Perception and Reality: A History from Descartes to Kant

03/11/2013 16:42

John W. Yolton
The standard history of this topic, which Yolton seeks to upset, goes something like this: the rise of modern science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ushered in a new conception of matter and, with it, a new conception of how material objects are to be perceived. On medieval scholastic accounts, adapted from Aristotle, material objects were conceived as composites of matter and immaterial "forms." The notion of soul-like forms, inherent in all things, lent itself to Christian philosophy intent on underscoring the spiritual element in the universe. It also made sense perception easy to explain. Objects transmit their forms through a medium to the perceiver; the result is that the very same form exists both in the object and in the intellect of the perceiver. [Read more] ...