Locke and the Visual Array

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):69-91 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A.D. Smith opens his excellent paper, “Space and Sight,” by remarking, One of the most notable features of both philosophy and psychology throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the almost universal denial that we are immediately aware through sight of objects arrayed in three-dimensional space. This was not merely a denial of Direct Realism, but a denial that truly visual objects are even phenomenally presented in depth (481). Times have changed. As Smith writes, “It is hard to think of a more radical reversal in thinking than the one that separates such an outlook from that which prevails today; for this erstwhile orthodoxy is hardly given even serious consideration in our own times, at least among philosophers” (482). Even so, how could this doctrine come and go? How can there be fashion in phenomenology?1 Let me answer the question indirectly, by considering Locke’s reasons for advancing the doctrine. He writes, “When we set before our Eyes a round Globe, of any uniform colour, v.g. Gold, Alabaster, or Jet, ‘tis certain, that the Idea thereby imprinted in our Mind, is of a flat Circle variously shadow’d, with several degrees of Light and Brightness coming to our Eyes” (2.9.8).2 Adults have acquired ideas of three-dimensional objects (presumably by..



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,468

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Space and sight.A. D. Smith - 2000 - Mind 109 (435):481-518.
Three varieties of visual field.Austen Clark - 1996 - Philosophical Psychology 9 (4):477-95.
Locke on perception.Michael Jacovides - forthcoming - In Matthew Stuart (ed.), A companion to Locke. Blackwell.
How Infants Learn About the Visual World.Scott P. Johnson - 2010 - Cognitive Science 34 (7):1158-1184.
Locke on Natural Kinds and Essential Properties.Christopher Hughes Conn - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:475-497.


Added to PP

198 (#83,084)

6 months
4 (#245,705)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Jacovides
Purdue University

Citations of this work

Locke on sense perception.Walter Ott - 2021 - In Jessica Gordon-Roth & Shelley Weinberg (eds.), The Lockean Mind. London: Routledge. pp. 116-126.
Locke on the role of judgment in perception.Walter Ott - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):670-684.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Sense and Sensibilia.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford University Press.
Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits.Bertrand Russell - 1948 - London and New York: Routledge.
The unreliability of naive introspection.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2006 - Philosophical Review 117 (2):245-273.
Metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe - 1981 - Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

View all 22 references / Add more references