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Seeing Dark ThingsThe Philosophy of Shadows$
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Roy Sorensen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195326574

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326574.001.0001

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We See in the Dark

We See in the Dark

(p.237) 13 We See in the Dark
Seeing Dark Things

Roy Sorensen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The experience of a man in a perfectly dark cave is a representation of an absence of light, not an absence of representation. There is certainly a difference between his perceptual knowledge and that of his blind companion. Only the sighted man can tell whether the cave is dark just by looking. But perhaps he is merely inferring darkness from his failure to see. To get an unambiguous answer, the focus is switched from perceptual knowledge to nonepistemic seeing. The conclusion is that we see even in the limiting case of absolute darkness – regardless of whether we believe we are seeing. We see little of practical interest. But in terms of basic information, we see about as much as we do when the lights are on. Depending on what has gone before and after, we may even see ordinary objects.

Keywords:   colored shadows, perceptual knowledge, blind, darkness

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