September 26, 2008

Quote of the Day: Appearances and Judgments About Appearances

And when we question whether the underlying object is such as it appears, we grant the fact that it appears, and our doubt does not concern the appearance itself but the account given of that appearance, - and that is a different thing from questioning the appearance itself. For example, honey appears to us to be sweet (and this we grant, for we perceive sweetness through the senses), but whether it is also sweet in its essence is for us a matter of doubt, since this is not an appearance, but a judgement regarding the appearance. (Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism 19-20, tr. R.G. Bury)

Compare:

HYLAS: What say you to this? Since, according to you, men judge of the reality of things by their senses, how can a man be mistaken in thinking the moon a plain lucid surface, about a foot in diameter; or a square tower, seen at a distance, round; or an oar, with one end in the water, crooked? PHILONOUS: He is not mistaken with regard to the ideas he actually perceives; but in the inferences he makes from his present perceptions. Thus in the case of the oar, what he immediately perceives by sight is certainly crooked; and so far he is in the right. But if he thence conclude, that upon taking the oar out of the water he shall perceive the same crookedness, or that it would affect his touch, as crooked things are wont to do, in that he is mistaken ... his mistake lies not in what he perceives immediately and at present (it being a manifest contradiction to suppose he should err in respect to that) but in the wrong judgment he makes concerning the ideas he apprehends to be connected with those immediately perceived; or concerning the ideas that, from what he perceives at present, he imagines would be perceived in other circumstances. (George Berkeley, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, 238)

Postscript (1:06PM): The square tower example which Berkeley uses in the ellipsis in the quote above is also used by Sextus in sect. 32.

Posted by Kenny at September 26, 2008 11:41 AM
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