Do we need representations?
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on March 25, 2006
We are not erroneous in our belief that in principle it is possible to be looking at the real thing. (The opposite explanation would be that instead we are always looking at thing’s representation). We are not erroneous because the semantics of “looking at the thing” came from no other place, then the phenomena of looking at the things the way we experience looking at them. To say that we are in fact looking at a representation of the thing is just a confused usage of the terms.
One might, on this point, put to our attention that there is real possibility for illusion, point to a brain in vat scenario, or in modern version – Matrix movie scenario. And on that we can say thus: There is of course the real possibility for illusion, something else to appear to us, and to seem to us that we are looking at the real thing. And we don’t need to go so far for those examples as Matrix or brain in a vat – seeing a filmed lion on the TV, is not looking at the real lion, but is looking at some kind of illusion. The real lion which was filmed is not now at the place we see it on the screen, the lion is not doing those same things, and maybe is not among living lions after all.
So, where does this possibility for illusion comes from then, don’t we need to add such concept as representation to cover this possibility for illusion?
For sure not, the possibility of illusion can be found in the nature of looking itself, where looking as focusing in particular way on something, is just one way of our determining of things. A way to “probe” the thing, in order to actualize some potential, to “check” if it has it in it. In this case, it is where we shine light on it, and put our eyes in direct line with the thing, so we probe how it reacts with the light, and the information we can extract of it by probing it so.
And a thing is not just what is actualized by probing it.