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Fellow seminar: How to read the ‘Direct’ in Direct Realism?

4 April @ 16:30 - 18:30

Madelaine Angelova-Elchinova (MON Fellow, Oct ‘23 – Jul ‘24) will give her second talk on:

How to read the ‘Direct’ in Direct Realism?

on 04 April 2024 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.

Abstract: Realist accounts of perception presuppose a crucial distinction between veridical perception, illusion and hallucination. In what follows, I focus on the faculty of vision. It is presumed that there is an important difference between seeing an object as it is (veridically perceiving it) and seeming to see an object where there is none (hallucination). Arguments from indistinguishable hallucination provide reason to think that there is no way to tell when we are in the good case and when in the bad case, because the two cases are phenomenally indistinguishable. A corner stone of my project is to show that Thomas Reid`s direct realism can be used to show that the distinction between seeing and seeming is a false one. My argument proceeds in three different steps:

1. I provide a brief reconstruction of the main points made by Reid in his theory of perception and examine them together with Rebecca Copenhaver`s interpretation.
2. Building on Copenhaver`s reading, I provide a novel supplementary argument for why we should give up on traditional readings of direct realism and examine Reid`s theory in a different way. An analysis is proposed dwelling on the classical distinction between direct and indirect realism, as well as on the one between mediate and immediate perception. My argument attempts to show that perception is – in an important sense – immediate. It is between us and objects, but it is also in a much more important sense mediate and because of that – direct – beyond perceiving there is no way the object looks, perception is a relation and the object of perception is nothing more than what this relation provides.
3. I raise and argue for my central claim that seeing and seeming are not to be distinguished, because we should examine perception as interaction. It is important to underline that my view does not propose any defense for phenomenalism. On the contrary, instead of showing that every seeing can be reduced to a seeming, I intend to show that every seeming can be reduced to a seeing. For a fixed set of physical parameters of a given system, what is perceived is entirely determined by external conditions.

Moderated by Kalle Puolakka.


4 April
16:30 - 18:30


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
7B Stefan Karadzha St, entr. 3
Sofia,‎ ‎1000‎ ‎Bulgaria