Tag Archives: sensation

A.J. Ayer and the Act Object Analysis of Sensation

3 Nov

Here I am referring back to Ayer’s Phenomenalism, yet just another aspect in his entire argument that I have explained before. In case you did not know, I started another website http://herodotean.wordpress.com where I talk about history, politics, and current news.

Ayer begins Phenomenalism with a discussion about Bertrand Russell’s definition of sense data where he describes them as “objects of acquaintance.” He finds confusion and need for further explanation with Russell’s sense data because this implies that he is describing sense data as objects of knowledge. For something to be an object of knowledge, Ayer says,  it is something that we know to be or not be the case. Ayer states that knowing things is something meaningless to say, and therefore there are no objects of knowledge.

This all leads to Ayer’s conclusion that it  “is meaningless to speak of knowing objects.” He continues further: ” Failure to realize this has contributed , I think, to a famous piece of philosophical mythology, the act-object analysis of sensation. For once it is assumed that having a sensation involves knowing an object, then it may seem reasonable to apply to this case the principle that what is known must be independent  of the knowing of it…..”

This at first implies that its meaningless to talk about knowing objects, because knowing objects involves saying that it is or isn’t the case in certain situations, or it means knowing it in other ways, making it entirely meaningless. Ayer talks about knowing being a transitive verb carrying many meanings that are variously used by philosophers and people that do not philosophize creating many confusions. All of this together makes it meaningless to talk about knowing things. This leads further to say that we often assume that knowing an object always involves  having a sensation. Finally, the act object analysis of sensation says that what is known, call it A, can be thought that because of all of the above, is independent of the action of knowing it.  Because of all this A is thought to be independent from the action of knowing it.

Because we cannot really talk about knowing objects, we are lead to this act object analysis of sensation where the act of sensing an object is separate from the actual object.  I like to think of this as if the act of sensing an object was  a part of, or dependent on, the object. If this is the case in any sensation, the object cannot have any postulates made upon it as to whether or not it is a real object that can be known.

If the act and the object are together and dependent on each other, we cannot speak of knowing an object, because most likely the object is not real anyway. Ayer seems to think that this is the best way to go about thinking about things. If this were the other way, where the act and object are separate and independent, this would imply that an object may be out there to be known, and the act would be used for just that purpose.

Ayer states that the act and object cannot be independent or separate because this would lead to objects being able to be known. To Ayer, however, objects cannot be discussed as to how they can be known.

First, I do not know how meaningless it is to discuss knowing objects. Because of how transitive of a verb knowing is, I think it needs much clarification as to what knowing means when talking about sense data and objects. Ayer only says that its meaningless to talk about objects being known because of how physical objects are logical constructions of sense data, and he wants to end discussion about objects in the beginning words of his essay.  I disagree here, because I think objects can be discussed as to if we know certain ones or not. What we mean when we say we know of an object needs to be clarified. I think it should be clarified to say the following: knowing an object is the apprehension of an actualized existence or being.

This view is contrary to Ayer’s and it endorses a modal realism discussed by David Lewis. Lewis states in On the Plurality of Worlds that each thing we see is an actualization of a being in one way or another. When we see anything, we are apprehending objects that are existent. This would lead me to think that the act of seeing an object and the object itself are totally independent…..

This is true in most cases I think. Lewis’s modal realism would still work in the case that the act of seeing the object and the object itself are dependent and together. This scenario I think is existent in the case that one is hallucinating, dreaming, or seeing anything usually not actualized. Any hallucination or dream is still an actualized existence, even if the act of seeing it, and the seen object are dependent and together.

All in all, I disagree with Ayer’s originating proposition that begins discussion of the act object analysis of sensation. When Ayer says that discussion of knowing objects is meaningless, I think he is wrong. Yes ‘knowing’ is a confusing transitive verb that has meanings that can be confused between each other, but this only needs clarification to return to discussion of knowing objects. Anyway, I think we can know objects anyway because we see something all the time that is actualized existences in one way or another. We are always seeing real objects whether the act and object are independent or dependent, together or separate.

This modal realism and its following ontology dismantles Ayer’s thought that discussion about the knowledge of objects is meaningless.

This is only a  tiny part of Ayer’s entire argument in Phenomenalism, but the act-object analysis of sensation making one choose between the two options made me think about it, and how my specific philosophy at the moment totally tears it apart. Hopefully this wasn’t too hard to understand as I am sleepy and incoherent. I shouldn’t be writing in this state of incoherence, but if there are any inconsistencies, misuse of information, or misinformation, please let me know.

 

slleeeeeepp…..

Thanks for the support.

Advertisements

G.E. Moore’s Sense Data and the Material Object

25 Aug

Finally back to writing and thinking now. I was on a bit of a vacation for about a week from school, where I went fishing, just hung out, and just worked a bunch. Enough about my life, because one thing I loath is a blog talking about one’s life events that never lead toward a logical or philosophical concept or belief. This writing being my official return to activity here, is about G.E. Moore and questions and information in his Information of Sense Data. There is a particular question about sense data that I have interest in.

Sense data and sensations are two different things that Moore used to influence epistemological debates and thought. Sense data is the data our perceptive senses gather when seeing a material object. If one states to be seeing a seashell, the sense data about it would be things gathered by the senses. For example, sense data of observation of the shell would include patches of white and pink (color from sight), about as big as my head, and a jagged amorphous shape. Color is one that is important because of the fact that size and shape can be stated to be within the material object while color is only what our brain perceives of the object and what its surroundings causes it to appear to us. The sense data we have about a material object allow us to be able to draw a picture of it how we see it and be accurate. Sensation is Moore’s term for apprehending the sense data and is nothing of my concern  about the relationship between the material object observed and the sense data that goes with it.

An early teacher of mine was talking one on one with me about the effects of light upon certain surfaces and used an example of when he went to a clothing store for specifically black socks. The store worker helped him with what he wanted and presented ‘black’ socks to my teacher. My teacher rebutted by saying that,”No, these socks are clearly blue. I need black socks.” The store worker came back with saying that those socks ‘are’ black socks, and they only appear blue because of the light bulbs in the ceiling producing light with fewer colors in its spectrum than most natural light. The light coming from the bulbs in the ceiling reflected off the socks making the socks appear to be blue, when really they are black. I might have gotten the colors in this story mixed up, but it is beside the point I strive to make, and it does not matter. What only matters is that in one setting the socks are one color , in another setting the socks appear a complete different color. If one thing can appear different in different settings, it leads me to question whether or not the sense data of an object will always coincide with the actual object. Furthermore, I think that sense data can easily overlap when material objects are in close proximity of each other making confusion because of how far sense data goes far away from the object it is derived from.

It is my imperative reason for this writing to state that I think sense data has very very little connection with the material object in question. And because of this, the sense data is not confined to certain things, and can become loose in shape, and often easily relocated away from the object it is assigned to. As I said before, I think sense data can overlap with other sense data, causing a lot of confusion. When sense data overlaps, and is confused, the object it is connected with is hard to discern. I find this true from personal observation of certain sense data that relocates from the object it supposedly comes from. Whether or not certain sense data comes from certain objects is something difficult, and almost impossible to figure out, but we can make suppositions about the matter. An example exemplifying the relocation of sense data is church windows with red glass in it having real sunlight shined through it projects a red patch on the wall of the inside of the church. This is a red patch among the wall of other sense data where the object does not relocate the sense data. The patch on the wall does not include an object, it only is sense data. Another example would be light shining on a person standing in a field, he casts what we call a shadow. It is a patch of darkness among lighter patches. The object of this sense data is upright and erect, while the sense data is laying flat on the ground. This clearly is relocation of sense data because when sense data is not relocated it is in the same spot as the object. Such as, a flower with red color, along with green surroundings. The color of the flower is in the same spot as the color, and is not relocated to other locations.

I present these things because the epistemological phenomenon we experience sometimes can distort and hold back our destination to understanding the world. The mind misconceives things, and even when it does not misconceive things the world is confusing because of the way our mind sees it. First, we may have difficulty understanding the world with our epistemological characteristics because of the fact that the material object (stated by Moore) cannot even be known to exist or seen. The only thing we know exists or see is the sense data. Second, we may have difficulty understanding the world because of how the sense data is not organized by any means. The sense data is somewhat sitting with its possible object, but often the sense data is relocated to further our quest for understanding. Sense data can be especially confusing concerning what object is where and associated with what sense data in an example where a man dyes some glass a green color, and holds  the small piece of glass up to his cheek face to look at it. So the man’s face is not mostly covered, but a smaller patch of red exists amidst all the whiter patches (patches of color was Moore’s term to describe specific sense data). If the small piece of red glass was specifically over his nose, you would see all the beige skin color patches everywhere in the immediate area, and then in the middle you would see a reddish lighter nose. This is overlapping (not relocating) sense data because the nose before the red glass was a white beige skin color patch just like the rest of the face, but when the red glass is put over the nose, the nose’s sense data is no longer, but many questions are posed as to what object lies under the red glass, and what sense data would accompany it. I believe the sense data to overlap and relocate  to be another part of our difficulty in understanding the world as specifically and purposely done by God when the creatum was created. Not to take a religious curve at the end of a big discussion on sense data. I have many epistemological questions and this is the beginning of my formal course towards epistemological understanding.

Thanks for the support. Glad to be back..finally…