04 May 2005

A Saving, In Need of a Phenomenon

Aryeh Kosman perceptively remarked in his comments on Johansen last Thursday that what is at issue in interpreting DA 3.2 (beginning) is what the explanandum is. When Aristotle begins “Since we perceive that we see and hear…”, to what precisely is he referring? Some candidates:

  1. ‘consciousness’, a primitive reflexive awareness present along with every act of sensation;
  2. ‘self-consciousness’, a kind of self-presence, as in the ‘I think’ accompanying all perceptions;
  3. sensing that a sense is simply operating (or not);
  4. being self aware, that is, the state the truck driver on automatic pilot finds himself in, once he ‘comes to’ (in David Armstrong’s example);
  5. paying attention to something that one is perceiving (similar to 3., but not global);
  6. recognizing that you are a perceiving being, in effect, recognizing that you are an animal.

Caston thinks: 1. (That's clear.)

Kosman in his 1975 classic I believe holds 2.; but last Thursday he seemed to be saying that Aristotle is using language suggestive of 2. in order to get, rather, at 1. (But did I misunderstand?)

Johansen thinks (I believe): 4.

I tend to think that it’s 3. (Is this what Catherine Osborne holds as well? I don’t know, and apologize for not knowing--I haven’t had a chance to look at her article again and need to return to it. Johansen frequently cited it in notes, as does Caston in his article.)


Catherine Osborne said...

I hold something close to 3. How are we aware that seeing is going on (as opposed to hearing etc)? Is it by sight that one is aware that one is seeing (ie that the faculty of sight is the one that is operating right now)?
It seems that it would be by sight, because to see just is to get a visible object actualised, so one is ipso facto aware that it is vision, not hearing, that is going on. But actually that won't do: the rest of the chapter problematises the easy answer canvassed (hypothetically) at the beginning. So the final question is more complicated: not just how am I aware that I am seeing and hearing, but how am I aware of both those things and I can distinguish between them? 

Posted by Catherine Osborne