The Quest for Reality, contains, amongst much else, a sustained and deeply illuminating investigation of the thesis Barry Stroud labels ’subjectivism’ about colours. The grounds he relentlessly amasses for rejecting the thesis are, in my view, compelling. There is a sense, indeed, in which I think they are more compelling than he says he himself finds them. For as I understand his arguments, they contain the materials for delivering a positive answer to the question: are objects really coloured? As Stroud (...) himself presents the outcome of his investigation, they do not. Actually, to put it in this ’headline-grabbing’ way is misleading. The real issue turns on the main concern of his book-- his immensely thought-provoking investigation of the questions: what counts as a metaphysical account of reality? And, in the test case of colours, can the task of addressing the question of whether they are or are not part of reality be successfully undertaken? The suggestion I will be making is that his rejection of subjectivism contains the materials for asking about the metaphysical reality of colour in a way that is distinct from the way he shows cannot work; and that on this distinct way, the answer to the question of whether objects are really coloured is: yes. So, he might either reject the very idea that this alternative way of framing the question about colours does count as an example of a metaphysical quest for their reality; or he might agree that it is one, but disagree with the positive answer I sketch on his behalf, so to speak. (shrink)
‘Like the shadow of one’s own head, [the referent of one’s ‘I’ thoughts] will not wait to be jumped on. And yet it is never very far ahead; indeed, sometimes it does not seem to be ahead of the pursuer at all. It evades capture by lodging itself in the very inside of the muscles of the pursuer. It is too near even to be within arm’s reach.’(C of M 177-89).
To be a 'commonsense realist' is to hold that perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of what such objects are like. Over the past few centuries this view has faced formidable challenges from epistemology, metaphysics, and, more recently, cognitive science. However, in recent years there has been renewed interest in it, due to new work on perceptual consciousness, objectivity, and causal understanding. This volume collects nineteen original essays by leading (...) philosophers and psychologists on these topics. Questions addressed include: What are the commitments of commonsense realism? Does it entail any particular view of the nature of perceptual experience, or any particular view of the epistemology of perceptual knowledge? Should we think of commonsense realism as a view held by some philosophers, or is there a sense in which we are pre-theoretically committed to commonsense realism in virtue of the experience we enjoy or the concepts we use or the explanations we give? Is commonsense realism defensible, and if so how, in the face of the formidable criticism it faces? Specific issues addressed in the philosophical essays include the status of causal requirements on perception, the causal role of perceptual experience, and the relation between objective perception and causal thinking. The scientific essays present a range of perspectives on the development, phylogenetic and ontogenetic, of the human adult conception of perception. (shrink)
Perceptual experience, that paradigm of subjectivity, constitutes our most immediate and fundamental access to the objective world. At least, this would seem to be so if commonsense realism is correct — if perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of what such objects are like. Commonsense realism raises many questions. First, can we be more precise about its commitments? Does it entail any particular conception of the nature of perceptual experience (...) and its relation to perceived objects, or any particular view of the way perception yields knowledge? Second, what explains the apparent intuitive appeal of commonsense realism? Should we think of it as a kind of folk theory held by most human adults or is there a sense in which we are pre-theoretically committed to it — in virtue of the experience we enjoy or in virtue of the concepts we use or in virtue of the explanations we give? Third, is commonsense realism defensible, in the face of formidable challenges from epistemology, metaphysics and cognitive science? The project of the present volume is to advance our understanding of these issues and thus to shed light on the commitments and credentials of commonsense realism. As you may have guessed from the title, the volume also aims to highlight the key role the concept of causation plays in these debates. Central issues to be addressed include the status and nature of causal requirements on perception, the causal role of perceptual experience, and the relation between objective perception and causal thinking — issues that, as many chapters in the volume bring out, are inseparable from concerns with the very nature of causation. (shrink)
The strong sensorimotor account of perception gives self-induced movements two constitutive roles in explaining visual consciousness. The first says that self-induced movements are vehicles of visual awareness, and for this reason consciousness ‘does not happen in the brain only’. The second says that the phenomenal nature of visual experiences is consists in the action-directing content of vision. In response I suggest, first, that the sense in which visual awareness is active should be explained by appeal to the role of attention (...) in visual consciousness, rather than self-induced movements; and second, that the sense in which perceptual consciousness does not happen in the brain only should be explained by appeal to the relational nature of perceptual consciousness, appeal to which also shows why links with action cannot exhaust phenomenal content. (shrink)
This chapter argues that a central division among accounts of joint attention, both in philosophy and developmental psychology, turns on how they address two questions: What, if any, is the connection between the capacity to engage in joint attention triangles and the capacity to grasp the idea of objective truth? How do we explain the kind of openness or sharing of minds that occurs in joint attention? The chapter explores the connections between answers to both questions, and argues that theories (...) can be divided into two distinct types according to how these connections are developed. (shrink)
Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the one’s attention (...) cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
In recent years there has been much psychological and neurological work purporting to show that consciousness and self-awareness play no role in causing actions, and indeed to demonstrate that free will is an illusion. The essays in this volume subject the assumptions that motivate such claims to sustained interdisciplinary scrutiny. The book will be compulsory reading for psychologists and philosophers working on action explanation, and for anyone interested in the relation between the brain sciences and consciousness.
Spatial Representation presents original, specially written essays by leading psychologists and philosophers on a fascinating set of topics at the intersection of these two disciplines. They address such questions as these: Do the extraordinary navigational abilities of birds mean that these birds have the same kind of grip on the idea of a spatial world as we do? Is there a difference between the way sighted and blind subjects represent the world 'out there'? Does the study of brain-injured subjects, such (...) as 'blind seers', tell us anything about the working of normal spatial consciousness? -/- The essays are arranged into five sections, each of which reflects a central area of research into spatial cognition, and opens with a short introduction by the editors, designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary reading. The volume as a whole offers a rich and compelling expression of the view that to advance our understanding of the way we represent the external world it is necessary to draw on both philosophical and psychological approaches. (shrink)