What Is the Indirect Realist Theory of Perception? Is It a Defensible Position?

Topics: Perception, Philosophy of perception, Sense Pages: 3 (1204 words) Published: January 7, 2008
This essay is to do with a part of the theory of knowledge, specifically about the theory of indirect realism, which deals with how we perceive the world. First, it is important to set out what the indirect realist theory of perception actually is. Secondly the essay will attempt to assess whether this is a defensible position to take. To do this I will be looking through some arguments for the theory from some notable philosophers. I will also examine some counter arguments to this claim including the ‘homunculus' problem and the problem of psychophysical causation. I then hope to come to a conclusion as to whether indirect realism is a sound theory. So, what is the indirect realist theory? Indirect realism, also known as representative realism is the philosophical theory that what we see are real objects but we perceive these objects via the medium of what you perceive in the 1st instance, namely the images that represent them to you . So, we see the world indirectly by way of seeing sense-data directly. For instance, when we see a car we are not seeing the actual object but just a representation of that object. Indirect realists believe that there is no way of having first hand knowledge of the real world because everything we perceive is done so via a perceptual intermediary. There is a three part journey in the theory of indirect realism which is; the perceiver, who perceives the perception, which represents the object itself. This of course differs from naïve realism which only has a two part journey; the perceiver perceives the object. Perhaps the most common argument supporting the indirect realists view is the argument from illusion. This arguments main point is that what we perceive in the 1st instance when we see an illusion is not the real object that is causing your experience. It is just an image of that object, so, to use a well know example, a stick put into a glass looks bent in the first instance. However, we know that this is an illusion, it...
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