Essay about Do We Perceive the World via Sense Data?

Essay about Do We Perceive the World via Sense Data?

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Sense data are the empirical mind-dependent ingredients of perception. They are the colours, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures out of which all experience is built. The idea of sense data is the cornerstone of the theory of Representative Realism, which states that immediate objects of awareness are not physical objects, but are sense data. Sense data are the subjective mind-dependent intermediaries that give us all of our knowledge of the external world through a veil of perception, representing the real world. The theory of Representative Realism is similar to Direct Realism, in that there is an objective mind independent physical world; however, we only ever perceive it vie a subjective mind-dependent intermediary (called sense data).
The idea of Sense Data is designed to circumvent many of the problems in Common Sense Realism. Sense Data successfully explains what illusions are, by placing the illusion in a personal veil of perception. For example, take a stick and submerge it half in water, so that it appears to be bent. This can be construed as a criticism of Direct Realism, because as we see the stick to be bent, but at the same time feel it not to be, we can assume one of our senses is misled, and so we do not perceive it directly. However, in Representative Realism, sense data explain this anomaly by placing the inconsistency in the subjective intermediary of Sense Data. The stick stays straight in the real world, but since all we can ever see is our Sense Data, and our Sense Data is subject to illusion or error, we perceive (wrongly) that the stick is bent.
Hallucinations are another criticism of Naïve Realism, because if we assume hallucinations to exist then they cause a major problem for this theory. Since everyt...


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...finition is non-physical, so it contradicts itself. However, hallucinations and dreams can appear to us, in much the same way, have shape and form, and yet remain non-physical too, and yet they exist. This means that it is possible for sense data to exist, even though the idea contradicts itself, but it does not mean that sense data does exist for certain.
The claim that we perceive the world via sense data is a possibility. However, even though Sense Data explains why illusions, perceptual variation, hallucination, time lag occur, it is not necessary to explain these problems. A sophisticated Direct Realist can explain most of these problems just as easily. As both theories have problems, they can be favoured equal to one another; except Direct Realism is the most systematic, economic, practical, and simplest theory, and thus provides the best working hypothesis.

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