§4. Perceptual Judgments


115. Where then in the process of cognition does the possibility of controlling it begin? Certainly not before the percept is formed.

Even after the percept is formed there is an operation which seems to me to be quite uncontrollable. It is that of judging what it is that the person perceives. A judgment is an act of formation of a mental proposition combined with an adoption of it or act of assent to it. A percept on the other hand is an image or moving picture or other exhibition. The perceptual judgment, that is, the first judgment of a person as to what is before his senses, bears no more resemblance to the percept than the figure I am going to draw is like a man.

 

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I do not see that it is possible to exercize any control over that operation or to subject it to criticism. If we can criticize it at all, as far as I can see, that criticism would be limited to performing it again and seeing whether, with closer attention, we get the same result. But when we so perform it again, paying now closer attention, the percept is presumably not such as it was before. I do not see what other means we have of knowing whether it is the same as it was before or not, except by comparing the former perceptual judgment and the later one. I should utterly distrust any other method of ascertaining what the character of the percept was. Consequently, until I am better advised, I shall consider the perceptual judgment to be utterly beyond control. Should I be wrong in this, the Percept, at all events, would seem to be so.

116. It follows, then, that our perceptual judgments are the first premisses of all our reasonings and that they cannot be called in question. All our other judgments are so many theories whose only justification is that they have been and will be borne out by perceptual judgments. But the perceptual judgments declare one thing to be blue, another yellow — one sound to be that of A, another that of U, another that of I. These are the Qualities of Feeling which the physicists say are mere illusions because there is no room for them in their theories. If the facts won't agree with the Theory, so much the worse for them. They are bad facts. This sounds to me childish, I confess. It is like an infant that beats an inanimate object that hurts it. Indeed this is true of all

fault-finding with others than oneself, and those for whose conduct one is responsible. Reprobation is a silly [business].

117. But peradventure I shall be asked whether I do not admit that there is any such thing as an illusion or hallucination. Oh, yes; among artists I have known more than one case of downright hallucinatory imaginations at the beck and call of these {poietai}. Of course, the man knows that such obedient spectres are not real experiences, because experience is that which forces itself upon him, will-he nill-he.

Hallucinations proper — obsessional hallucinations — will not down at one's bidding, and people who are subject to them are accustomed to sound the people who are with them in order to ascertain whether the object before them has a being independent of their disease or not. There are also social hallucinations.

In such a case, a photographic camera or other instrument might be of service.

118. Of course, everybody admits and must admit that these apparitions are entities — entia; the question is whether these entia belong to the class of realities or not, that is, whether they are such as they are independently of any collection of singular representations that they are so, or whether their mode of being depends upon abnormal conditions. But as for the entire universe of Qualities which the physicist would pronounce Illusory, there is not the smallest shade of just suspicion resting upon their normality. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that colors, for example, and sounds have the same character for all mankind.

Well, I will skip this. Suffice it to say that there is no reason for suspecting the veracity of the senses, and the presumption is that the physics of the future will find out that they are more real than the present state of scientific theory admits of their being represented as being.1)

119. Therefore, if you ask me what part Qualities can play in the economy of the universe, I shall reply that the universe is a vast representamen, a great symbol of God's purpose, working out its conclusions in living realities. Now every symbol must have, organically attached to it, its Indices of Reactions and its Icons of Qualities; and such part as these reactions and these qualities play in an argument that, they of course, play in the universe — that Universe being precisely an argument. In the little bit that you or I can make out of this huge demonstration, our perceptual judgments are the premisses for us and these perceptual judgments have icons as their predicates, in which icons Qualities are immediately presented. But what is first for us is not first in nature. The premisses of Nature's own process are all the independent uncaused elements of facts that go to make up the variety of nature which the necessitarian supposes to have been all in existence from the foundation of the world, but which the Tychist supposes are continually receiving new accretions.1) These premisses of nature, however, though they are not the perceptual facts that are premisses to us, nevertheless must resemble them in being premisses. We can only imagine what they are by comparing them with the premisses for us. As premisses they must involve Qualities.

Now as to their function in the economy of the Universe. The Universe as an argument is necessarily a great work of art, a great poem — for every fine argument is a poem and a symphony — just as every true poem is a sound argument. But let us compare it rather with a painting — with an impressionist seashore piece — then every Quality in a Premiss is one of the elementary colored particles of the Painting; they are all meant to go together to make up the intended Quality that belongs to the whole as whole. That total effect is beyond our ken; but we can appreciate in some measure the resultant Quality of parts of the whole — which Qualities result from the combinations of elementary Qualities that belong to the premisses.

But I shall endeavor to make this clearer in the next lecture.


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