1994.
Introductions Jackson 1977Huemer 2005BonJour 2004Schellenberg 2008.
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  1. Richard E. Aquila (1992). The Circle of Acquaintance: Perception, Consciousness, and Empathy, by David Woodruff Smith. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):994-997.
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  2. Margaret Atherton (2008). The Objects of Immediate Perception. In Stephen H. Daniel (ed.), New Interpretations of Berkeley's Thought. Humanity Books.
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  3. Ignacio Ávila (forthcoming). Perceiving the Intrinsic Properties of Objects. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17.
    In this paper, I discuss Noë’s enactive account of our perceptual encounter with the intrinsic properties of the surrounding objects. First, I argue that this view falls into a dilemma in which either we are left without a satisfactory explanation of this encounter or, in order to keep Noë’s view, we must abandon our ordinary intuitions about the ontological status of the intrinsic properties of objects. Then, I show that, strikingly, there is a suggestive unofficial strand running in Noë that (...)
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  4. Kali K. Banerjee (1955). Perception and Direct Awareness. Philosophical Quarterly (India) 28 (April):41-47.
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  5. Benjamin Bayer (2012). Internalism Empowered: How to Bolster a Theory of Justification with a Direct Realist Theory of Awareness. [REVIEW] Acta Analytica 27 (4):383-408.
    Abstract The debate in the philosophy of perception between direct realists and representationalists should influence the debate in epistemology between internalists and externalists about justification. If direct realists are correct, there are more consciously accessible justifiers for internalists to exploit than externalists think. Internalists can retain their distinctive internalist identity while accepting this widened conception of internalistic justification: even if they welcome the possibility of cognitive access to external facts, their position is still quite distinct from the typical externalist position. (...)
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  6. Aaron Ben-Zeev (1988). Can Non-Pure Perception Be Direct? Philosophical Quarterly 38 (July):315-325.
  7. Aaron Ben-Zeev (1986). Reid's Direct Approach to Perception. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 17 (1):99-114.
  8. Hagit Benbaji (2007). Is Thomas Reid a Direct Realist About Perception? European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):1-29.
    The controversy over the interpretative issue2014is Thomas Reid a perceptual direct realist?2014has recently had channelled into it a host of imaginative ideas about what direct perception truly means. Paradoxically enough, it is the apparent contradiction at the heart of his view of perception which keeps teasing us to review our concepts: time and again, Reid stresses that the very idea of any mental intermediaries implies scepticism, yet, nevertheless insists that sensations are signs of objects. But if sensory signs are not (...)
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  9. Max Black (1971/1963). Philosophical Analysis. Freeport, N.Y.,Books for Libraries Press.
    Introduction MAX BLACK Nothing of any value can be said on method except through examples; but now, at the end of our course, we may collect certain general ...
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  10. Laurence BonJour, Epistemological Problems of Perception. Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The historically most central epistemological issue concerning perception, to which this article will be almost entirely devoted, is whether and how beliefs about physical objects and about the physical world generally can be justified or warranted on the basis of sensory or perceptual experience—where it is internalist justification, roughly having a reason to think that the belief in question is true, that is mainly in question (see the entry justification, epistemic: internalist vs. externalist conceptions of). This issue, commonly referred to (...)
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  11. Laurence BonJour (2004). In Search of Direct Realism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):349-367.
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  12. Michael Braund (2007). The Indirect Perception of Distance: Interpretive Complexities in Berkeley's Theory of Vision. Kritike: An Online Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):49-64.
  13. C. D. Broad (1956). Sense Without Matter, or Direct Perception. A. A. Luce. (Nelson. Pp. Ix, 165.). Philosophy 31 (117):169-.
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  14. Derek Brown (2008). Indirect Perceptual Realism and Multiple Reference. Dialectica 62 (3):323-334.
    Indirect realists maintain that our perceptions of the external world are mediated by our 'perceptions' of subjective intermediaries such as sensations. Multiple reference occurs when a word or an instance of it has more than one reference. I argue that, because indirect realists hold that speakers typically and unknowingly directly perceive something subjective and indirectly perceive something objective, the phenomenon of multiple reference is an important resource for their view. In particular, a challenge that A. D. Smith has recently put (...)
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  15. Derek Henry Brown (2009). Indirect Perceptual Realism and Demonstratives. Philosophical Studies 145 (3):377 - 394.
    I defend indirect perceptual realism against two recent and related charges to it offered by A. D. Smith and P. Snowdon, both stemming from demonstrative reference involving indirect perception. The needed aspects of the theory of demonstratives are not terribly new, but their connection to these objections has not been discussed. The groundwork for my solution emerges from considering normal cases of indirect perception (e.g., seeing something depicted on a television) and examining the role this indirectness plays in demonstrative assertions. (...)
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  16. J. Todd Buras (2002). The Problem with Reid's Direct Realism. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):457 - 477.
    There is a problem about the compatibility of Reid's commitment to both a sign theory of sensations and also direct realism. I show that Reid is committed to three different senses of the claim that mind independent bodies and their qualities are among the immediate objects of perception, and I then argue that Reid's sign theory conflicts with one of these. I conclude by advocating one proposal for reconciling Reid's claims, deferring a thorough development and defence of the proposal to (...)
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  17. Todd Buras (2008). Three Grades of Immediate Perception: Thomas Reid's Distinctions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (3):603–632.
    1. Introduction. Like other direct realists, Thomas Reid offered an alternative to indirect realist and idealist accounts of perception. Reids alternative aimed to preserve the indirect realists commitment to realism about the objects of perception, and the idealists commitment to the immediacy of the minds relation to the objects of perception. Reid holds that what you perceive is mind independent or external; and your relation to such objects in perception is direct or immediate. In his own words, something which is (...)
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  18. Carmelo Calì (2006). A Phenomenological Framework for Neuroscience? Gestalt Theory 28 (1-2):109-122.
    This paper tries to sketch what phenomenological constraints for Neurosciences would be looking like. It maintains that such an adequate phenomenological description as that provided by Gestalt psychology is a condition for the Neurosciences to account for every-day experience opf the world. The explanatory gap in Cognitive sciences is discussed with reference to Jackendoff, Prinz, and Köhler.
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  19. L. S. Carrier (1972). Time-Gap Myopia. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (May):55-57.
    I answer objections to my article, "The Time-Gap Argument," made by C. Daniels in his "Seeing Through a Time Gap.".
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  20. L. S. Carrier (1969). Immediate and Mediate Perception. Journal of Philosophy 66 (July):391-403.
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  21. Leonard S. Carrier (1969). The Time-Gap Argument. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47 (December):263-272.
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  22. Tony Chemero (forthcoming). Information and Direct Perception: A New Approach. In Priscila Farias & Jo (eds.), Advanced Issues in Cognitive Science and Semiotics.
    Since the 1970s, Michael Turvey, Robert Shaw, and William Mace have worked on the formulation of a philosophically-sound and empirically-tractable version of James Gibson.
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  23. William Child (1994). Causality, Interpretation, and the Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers of mind have long been interested in the relation between two ideas: that causality plays an essential role in our understanding of the mental; and that we can gain an understanding of belief and desire by considering the ascription of attitudes to people on the basis of what they say and do. Many have thought that those ideas are incompatible. William Child argues that there is in fact no tension between them, and that we should accept both. He shows (...)
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  24. Roderick M. Chisholm (1950). The Theory of Appearing. In Max Black (ed.), Philosophical Analysis. Prentice Hall.
  25. Monte Cook (1974). Arnauld's Alleged Representationalism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 12 (1):53-62.
  26. Rebecca Copenhaver (2004). A Realism for Reid: Mediated but Direct. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (1):61 – 74.
    It is commonly said of modern philosophy that it introduced a representative theory of perception, a theory that places representative mental items between perceivers and ordinary physical objects. Such a theory, it has been thought, would be a form of indirect realism: we perceive objects only by means of apprehending mental entities that represent them. The moral of the story is that what began with Descartes’s revolution of basing objective truth on subjective certainty ends with Hume’s paroxysms of ambivalence and (...)
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  27. Rebecca Copenhaver (2000). Thomas Reid's Direct Realism. Reid Studies 4 (1):17-34.
    Thomas Reid thought of himself as a critic of the representative theory of perception, of what he called the ‘theory of ideas’ or ‘the ideal theory’.2 He had no kind words for that theory: “The theory of ideas, like the Trojan horse, had a specious appearance both of innocence and beauty; but if those philosophers had known that it carried in its belly death and destruction to all science and common sense, they would not have broken down their walls to (...)
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  28. James W. Cornman (1972). On Direct Perception. Review of Metaphysics 26 (September):38-56.
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  29. Alan Costall & Arthur Still (1989). Gibson's Theory of Direct Perception and the Problem of Cultural Relativism. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 19 (4):433–441.
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  30. Dan D. Crawford (1982). Are There Mental Inferences in Direct Perceptions? American Philosophical Quarterly 19 (January):83-92.
    While there is virtually a consensus among contemporary philosophers of perception that some form of direct realism is true, there is less than complete agreement about whether normal, direct perceptions involve mental inferences in any sense. In taking another look at this recurrent question, my aim is twofold: first, to examine some of the arguments and evidences that have been offered in favor of inferences and to see if they can be accommodated within the direct realist framework, and second, to (...)
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  31. Hanne De Jaegher (2009). Social Understanding Through Direct Perception? Yes, by Interacting. Consciousness & Cognition 18 (2):535-542.
    This paper comments on Gallagher’s recently published direct perception proposal about social cognition [Gallagher, S. (2008a). Direct perception in the intersubjective context. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(2), 535–543]. I show that direct perception is in danger of being appropriated by the very cognitivist accounts criticised by Gallagher (theory theory and simulation theory). Then I argue that the experiential directness of perception in social situations can be understood only in the context of the role of the interaction process in social cognition. I (...)
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  32. Georges Dicker (2006). Berkeley on Immediate Perception: Once More Unto the Breach. Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):517–535.
    I have previously argued that within an argument to show that we cannot perceive the causes of our sensations, Berkeley's Philonous conflates a psychological and an epistemic sense of 'immediately perceive', and uses the principle of perceptual immediacy (PPI), that whatever is perceived by the senses is immediately perceived. George Pappas has objected that Berkeley does not operate with either of these concepts of immediate perception, and does not subscribe to (PPI). But I show that Berkeley's argumentative strategy requires him (...)
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  33. John Dilworth (2005). The Perception of Representational Content. British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):388-411.
    How can it be true that one sees a lake when looking at a picture of a lake, since one's gaze is directed upon a flat dry surface covered in paint? An adequate contemporary explanation cannot avoid taking a theoretical stand on some fundamental cognitive science issues concerning the nature of perception, of pictorial content, and of perceptual reference to items that, strictly speaking, have no physical existence. A solution is proposed that invokes a broadly functionalist, naturalistic theory of perception, (...)
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  34. Jeffrey Dunn (2008). The Obscure Act of Perception. Philosophical Studies 139 (3):367-393.
    Finding disjunctivist versions of direct realism unexplanatory, Mark Johnston [(2004). Philosophical Studies, 120, 113–183] offers a non-disjunctive version of direct realism in its place and gives a defense of this view from the problem of hallucination. I will attempt to clarify the view that he presents and then argue that, once clarified, it either does not escape the problem of hallucination or does not look much like direct realism.
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  35. Priscila Farias & Jo (eds.) (forthcoming). Advanced Issues in Cognitive Science and Semiotics.
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  36. Anatol G. Feldman & Francis G. Lestienne (2001). With Either Separate or Integrated Arrays of Senses, Perception May Not Be Direct. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (2):220-221.
    The information required for perception may be available in the energy arrays that stimulate sensory organs but in a form not directly suitable for the planning and execution of the organism's actions in the environment. The requisite form of information is obtained, with no loss of adequate perception, by representation of sensory stimuli in frames of reference determined by internal control signals producing actions. This process seems evolutionarily advantageous but makes perception essentially non-direct, regardless of the degree of intra- or (...)
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  37. William Fish (2009). Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion. Oxford University Press.
    In the first monograph in this exciting area since then, William Fish develops a comprehensive disjunctive theory, incorporating detailed accounts of the three ...
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  38. William C. Fish (2004). The Direct/Indirect Distinction in Contemporary Philosophy of Perception. Essays in Philosophy 5 (1):1-13.
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  39. Jerry A. Fodor & Zenon W. Pylyshyn (1981). How Direct is Visual Perception? Some Reflections on Gibson's 'Ecological Approach'. Cognition 9 (2):139-96.
    Examines the theses that the postulation of mental processing is unnecessary to account for our perceptual relationship with the world, see turvey etal. for a criticque.
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  40. John A. Foster (2000). The Nature of Perception. New York: Oxford University Press.
    John Foster addresses the question: what is it to perceive a physical object? He rejects the view that we perceive such objects directly, and argues for a new version of the traditional empiricist account, which locates the immediate objects of perception in the mind. But this account seems to imply that we do not perceive physical objects at all. Foster offers a surprising solution, which involves embracing an idealist view of the physical world.
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  41. Craig French (forthcoming). Object Seeing and Spatial Perception. In Fiona MacPherson, Martine Nida-Rümelin & Fabian Dorsch (eds.), Phenomenal Presence.
    I consider the way in which spatial perception is necessary for object seeing. In section 1 I outline the operative conception of object seeing. I consider Cassam’s view that in order to see o, you must see it as spatially located (section 2). I argue that Cassam’s argument is unsound. Cassam’s argument relies on the claim that seeing o requires visual differentiation. But it is not the case that seeing o requires visual differentiation. This is because the following principle is (...)
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  42. S. Gallagher (2008). Direct Perception in the Intersubjective Context. Consciousness and Cognition 17 (2):535-543.
  43. James J. Gibson (1967). New Reasons for Realism. Synthese 17 (1):162 - 172.
    Both the psychology of perception and the philosophy of perception seem to show a new face when the process is considered at its own level, distinct from that of sensation. Unfamiliar conceptions in physics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and phenomenology are required to clarify the separation and make it plausible. But there have been so many dead ends in the effort to solve the theoretical problems of perception that radical proposals may now be acceptable. Scientists are often more conservative than philosophers (...)
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  44. David A. Givner (1982). Direct Perception, Misperception and Perceptual Systems: J. J. Gibson and the Problem of Illusion. Nature and System 4 (September):131-142.
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  45. Moltke S. Gram (1983). Direct Realism: A Study Of Perception. Boston: Nijhoff.
    a vigorous and challenging defence of direct realism in which one gets not only a clear overview of what precisely the problems are, but also a forceful and ...
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  46. Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.) (2008). Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
  47. Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (2008). Introduction: Varieties of Disjunctivism. In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    Inspired by the writings of J. M. Hinton (1967a, 1967b, 1973), but ushered into the mainstream by Paul Snowdon (1980–1, 1990–1), John McDowell (1982, 1986), and M. G. F. Martin (2002, 2004, 2006), disjunctivism is currently discussed, advocated, and opposed in the philosophy of perception, the theory of knowledge, the theory of practical reason, and the philosophy of action. But what is disjunctivism?
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  48. Robert Hanna (1993). Direct Reference, Direct Perception, and the Cognitive Theory of Demonstratives. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (2):96-117.
  49. Gary Hatfield (2010). Mandelbaum's Critical Realism. In Ian Verstegen (ed.), Maurice Mandelbaum and American Critical Realism. Routledge.
    Mandelbaum adopted a middle course between physicalistic scientific realism and phenomenalistic "ordinary language" direct realism. He affirmed the relevance of scientific knowledge for epistemology, but did not attempt to reduce the content of perception to physical properties. Rather, he developed a critical direct realism, according to which we see bodies by means of having phenomenal experience. This phenomenal experience was not, however, to be equated with the sense-data of the usual representative realism. Rather, it was a perception of material objects (...)
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  50. Heiko Hecht, Robert Schwartz & Margaret Atherton (eds.) (2003). Looking Into Pictures. The Mit Press.
    Interdisciplinary explorations of the implications of recent developments in vision theory for our understanding of the nature of pictorial representation and ...
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