[ExI] Resend: "The Empirical Object" by Dr. Sunny Auyang

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Sat Jul 21 04:33:13 UTC 2007

On 7/20/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Jef writes
> > On 7/18/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> >
> >> My favorite line in the book is "I have never
> >> seen a sense impression in my life". In other
> >> words, we see objects; we *perceive*
> >> (I suppose) sense impressions. So the
> >> realism of "I see a car coming towards me"
> >> is supported, and other theories that might
> >> tempt one to say (when speaking precisely)
> >> "I see the sense impression of a car coming
> >> towards me" are denigrated.
> >
> > Them's fancy words, but your concluding paragraph shows that you don't
> > quite get it.
> It's indeed possible that the usage of the words I advocate
> here---that we might say that a distinction between "perceive"
> and "see" might be ill-advised.  But again, I wish that you
> could *refrain*  from these overly inciteful phrases such as
> "you don't quite get it".  Almost all the rest of us would say
> something like "I don't agree with your analysis here."

And I thought "quite" in "you don't quite get it", made it mild.

> Please stop.  Please stop writing so aggressively (though, of
> course, compared to the Bad Old Days, this is still nothing.)
> I'm not aware that there is anything of general importance
> here that I fundamentally don't get, and your general
> accusation is merely inflammatory.  Can you stop?
> If so, will you stop?

Even I can see now that I've been boorish and overbearing. If you will
allow me back into your good graces I shall endeavor to abstain from
such inflammatory rhetoric. And I shall attend to your own writings
with eyes only for the insightful, and never the inciteful -- as if
one could ever properly suppose you guilty of licentious logic or even
misdemeanor myopia.

> > The author's statement, "I have never seen a sense impression in my
> > life", is an elegant allusion to the core of the problem. Elegant,
> > perfect, right-on.  She highlights the philosophical problem of the
> > Cartesian Self, the mind's "I", the homunculous, the "hard problem of
> > consciousness", qualia, and such related hoohaw.
> Quite.
> > For you to say, "we perceive (I suppose) sense impressions", is to
> > continue to make the core mistake of assuming that sense impressions
> > are somehow delivered to a perceiver.
> That's possible.  The construction involving "sense impressions"
> was a conjecture, and thanks for bringing up a possible problem
> with it.
> > Rather, the sensory apparatus of the observer interacts with its
> > local "reality" and the observer system perceives.  "Sense
> > impressions" are meaningless (can't be modeled) when you
> > insist that they must then be perceived.
> Okay, so you contend that the "observer system" perceives.
> Frankly, I do prefer your usage. I sense that indeed use of the
> term "perceiver" can lead to problems that "observer system"
> may be free from.

If I may say so, I find myself ever so slightly troubled over a
trifle.  I take full responsibility for this, but despite my best
efforts I fail to understand the following:

How would one reconcile your statement of "[nothing] of general
importance here that [you] fundamentally don't get" with your
statement acknowledging it's possible that you continue to make the
core mistake of assuming that sense impressions are somehow delivered
to a perceiver?

IMHO, it's not usage, but conceptual coherence that's at issue, and
I'm sorry to say I still find myself not fully agreeing with your

- Jef

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