Essays On The Intellectual Powers Of Man
In this, Reid is very forward-thinking: he is the first philosopher to draw a distinction between sensation and perception, which is extensively employed in contemporary philosophy of mind and psychology (as J. But, Reid contends, in the former case the object itself is grammatical only, and not also real, whereas in the latter the object is a real thing, allegedly existing outside the perceiver’s mind.It is less clear what Reid means when he says that the object is not real, but grammatical only, in the case of the construction expressing a sensation that one may feel.Lengthy studies convinced Reid that Hume’s Skepticism was incompatible with common sense, for both human behaviour and the use of language provide overwhelming evidence to support such truths as the existence of a material world and the retention of personal identity in the midst of continuous change.Unable to find fault with Hume’s argumentation, Reid settled on Hume’s “theory of ideas” as the prime source of error.
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Just like perceptions and memories, sensations are constituted by two other ingredients: a conception of the object, and a belief that the object exists, except, in the case of sensation, this object is the sensation itself, not an external object like trees, frogs, or human beings.
A consequence of understanding Reid as saying that sensations do not have any kind of objects is to think that he is a precursor of “adverbial” theories of sensation.
This does not mean, however, that one cannot pay attention to the specific role played by this operation.
In doing so, one will discover its most important features.