AQA New Specification Philosophy Complete Notes AS Level

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I. Perception
A. Direct Realism; (Naïve Realism)
Immediate objects of perception are mind independent objects and their properties ; Direct
realism or naïve realism is the common sense of view of how perception (what we are directly
aware of) works. Physical objects composed of matter have independent existence in space,
they follow the laws of physics and possess certain properties, ranging from size and shape
(primary qualities) through to colour and smell and texture ( secondary qualities ). When
humans are in the presence of such objects under appropriate conditions they are able to
perceive them in conjunction with all these properties. Primary and secondary qualities and
the immediate objects of perception exist independently of our minds and exist
objectively in
space and time. Which means when I perceive my desk, I perceive its size, shape, colour, smell
and texture.
Arguments from illusion ­ Illusions are a
distortion of sense experience that means
what we experience is different from what actually exists. Illusions can be ` subjectively
indistinguishable' from veridical (true) perception (e.g. a crooked stick in water), so this
means what we see is sense data, and not physical objects, immediately.
Defending direct realism.
The senses are accurately revealing the world to us, but it's just that we can misinterpret what we
perceive . Normally we are not fooled by the way water refracts light differently from air, but if
ever we are fooled, it is because we have misinterpreted the information given to use by our eyes.
We can explain misperception by simply saying we misperceive reality without implying that we
can only perceive a straw as bent without implying that we directly perceive a bent straw and only
indirectly a straight one.
Arguments from perceptual variation (Russell's table & Berkeley's clouds) ­
Different people perceive the same physical object differently. Therefore, what each
person perceives is how the object appears to them. This appearance is
mind-dependent sense-data so physical objects are therefore not perceived directly.
Berkley's character Philonous discusses the idea of the appearance of some distant
clouds with Hylas. Since the clouds may appear red and any number of colours from
different perspectives, according to Berkeley it makes no sense to suppose that they
have any real colour that is independent of the mind. In other words, colour is a
subjective appearance to us, not something that's objectively real.
Russell's table uses the same logic when discussing the
appearance of his table which,
because of the way light reflects on its surface appears to be different colours from
different points of view. He also considers a possible objection that real colour is the
colour seen by a person standing near to the object under normal lighting conditions.
However the difficulty for this defence is to determine which distance and lighting
condition is to be given privileged status of revealing reality. (Monet's hay).
Locke discusses our perception of heat the same way, putting a
hot and cold hand into
the same bucket of lukewarm water . The water feels cold to one hand and hot to the
other, but clearly the same small area of water cannot be both hot and cold at the

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So the conclusion therefore is that it must appear to be hot and cold.
Temperature is therefore not a real property of physical objects but instead an
Hume and
Russell extend this line of reasoning to shape and size of objects. Russell
points out his table when observed from different angles takes on different apparent
geometric forms .…read more

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Macbeth's vision proceeds from his `heat-oppressed brain', not from light entering his eyes
reflecting the surface of any real dagger, therefore there is no reason to suppose veridical
perception should involve the same kind of immediate perception as we are aware of when
hallucinating .…read more

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I actually sense is a collection of sense data, the way the banana seems to me, including a
distinctive smell. A crescent shaped yellow expanse, a certain texture and taste. According to
sense data theorists, we make judgements about the nature of the physical world on the basis
of my immediate awareness of these sense data.…read more

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Lack of choice over our experiences (Locke) ­ Sensory experiences cannot be
controlled in the way remembered experiences can, I can conjure the image of a
banana in my head however I cannot choose not to taste a banana while it's in my
mouth. The fact that I cannot control what sensations I have suggests that there is
something external to me which produces them within me .…read more

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The distinction between primary and secondary qualities (Locke) ­ Physical
objects have certain primary qualities which are shape, motion, size, position and
number which we are able to perceive. At the same time we also seem to
perceive objects to have a set of secondary qualities such as colours, sounds and
smells. However, these qualities are not actually in the objects themselves, but
rather are powers to produce these sensations in us.…read more

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Berkeley argued that if an object can only be conceived with both primary and
secondary qualities then our ideas of secondary qualities are inseparable from the
primary . So if we accept our perceptions of secondary as in the mind then our
perceptions of primary must be in the mind too .…read more

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It cannot secure objective space and time. ­ According to the idealists, if I put my
banana in a drawer where nobody is perceiving it then it ceases to exist and when I
open it again then it miraculously returns to existence . Similarly the banana has no
smell or taste till someone tastes it. Indeed, before someone bites it has no inside at
all, it all seems very counter-intuitive to us.…read more

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As far as
Berkley is concerned, God doesn't enter his theory to save it but rather is whole
arguments amounts to a demonstration of God's existence. If his argument can
successfully show that matter doesn't exist, then the only way to explain the orderly
appearance of sense impressions is by positing the existence of some intelligence
producing them .…read more

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some forms of know-how do depend on the ability to know that .. x, y and z and so on
like knowing how to use the offside trap in football requires the need to know (`that')
the offside rule. Some philosophers (behaviourists), claim all forms of knowledge boil
down to practical knowledge.…read more



Finding it hard to navigate through what the textbook is saying sometimes and these notes are saving my life- thank you!


Seriously thank you so much for this.


Thank you sooooooooooooooo much

Bezaleel Adeosun

The blue textbook - Can't remember the authors but it's not Lacewing


What grade did you get in the AS and A2 if you carried it on? And how would you recommend revising? Did you just read your notes? 

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