INDIRECT REALISM IN JOHN LOCKE: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE REPRESENTATIONAL THEORY OF PERCEPTION.
The aim of this chapter will include; an attempt to establish the nature of the controversy between direct and indirect realism right from the period of John Locke who had established the foundations for the debate. The rationalists had come to lay a foundation of our knowledge on supposedly certain and indubitable foundations in reasoning, Locke too, in his empiricism began to occupy a position referred to as ‘indirect realism’ due to his argument that objects of experience cannot be directly perceived. But before then, an attempt shall be made to account for the nature of the argument of the realists as against the position of the anti-realists’ divide in epistemology. Going back to the period of the British empiricists with our main point of focus on Locke, and Berkeley. Having mentioned earlier that there is a divide between direct and indirect realists, the difference boiling largely out of how one perceives what one perceives, it will be considerate to account therefore for the nature of the debate between the both of them and the attempts of the direct realists to escape the two arguments (arguments from illusion and hallucination) rendered against it by the indirect realists.
1.1 Contemporary Realist Arguments
The problem of perception is one that has been in the mind of several philosophies ever since the period before Socrates, where we see philosophers like Democritus and Leucippus who claimed that physical objects are really composed of tiny indivisible particles referred to as atoms. The problem which is popularly referred to as ‘the problem of perception’ has been given a new formulation. Epistemologists concerned with the problem of perception seek to enquire how we come to perceive the contents of the external world. Before going any further, I shall try to define what perception itself entails.
Perception is the process by which we, through any of our five senses- eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin, gain knowledge of the external world. It is due to this kind of definition that one is bound to think that it is something pertaining to empiricism alone. It is indeed a valid assertion, since it seems to lay emphasis upon the senses and the kind of connection they have with the world in the bid to acquire knowledge. We should note that in the light of the above definition, there is a distinction between what exists in the world, and what we perceive as existing. According to this conception, there are several theories. These theories of perception try to answer the question of what and how we can know through sense experience and they include: realism and anti-realism.