Perceptual Acquaintance: From Descartes to Reid

Perceptual Acquaintance: From Descartes to Reid

by John W. Yolton

Paperback(Minnesota Archive Editions)

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Perceptual Acquaintance was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Philosophers, wrote Thomas Reid in 1785, "all suppose that we perceive not external objects immediately, and that the immediate objects of perception are only certain shadows of the external objects." To Reid, a founding father of the common-sense school of philosophy, John Locke's "way of ideas" threatened to supplant, in human knowledge, the world of physical objects and events—and to point down the dreaded path to scepticism.

John Yolton finds Reid at least partly responsible for this standard (and by now stereotypic) account of Locke and his eighteenth-century British successors on the subject of perception. By carefully examining the writings of Descartes and the Cartesians, and Locke and his successors, Yolton is able to suggest an alternative to this interpretation of their views. He goes back to a wide range of original texts—those of the period's major philosophers, to Descartes' scholastic precursors, to obscure pamphleteers, and to writers on religion, natural philosophy, medicine, and optics—all in an effort to help us understand the issues without the interference of modern labels and categories. The subtle changes over time reveal an important transformation in the understanding of perception, yet one that is prefigured in earlier work, contrary to Reid's view of the past. Included in Yolton's reevaluation is a full account of the role of Berkeley and Hume in the study of perceptual acquaintance, and of the connection between their work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816611638
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 05/07/1984
Edition description: Minnesota Archive Editions
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

John Yolton was professor of philosophy and dean of Rutgers College at Rutgers University. Perceptual Acquaintance and a companion volume, Thinking Matter, grew out of years of research in seventeenth and eighteenth-century thought. His earlier titles include John Locke and the War of Ideas and Locke and the Compass of Human Understanding; he edited The Locke Reader and the Everyman edition of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Yolton also served on the editorial board of the journal Eighteenth-Century Studies.

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