Are manifest qualities response-dependent?

The Monist 81 (1):3--43 (1998)

Mark Johnston
Princeton University
The world-view to which the long arc of modern philosophy since Descartes bends is Materialism With A Bad Conscience, a Materialism continually bedeviled by the need to deal with apparently irreducible mental items. I believe this world-view to be the offspring of an introjective error; in effect, the mentalization of sensible form, finality and value. Hence the characteristic modernist accusation is that when we take sensible form, finality and value to be genuine features of the manifest we are thereby "projecting" aspects of our mental life onto an environment devoid of these features. David Hume went furthest in this Projectivist direction arguing that indeed even the very notion of an efficient cause was a projection of our habitual expectations that the regularly observed consequences of certain classes of events would continue. So far from these expectations constituting a practical knowledge of efficient causes, acquired over immense periods of time in the life of our species as it adapted to and with its complex causal environment, those expectations are merely appearances which we mistake for a mind-independent relation among the things themselves. Thus the manifest is traded in for the "manifest image of the world," an image interposed between a subject and deracinated environment.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist199881110
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