Reid’s Common Sense, Berkeley’s Vision and Whether Gentile’s Fascism Should Matter More Than Berkeley’s Slave Plantation
Interview by Richard Marshall.
‘He reminds us that ideas and impression are theoretical entities. As such, they earn their keep by relying on repeated experimental evidence, and by having the power to explain mental activities such as perception, imagination, memory, judgment, and so on. By these standards, according to Reid, explanations in terms of ideas and impressions fail. We have no experimental evidence for their existence, and they do not explain the nature or variety of our mental lives. Ideas and impressions are philosophical fictions disguised as ordinary notions.‘
‘But you ask: do we face the same sorts of issues regarding Gentile as we do with Heidegger? I take it that this is a question about how we as philosophers ought to grapple with the tension between using our departed colleagues as resources for philosophical thinking, on the one hand, and recognizing that many of these same departed colleagues explicitly or implicitly used their own philosophy as a resource for social and political ends that we condemn, on the other. It’s important not to treat this as an abstract question. Gentile – no longer at the center of power by the late 30s – helped Jews in Italy who were threatened by the Fascist regime. But his philosophy and his politics were of a piece, both contributing to a global disaster that cost many lives. Among other things, the disaster was one of nationalisms in conflict. Our politics today is still in turmoil about nationalism and nativism.’
Rebecca ‘Becko’ Copenhaver is an expert in the philosophy of Thomas Reid, Berkeley, the philosophy of mind and Italian philosophy. Here she first discusses Reid’s theory of perception, what he means by representation, why he thinks alternative approaches by Descartes and Hume fail, the importance of Bacon and Newton to Reid’s approach, the issue of direct and indirect realism, whether Reid is a first-order ot higher order consciousness guy, the threat of regress, whether he’s a mysterian, why his ‘common sense’ doesn’t mean what common sense might lead you to think it means and how his theory of aesthetic and moral sense links up with all this. Then she discusses Berkeley’s theory of vision before moving on to discuss modern Italian philosophy and the link between a philospher’s philosophical position and their social, political and economic context especially in the light of the dubious politics of some of the Italian modern masters. This is a full house…
3:AM: What made you become a philosopher?
Rebecca Copenhaver: You might think that I inherited my interest in philosophy from my father, Brian Copenhaver (UCLA). And that’s true, but not in the obvious way. It’s true because Brian and my mother Kathleen built a home for me and my brother Greg (Professor of Biology, UNC Chapel Hill) that was filled with books, art, science experiments, and lots and lots of conversation. Growing up in house full of relentless curiosity has a lot to do with why philosophy was such a good fit for me.
But at the time that I wandered into philosophy at UC Santa Cruz, I didn’t categorize Brian as a philosopher. I just thought of him as the guy who knows all the stuff (still do). I arrived at philosophy mostly by accident. My plan going into college was to be a writer of poetry and non-fiction. I didn’t think that what I chose as a major would have much to do with that, and East Asian studies sounded interesting. To do that major, you had to take a philosophy course and enroll in Mandarin language study. Well, I did horribly at Mandarin and pretty good at philosophy.
It wasn’t until my second philosophy course—a standard course in ethical theory—that I really caught the bug. We read the Nicomachean Ethics and I was underwhelmed (it’s now one of my favorites to read and teach); we read Bentham and Mill and I had, let’s say, a Very Strong Negative Reaction to consequentialism. But then we read Kant. Reading Kant felt to me like communicating with a fascinating person across time and space. It was difficult, but difficult in a way that made me need to figure out what he was saying.
But there was one more ingredient that really made me want to do philosophy for the rest of my life: a great teacher. David Hoy let me enroll in his senior level seminar on Kant when I was just a sophomore. In that course and in the many others I took from him, he was simply confident in me. That was all it really took. He was other things too—patient, funny, compelling, thoughtful—but his confidence in people hooked a lot of us on philosophy, myself included.
3:AM: Thomas Reid is someone you’ve written about, and in particular his theory of perception. You argue that he’s against a representative theory of perception. What is that?
RC: This is one of those cases where a philosophical term of art—‘representational’—is intended to pick out a particular position but fails because it picks out wildly different views, especially once you start to use it to describe positions from hundreds of years ago.
So let me start by saying what I do not mean. As I use the term to describe the theories against which Reid was motivated, ‘representational’ does not refer to the Representational Theory of Mind, advocated by Fodor and others, according to which the basic units of mentality are states with semantic properties and mental activity consists in operations on such states.
And it does not refer to Representationalism (also called Intentionalism, or the Content View), according to which perceptual experiences have representational content given by accuracy conditions: conditions under which things are in the world as experience represents them to be. For my view, it’s particularly important to avoid identifying the representative theory of perception with representationalism because I actually interpret Reid’s view of perception as remarkably consistent with representationalism.
OK: so then what is the representative theory of perception? It is a view according to which objects of perceptual experience are mental states that represent (in some manner) extra-mental objects in the world. In some cases, we successfully perceive things in the world, but we do so only indirectly, by perceiving their representatives. In other words, the representative theory of perception is the proto-typical model of indirect perception. Now, it may be that no philosopher has ever held this theory—not even Locke, who tells us that the immediate objects of perception are ideas. But the position is useful for thinking about direct and indirect perception, and it is the sort of view that Reid often attributes to his opponents.
But what is Reid really worried about? He calls the view that worries him ‘the Way of Ideas,’ and he attributes it to thinkers as different as Descartes and Hume. He thinks that a commitment to impressions and ideas leads to skepticism about the material world, subjectivism in aesthetics, and sentimentalism in moral theory. But he reminds us that ideas and impression are theoretical entities. As such, they earn their keep by relying on repeated experimental evidence, and by having the power to explain mental activities such as perception, imagination, memory, judgment, and so on. By these standards, according to Reid, explanations in terms of ideas and impressions fail. We have no experimental evidence for their existence, and they do not explain the nature or variety of our mental lives. Ideas and impressions are philosophical fictions disguised as ordinary notions.
For Reid, all these theories fail by Newtonian standards. They are modeled on an old picture uninformed by the new science. What are ideas and impressions but mental corpuscles? What are the principles of association but laws of mental motion? The theory of ideas is a ghostly reflection of the mechanistic, material world of body. Knud Haakonssen makes this point in The Cambridge History of Eighteenth Century Philosophy. Gilbert Ryle makes a similar point against what he calls “the official doctrine” in his Concept of Mind.
3:AM: So what did Reid think instead?
RC: Reid thinks that we learn the proper methods for understanding the mind from Bacon and Newton. He treats the mind as a natural phenomenon understood in the same way we understand any natural process: by observation and induction, formulating general laws of nature, and explaining particular phenomena by appeal to those laws. He begins by examining mental activities: perception, memory, imagination, conception, and so on, looking for regularities repeated over time and across different minds. He uses these to describe tentative, then more robust, observed regularities: these are the principles by which the human mind operates.
At the very center of Reid’s science of mind is his account of perception, and at the very center of that is his distinction between sensation and perception. Sensations and perceptions occur together in beings like us: there is something it is like for us to see roses, hear sirens, touch corduroy, smell freshly cut grass, and taste peaches. There could be creatures—angels, perhaps—who do not have sensations, who perceive purely intellectually. But we are sensory perceivers: we are aware of the world by seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling it.
Nevertheless, sensations and perceptions are states of different kinds. Sensations all by themselves, in isolation, are merely felt states. They are without objects; they are about nothing; they cannot be accurate or inaccurate; they cannot misrepresent because they do not represent; they are informationally inert. By contrast, perceptions are about the world. Like memory, imagination, and consciousness, perceptions are directed toward the world. They convey the world as being a certain way, making us aware of it, and informing us about it. According to Reid, perception is directed not towards our experiences of the world—towards ideas, impressions, or other mental states—but to the world itself.
3:AM: Is this a mediated but directed realism?
RC: When we think about direct and indirect realism, a few mistakes are the likeliest. First and foremost, these issues are not a priori or definitional. We should regard the truth of direct or indirect realism as a contingent, a posteriori matter concerning particular species. We should ask questions like: is direct realism typically true for creatures like us?
Second, if direct realism is true for creatures like us, this truth does not entail that all our perceptual experiences are direct. It merely entails that in the typical case, and most of the time, our perceptions of the world are direct.
Third, if direct realism is true for creatures like us, this does not entail that direct perceptual experiences are veridical. I may directly perceive a tomato as red (in the gloaming) when it is orange.
Fourth, and this gets closer to your question: mediation doesn’t have much to do with whether perception is direct or indirect. All kinds of things mediate perception: photons, neurons, etc. If mediation undermined directness all by itself, then direct realism would be trivially false for all creatures (though not perhaps God). But, again, the truth of direct or indirect realism is unlikely to be trivial.
While Reid takes sensations and perceptions to be states of different kinds, they occur together in creatures like us: our perceptions are sensory perceptions. The co-occurrence of sensations and perceptions is exactly the kind of regularity that Reid hopes to describe in order to establish the principles by which the human mind operates.
Sensations of a particular type trigger perceptions of a particular type, by a law of nature—by a law of human psychology. So, for example, when humans have tactile sensations of a particular type, they perceive hardness; when they have visual sensations of a particular type, they perceive blue. These laws are contingent, according to Reid: different sensations could have triggered different perceptions—the sensation we have when tasting pineapple could have triggered our perception of blue.
As you can see, perception of the world is mediated – mediated by sensation. That’s just what it is to say that our perception is sensory (rather than purely intellectual, like angelic perception). But this mediation doesn’t undermine Reid’s direct realism. It’s true that sensations (along with all kinds of other things) mediate perception, but sensations themselves are not objects of any cognitive activity involved in perceiving. Even if sensations were objects of cognitive activity, nothing about them could facilitate perception because they have no content—they are informationally inert.
Sensations mediate perception not because we use them to acquire information about the world—on that score, they are useless—but because they are connected by law with states that do have content: perceptions. This sort of mediation is as harmless to the directness of perception as are photons and neurons.
RC: Reid’s work is a great place to go for an approach that resembles what many philosophers now think about the mind. As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to experiences—perceptions, memories, imaginings—Reid’s view will look familiar to those who adopt the content view (representationalism, intentionalism).
On this view, experiences represent the world as being a certain way to the subject of experience by making the subject aware of things as being a certain way. For Reid, this is spelled out in terms of the complex structure of experiences, which are composed of conceptions and what he (unfortunately) calls beliefs. This latter element is not really what we would call a ‘belief’ today—think of it more like this: conception is the referential element in experience, while what Reid calls a ‘belief’ is the attributive element.
When it comes to consciousness, Reid’s view will also look familiar to those who take a representationalist, first-order approach. But this is easy to miss. Reid’s thoughts on consciousness are scattered across his work, and in a couple of places he claims that his view is more or less Locke’s view – and Locke has long been associated with a higher-order account of consciousness.
The higher-order approach holds that what it is for a mental state to be conscious is for the subject, whose state it is, to be conscious of the state. By contrast, first-order views hold that a state is conscious if it makes the subject, whose state it is, conscious of some thing or fact. For example, an experience of a tomato is conscious because it makes the subject, whose experience it is, aware of the tomato.
I have argued that Reid has more in common with the first-order approach to consciousness than he does with the higher-order view. Note that if Reid is right that his view is inspired by Locke, this might indicate that Locke is not a higher-order theorist.
Reid would certainly reject the central thesis of higher-order theories, namely, that
a state’s being conscious consists in one’s being conscious of it—that what makes a state conscious is the subject whose state it is, being conscious of the state. According to Reid, consciousness is a mental ability alongside perception, memory, imagination, and so on. Each of these is a first-order representational ability; each is a kind of immediate non-inferential awareness.
Consciousness takes our own mental states as its contents and in doing so makes us aware that we are undergoing states with a particular content. For example, if I am currently perceiving a goldfish, consciousness makes me aware that I am currently perceiving a goldfish. My mind is directed not toward my experiences of the world but to what my experiences make me aware of: namely, the world itself. What is important about consciousness is the same as what is important about perception, memory, and so on: the way each of these abilities makes us conscious of things.
3:AM: Does his theory lead to a regress?
RC: Higher-order theories have to address a potential regress because they claim that what makes a state conscious is that a subject is conscious of it. But what of the subject’s consciousness of her mental states? If it is conscious, it must be so only because the subject is conscious of her consciousness of her mental states, and so on. This is not a dramatic problem for current higher-order theorists: they tend to accept that the subject’s consciousness of her own mental states is not itself conscious, and they argue that the ensuing requirement, whereby at least some mental states are non-conscious, is a good thing.
Reid is threatened by a regress for a different reason. He is committed to the (implausible) claim that each of us is in fact conscious of our own mental states and he is committed to the claim that consciousness is itself a mental ability. Putting these two together, it looks like each of us must be conscious of our consciousness, and so on.
But recall that for Reid consciousness is a full-blooded, freestanding mental ability, alongside perception, memory, imagination, and so on. Consciousness makes us aware of our own mental states by making us aware that we are undergoing states with a particular content, including the states that comprise the activities of consciousness itself. But the non-hierarchical nature of consciousness ensures that while we are aware that we are undergoing the states of which we are aware, including those states that make us aware of the states we are enjoying, there is no additional, independent, higher-order operation: consciousness of consciousness. The point is similar to the distinction that Dretske makes between content and vehicles of content.
3:AM: And is he a mysterian?
RC: When I was a graduate student at Cornell in the 1990s almost no one read Reid. In fact, I had never heard of him until I came across references to him while reading Hamann and Jacobi. Nowadays, articles on Reid are published in leading journals, and there is a lot of exciting work on him, especially by younger scholars.
Three people who led the revival of interest in Reid when I was writing my dissertation were James Van Cleve, Keith Lehrer, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff’s Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology (Cambridge University Press 2001) presented an interpretation of Reid that emphasized his Christian faith. On this view, Reid thinks the mind is “hid in an impenetrable darkness”. The mind and its activities, which cannot be explained, are referred to the will of God.
I disagree with this interpretation of Reid. No doubt, Reid was a devout Christian. And no doubt, he thinks that the order and regularity of the world—including the regularities he seeks in the mind’s activities—are explained ultimately by the providence of the Author of Nature, as he often calls God. Nevertheless, his methods are unlike George Turnbull’s – his teacher – who appealed directly and repeatedly to God’s providence when discussing the mind.
If Reid thought that we could not explain perception, memory, consciousness, and so on, it would be difficult to make sense of his Inquiry and Essays because in them, he offers explanations of these activities by appeal to laws that he induces from regularities observed by himself and others, and he states explicitly that Bacon’s and Newton’s methods are the best for understanding the mind. Reid’s apparent gloom about a science of mind has to do with his worries about the Way of Ideas, and Hume’s view of mind in particular: if Hume’s Treatise is the best and only natural science of mind, then we are indeed left in darkness.
3:AM: But what about Reid’s appeals common sense? How are those consistent with a science of mind?
RC: According to Reid, when we investigate the mind’s activities, we discover that the methods of the new science explain how the mind makes sense of its world. But he also holds that these methods express how the mind makes sense of its world. The methods made explicit in the new science are implicit in our everyday, ordinary interactions with the world. The mind uses hypotheses in the process of discovery to gather information, make inductive inferences, devise experiments, and ask questions of the world. In this way, philosophy and science do not depart from common sense. They are continuous with it.
One might think that the Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense is about commonsense beliefs or commonsense maxims—about ‘principles’ used in the sense of things-believed or things-held. But the principles Reid presents in the Inquiry and Essays are regularities by which mental activities operate, observed as common over time and across minds. They are what we would now call psychological laws or laws of cognitive psychology.
3:AM: How does Reid’s ideas about our moral sense and our aesthetic sense connect up with all this?
RC: One of the most distinctive things about Reid’s approach to the mind is his focus on the development of our mental abilities. His theory of perception is a great example of this. He distinguishes between what he calls original perception and acquired perception in order to describe how typical humans develop perceptual abilities through interaction with the environment, including the social environment.
We are born with a set of perceptual abilities, grounded in our sensory systems, that allow us to perceive basic features of our environments. These abilities are unimodal—each ability is confined to just one sensory modality, to what is visible, olfactable, gustable, audible, or tangible. Vision, for example, presents color, illumination, figure, and motion; audition presents timbre, pitch, volume, and so on. This is what Reid calls original perception.
But our perceptual abilities change and increase as we interact with world, including the social world. Reid claims that these developmental changes are not merely intellectual: they “give additional perceptive powers to our senses.” Our perceptual abilities become multimodal—like seeing the heat of a poker—and we become sensitive to features to which we were not originally attuned: features like being a tomato. This is what Reid calls acquired perception.
If you turn to Reid’s account of the moral sense or to his account of aesthetic perception, you see a strikingly similar developmental picture. Reid’s theory takes aesthetic and moral experience to be of a piece with his theory of perception. All three are basic representational faculties that allow us to perceive real properties of things in the world. And all three are developmental faculties: by each we develop increased sensitivity through interactions with the environment.
This is another area where Reid’s work will appear familiar to people working on perception today. One question that keeps coming up is whether and to what degree the contents of perception include properties like being a tomato, being beautiful, being good. Some people are stingy about the contents of perception—they hold that it includes only what Reid would have called original perception. Others are generous, holding that typical mature humans can smell cheeses, feel velvet, taste pineapple, see tomatoes, and hear cars. Reid’s theories of acquired perception, aesthetic perception, and the moral sense are instructive for anyone interested in these issues today.
3:AM: Berkeley is another philosopher from this period you’ve written about. How did he think we perceive visually, invisible features like spatial features? How is language important to Berkeley’s theory of vision?
RC: First, I have to say that my work on Berkeley is indebted to Margaret Atherton (see, for example, Berkeley’s Revolution in Vision, Cornell University Press, 1990). I became interested in Berkeley’s perceptual psychology when I noticed that Reid’s developmental approach to perception and mind might be influenced by Berkeley.
According to Berkeley, distance, figure, magnitude, and situation cannot be seen, strictly speaking. They are not visible features. Visible features are confined “to light and colors, with their several shades and variations.” Nevertheless, the New Theory of Vision aims to show how typical mature humans perceive distance and other phenomena visually—by sight. This is perplexing. How can we perceive spatial features by sight if they are not visible, strictly speaking?
Berkeley explains this by linking the visible with the spatial: visible features are signs or marks of spatial features. He describes these links as elements of a language, emphasizing that the links are conventional, and he characterize the links as ‘suggestions’ – a term of art that Reid adopts. In the case of perceiving spatial features by sight, the conventions that connect the visible with the spatial are established by God—they are laws of nature, laws of human psychology. Mature perceptual experience is made possible by links that cross boundaries between senses. The spatial significance of visible features allows typical mature humans to perceive distance, figure, magnitude, and situation—by sight.
One way to talk about our acquiring or achieving perceptual abilities is to describe it as a kind of learning. Another way appeals to association. But on Berkeley’s view, visual experience of spatial features is not learned. Rather, visible features form a universal, unlearned natural language. For typical humans, the language of vision is basic and allows us anticipate and navigate a spatial environment – visually. The language of vision is our native tongue, according to Berkeley.
I also argue that we should not think of the links that cross the boundaries between senses as associations. Various activities give rise to the ‘suggestion’ relation: association, inference, divine stipulation, human stipulation, comparison, custom, habit, and learning. But these are distinct from suggestion relations themselves, and it is those that make mature perceptual experience possible. Sensible qualities are the vocabulary in a grammar of nature that makes the world legible for beings like us. Mature humans perceive not merely by sense, but by suggestion. That’s my account of Berkeley’s position.
3:AM: You’ve also written about Italian philosophy. There’s a possible neat little segue here isn’t there, because you suggest that some of the later Italian philosophers valued Reid’s approaches to epistemology and metaphysics more than Kant’s don’t you? Can you tell us something about this?
RC: Brian Copenhaver and I wrote about a period in Italian philosophy—1800-1950—that is neglected in the Anglophone world. From Kant to Croce gives translations into English of works that should interest anyone curious about the history of modern epistemology, metaphysics, mind, language, aesthetics and politics. We put them into English because they were out of reach – works by Gallupi, Rosmini, Gioberti, Mamiani, Spaventa, Villari, De Sanctis, Florenzi Waddington, Fiorentino, Labriola, Croce, Gentile, and Gramsci.
Because these works have been neglected in the Anglophone world—even in the history of so-called ‘Continental’ philosophy—we provide an introduction that tells the story of Italian philosophy during this period. The tale is instructive for many reasons. One is that Italian philosophy after Kant and Hegel became a voice of Italy’s new national identity, for better and for worse.
These days philosophers are talking more about whether and to what degree philosophy is or can be done in isolation from the social, political, and economic contexts in which philosophers and their students live. The story of Italian philosophy in the 19th and early 20th centuries is a stark example of how philosophical projects can become obligated to and distorted by such forces as nationalism.
This project takes a path different from the rest of my work, but the route originally ran through Reid’s ‘common sense.’ Brian and I found that some of the key figures in the early days of modern Italian philosophy not only read Reid but incorporated his philosophy into their own. The first volume of Rosmini’s New Essays focuses on a discussion of Reid and Dugald Stewart. And as you say, both Gallupi and Gioberti thought Reid could teach Kant a thing or two. Philosophers in Italy were gripped by the French and British Enlightenments until the middle of the nineteenth century. It was around the turn of the twentieth century when Giovanni Gentile took on the task of constructing a distinctly Italian history of modern philosophy – in order to create a distinctly Italian philosophy.
3:AM: Croce and Gentile are two of the key Italian philosophers weren’t they? Gentile was a fascist. How important was politics to the philosophical positions of these two? Do we face the same sort of issues regarding his theories as we do with Heidegger i.e., is it a philosophy of fascism?
RC: The story of Croce and Gentile is a microcosm of larger events that tore a country, a continent, and eventually the world, apart. In 1903 Croce and Gentile launched the partnership with a famous journal, La Critica, where both exercised enormous authority in Italian intellectual life. By the early 1920s, as Mussolini was coming to power, they had parted ways, with Croce moving toward classical liberalism and Gentile earning the reputation of ‘the philosopher of fascism’ – though some Italians still say that Gentile, the philosopher, was not Gentile, the Fascist boss.
Both Gentile and Croce – like many Italian philosophers – were political figures. Both held elected and ministerial office at the national level. Croce was a member of the senate and the Minister of Public Education. But he resigned shortly before Mussolini came to power. Mussolini’s choice for Minister of Public Education was Gentile. The rifts between Croce and Gentile the philosophers, and Croce and Gentile the politicians, inter-penetrated to a degree that is almost unimaginable from an Anglophone perspective. Gentile was assassinated in 1944, a year before Mussolini met the same fate. Croce lived to see the end of Fascism and died in 1952.
But you ask: do we face the same sorts of issues regarding Gentile as we do with Heidegger? I take it that this is a question about how we as philosophers ought to grapple with the tension between using our departed colleagues as resources for philosophical thinking, on the one hand, and recognizing that many of these same departed colleagues explicitly or implicitly used their own philosophy as a resource for social and political ends that we condemn, on the other. It’s important not to treat this as an abstract question. Gentile – no longer at the center of power by the late 30s – helped Jews in Italy who were threatened by the Fascist regime. But his philosophy and his politics were of a piece, both contributing to a global disaster that cost many lives. Among other things, the disaster was one of nationalisms in conflict. Our politics today is still in turmoil about nationalism and nativism.
The tensions in Gentile’s thought and action are visible from our vantage point, though our perspective is quite unlike his or Croce’s. We tell an Anglophone story of modernity that neatly divorces some parts of past philosophies, those that seem most useful for professional purposes, from the social, political, and economic contexts in which those philosophies arose. Doing this so neatly and persistently makes it easy not to ask even the most obvious questions – about the philosophies of Locke or Berkeley, for example, within their worlds of colonialism and imperialism. Is Locke’s a philosophy of colonialism? Locke and Shaftesbury wrote the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. Is Berkeley’s a philosophy of colonialism and slavery? While waiting on funds to build an ideal city in Bermuda, he lived at his slave plantation in Rhode Island.
Why not apply the same standards of evaluation to Gentile, Locke and Berkeley? We have put a lot of energy, time, and resources into creating a sanitized story of modernity that allows us to do philosophy without making that kind of fuss about its past. Such stories, with their easy ways out, are symptoms of modernity.
I don’t have an easy or short answer—except to say that the answer is not to ignore past philosophies that were intertwined with projects we now condemn. I hope my unsatisfactory answer is call to do more history that unsettles us even more, particularly about the periods and peoples about which we now feel the least unsettled.
3:AM: And finally, apart from your own work, are there five books you could recommend to readers here at 3AM that would take them further into your philosophical world?
1. I’m looking forward to Susanna Siegel’s forthcoming The Rationality of Perception.
2. Margaret Atherton’s Berkeley’s Revolution in Vision (Cornell University Press, 1990) has been foundational for my work on Berkeley.
3. If folks want to read Reid but would like a companion to guide them through, James Van Cleve’s Problems from Reid (Oxford University Press, 2015) is a splendid choice.
4. Although as a good Reidean I’m not a huge fan of Hume, I must recommend James Harris’ recent Hume: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
5. Gosh, anything by Fred Dretske, but I’ll choose Perception, Knowledge and Belief (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
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First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, June 25th, 2016.