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Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value$
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Rebecca Copenhaver and Todd Buras

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198733676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733676.001.0001

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Thomas Reid on Instinctive Exertions and the Spatial Content of Sensations

Thomas Reid on Instinctive Exertions and the Spatial Content of Sensations

(p.35) 2 Thomas Reid on Instinctive Exertions and the Spatial Content of Sensations
Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value

Chris Lindsay

Oxford University Press

One oft-challenged aspect of Reid’s philosophy is his rejection of the claim that sensations possess spatial content; on his view, the properties of sensations are exhausted by their phenomenal character. Such a position, critics claim, fails to acknowledge the richness of the information acquired through sensation, about both external properties and those pertaining to one’s own body. This chapter claims that we can find the resources to defuse such concerns in Reid’s later work “Of Power”. Specifically, it argues that what Reid calls ‘instinctive exertions’—introduced to explain the origin of our conception of power—can be used to explain how sensations can serve to inform us of such spatial properties even when they are construed as lacking intrinsic spatial content.

Keywords:   Thomas Reid, perception, sensation, spatial perception

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