The Nature of Perception

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Oxford University Press, 2000 - Philosophy - 289 pages
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John Foster presents a penetrating investigation of the question: what is it to perceive a physical object? Is perceptual contact with a physical object, he asks, something fundamental, or does it break down into further factors? If the latter, what are these factors, and how do they combine to secure the contact? For most of the book, Foster addresses these questions in the framework of a realist view of the physical world. But the arguments which thereby unfold - arguments which undermine direct realism and establish a version of the sense-datum theory - lead to the conclusion that we do not perceive physical objects at all. The only way to avoid this conclusion is by abandoning physical realism for a form of idealism, and this is the option which Foster finally embraces. The Nature of Perception makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate: it sheds light on the traditional issues, and breathes new life into positions which most current philosophers assumeto be dead.

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About the author (2000)


John Foster was tutorial Fellow of Brasenose College 1966-2005 and an Emeritus Fellow from 2005-2009. His research interests have been in the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, mind, and language. He was the author of The Case for Idealism (1982), Ayer (1985), and The Immaterial Self (1991).

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