‘What it Isn’t Like’1 (January, 1996), 23-45

American Philosophical Quarterly 33 (1):23-42 (1996)

From an Indirect Realist point of view, the Knowledge Argument in the philosophy of perception has been misdirected by its very title. If it can be argued that sense-fields are at their basis no more than evidence, indeed, a part of existence as brute as what is usually termed the 'external', then, if 'knowing' is not essential to sensing, that argument has to be radically reconstructed. Resistance to there being an non-epistemic or 'raw feel' basis for sensing is very fashionable at the moment (e.g. in Davidson, McDowell, Harman), but the present article aims at breaking through it. Scientific facts are adduced to show that sensing can exist without perceiving. It is argued that the part played by motivation in the gathering of knowledge in a feedback system, enhanced by intersubjective linguistic correction in the human case, allows for a ready evolutionary adaptation. One can advance from this to a fresh view of knowledge and rationality which see them at base as part of a folk-psychological method of allowing for continuing disambiguation of what are identified within that method as 'entities' and 'properties'.
Keywords The Knowledge Argument  Philosophy of Perception  The Non-Epistemic  Frank Jackson
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