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Philosophy of the Arts

Arthur Schopenhauer

History’s pictures of perception

Kant, in his so-called Copernican move, filled in the details of this picture in wistful manner. He installed our scientific methods. Hastily.
Herder installed our language, instead of the Kantian categories of understanding and the forms of intuition, space and time. And Schopenhauer reduced them to space, time and causality. These were efforts to correct Kant’s haste. I am not sure of their success.
The insight that ‘A succesful visual experience tells us what vision is’, instead of ‘what the world is like’, calls for a phenomenological approach, i.e. an approach which starts from the nature of the phenomenal.
Hume was close. Yet, he construed the issue as one of the imagination bringing together remembered impressions to construct the world–he turned the issue into that of induction. He, too, was embarked in the same project Descartes and Kant contributed to, of justifying scientific knowledge.
The issue at hand, however, lies before that: it is about how the world acts on us like a mirror, telling us what perception os like–long before providing us with the data we use to build our knowledge. Epistemology is secondary. We don’t mirror the world–the world mirrors us. [And see Lacan to understand the hidden dangers of this situation.]J.J. Gibson got things generally right. John McDowell realizes this, in his “The Contents of Perception”.

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