Location

Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Start Date

12-5-2015 2:45 PM

End Date

12-5-2015 4:15 PM

Subjects

John Locke (1632-1704), Psychology

Description

Ever since the early modern period the Molyneux Problem has been a topic of debate both in the philosophy of perception and the psychology of perception. The problem centers on whether the senses share representational content between one another, or does each sense modality have its own stock of representational content that becomes associated with the others after some habituation. For example, if you knew a shape only by touch, could you identify that shape when seeing it for the first time without being allowed to touch the object? Typically, rationalists have held to the former claiming yes, while empiricists leaned toward the latter asserting no. What is at stake here is if the senses are heterogeneous in their representational content, then the reliability of our knowledge of the external world is at best problematic.

I propose that contrary to popular belief it was within the scope of John Locke’s body of written work to consistently hold that the senses do in fact share representational content, yet the veracity of that content must be empirically verified to be veridical. I hope to show this by engaging with Locke’s primary source material and interacting with contemporary secondary sources. If I am correct in my interpretation of Locke, then I believe he can serve as a basic model for thinking about how we can reliably get at the world.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/19814

 
May 12th, 2:45 PM May 12th, 4:15 PM

Locke, Figure, and Judgement: A Consistent Answer to the Molyneux Problem

Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Ever since the early modern period the Molyneux Problem has been a topic of debate both in the philosophy of perception and the psychology of perception. The problem centers on whether the senses share representational content between one another, or does each sense modality have its own stock of representational content that becomes associated with the others after some habituation. For example, if you knew a shape only by touch, could you identify that shape when seeing it for the first time without being allowed to touch the object? Typically, rationalists have held to the former claiming yes, while empiricists leaned toward the latter asserting no. What is at stake here is if the senses are heterogeneous in their representational content, then the reliability of our knowledge of the external world is at best problematic.

I propose that contrary to popular belief it was within the scope of John Locke’s body of written work to consistently hold that the senses do in fact share representational content, yet the veracity of that content must be empirically verified to be veridical. I hope to show this by engaging with Locke’s primary source material and interacting with contemporary secondary sources. If I am correct in my interpretation of Locke, then I believe he can serve as a basic model for thinking about how we can reliably get at the world.