Why Errors of the Senses Cannot Occur: Paul of Venice’s Direct Realism, in: Studi sull’Aristotelismo medievale (secoli VI-XVI) - 2021 | 1, pp. 345-373

Abstract

This paper focuses on Paul of Venice’s realist theory of direct knowledge. In the second half of the 13th century human knowledge was standardly viewed as a process of abstraction enabling the human intellect to grasp the essences of corporeal things, regardless of the matter in which they are embodied. This process was achieved thanks to the mediation of mental entities (species intelligibiles) representing the dematerialised objects in the intellect. By the late 13th and early 14th centuries, however, some authors began to regard this account as unsatisfactory. These authors held that assuming the existence of mediating species (considered themselves as objects of knowledge) amounts to thinking that between ourselves and the world there is a barrier preventing us from acquiring knowledge of reality in itself. Paul of Venice is aware of the sceptical accusations made against the theory of species in the 13th and 14th centuries. Nevertheless, he is a firm advocate of the existence of species. He claims that knowledge, despite coming about through species, is not indirect. Quite the contrary: we have immediate access to reality, and the individual objects that constitute it, precisely because our senses (which are purely passive) receive impressions direct from outside, thanks to species. He points out that species are not object of knowledge. They are not known at all during the cognitive process, as they are a mere means (a mechanical means, so to say), not an image nor a representation of anything, and therefore they are no obstacle between ourselves and the world. Thus, we are able to know reality exactly as it is in itself and, under ordinary conditions, our perceptions are practically infallible and cannot produce false knowledge.

Download options

PhilArchive

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-03-29

Downloads
15 (#704,106)

6 months
9 (#81,357)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

In Search of Direct Realism.Laurence Bonjour - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):349-367.
The Evidence Of The Senses: A Realist Theory Of Perception.David Kelley - 1986 - Baton Rouge: Louisiana St University Press.
Perception and Objective Being: Peter Auriol on Perceptual Acts and Their Objects.Lukáš Lička - 2016 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 90 (1):49-76.
Skepticism and the Veil of Perception.Michael Huemer (ed.) - 2001 - Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Brewer, Direct Realism, and Acquaintance with Acquaintance. [REVIEW]Richard Fumerton - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):417-422.
Veridical Hallucination.Tzu-Ying Lu - 2002 - Philosophy and Culture 29 (11):1040-1050.
Williams James' Direct Realism: A Reconstruction.Erik C. Banks - 2013 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (3):271-291.
Sellars' Critical Direct Realism.Steven M. Levine - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (1):53 – 76.
Locke's Externalism About 'Sensitive Knowledge'.Aaron Bruce Wilson - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):425-445.