Seeing Dark Things : The Philosophy of Shadows: The Philosophy of Shadows (Google eBook)
Oxford University Press, Jan 8, 2008 - Philosophy - 328 pages
If a spinning disk casts a round shadow does this shadow also spin? When you experience the total blackness of a cave, are you seeing in the dark? Or are you merely failing to see anything (just like your blind companion)? Seeing Dark Things uses visual riddles to explore our ability to see shadows, silhouettes, and black birds--plus some things that are only metaphorically "dark" such as holes. These dark things are anomalies for the causal theory of perception which states that anything we see must be a cause of what we see. This orthodoxy successfully explains why you see the front of this page rather than its rear. However, the causal theory has trouble explaining how you manage to see the black letters on this page. The letters are made visible by the light they fail to reflect rather than the light they reflect. Nevertheless, Roy Sorensen defends the causal theory of perception by treating absences as causes. His fourteen chapters draw heavily on common sense and psychology to vindicate the assumption that we directly perceive absences. Seeing Dark Things is philosophy for the eye. It contains fifty-nine figures designed to prompt visual judgment. Sorensen proceeds bottom-up from observation rather than top-down from theory. He regards detailed analysis of absences as premature; he hopes a future theory will refine the pictorial thinking stimulated by the book's riddles. Just as the biologist pursues genetics with fruit flies, the metaphysician can study absences by means of shadows. Shadows are metaphysical amphibians with one foot on the terra firma of common sense and the other in the murky waters of non-being. Sorensen portrays the causal theory of perception's confrontation with the shadows as a triumph against alien attack--a victory that deepens a theory that resonates so strongly with common sense and science. In sum, Seeing Dark Things is an unorthodox defense of an orthodox theory.
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1 The Eclipse Riddle
2 Seeing Surfaces
3 The Disappearing Act
4 Spinning Shadows
5 Berkeleys Shadow
Shadowgrams and the Black Drop
10 Holes in the Light
11 Black and Blue
12 Seeing in Black and White
13 We See in the Dark
14 Hearing Silence
8 Goethes Colored Shadows
absence of light achromatic afterimage Aristotle astronomers backlit believe Berkeley Berkeley’s black and white black hole blind blocker blocks the light blue brick bulb Casati cast shadow casters Causal theorists causal theory color deficiency color scientists color vision colored shadows contrast counterexample darkened deny disk Earth eclipse effect environment feel Figure filter filtow frontlit ganzfeld Goethe Goethe’s gray green hearing silence hues hypocenter illumination illusion infer invisible kinesthesia light source look Mach bands moon moon’s motion move movement negative Newton night nonepistemic normal observer oflight ofthe Olympus Mons opaque optical para-reflection patch penumbra perceive perception photograph physical positive reflection refraction retina rotation scene seen sensations sense shad shadow bands shadow cast shadowgrams shape sight silhouette silhouetted objects solar eclipse sound space spatial properties sphere star stationary sunspots surface television tion touch transparent virtue visible visual experience visual field visual system waves
Page v - But mark, madam, we live amongst riddles and mysteries — the most obvious things, which come in our way, have dark sides, which the quickest sight cannot penetrate into; and even the clearest and most exalted understandings amongst us find ourselves puzzled and at a loss in almost every cranny of nature's works: so that this, like a thousand other things, falls out for us in a way, which tho...