Review of Metaphysics 26 (1):38-56 (1972)

Defining "directly perceive" is made hard enough by the confused and vague ways in which philosophers have used the term, but it is made even more difficult by the fact that it is used quite differently by different philosophers. Two philosophers whose philosophy depends upon a clear understanding of direct perception are Berkeley and Russell. Consider what they say that is relevant to an understanding of their uses of the term. Berkeley, through Philonous, asks Hylas, "Are those things only perceived by the senses which are perceived immediately? Or may those things properly be said to be ’sensible’ which are perceived mediately, or not without the intervention of others?" Russell, in speaking of knowledge by acquaintance, says that "we have acquaintance with anything of which we are directly aware, without the intermediary of any process of inference or any knowledge of truths. Thus in the presence of my table I am acquainted with the sense-data that make up the appearance of my table." Another quite common interpretation is given by Norman Malcolm, who states the definition "A directly perceives x if and only if A’s assertion that he perceives x could not be mistaken."
Keywords Epistemology  Perceiving  Phenomenalism  Realism  Sensation  Berkeley
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DOI revmetaph1972261136
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