The Problem of Perception

The Problem of Perception

3.88 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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In a major contribution to the theory of perception, A. D. Smith presents a truly original defense of direct realism--the view that in perception we are directly aware of things in the physical world.

The Problem of Perception offers two arguments against direct realism--one concerning illusion, and one concerning hallucination--that no current theory of perception can adequately rebut. Smith then develops a theory of perception that does succeed in answering these arguments; and because these arguments are the only two that present direct realism with serious problems arising from the nature of perception, direct realism emerges here for the first time as an ultimately tenable position within the philosophy of perception.

At the heart of Smith's theory is a new way of drawing the distinction between perception and sensation, along with an unusual treatment of the nature of objects of hallucination. With in-depth reference to both the analytical and the phenomenological literature on perception, and with telling criticism of alternative views, Smith's groundbreaking work will be of value to philosophers of perception in both the analytical and the phenomenological tradition, as well as to psychologists of perception.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 28.45mm | 644g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 1 line drawing
  • 0674008413
  • 9780674008410
  • 1,983,233

Table of contents

Preface Introduction I. The Argument from Illusion 1. The Argument 2. Three Theories of Perception 3. Perception and Conception 4. Taking Stock 5. The Nature of Perceptual Consciousness 6. The Solution II. The Argument from Hallucination 7. The Argument 8. An Extreme Proposal 9. The Solution Notes Index
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Review quote

Direct realism claims that there is a purely physical stratum of the world and that we can be directly aware of objects that possess such a stratum. Smith wants to show not that direct realism is true or even possibly true but that it is compatible with the philosophy of perception. More specifically, he contends that the two most serious challenges to direct realism from the philosophy of perception--the argument from illusion and the argument from hallucination--do not refute it. Against these, he argues, respectively, that perceptual constancy is compatible with sensory fluctuation and that an intentional object is not really a thing at all and should be distinguished from the (putative) thing it is taken to be. The book is painstakingly argued and deserves the careful reading it requires. -- Robert Hoffman * Library Journal * Smith's The Problem of Perception is an indirect defense of direct realism (also known as naive realism). Direct realism is the view that (1) we perceive mind-independent, external physical objects, and (2) typically, we do not perceive them by perceiving any other objects, including mental objects...One of the interesting and unusual features of Smith's position is that he regards both direct realism and idealism as more plausible than representational or indirect realism. Another is that he is well acquainted with both the analytic and Continental philosophical literature on his topics. -- J. Hoffman * Choice * In this book A. D. Smith offers an original defence of Direct Realism against the challenges offered by the Argument from Illusion and the Argument from Hallucination. To this end the book is divided into two parts; the first part dealing with the former argument, the second part dealing with the latter. Throughout the course of the book Smith discusses a wide range of competing accounts of perception and potential responses to his own views, which are represented fairly and discussed with sensitivity...The Problem of Perception is an excellent contribution to the literature on perception. It represents a compellingly written account of the issues involved in defending Direct Realism from these arguments; an account that is clear enough to be informative to those not already familiar with these issues. -- Phillip Meadows * Philosophical Writings * There are at least two vital respects in which this book's excellence is beyond dispute. The first is the range of scholarship that is brought to bear. Smith's grasp on and use of philosophical material from all relevant times and traditions, and of a wide range of psychology, is both impressive and enlightening. The second is the fairness and thoroughness with which he sets up the arguments he is attempting to answer. None of the usual facile answers to either 'illusion' or 'hallucination' are accepted, and in rejecting the common replies, the arguments themselves are developed in their strongest forms. In the course of doing this several fashionable theories are shown to be false. -- Howard Robinson * Mind *
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About A. D. Smith

A. D. Smith was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick.
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