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Representative Realism Theory

Discuss about the Theories of Perception for Representative Realism.

The definition of perception rotates around the manner in which sensory information is first organized, interpreted and finally identified in an effort to get an understanding which actually would make a representation of the real environment. During perception, the signals are produced by the nervous system which is stimulated by sensory organs whereby they are in contact with chemical or physical stimulants. The theories that seek to explain the aspect of perception are many including phenomenalism, idealism, representative realism and naïve realism. This article therefore, aims at exploring the idealism and representative realism theories in details.

This theory makes a suggestion that actually perception is not a passive process, indicating that it gives an opposition to the suggestion of the realistic naïve theory. This theory was formulated by three theorists; John Locke, David Hume and Bertrand Russell. It goes ahead to suggest that people do not actually gets information regarding the environment or the global by use of their senses but rather perception plays a big role in this. According to this theory, people do not just perceive objects directly but it’s the objects that make the people to get some certain manner of experiences as well as feelings related to information perceived (Gibson, 2014). Therefore when people. Therefore these definite experiences and sensing of information lead to the development of direct access to what goes around the environment we live in and the world at large. The theory of representative realism therefore creates a clear difference between the objects themselves and our experiences. It holds that two different types of property exist that is the secondary as well as the primary features. Primary features refer to the distinct characteristics that the object contains independent of the observer. For instance, an object can be either square or heavy irrespective of how the observe perceives it to be. Weight and shape are therefore primary qualities of an object. Secondary qualities are those properties the object has because it has been perceived so. Color for example is a secondary quality projected by the perceivers into the world (Thorpe, 2015). Take a case of an apple, it’s not really red in color but because an individual projects redness into it in the process of perceiving, then the apple appears red in color. In most instances, the secondary qualities are normally applied in making of a representation of the primary qualities. For instance, the way the apple appears as being red in color is because it makes a reflection of some specific wavelength of light. The wavelength it reflects is normally regarded as a primary quality irrespective of whether someone is actually looking at it or not. Other secondary qualities are; taste, sound, smell and temperature. Qualities are the power that physical objects have to produce an idea into our mind. Primary qualities are the object’s inseparable qualities despite its changes whereas secondary qualities are those qualities that physical objects have and have powers to produce different sensations within us (Allais, 2007).

Idealism Theory

Idealists believe that people normally have a direct way in which they get a form of straightforward access to the experiences of the world but not the actual world. In fact, there is no direct access to external world which is usually agreed upon. There therefore question if there something beyond our experiences. The idealist refuses to postulate existence of anything that is beyond their experiences. They believe that our experiences do not represent any object but they constitute them and there is nothing beyond them.  Idealism theory denies the existence of the mind-independent objects (Bird, 2016). They believe objects are just the experiences we have about them. To idealists, to be is as a result of to be perceived. So, objects exist only as they are perceived. For instance, if someone closes their eyes, then the objects do not exist anymore according to idealism, unless there is someone else who perceives the same object. But if later I reopen my eyes and perceive the object then, it will come to existence. This theory however, has some difficulties in explaining the consistency of our experiences in the world (Van Cleve, 2004). To overcome this, the most famous idealist, Berkeley, explained that God is the reason why when you close and reopen your eyes you are able to perceive the same objects as before. To him, God is constantly perceiving everything and that the reason why the existence of the object does not pass out. According to Berkeley’s idealism, God plays a central role in ensuring our experiences are consistent. Therefore, despite the fact that there may be no mind-independent objects leading to our experiences, God enables our experiences to be mutually consistent. Berkeley used this theory to show how skeptical arguments can be applied to the existence of the physical matter. However, Berkeley himself was not a skeptical thinker as many may propose. Idealism is the epistemological and metaphysical doctrine that proposes that thoughts or ideas are ones that make up the fundamental reality. It argues that consciousness is the only knowable thing that can be sure to tell whether matter or an object exists in the outside world. It therefore, holds that it’s only the mental entities that are real and not physical things which usually exist in terms of how they are perceived (Ewing, 2013). Idealism covers a variety of philosophical positions with different implications and tendencies. Subjective idealism for example holds that it’s only the mind and ideas that are known to exist and contain the reality and the knowhow of any object outside the mind is therefore not justified. So, objects exist due to the way people perceive them guided by thoughts residing in our consciousness, and by the virtue of Divine Being-God. If for instance, someone sees a chair, then that chair exists and if no one saw the chair, then it could exist only if it was in God’s mind. Absolute idealism, transcendent idealism and objective idealism are other forms of idealism theory that has been proposed (Bhaskar, 2013).

Contrast

Representative Theory of perception also known as representationalism or representative realism or Indirect Realism is based on the argument that the world we see in our conscious experiences is not the real world but rather a virtual reality copied from the internal representation of the actual world. A barrier between the existing world and the mind prevents first-hand knowledge about the object. Idealism however, asserts that it’s only the minds and objects of the mind that exists and that the mental realities such as feelings, perceptions, will, ideas and thoughts are things that characterize all objects (Pritchard, 2013).

Idealism is anti-realistic while indirect realism is realistic. For Idealism there is no material external world, the mind of God like proposed by the indirect realism to cause perceptions. In addition, Idealism is usually a direct theory of perception whereas indirect realism is an indirect theory of perception. For instance, idealism perceives trees although trees are sense of data but indirect realism does not directly perceive trees but they are fully aware of their existence indirect through direct representation (Searle, 2015).

Unlike Idealism, indirect realism believes that ideas we have about an object are derived from sense information and images of a material, real and external world. It insists that the direct object of perception is sense information which characterizes the external world. Representationalists believe that it’s not possible to have experience outside the sensory surface. That dreams, visual illusions and hallucinations indicate clearly that the world of experience and the world itself are totally two different things (Smith, 2004).

Representative Realism consists of epistemological fact and phenomenal perspective and both believe in the distinction between the real world itself and the experience of the world. Indirect realism does create a deep epistemological problem like solipsism and also the problem of the external world. Idealism on the other hand, is a class of positions in epistemology and ontology (Turvey, 2016). As an epistemology it argues that everything that we do experience is as a result of mental nature. That we can have only immediate and direct and knowledge of contents of our minds and we cannot experience or know directly, the external object itself. So, indirect realism says that we can perceive the world indirectly but Idealism says that no one can perceive the object’s physical world since such world does not exist at all (Pitcher, 2015).

Both are theories of perception that tries to interpret the information that we sense and perceive. They both explain how the process of perception occurs by trying to explain that apart from the abilities of a man to hear and see, the body also develops its own forms of perception and sensation (Martens, 1999). They also help one to develop a critical and competent behavior in connection to processes of perception in the external world and in everyday life.

Indirect realism is superior to idealism

Indirect realism is superior to idealism in my view since it explains our experience of the world better than idealism (Laird, 2014). It is also compatible with science and there are no problems with perception, hallucination, illusion time lag and perceptual relativity. It holds that the world exists independently of the perceivers and it’s perceived through the sense-data. The sense-data are caused by the objects with tryadics such as ideas, minds and external environments. Despite the fact that sense-data is a bit difficult to understand, and are non-physical with physical properties and also it leads to infinite regress and skepticism, it’s the best theory that explains the process of perception clearly (Lean, 2013) 

Reference List

Allais, L., 2007. Kant's idealism and the secondary quality analogy. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 45(3), pp.459-484. 

Bhaskar, R., 2013. A realist theory of science. Routledge. 

Bird, G., 2016. Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of one Central Argument in the'Critique of Pure Reason'. Routledge. 

Ewing, A.C., 2013. Idealism: A critical survey. Routledge. 

Gibson, J.J., 2014. The ecological approach to visual perception: classic edition. Psychology Press.

 Laird, J., 2014. A study in realism. Cambridge University Press. 

Lean, M., 2013. Sense-perception and matter: a critical analysis of CD Broad's theory of perception. Routledge. 

Martens, M., 1999. A philosophy for sensory science. Food quality and preference, 10(4), pp.233-244. 

Pitcher, G., 2015. Theory of Perception. Princeton University Press. 

Pritchard, D., 2013. What is this thing called knowledge?. Routledge. 

Searle, J.R., 2015. Seeing things as they are: A theory of perception. Oxford University Press. 

Smith, A.D., 2004. The problem of perception. MotilalBanarsidassPublishe. 

Thorpe, L., 2015. Reid on the Role of Sensations in Perception, with a Focus on Colour Perception. Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value. 

Turvey, M.T., 2016. Carol A. Fowler: Direct Realist. Ecological Psychology, 28(3), pp.138-155. 

Van Cleve, J., 2004. 4 Reid's Theory of Perception. The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Reid, p.101.

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