We interview John about Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception (2015). What is perception? Searle says that it’s not a matter of seeing a representation, which is then somehow related to things in the real world. We see the actual objects, with no mediation. But then how can there be illusions?
Well, we see things under an aspect: a presentation of the thing. And that presentation presents itself as caused by just that thing that the perception is of. If these “conditions of satisfaction” (i.e., that the perception is actually caused by that thing) are not met, then we have a case of illusion: we thought we were perceiving that thing, but we really weren’t. Simple! Right? Searle lays out his theory for us and amusingly dismisses much of the history of philosophy.
Recommended prerequisites: To understand the theories of knowledge that Searle is arguing against, start with ep. 17 on Hume, then ep. 18 on Kant and ep. 89 on Berkeley. Schopenhauer also comes up in the conversation; we talked about his epistemology in ep. 30 and his take on causality in ep. 114. The stuff about Hegel that Mark tries to bring in was covered in ep. 135. We previously talked about Searle and his theory of mind along with competing theories on ep. 21. Then we spoke with David Chalmers who comes up in the conversation in ep. 68.
End song: “Flesh and Blood” from The MayTricks’ Happy Songs Will Bring You Down (1994). Download the whole album for free.
Searle picture by Solomon Grundy.