Direct and indirect realism

In the philosophy of perception and philosophy of mind, the question of direct or naïve realism, as opposed to indirect or representational realism, is the debate over the nature of conscious experience;[1][2] out of the metaphysical question of whether the world we see around us is the real world itself or merely an internal perceptual copy of that world generated by our conscious experience.

Direct realism argues we perceive the world directly

Naïve realism is known as direct realism when developed to counter indirect or representative realism, also known as epistemological dualism,[3] the philosophical position that our conscious experience is not of the real world itself but of an internal representation, a miniature virtual-reality replica of the world.

Indirect realism is broadly equivalent to the materialist view of perception that postulates we do not perceive the external world as it really is, but know only our ideas and interpretations of the way the world is.[4] Representationalism is one of the key assumptions of cognitivism in psychology. The representational realist would deny that "first-hand knowledge" is a coherent concept, since knowledge is always via some means, and argue instead that our ideas of the world are interpretations of sensory input derived from an external world that is real (unlike the standpoint of idealism, which holds that only ideas are real, but there are no mind-independent objects).[5]

The main alternative to representationalism is anti-representationalism, the view according to which perception is not a process of constructing internal representations.


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