Realism And Representive Realism Philosophy Essay

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Realism and Representive realism. I will argue that J.L Austin's arguments on how we perceive the world is not convincing enough to be used as a theory of perception. I will demonstrate that there are flaws in his arguments, I will also shortly discuss about direct realism and representive realism in order to support my ideas and find a way to break both theories with several arguments and help of different known philosophers counter arguments.

Realism claims that we perceive directly the material world, in other words what we perceive exists externally in our minds. Our perception and the reality consist of a physical world and mentally world where the physical world is things that exist such as a banana and the mental world is what we create in our mind. This kind of realism is called direct realism which simply states that psychical world equals the mental world meaning that what we see causes us to perceive it directly; these things are exactly how we perceive them and that the material world exists.

This view was held by the philosopher John Langshaw Austin, he would argue that "The objects are composed of matter; they occupy space and have properties such as size, shape, texture, taste, color. These objects also observe the laws of psychic and retain their properties even if not "seen" [1] . This means that a Tree is a tree; a pen is a pen and so on. Naive realism claims that everything we see, at whatever angle, size, shape is exactly how the object is in the physical world, but then how can we explain that how we know the real colors of the object, or how we know that this object looks like this in the physical world? A direct realist would argue that "color is in the object itself - Not the perceiver." This is called perspectival variation, In other words it is the objects qualities. One example would be if you sit in a car and look on the road, you can see that the road gets closer as the car is moving at the same time, meaning that a perceiver will see things in a different way as the perspective changes, so according to a naïve realist the road has changed.

Another example would be the philosopher Bertrand Russels; Table; which states that depending on what angle of the table a perceiver is looking at it changes but is still a table. Another philosopher named Barkley which is famous of his quote "to be is to be perceived" which in other means you exist if you are sensed. Therefore if I see this apple, then it have to exist and therefore it is how I perceive it therefore it is like I perceive it. However most of Barkley's reasoning was relying on religious believes in other words he was a Theist, here is one example: "and if no mortal being is about to perceive it, then god will. Therefore everything exists." This in philosophy is hard to argue for, therefore making it into a weak argument in today's philosophical debates.

Direct realism has been criticized hardly and tries to defend itself against its criticism; since there are some flaws in this theory. If the pictures that our mind creates are exactly like the pictures in the physical world, then how can we explain illusions or hallucinations? If someone is hallucinating that he is flying it does not mean that he is flying. Same goes to why we get fooled by optical illusions? The fact that optical illusions are not what they seem to be proves that there is difference between what I perceive and what exist. Also direct realism says it is like it appears, then is a photo true in real life? This theory cannot differentiate between illusion and truth.

In contrast an idea created by Aristotle, representive realism which removed further doubts and became a better theory to support. This theory was stating instead of perceiving an object directly in the physical world, the brain will perceive signals called sense data from the object to build its own representation. "Sense data are supposed representation of 'real' objects in the world outside the mind, about whose existence and properties we often can be mistaken." [2] This argument could be used in for instance that the distance between earth and objects are light years away which means that if we look up on the sky and see stars, they could be a representation of how they were 2000 years ago which combines the features of direct realism; that we perceive it but not as it was but only in the past. However if we do not perceive the physical world directly then how do we know if the star was like this 2000 years ago?

What I think is that these arguments shows flaws in both of these theories but especially direct realism, one main argument is that they cannot differentiate from what is truth and illusion which says a lot, in other words; How do I know that photo magazines on attractive girls with fit body is true? The editor might have edited the pictures with Photoshop which creates an illusion of a fit body with extraordinary shaped body parts? How do I even know that this girl exists? J.L Austin would argue that the attractive girl looks different because she simply looks different on that magazine, one example he could relate to is "the barn and the church [3] "; which is that a church is decorated and painted like a barn, but I wouldn't see a barn or an illusion of an barn, it is just a church decorated like a barn.

Another flaw is that we might also argue that if sense data is created by our brain (mental) and is non physical, then it does not make any sense. Since it has the property of perceiving everything physical making it into a non-physical and a physical "thing." For example; I think of a physical thing such as a rock, the thought is not rock shaped; therefore sense data is not in the brain since it perceive what we see in the physical world as an actual shape. Therefore both theories shows that they fail to explain for instance hallucination, since hallucinations is what appears in the mind and then we cannot apply sense data since it would say it is what it appears to be and then it is flawed and circular (brings us back to direct realism). Finally, how do we perceive the world if it is constantly changing? The world did not look like today 3000 years ago, many things have changed.

In conclusion, direct realism in its core is an idea that claims that there are two parts in the role of perceiving directly the external world; the perceiver and the perceived. Austin supports direct realism, most philosophers were skeptical about it, they did not agree on how humans perceive the external world. Austin believed that we perceive things as they are, since we know how physical objects are like therefore we know things as they are. However his arguments are flawed and circular, just like many other philosophers think.


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